According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Diamondbacks are asking the Tigers for top pitching prospects Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner in exchange for Dan Haren.
Oliver just recently posted a 7.36 ERA over his first five starts in the big leagues, but the 22-year-old left-hander is 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 14 starts with Double-A Erie. He was the team’s second-round pick in 2009 and was ranked as the organization’s No. 4 prospect by Baseball America over the winter.
Turner is even more highly-touted. Last year’s first-round draft pick, the 19-year-old right-hander is 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA over his first 16 professional outings between Single-A West Michigan and High-A Lakeland. He was ranked as the organization’s No. 1 prospect by Baseball America before the season and was included in BA’s midseason Top 50 prospects earlier this month.
There’s no way the Tigers would actually do this, nor are we sure if the Diamondbacks were willing to pay some of the $33 million left on Haren’s contract as part of the proposal.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.