Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Dempster and Soto Trade Analysis

This week I will analyze both the Geovany Soto trade and the Ryan Dempster trade.

7/31 The Texas Rangers acquire C Geovany Soto and cash from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for SP Jake Brigham and either a player to be named later or cash considerations.

I like this move a lot for the Rangers, as Geovany Soto is definitely an upgrade in many ways over Yorvit Torrealba as the Rangers back-up catcher.

Not only does is he a large defensive upgrade, but he also has an extra year of controllability over Yorvit, who is now DFA'd. On top of that, Geovany has more pop in his bat and has the potential to be a very good offensive catcher, as shown by both his 2008 (.285 AVG, 23 HR, 86 RBI) and 2010 (.280 AVG, 17 HR, 53 RBI) seasons. He also put up some good power numbers despite a .228 batting average last year, with 17 home runs and 54 RBI's. On the flip side, Yorvit, while having a significantly better average this year (.236 to .199), has just 3 homers all year and had just 7 last year. And his weak bat was not offset by his defense, which was very subpar, throwing out 4% less of runners than Soto, who is very good behind the plate.

But with Soto not being a big difference-maker, as a back-up catcher, he is not worth giving up anything of note. And the Rangers did a good job of only giving up a fringe prospect in Jake Brigham. Jake has decent stuff, which may get him to the big leagues briefly as a reliever, but has issues with his command, frequently leaving pitches middle middle (leading to 19 home runs in 21 starts this year). In this, his seventh season in the Rangers organization, Jake has a 4.28 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 124 innings for Double-A Frisco.

Grade: B, the Rangers didn't get a steal, giving up a decent fringe prospect for Soto, a back-up catcher, but definitely did not overpay for a significant upgrade over Torrealba. This was yet another good move by GM Jon Daniels.

7/31 The Texas Rangers acquire SP Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for 3B Christian Villanueva and SP Kyle Hendricks.

This is another good move for Texas, as with the injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, and the struggles of Roy Oswalt, the Rangers needed a starting pitcher to add to their rotation.

While Ryan is no ace, as his numbers might suggest (2.25 ERA, .210 BAA), but he is a very solid #3 pitcher in a rotation. Since 2008 his ERAs have been 2.96, 3.65, 3.85, 4.80, and 2.25, which shows that he has been consistently solid for the Cubs with the exception of 2011. He has also had at least 200 innings in each of his last 4 seasons. Dempster is a guy who should post a sub-4.00 ERA for the Rangers and give the team a chance to win almost every game, allowing more than 4 runs in a game only once so far this year, and even in a bad year for him in 2011, only 4 times after April. So while the sabermetrics suggest Ryan has been somewhat lucky this year with a really low BABIP, he is still a solid pitcher even without luck. He is also a good character guy and should fit into the Rangers clubhouse very well. And it doesn't hurt that he will have a familiar catcher calling his games in Soto.

The Rangers also didn't pay an exorbitant price, even though Baseball America had Christian Villanueva as their number 100 prospect in baseball to start the season and Dempster is only a rental. Despite Christian's high rankings and solid season this year (.285 AVG, 10 HR, 59 RBI), he had no future in the Rangers organization. Christian is a third baseman, the same position that Adrian Beltre, Mike Olt, Drew Robinson, and Joey Gallo play in the Rangers organization. Adrian is one of the Rangers best players, Olt is BA's #11 prospect in baseball, Robinson is a solid prospect and is having a good year, and Gallo is a mid-first-round talent who is absolutely destroying Rookie ball pitching right now (.321/.459/.795, 14 HR, 36 RBI in 33 G).

And Kyle Hendricks is really no big loss despite a 2.82 ERA this year and a 2.02 one last year. Hendricks has the ceiling of a #5 starter in the NL, as Kyle is a strikethrower without any real good pitches besides an 88-90 MPH fastball with movement. He has organizational filler written all over him. He will start off in Double-A for the Cubs after pitching in High-A all year before the trade.

Grade: B+, the Rangers got a needed starter who should slot right into the #3 spot in their rotation, and did it without giving anyone that had a big-league future with the Rangers in return.

Come back next week for a post yet to be determined.