Trade Review: Didi Gregorius and Trevor Bauer

It can't get any lower than this can it? - Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

After a season full of bad pitches in two different aspects, Trevor Bauer entered his second off-season considered a declining prospect. Even though the stats never backed that claim, his attitude and demeanor made him a trade candidate for a regime that had had enough.

October 3rd, 2012

With the disappointing season over, Ken Kendrick became a little vocal about certain players. In particular, promising young right-hander Trevor Bauer.

November 7th, 2012

Just two months after the season, and close to four months since his last professional start, the rumors of his falling out of favor in the D-backs organization finally came to a head as Jerry Crasnick sent these two tweets about our young prospect.

December 11th, 2012

And then, one month later, the trade bomb was dropped. In a huge three-team deal, Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, and Matt Albers were traded to Cleveland for Didi Gregorius (just acquired for Shin-Soo Choo), Tony Sipp, and Lars Anderson.

After looking at shortstops to replace the traded Stephen Drew such as: Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Alexei Ramirez, the D-backs acquired someone no one ever thought of, Didi Gregorius. Gregorius entered 2012 as the Reds' sixth-best prospect, according to Baseball America. The publication also had him ranked as the organization's best defensive infielder and deemed him to have the best throwing arm in the farm system. Kevin Towers also saw something else while scouting him,

When I saw him, he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter. I was fortunate enough to see Jeter when he was in high school in Michigan. He's got that type of range, he's got speed, more of a line-drive-type hitter, and I think he's got the type of approach at the plate and separation to where I think there's going to be power there as well.

February 12, 2013

But then disaster struck.

Didi Gregorius, considered Arizona’s shortstop of the future, has a right elbow injury that has prevented him from throwing or batting for the past month. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers revealed the injury at a briefing with reporters Tuesday.
He said Gregorius felt discomfort in the elbow while working out a month ago in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. Gregorius was flown from his home in Curacao to Arizona, where an examination found a slight strain of the ulnar collateral ligament, Towers said.

And even more bad news was shown when it was revealed he never had to take a physical to complete the trade. Even though it had only been the past month he was feeling discomfort, you could reasonably make the argument that an elbow expert could see something there.

April 6th, 2013

Trevor Bauer made his first start for the Cleveland Indians against the Tampa Bay Rays and wasn't very good.
5 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 2 K
Here's what he had to say.

"I was missing by feet, not inches," Bauer said. "Sometimes I have outings like that, where I just can't find it and then I find it, and it's kind of what happened tonight. I had a rough first and third and then, after that, kind of found it and was able to locate again."

May 20th, 2013

A rash of injuries pushed Didi into playing time and he did not disappoint. After going 3 for 5 with a double and 2 rbi's against the Rockies, he pushed his triple slash line to .369/.424/.595 and quelled his no-bat status while showing the defensive skills that warranted the trade.

June 28th, 2013

Trevor Bauer's struggles continue as he gives up 6 hits and 5 earned runs in only 2/3rds of an inning.

"They hit what I threw. I couldn't put guys away," Bauer said. "They hit some good pitches. With the exception of one of the home runs, everything was down and on the corners of the plate. Some of them were even off the plate. It's just one of those days. I haven't felt comfortable out of my windup in the past two, three starts. And in my bullpen, I didn't feel comfortable in it either, so I thought I'd work out of my stretch."

August 13th, 2013

An 0 for 4 performance on this date by Didi dropped his triple slash to .257/.326/.371. With Didi struggling, many were questioning whenever he was put in the lineup.

September 28th, 2013

Even though in his final appearance of the year for Didi he was 0 for 2, he finished the year strong in limited playing time by slashing .254/.352/.377 while still flashing his very good glove at shortstop.

Trade in Review

D-backs - Didi Gregorius

If you're just going by how the players performed, the trade was a win for the D-backs with a 1.2 to 0.9 edge in WAR. Didi Gregorius stayed up with the main squad for most of the year and performed adequately with his bat. The end of the year stats reflect that with a 91 OPS+ (.705 OPS) with 7 HR's in 357 AB's. Since the Expansion, Didi Gregorius ranked 15th among full-time rookie shortstops in OBP with over 400 PA's. Even though he struggled throughout the middle of the year, his at-bats showed improvement down the stretch and started to hit the ball with authority like he had in the beginning of the year. While he will never approach the BABIP driven 1.019 OPS, the 1.4 WAR he produced certainly is the high-level floor scouts have promised out of him.

On defense he was absolutely solid. He showed that his UCL didn't affect him at all and made strong throws across the diamond for outs. His range was very good, even though balls were just barely out of his reach. He's what everyone said he was, solid with the potential to be a superb fielder. He'll never be as good as Andrelton Simmons but a good defensive shortstop will always be an asset on a team. Even though the advanced metrics had him at -2 runs saved on the year, I have no doubt next year that number will be positive.

Future Outlook

Going forward, barring injury, he will always have a spot on a team's 25-man roster. If his hitting doesn't improve, this season will be his floor. But after seeing the improvements and adjustments he's made this year, I think we will see him improving to be at least a league-average hitter within the next couple seasons while still showing his great glove and good range at shortstop for the D-backs. At 23 years young, he is just starting to show his potential while earning the league minimum until 2016.

Tony Sipp

Many forget that Tony Sipp was included in this trade to be another left handed option out of the bullpen for Kevin Towers. Throughout his career, he's shutdown lefties but this year was an exception. An .850 OPS against LHB versus .701 against RHB is not what you want to see out of your soft-throwing lefty. While the 10.04 K/9 is excellent, the 5.26 BB/9 is terrible and his ERA on the year (4.78) showed that.

Future Outlook

At 30 years old, Tony Sipp is who he is. He's a league average lefty with no ceiling to be anything more. He doesn't throw hard enough to scare anyone but his funky delivery is just effective enough to strike out guys while not having the control you'd like to see out of reliever. He earned 1.275MM last year and should see a number right around there in arbitration. He won't be a FA until 2016 but shouldn't be counted on to give you high-leverage innings. Don't fall in love with him as you may not see him in D-back Sedona Red next year.

Indians

Trevor Bauer

After exploding on the scene in 2011 and 2012 with dominating performances in the minors, Trevor Bauer hasn't seen the improvement many have expected from him after being the 3rd overall pick in 2011. The Indians expected him to perform like a #4 or #5 starter. Well, in 4 starts with the major league club this year, he posted a 5.29 ERA while having a 8.5 BB/9 and a K/9 of 5.8 for a cool -0.3 WAR. That's not gonna cut it. In the minors he was a bit better by default, but still, 2013 was an obvious step back. The biggest sign was him NOT being called up during September or maybe it was his rap song dissing Miguel Montero being more effective than his pitches?

Future Outlook

The greatest thing Trevor Bauer has going for him is his age. In 2014 he'll be 23 with MLB experience and MiLB success already under his belt. He must make adjustments if he's going to stay in the league, that's for certain. The talent is there, but it's up to him to change his ways and adapt. Otherwise, he'll be exactly what he is right now: a AAAA pitcher. He signed a 4yr/4.7MM contract when he was drafted and is arb eligible in 2016.

Bryan Shaw

Going into 2013, Bryan Shaw was expected to fill the 7th/8th inning role for the D-backs. But shockingly, he was included in the deal for Gregorius and was shipped off to Cleveland. With Cleveland, he made most of his 70 appearances in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings and was superb. He had a 3.24 ERA, 8.76 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9 while producing at 0.9 WAR. He was almost exclusively a 2-pitch pitcher with his 93 mph cutter combined with 80 mph slider. He showed that he can be a force in the bullpen and is another case of a D-backs pitcher finding better success outside of Chase Field.

Future Outlook

Bryan Shaw will be 26 going into 2014 and should slot in the 7th inning for the Cleveland Indians. While he may not have closer stuff, he will be a force in that bullpen for years to come. He's arb eligible in 2015 and will be a free agent in 2018. Don't expect to hear much about him, but as we all know, as relievers go, that's not a terrible thing.

Matt Albers

Matt was acquired by the D-backs in late July 2012 with Scott Podsednik for Craig Breslow and performed very well for that 2012 team. But like Shaw, he was shipped off to Cleveland and performed just how a reliever should. With a 3.14 ERA, 5.00 K/9, and a 3.3 BB/9 over 63 IP, he did just enough to not ruin things. He was used in the 7th and 8th innings and equipped with a 93 mph fastball, attacked hitters and made them put the ball in play. As a 0.3 WAR reliever, he wasn't spectacular, but did just enough to not be noticed.

Future Outlook

Matt will be 31 in 2014 and is a free agent able to sign with any team. He is best used as a medium to low-leverage pitcher and as such, shouldn't receive that much in terms of AAV in free agency. Expect him to be signed however and continue pitching in the MLB.

Final Thoughts

When the team confirmed this deal, I think everyone didn't understand why'd they trade a player so highly thought of as Trevor Bauer for what seems to be a defensive shortstop in Didi Gregorius. Kevin Towers however had a Q&A session with Fangraphs shortly after the trade and explained his reasoning.

DL; Was the expectation that Didi Gregorius will remain in the middle of the infield a big factor in acquiring him?

KT: Absolutely. That’s a lot of what led us in that decision-making process, looking at what the free agent market is for middle infielders — the lack thereof. Not only free agents, but internationally and domestically in the draft.

Talking to Ray [Montgomery] about what the pool of those types players will be this year, and next year and follows going forward. There’s just not a lot of inventory, and to find a shortstop or a catcher, or a centerfielder, that you think that could stay at those positions… they’re very hard to acquire. Sometimes you have to overpay for them, because of that lack of inventory.

That right there explains why they thought they needed to make the move they did. It remains to be seen how it will work for them in the long-term, but as for right now it looks to be a move well put together. Sometimes you do need to overpay to get what you want; but as long as it works for the team, it should work for us fans.

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