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A Bold Trade Idea

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Celebrating Defeating the Dodgers on 15 September
Celebrating Defeating the Dodgers on 15 September
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Highlights for Yasmany Tomas

  • In 2016, Yasmany Tomas hit 31 home runs and 83 RBIs.
  • The second half of 2016 he batted .294/.329/.584 with a wRC+ of 133 and 18 homers in 258 PAs.
  • Since July 24th, the 25-year-old has been one of the elite sluggers in the game with a .934 OPS, 17 homers and 12 doubles in 225 plate appearances
  • Tomas improved his fly ball percentage (8%) and his hard hit rate (10%) to support his power. His 41% hard hit rate ranked eighth in the majors.

Is Yasmany Tomas Tradeable?

Apparently many fans, including me, think trading Tomas is a high priority for improving the team. So, what’s the problem? Although swinging at pitches outside the zone is disconcerting to watch, the real concern is defense. I wonder did his defense contribute to the dismal performance of Diamondbacks’ pitchers last season? This season brings new eyes and new thinking to the team. Perhaps the biggest idea is better defense will get the team into the post season.

James Attwood and I participated in the GM Simulation in November of 2016. Together we identified five teams (Orioles, Mariners, Yankees, Rangers, and Blue Jays) to which Tomas could be traded. In the simulation, the Nationals and Angels expressed interest. The Red Sox were not considered. I will remedy that today!

Tomas would hold more value to the Red Sox than the Diamondbacks for two reasons. First, The Red Sox play with the Designated Hitter (DH) rule, meaning they could benefit from his power hitting without needing him to play defense. Second, the Diamondbacks do not have a fitting defensive position for him to play. His 31 games at third base showed the hot corner is not for him. First base is not an option because Paul Goldschmidt. The cavernous Chase outfield has not been kind to him. In 2016, he rated negatively in arm, range, and errors. His UZR/150 was negative 16.6.

Can a Balanced Trade be Constructed?

Who would I like the Diamondbacks get in return for Tomas? It is clear that the team’s priority is pitchers, just like last year. Because the Red Sox acquired Chris Sale, one pitcher from their starting rotation will be the odd-man-out. Steven Wright is recovering from a shoulder injury, making him the most likely odd-man-out. He is expected to be ready by the start of the season. In 2016, Steven Wright’s numbers were great (DRA 0f 3.12, ERA of 3.33, FIP of 3.77), and he was named an All-Star. Steven Wright is a knuckleball pitcher. It is serendipity that the Diamondbacks have an experienced knuckleball catcher in Josh Thule, who has caught for RA Dickey. By moving to the Diamondbacks, Steven Wright would certainly be in the starting rotation. He would hold more value to the Diamondbacks than the Red Sox.

Would Tomas for Wright be a balanced trade? No! First, pitchers are in high demand and DH power hitters are in low demand. Second, Tomas is guaranteed $55.5 Million over the next four seasons (assuming he does not opt out), while Steven Wright makes league minimum and will not be a free agent until 2021.

The trade could be balanced by adding another equally unbalanced pair of players. Could the two teams swap third base players?

For the Red Sox, third base is a weakness, with Pablo Sandoval returning from being injured. It is uncertain whether he will recover to his former greatness. GM Farrel said third base is a spot that Sandoval is competing for. Although that might have been motivational talking, I concluded GM Farrel thinks he can replace Sandoval with Brock Holt or Josh Rutledge. What is interesting is that Sandoval has $54.8 Million guaranteed over the next three seasons, which is nearly identical to Tomas with $55.5 Million over four seasons. Sandoval has a team option for season four with a $5 Million buyout. The Red Sox could send $4.3 Million to the Diamondbacks because with the buyout Pablo Sandoval is guaranteed $4.3 Million more than Yasmany Tomas.

Jake Lamb vs Pablo Sandoval. Looked at from a top level, Fangraphs projects Lamb with 1.9 WAR and Sandoval as 1.0 WAR. Baseball Prospectus projects Lamb with 2.4 WAR and Sandoval with 0.9 WAR. Looking more in depth, offensively Lamb has a slight edge based on his offensive WAR of 3.4 in 2016. Baseball Reference shows Lamb’s defensive WAR was 0.9 in 2015 and -0.6 in 2016. I would compare those numbers with Sandoval’s defensive WAR of 0.6 in 2014 and -0.9 in 2015.

Jake Lamb would be a much better choice for third base than Pablo Sandoval. Jake Lamb has less risk and a higher ceiling. Jake Lamb makes league minimum and will not be a free agent until 2021.

Balanced Four Player Trade That Benefits Both Teams

Dollars: Guaranteed salaries (including buyout) match for Tomas and Sandoval, if the Red Sox provide $4.3 Million. Lamb and Wright salaries are league minimums.

Length of guaranteed contracts for Tomas and Sandoval: Tomas’ contract is for four years. Sandoval’s contract is for three years with a team option for year four.

Years of control: Lamb and Wright will be free agents the same year, 2021.

Both teams would be better:

  • Tomas as DH makes the Red Sox a better team.
  • Jake Lamb at third makes the Red Sox a better team.
  • Adding Steven Wright to the Diamondbacks rotation, with Josh Thole catching, makes the Diamondbacks a better team
  • Sandoval at third instead of Tomas in left makes the Diamondbacks a better team.

Executing the Trade

Are both teams open to trading? You bet!

Is the timing right? One factor in the timing is that the Diamondbacks would receive two players who are recovering from injury. Balancing that factor is uncertainty of performance of the two players sent to the Red Sox. Maybe the timing is better at the All-Star break, when the teams have had another look at the four players. However, if either team is contending for the post season, they may not want to make disruptive changes. Therefore, the time to do the trade is now.

A Bold Trade Idea: Summary

Red Sox get Jake Lamb, third base and Yasmany Tomas, DH.

Diamondbacks get Steven Wright knuckleball starting pitcher, Pablo Sandoval third base, and $4.3 Million.