SSTN Weekly Mailbag: Trade Proposals, Correa Vs. Seager, and My Favorite Rule 5 Protection Candidate
By Andy Singer
This is supposed to be an exciting time of year. Obviously, the offseason is nowhere near as exciting as actual baseball games, but after Pitchers and Catchers, Opening Day, and the World Series, November/December offseason activity is among my favorite times of year on the baseball calendar. I have always been fascinated by roster construction and the inner workings of balancing business with on-field performance, so this is the time we should be settling in to discuss the variety of ways in which the Yankees could begin to reshape the roster. Instead, we are left with a dark cloud hanging over the sport. The reality is that we are two weeks away from a prolonged work stoppage. Based on the lack of progress towards a deal, I am incredibly pessimistic that labor strife won’t impact the product on the field in 2022. Frankly, based on the rhetoric and utter absence of leadership I see from Commissioner Rob Manfred, I don’t see how baseball comes out of this negotiation unscathed. In addition to representing team owners, the claim we’ve heard as fans is that MLB’s commissioner is also looking out for the common good and the game of baseball. That certainly didn’t happen under Bud Selig, and Rob Manfred seems intent on burning it all down in search of an extra couple of dollars of savings for owners. Forgive my bad mood, but I just don’t see how the next few months won’t hurt the game.
As always, thanks for the great questions, and keep them coming to SSTNRedermail@gmail.com. In this week’s SSTN Mailbag, we’ll evaluate a couple of trade proposals, argue Seager vs. Correa, and I’ll name my favorite Rule 5 guy to protect! Let’s get at it:
Percy offers the following trade proposal: Aroldis Chapman to the Angels for Dexter Fowler and Livan Soto.
First off, Dexter Fowler is a Free Agent this offseason and can be obtained for nothing more than money. However, even if all it took was a minor league deal to bring Fowler in, it just doesn’t make sense at this stage of his career. Fowler has never been a good defender, save for a couple of random decent defensive seasons playing for the Cubs, but he’s really tanked as he’s aged. More importantly, Fowler’s bat hasn’t really been useful for 2+ years now. There may have been a time that Fowler made sense as a trade target, but that time isn’t now.
Livan Soto is a decent prospect whose carrying tools are on the defensive side of the ball. He’s got a very good arm, solid defensive actions up the middle, and soft hands from the video I’ve seen. However, I do not believe in the bat at all. Soto has no loft to his swing, and his body is slim without tons of room to fill out, so I don’t expect Soto to have anything that even approaches below-average power. That puts tons of pressure on his hit tool to carry Soto as an everyday player, and I have real doubts that he’ll make enough contact as he advances to make the bat playable. Against higher level competition at A+ and a cup of coffee at AA in 2021, Soto’s contact and plate discipline numbers went backwards. Soto struck out in 24.4% of plate appearances in 2021, up significantly from previous years, and he struggled to beat the Mendoza Line. Soto remains an interesting utility prospect, but as I’ve said before, I think the Yankees have plenty of candidates for that role.
I know that Chapman is overpaid and likely in his decline phase, but he is still a valuable part of the bullpen, so dealing him would have to bring back pieces that are immediately valuable. That will be difficult to do given Chapman’s current value, and this trade doesn’t quite get there.
Fuster offers the following trade proposal: Joey Gallo for C.J. Abrams.
We’re getting warmer here. The Padres, like the Yankees are firmly within the window in which they should be competing for championships. The Padres have long had a farm system that was the envy of teams around the league, but in the last year and a half, GM AJ Preller has shown a willingness to part with good prospects if it made the big league roster more competitive. The Padres need pop and an outfielder, particularly an outfielder that can defend given the spacious dimensions of the Padres’ home park. Gallo certainly checks those boxes, and we know that the Padres had significant interest in Gallo at the trade deadline in 2021.
Abrams is certainly a good fit for the Yankees. While Abrams would almost certainly have to slide either over to 2B or back to CF with the Padres in deference to Fernando Tatis Jr., Abrams has more than enough tools to stick at SS defensively, and the total package looks like at least a good regular, if not an All-Star. Abrams displayed real feel at the plate at AA in 2021, hitting for more power than he had previously, while making plenty of contact, showing plus strikeout and walk rates, while using his plus-plus speed intelligently on the bases. Abrams is exactly the type of near-ready prospect the Yankees should target.
Unfortunately, Gallo alone isn’t close to enough value for Abrams, and given the fact that the Padres are so close to contention, I’m not sure adding in prospects gets this deal any closer. Sure, the Yankees could deal from strength and include some of their MLB starting depth, but I think we’ve seen that the Yankees should be keeping as much MLB caliber pitching around as humanly possible.
Further complicating matters is Abrams’ recovery from an ACL tear and subsequent surgery. Abrams derives much of his value from speed, so I’d want to see evidence that he’s back to normal before a deal occurs. This is a nice idea, and possibly one that will merit revisiting at some point, but I don’t think it works right now.
Bob asks: If you have to pick one, who would you prefer for the Yankees: Corey Seager or Carlos Correa?
You all know that I’m still bitter about the Astros cheating scandal. Personally, I have no use for Correa as a fan. From a baseball standpoint though, I understand his appeal, and he is clearly the superior defender at SS.
I want to look at the offense though. Which player would you rather have (all stats from 2018-2021):
Player A: 21.3% K, 10.9% BB, .199 ISO, .266/.347/.465
Player B: 16.8% K, 9.3% BB, .217 ISO, .288/.359/.506
Both players also missed significant time in at least two of the seasons listed. Which do you like? I think most of us would rather have Player B. Player A is Carlos Correa, Player B is Corey Seager.
I’ll look at this question in greater depth in a post soon, but once you add in the fact that Seager bats left handed, I think it’s clear which player better fits the current roster.
Bryan asks: Fast question: I liked your look at the Rule 5 Draft and 40 man roster in your last mailbag so I want to know – who is you’re favorite Rule 5 guy? Not necessarily the best, but the one you like the most.
Brandon Lockridge. I think he took a real step forward this year, and he has all of the tools it will take to be an everyday CF. It would not shock me in the slightest if he is a fast-riser in 2022, as I think Lockridge’s adjustments at the plate have made him a real prospect. He’s on the bubble for Rule 5 protection, but I think the Yankees need to protect him.