“Well, that sucked … There has to be more … The Rays got hosed … ”
Those were some of my initial reactions to the trade that sent David Price to the Detroit Tigers in a 3-team deal for pitcher Drew Smyly, infielder Nick Franklin (from Seattle), and shortstop prospect Willy Adames.
The biggest problem with the deal is that it doesn’t have the sexiness of a deal that lands 2-3 big prospects where we can all salivate about their potential and upside and ignore the risks.
In this deal, the Rays gave up some of the sex appeal but also gave up some of the risk normally associated with Rays trades. The Rays also got one player that can help right now and one that will help as soon as the Rays trade Ben Zobrist this offseason.
That being said, there are still things to like about this trade. Here are three of them, one for each player, and we won’t even talk about the money saved.
1. The Rays can control Drew Smyly for four years.
The Rays can pencil Smyly into the rotation for the next four years. That’s about 140 starts, or about 130 more starts than what the Rays would have gotten from Price had they kept him until the off-season.
Smyly is never going to be Price but we also don’t have to worry about hoping he will be good. There is no worrying about when Smyly will be ready or if he will even be good enough. He is a good, left-handed pitcher with a career ERA of 3.46 and a FIP of 3.53, which suggests that he hasn’t been lucky. He also has a very good 3.23 strikeout-to-walk ratio which suggests that he will continue develop and pitch well.
He also has a low groundball rate (39.6%) which is even lower this year (36.9). If you recall, we looked at the evolution of the Rays’ pitching staff, and the Rays seem to have a growing appreciation for pitchers that give up more flyballs, which may be easier outs at The Trop. In other words, he is good, and the Rays probably think he will be even better making half of his starts at The Trop.
2. Nick Franklin looks an awful lot like Ben Zobrist.
Franklin and Zobrist are both tall, switch-hitting middle infielders with good, but not great gloves. Like Zobrist, Franklin can also play third base and both corner outfield spots.
Not convinced yet? Take a look at the final two minor league seasons for both players. For Zobrist we’ll use 2006-07 (162 games, he only played 24 games in 2008). For Franklin we will use 2013-14 (114 games).
Pretty scary, huh?
Now consider that Zobrist hit a home run once every 60.6 at bats during that stretch and Franklin hit one once every 32.4 at bats. Zobrist’s power came later and the Rays may see the same development coming in Franklin.
Oh yeah, and Zobrist was 25 and 26 during those seasons and Franklin is three years younger at the same level of development.
He even looks a little bit like Zorilla.
3. You may not have heard of that other kid but he is pretty good.
Willy Adames is in his first season in the United States and is already the youngest position player in the single-A Midwest League.
He does strikeout a lot (24.0% this season), but he has a nice .346 OBP (.355 wOBA). He also has a big .353 batting average on balls in play, which means he has been really lucky, or he is hitting the ball consistently hard. Scouting reports suggest the latter, with one report saying he has “plus bat speed through the zone.”
Jim Callis called Adames his “favorite deep sleeper” in the Tigers’ system and says he projects as a third baseman.
Here is a home run he hit earlier this year.