I sat at the bar before the Indians game on Saturday with my phone out, refreshing Twitter nonstop because we were rumored to be close to trading for one of the best catchers in baseball.
I celebrated after the game on the Thirsty Parrot deck, rapping every word to Will Smith’s “Getting Jiggy With It” because we had reportedly reached an agreement to trade for one of the best catchers in baseball.
I woke up Sunday morning to 12 text messages telling me we’d just traded for one of the best relief pitchers in baseball.
Two hours later, a no-trade clause was invoked and a deal that would send him to Cleveland was vetoed by one of the best catchers in baseball.
Now that all the dust has settled, here’s a summary of the roller coaster ride that was July 31st:
LHP Andrew Miller
- 1.39 ERA, 1.28 xFIP, 77 K’s in 45.1 IP (15.29 K/9) and a 96.7 LOB% so far in 2016
- Hasn’t had a K/9 less than 14, WHIP lower than 0.86 or an FIP higher than 2.16 since 2013
- Under contract until 2019
OF Clint Frazier
- Fifth overall pick by the Indians in the 2013 MLB Draft
- #1/2 prospect in the Indians minor league system, 21st in MLB on Baseball America’s 2016 Midseason Update. Now #1 in NYY system
- .273/.350/.461, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 13 SB, 92 K’s in 362 ABs so far in 2016 (AA/AAA)
LHP Justus Sheffield
- First round pick by the Indians in 2014
- Top 5 prospect in the Indians minor league system, 69th in MLB on Baseball America’s 2016 Midseason Update. Now #7 in NYY system
- 7-5, 3.59 ERA, 93/40 K/BB, 1.37 WHIP in 95.1 IP so far in 2016 (A+)
RHP Ben Heller
- 22nd round pick by the Indians in 2013
- Fastball sits upper 90’s, touches 100
- 3-2, 1.73 ERA, 48/12 K/BB, 12-13 SV in 41.2 IP so far in 2016 (AA/AAA)
RHP J.P. Feyereisen
- 16th round pick by the Indians in 2014
- 1.80 ERA, 136/37 K/BB, 1.01 WHIP, .184 AVG, 21-23 SV in 105 professional innings (up to AA)
C Jonathan Lucroy
C Francisco Mejia
SS Yu-Cheng Chang
OF Greg Allen
RHP Shawn Armstrong
First, the good news.
We desperately needed a relief pitcher, preferably the kind that throws with their left arm. We acquired one of the most dominant one of those in all of baseball.
I think it’s pretty clear Bryan Shaw will get bumped to the 7th, which will be good for him and my general health. And regardless of what Tito decides to do in terms of the 8th and 9th, it’s a good problem to have. You’ve all seen the eye-popping bottom line Miller stats, but take a gander at these from Fangraphs:
So not only is Miller an absolute stud, he’s an absolute stud that gets better in big moments.
Those are all on-field benefits from the deal. And they’re great benefits to be sure. But the message this move sends to not only a locker room full of guys that are hungry to win a World Series, but a fan base that has been foaming at the mouth for a move like this since Y2K, is something I would argue to be almost as significant.
The clubhouse was noticeably waiting. God knows the fans were doing the same. For the front office to be able to deliver, right now, at this juncture, with the club in the best position they’ve been in at this point in any season in recent memory, that is enormous. You can’t measure it in counting stats or ratios but bringing in a guy like Andrew Miller lights a fire underneath anyone who works for or supports the Cleveland Indians, and it does so at a perfect time.
Missing out on Lucroy sucks.
Hanging on to Mejia, Chang, Allen and Armstrong doesn’t.
We sent a huge haul to New York to get Miller, so retaining some organizational depth lessens the sting of the veto a small bit. Mejia, the centerpiece of that package, is a 20-year-old switch-hitting catcher who’s currently riding a 42 game hit streak and was ranked as the 5th best catching prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com. He’s now the 4th best prospect in the Indians system. Yeah he’s young and seems to be a ways away from the big show, but you know who else was a highly-touted 20-year-old tearing it up in High A that seemed to be nowhere near ready for the majors one year ago? He’s got red hair, and he now wears pinstripes.
A few specific players that may have woken up today feeling a little bit better about themselves are Yan Gomes and Tyler Naquin.
Now I’m not at all convinced that the gripes about guaranteed playing time in 2017 weren’t floated by the Lucroy camp as an attempt at damage control. Common sense seems to say that if you acquire a top 3-4 guy at one position, and you don’t currently employ one of the other 2-3 members of that group, he’s going to play every day. But if there’s any truth to the rumors that the Indians wouldn’t guarantee Lucroy the starting job next year, it just goes to show how much confidence Tito and co. have in Gomes, even after his struggles over the past two seasons. Seems like an eternity ago, but at the beginning of last season he was coming off 3.3 and 4.5 WAR seasons. That was good for the 5th highest total number of wins above replacement at catcher for 2013 and 2014.
And I would have to imagine the way Naquin has played this year at least had a part in the front office feeling comfortable enough to move one and almost two upper-level outfielders without bringing one back. Be interesting to see how his ABs (or lack thereof) against lefties play out the rest of the season.
I’ll keep the bad news short and sweet.
Losing a player with as much potential as Frazier has is never an easy pill to swallow, no matter who you get in return. He’s got an explosive tool set and had become part of Indians folklore with his flowing red hair and, well, interesting personality. People probably knew a little less about Sheffield, but the bottom line is you sent two guys to New York and they immediately became the Yankees #1 and #7 prospects. That’s what it’s gonna cost to get a guy who’s one of the best at his positions, and it happened to be a position we need. Everyone has been calling for us to pay it for years. We finally did.
Also, it kinda sucks that the specifics of the Lucroy deal were released and these four kids know they were theoretically dealt by the Indians. Hopefully they realize this was about winning now, and that’s not to say the club doesn’t think they can help us win in the future.
KEEP THE CHIEF