By Grant Brisbee, Rustin Dodd and Stephen Nesbitt
It’s been almost a week since the trade deadline passed and we all started getting some better sleep.
All of those late-night deals, mystery teams and Mets blockbusters added up to an action-packed stretch that, in one way or another, left all 30 teams looking a little different.
Some rosters turned over a handful of spots. Others barely changed.
In this week’s power rankings, we’ve picked the key trade deadline acquisition for each team. Key is an adjective you can take a couple different directions — most important, most compelling, most intriguing — so the prompt fits both buyers and sellers, making room for every acquisition from minor leaguers to Max Scherzer to Sammy Spin Rate. Let’s get to it.
Last Power Ranking: 1
Key acquisition: RHP Pierce Johnson
Brad Hand. Pierce Johnson. Dealer’s choice. The more I debated the Johnson-Hand duo dealt from Colorado to Atlanta at the deadline, the more I liked Johnson. We have a lot in common. He was born May 10, 1991. I was born six days later. He’s 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds. I’m 6-2, 203. He has light brown hair and blue eyes. So do I. He attended a Midwest college that starts with M-I. So did I. He has two toddlers and a dog. So do I. He’s making $5 million this year.
So take it with a grain of salt when I say Johnson was the Braves’ best add. But hear me out. Johnson, unlike the rental Hand, is under club control through 2025. Johnson had a 3.09 ERA for the Padres in 2020-21, and I think that pitcher is still in there somewhere. He has huge strikeout numbers (and, yes, huge walk numbers). The heater has been poorly located and gotten hammered, so we should see even more of his high-spin, swing-and-miss curve. His .400 BABIP is outrageously high. And I’m buying the idea that getting away from Coors will mean better batted-ball luck, more strikeouts, fewer homers and overall better numbers for Johnson. But maybe that’s just my bias showing. — Stephen Nesbitt
Last Power Ranking: 2
Key acquisition: RHP Jack Flaherty
The vibes are immaculate in Baltimore right now. The organization celebrated the 1983 World Series champions over the weekend. The current team swept the reeling Mets. The division lead is now three games. And Flaherty, a low-cost addition before the deadline, was superb in his first start, allowing one earned run in six innings while striking out eight against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Winners of seven of their last eight, the Orioles will now face the Houston Astros before a West Coast swing. But the early returns on Flaherty are promising. He had a 3.03 ERA in five starts for the Cardinals in July. Maybe he really is close to being that guy again. — Rustin Dodd
Last Power Ranking: 4
Key acquisition: LHP Jordan Montgomery
Oh, Max Scherzer is the bigger name, but I’m not sure if Scherzer v.2023 is the same guy as the old model. For my money, I’m more interested to see how Montgomery slots in with a rotation that’s more competence than flash. He was better with the Cardinals than he was with the Yankees, posting a very strong 125 ERA+ with them, which is a step above mere competence. After a wonky May, he rebounded to make quality start after quality start.
If he keeps doing that for the Rangers, it’s easy to see him starting Game 3 of a series and filling everyone with confidence. The Rangers should score runs; it’s how well they prevent them that’s a question going forward. Montgomery has the potential to be more than just a guy, and that’s exactly what this roster needs.
(All right, fine, that last bit applies to Scherzer, too. But I’m trying to be a contrarian here.) — Grant Brisbee
Last Power Ranking: 3
Key acquisition: RHP Aaron Civale
Civale made his Rays debut on Saturday, allowing three earned runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Tigers. It was the Rays’ only loss of the three-game series. It was also the first time Civale had lost to the Tigers in 11 career starts. He was previously 7-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 10 starts against his former division rival. This brings up what is the biggest cause for worry after the Rays sent prospect Kyle Manzardo to acquire Civale. It’s not that Civale won’t be valuable; it’s that his value was slightly inflated by whatever magic pixie dust was being spread around in Cleveland. In any case, it’s too early to know. And the Rays, now three games behind the Orioles in the AL East, seem to know how to handle pitchers. — RD
Last Power Ranking: 5
Key acquisition: RHP Lance Lynn
Welcome to modern baseball. Take a pitcher’s ERA, write it on a piece of paper, crumple the paper up and toss it into the nearest wastebasket. Doesn’t matter. It’s all about the bat-missing and the stuff. It’s about location and exit velo, along with the tweaks that the White Sox missed and the Dodgers can implement. Lynn pitched seven innings in his first start with the Dodgers, getting the win. He struck out seven, didn’t issue a walk and allowed three home runs, which was the perfect introduction to the Lance Lynn experience in 2023. All three of those homers were solo homers, and if he can limit the damage there, he’ll help the Dodgers an awful lot.
Excuse me, though, as I take that piece of paper out of the wastebasket, unfurl it and stare at the number for a while. Because it’s a spicy ERA, and it’s hard to neo-saber-talk your way into believing it was a total fluke. His velocity is trending in the wrong direction, which isn’t a small thing for a pitcher who is so fastball-forward and throws a lot of strikes. A couple of ticks off the ol’ heater is all it takes for a tipping point to be reached, turning a previously effective pitcher into Johnny Dingerseed, spreading dinger seeds all across this country of ours.
Don’t bet against the Dodgers figuring this out. But maybe don’t bet on them to do so, either? It’s probably safer not to bet in general. Gambling isn’t good for you. Especially here, though. — GB
Last Power Ranking: 6
Key acquisition: RHP Justin Verlander
I’d like to imagine that in the 1990s or even 2000s, teams would trade for a pitcher, shake his hand in the clubhouse, pat him on the butt and say, “Go get ’em. Do that pitching stuff that you’re good at” and that was that. Nowadays, though, it’s more complicated. It’s coaches and quants sitting down with tablets and computers and explaining their ideas for how to prevent base runners and runs more effectively. In terms of on-field results, it’s an objectively more productive process. Look at the eternally rising strikeout rate. Organizations are simply much, much better at weaponizing pitchers and extracting every drop of talent from their arms and shoulders.
The main problem, though, is that it takes time. It takes buy-in, too. It takes a lot of collaboration between individual personalities who are all trying to feel each other out. Sometimes the ideas are met with skepticism. Sometimes the plan just doesn’t work as well as it does on paper.
This might be what made a Verlander reunion so compelling to the Astros. They can pat him on the butt and say, “Go get ’em. Do that pitching stuff that you’re good at.” He already has the buy-in. He already speaks the local dialect. He knows where the bathrooms are. “Give ’em the ol’ razzle-dazzle the way we like it,” they’ll say, and then they’ll spend their valuable time making plans for different players. — GB
We literally love Justin Verlander. pic.twitter.com/kJqonXN1kU
— Houston Astros (@astros) August 3, 2023
Last Power Ranking: 7
Key acquisition: RHP Jordan Hicks
Hicks, the former Cardinals reliever, was touched up for two earned runs in his Blue Jays debut before putting up two scoreless appearances — including his first save. Toronto has a need at the back end until Jordan Romano returns. They swept the Red Sox over the weekend, holding onto the third wild card and keeping their distance from the suddenly surging Mariners, who are just 2 1/2 games back. They head to Cleveland on Monday to finish their latest road trip. — RD
Last Power Ranking: 10
Key acquisition: RHP Michael Lorenzen
If you were gonna make a list of ideas to push the Phillies into the top tier of World Series contenders, you’d have a bunch of angry bullet points before you got to Lorenzen:
Hey, there it is! Trading infield prospect Hao-Yu Lee for Lorenzen, a 2023 All-Star and arguably the best rental righty on the move at the trade deadline, provides the Phillies with rotation insurance and upgrades their bench. Kind of kidding. Kind of not! Lorenzen tossed eight innings of two-run baseball in his Phillies debut, dropping his season ERA to 3.48. He alone won’t determine the Phillies’ fate, but he certainly makes their pitching staff stronger. — SN
Last Power Ranking: 9
Key acquisition: LHP Kyle Harrison
Because you can be danged sure that I’m not using that adjective for A.J. Pollock.
Harrison isn’t technically a trade-deadline acquisition, but he’s the Giants’ best pitching prospect and one of the best in baseball, and he’ll be up soon. If you’re looking for the reasons why the Giants were so inactive at the deadline, here’s the main one. They looked around at all the available starting pitchers — at least, the ones who weren’t going to cost a top-100 prospect in a trade — and measured them against what they already had. Jack Flaherty, Michael Lorenzen, Jordan Montgomery … all fine and helpful pitchers, but were they better than what Harrison could do in his first trip around the league?
It’s a risk, but the Giants are also well-stocked with backup plans in case it doesn’t work out. Tristan Beck has been a revelation, and Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea have been throwing much better in recent months. All of this allowed the Giants to pass on the idea of getting a starter just to get a starter. They had plenty of bulk-inning guys already.
One of them just happens to have an ace ceiling. They’ll play around with him within the next month or so, and he’ll be the biggest acquisition of all. — GB
Last Power Ranking: 8
Key acquisition: LHP Andrew Chafin
Though much ink was spilled in the power rankings this summer begging the Brewers to fortify their lineup, I’m going to make the case that Chafin, not Carlos Santana or Mark Canha, was the most compelling addition. When Justin Wilson was (re)injured a few days before the deadline, the Brewers were again without a lefty reliever who has swing-and-miss stuff. Hoby Milner has been great, but if Bryce Harper or Yordan Alvarez step to the plate in October you’d rather have someone on the mound who can miss their bat entirely than a soft-contact specialist.
Chafin can do both. He ranks this season in the 87th percentile in average exit velocity and 96th percentile in strikeout rate. He had a 2.29 ERA across 2021 and 2022 and started this year mostly closing for the Diamondbacks. A couple blowups ended that. But Chafin still held a 2.97 ERA in late July before a five-run outing against St. Louis sent it into the 4s. Try to ignore that. He has the stuff to slam the door in big moments, and with his $7.25 million club option for next season, the Brewers can decide whether to run it back with him in 2024. — SN
Last Power Ranking: 19
Key acquisition: INF Ryan Bliss
All caps. RYAN BLISS. Maybe add a few more “S” s on the end to really drag it out. Bliss was a second-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft after hitting .365 with 15 homers for Auburn, and he hit .358/.414/.594 in Double A this season before a recent promotion. He has 81 stolen bases in 232 professional games. His defense at second base is reportedly strong. So you can picture the type of player he is already: He’s a slap-’n’-vroom guy. He’ll rack up some positive dWAR, and he’ll threaten .290 or .300 in his best seasons, with enough extra-base power to keep pitchers honest.
Also, he’s listed at 5-6.
Which means he’s 3-9, give or take.
Baseball needs a player like this to hit .330 and steal 50 bases. Remember how fun Jose Altuve was before the unpleasantness? The Mariners are absolutely owed a strong career from Bliss. Their fans are, too. He’s a high-risk, volatile prospect, but the potential fun bucks he can offer are off the charts. — GB
Last Power Ranking: 17
Key acquisition: 1B/3B Jeimer Candelario
Almost as if he’d heard the nitwits saying the Cubs hadn’t done enough at the trade deadline, Candelario spent the first week of August slashing .571/.640/.905 (1.545 OPS!) as the Cubs continued their climb in the NL Central standings. Candelario was as good as gone as soon as he caught fire with the Nationals in May. Once the Cubs settled on buying in late July, Candelario was a perfect piece for their punch list, a switch-hitter who will bring the lumber and play plus defense at both corner infield spots. There were so few compelling rental bats on the market at the deadline that, despite making only one move to upgrade their lineup, very few lineups improved as much as the Cubs’ did. And their offensive explosion last week, in which Candelario was on base 16 times in six games, served to shut up some naysayers. Bunch of nitwits. — SN
Last Power Ranking: 18
Key acquisition: RP Dylan Floro
The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman has already weighed in on the Twins’ passivity at the deadline, their only trade coming when they sent reliever Jorge López to Miami for reliever Dylan Floro. López is under control through next season, so the Twins sacrificed some control for better 2023 production. So far … so good? Floro has logged four scoreless appearances for the Twins, including an inning on Sunday in a dramatic victory over the Diamondbacks. The win included a solid debut from Dallas Keuchel, who returned to the big leagues and allowed a run across five innings. Could Keuchel be more impactful than Floro? Well, maybe. His sinker was averaging out around 88 mph on Sunday, and he induced a lot of ground balls. But more importantly: The Twins won their fourth straight and now hold a 4 1/2 game lead in the division, their largest of the year. — RD
Last Power Ranking: T-11
Key acquisition: LHP Sam Moll
You step into the batter’s box, peer out toward the mound and expect to see a prototypical fire-breather from the ‘pen. Instead, it’s this thin, 5-9 Tennessean. Moll starts chucking a combination of sweepers and sinkers your way. You nick a few foul. He tugs his cap. You glower. You’re making contact, but barely. Your hitting coach chirps from the dugout. “Time to do a little damage, kid.” You’re angry now. The manager pipes up: “Here we go, two-nine. Barrel one, two-nine.” But you can’t. Because Sammy Spin Rate has just served you another sweeper. You think you’ve squared it up, but then the ball is bounding harmlessly toward the second baseman. You fling your bat in disgust. After the game, you look up Moll’s Baseball-Reference page. “Ah, Oakland,” you mutter. “No wonder I’d never heard of this guy.” You’re benched the following day. The next time you see Moll, he’s pitching in Game 5 of the NLCS. You’re home.
Anyway, the Reds are spiraling, slipping down the standings and the power rankings. They probably should have made more than one trade. But Moll, he’s been flawless. — SN
Last Power Ranking: 15
Key acquisition: RHP Keynan Middleton
It was such a chaotic week in the Bronx that their inaction at the deadline was forgotten for a moment. Anthony Rizzo went on the injured list with post-concussion syndrome, leading to questions. Domingo Germán won’t pitch again this year after the club announced that he had voluntarily submitted to “inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse.“ Giancarlo Stanton had a base-running kerfuffle. The club split a four-game series against the Astros.
Well … maybe it’s not correct to say the club’s quiet deadline was forgotten. The roster may not be good enough to climb back into playoff position, and the club’s main acquisition — reliever Middleton — has made one scoreless appearance thus far. — RD
Last Power Ranking: T-11
Key acquisition: INF Luis Urías
Urías had three hits in his first two games for the Red Sox, which didn’t help them much over the weekend. They lost all three to the Blue Jays and have four straight losses, falling behind the Yankees for last place in the AL East. Urías offers depth and experience and not too much else. Their postseason odds fluctuate by the day. The Red Sox chose the path of least resistance at the deadline, and now they’ll try to defy the odds and snag a wild-card spot. — RD
Last Power Ranking: 14
Key acquisition: 3B Jake Burger
The Marlins did at least medium-well in the Burger-Eder deal, bringing aboard a hitter who has serious limitations with the bat but bangs. Burger, the White Sox’s 2017 first-rounder whose rise was slowed significantly by injuries, has a 31.2 percent strikeout rate and .293 on-base percentage across almost exactly one full season of MLB games. That’s the bad news. The good news is that he’s hit 34 homers in 558 plate appearances, with a 17.2 percent barrel rate and elite exit velocities. The Marlins needed help at third base, and they needed more pop in the lineup. Burger checks both boxes. And if his .223 BABIP this season normalizes, which you’d expect with someone scorching the baseballs his bat meets, the surface numbers should all improve. The chance to add a power hitter under club control for five more seasons? That’s rare. — SN
“That’s the most fun I’ve had on a baseball field in a really long time.”
— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) August 3, 2023
Last Power Ranking: 21
Key acquisition: RHP Scott Barlow
Barlow’s most recent seasons, by FIP:
Typical reliever volatility aside, that looks like a consistent pitcher. The blip in ERA for 2022 can be explained away by an uncharacteristically high home-run rate, which he’s corrected this season.
Barlow’s most recent seasons, by ERA:
You can see why the Padres are taking a chance. There’s more context to add (his walk rate has spiked, and his velocity is down, which isn’t an ideal combo), but it wasn’t that long ago that Barlow was an ultra-effective major-league reliever. If they get that pitcher again, it’ll be the steal of the deadline. — GB
Last Power Ranking: 13
Key acquisition: LF Tommy Pham
Here’s where Pham ranked this year in his batted-ball statistics, per Baseball Savant:
Average exit velocity: 95th percentile
Max. exit velocity: 89th percentile
Hard-hit percentage: 78th percentile
xwOBA: 95th percentile
Chase rate: 94th percentile
Across the board, he’s absolutely raking. After a season of consistent offense, the Diamondbacks have been scuffling since the start of July, so this is what they need. They also hit right-handers better than southpaws, so Pham fits exceptionally well. He was hitless in his debut, but if he keeps slapping the ball around, the Diamondbacks’ fantasy just might come true. — GB
Last Power Ranking: 16
Key acquisition: RHP Lucas Giolito
Giolito is already off to a scorching hot start with the Angels, with a 2.00 ERA over two starts, which … wait a second … whoops, missed that first digit. Apparently, his ERA is 12.00 in two starts. That’s not good.
Still, allow for an adjustment period for a cerebral pitcher like Giolito, thrust into a pressure-packed situation after a couple years with the White Sox, who were lazily moving buckets and garbage cans around the house, depending on where the roof was leaking. He never did get his home-run rate to be better than the league average, even with his crispest stuff, so his five homers allowed in his first nine innings with the Angels is more than a little concerning. He should still be a quality pitcher, though, and he’ll always offer a higher ceiling than the typical steady innings eater.
The Angels’ biggest problem over the last … well, forever, has been the supporting cast filled with temps found on Craigslist. Picture a blackboard with the respective WARs of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout on it. Now picture a cavalcade of goofballs going up to the front of the class, picking up some chalk, crossing out the old number and writing a new one that’s a little bit lower. They might pump their fists with “San Dimas High School Football rules!” energy as they sit back down, or they might be a little sheepish.
Giolito should help that. The key word: should. It hasn’t happened so far. But it should. Maybe. — GB
Last Power Ranking: 20
Key acquisition: 1B Kyle Manzardo
It’s going to be a minute before Guardians fans see Manzardo, who is recovering from a strain in his non-throwing shoulder. He may see action in the minors before the end of the season, but he’s not expected to be a factor in the big leagues until 2024. That makes him a good symbol for the Guardians’ deadline as a whole. Still in the division race, the Guardians opted to sell and retool for the future, using starting pitcher Aaron Civale to land Manzardo. It diminished their chances of besting the Twins in the AL Central race. And their deadline decisions were by far the least interesting storyline over the weekend. But it’s not over, even after a couple losses to the White Sox. To sum up the weekend:
Last Power Ranking: 25
Key acquisition: LHP Jackson Wolf
Had the Pirates wanted to maximize prospect return at the deadline, they’d have traded David Bednar or Mitch Keller. They elected to hold on to their horses. But despite having very little of value left to deal, the Pirates actually came away with some rather intriguing prospects for their veteran rentals. Wolf, 24, is the biggest (literally) of the bunch. A 6-7 lefty who played college ball down the road — Interstate 79 — at West Virginia, Wolf comes at hitters from a low arm slot and balances out his blah upper-80s fastball velocity with a couple nice breaking balls. The Padres called him up from Double A to make a spot start July 22. He allowed three runs over five innings in a win against the Tigers.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 23, 2023
Then the Padres turned around and traded Wolf for Rich Hill — a much smaller, much older, much more evolved version of the crafty lefty. — SN
Last Power Ranking: 23
Key acquisition: INF Hao-Yu Lee
There was plenty of focus on what the Tigers didn’t do at the deadline: Namely: Trading Eduardo Rodriguez, who nixed a possible trade to the Dodgers and stayed in Detroit. But what about what they did get? Namely, Lee, acquired for right-hander Michael Lorenzen.
Lee is settling in at High-A West Michigan, where he’s slotted in at second base and has showcased his contact skills. He is now the Tigers’ sixth-rated prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, though your mileage may vary when considering his future. He’ll turn 21 in February and appears to be at least a couple years away. But he has the tools, if everything breaks right, to become a regular. — RD
Last Power Ranking: 22
Key acquisition: OF Ryan Clifford
Among the many prospects the Mets got in their salary-eating sell-off, nine are now on their MLB Pipeline top-30 list. That’s a remodel worthy of an HGTV show. Whittling down to a favorite isn’t easy. You like Luisangel Acuña, the kid brother of one of the best players in the game? How about Drew Gilbert? How about Marco Vargas? Take your pick. You’re not wrong. I’m going with Clifford, who is anything but a throw-in second prospect in the Justin Verlander deal. Clifford, an outfielder who just turned 20, entered the weekend with a .912 OPS across 109 games in the minors. He had 16 homers in 58 games for High-A Asheville this season, then joined High-A Brooklyn after the deadline and homered in his first at-bat.
His first at-bat with the Mets organization and Ryan Clifford sent this ball a long LONG way.
— Brooklyn Cyclones (@BKCyclones) August 3, 2023
Acuña and Gilbert have more name recognition to this point, but Keith Law said on The Athletic Baseball Show that Clifford might have the best shot of the three to be a superstar. — SN
Last Power Ranking: 26
Key acquisition: SS Kevin Made
Only two adds for the Nats at the deadline, both coming in the Jeimer Candelario trade, and they now reside side by side on MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings — Made at No. 16, and lefty DJ Herz at No. 17. Made, 20, has been a below-average hitter at High A this season, but his walk and strikeout rates have improved, and his power could improve as he fills out his slender 5-9 frame. The offensive numbers leave much to be desired right now, which is why Made had been slipping down Cubs prospect lists, but his speed, defensive ability and offensive upside make him a pretty ideal fit for the Nationals’ plans. — SN
Last Power Ranking: 24
Key acquisition: RHP Tekoah Roby
Five years from now, maybe we’ll all be sitting around a bonfire reminiscing about the Cardinals’ big steal: trading two months of Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton for Roby, infield prospect Thomas Saggese and reliever John King. I mean, hopefully we’ll have much more interesting things to talk about. But you never know. Roby, a 21-year-old starter at Double A, slots in immediately as one of St. Louis’ best pitching prospects. He has a solid fastball and slider, a plus curve and, so far, limited walks and homers at Double A. I’m not sure how much minor-league FIP is to be believed, but when he has a 5.05 ERA and a 3.84 FIP it at least warrants further investigation. Bottom line: If Roby stays healthy, which is not a given (he’s been on the injured list since June with a shoulder injury), it’s No. 2 or No. 3 starter upside. Kind of like Montgomery. Huh. Would ya look at that? — SN
Last Power Ranking: 27
Key acquisition: C Edgar Quero
Buried in the AL Central, the White Sox re-stocked their farm system by trading a cadre of veterans. But the grand prize is likely Quero, a 20-year-old switch-hitting catcher who was originally signed out of Cuba. Quero was ranked before the season as the 93rd-best prospect in baseball by The Athletic’s Keith Law. (The only thing holding back Quero from future stardom, Law wrote, was his lack of strength.) He projects as the White Sox’s possible catcher of the future, but he just settled in at Double-A Birmingham, which means this key acquisition could be a couple years away. — RD
Last Power Ranking: 28
Key acquisition: RHP Tanner Gordon
To be very clear, the Rockies didn’t have any acquisitions that truly fit this category, but that’s OK. At the very least, they traded veterans and pending free agents for raffle-ticket prospects, and that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do. They’ve struggled to do it in recent deadlines. Bully for them.
Gordon is here by default because he’ll be in Colorado soon enough, if not this year. He’s a command-and-control lefty who was acquired from the Braves for Pierce Johnson, and he’s already reached Triple A, albeit without much success there. He’ll probably never make an All-Star team or pick up down-ballot Cy Young votes, but he gives the Rockies a chance at quality innings over a several-year span. That’s all you can ask for if you’re the Rockies. — GB
Last Power Ranking: 29
Key acquisition: LHP Cole Ragans
The Royals made a flurry of moves at the deadline. They moved Scott Barlow to San Diego, Nicky Lopez to Atlanta, Ryan Yarbrough to the Dodgers, José Cuas to the Cubs. The return for Barlow included an intriguing arm in Henry Williams, who underwent Tommy John surgery at Duke and dropped to the third round as a result. Williams has legitimate upside, according to evaluators, but let’s not get stuck on the new shiny object. You may have forgotten that the Royals also traded Aroldis Chapman to the Rangers on June 30 and received Cole Ragans, a 25-year-old left-hander who was selected in the first round in 2016. Since joining the Royals organization, Ragans has added a slider, improved his velocity a tick and permitted one earned run in 11 innings across two starts. — RD
Last Power Ranking: 30
Key acquisition: RHP Joe Boyle
Boyle is a right-handed pitcher. He’s 6-7, 240. (You start to perk up.) He can touch 102 mph. (You look around incredulously with wide eyes.) He struck out 122 batters in 84 innings in Double A this year. (You’re now the GIF of Vince McMahon falling out of his chair.)
He’s also walked 75 batters in 85 innings. (You cock your head like a confused golden retriever and make a guttural sound.) So he’s, er, a bit of a project. His BB/9 in college was 12.0, and it’s down to 7.6 as a professional. Baby steps! He’s also moving from the Reds, an organization that knows a thing or two about pitching development, to an organization with a three-digit budget for their entire baseball operations department. You can imagine a coach standing in front of a bunch of teenagers, reading from a book like, “Webster’s defines ‘pitching’ as ‘the delivery of a baseball to a batter.’”
Still, this is the kind of size and stuff you can’t teach. If something clicks, the ceiling is literally Cooperstown. If that seems like hyperbole, check out Randy Johnson’s minor-league stats. The odds are microscopically low for that sort of turnaround, but if they can get even half of that development, the A’s would take it. It would be great for the organization, even if it would be bad for doves. — GB
(Top photo of Cody Bellinger: Quinn Harris / Getty Images)