What Do Yesterday’s Trades Suggest About This Year’s Deadline Market?

Yesterday, the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees — two teams currently sitting in Wild Card positions — got out ahead of the punch by acquiring some of the most coveted rental assets on the trade market.

The D-Backs acquired J.D. Martinez from the Tigers, who are now clearly in sell mode. In return, the Tigers were given an underwhelming haul of prospects. A few hours later, it was reported the Red Sox were on their way to acquiring slugger Todd Frazier from the White Sox. But then the Yankees swooped in and pulled the trigger on a mega-deal for Fraizer, closer David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle, sending Chicago, who’s fully embraced the tank, a package around top prospect Blake Rutherford.

What do these two deals tell us about the 2017 trade market? And, most importantly, what does it mean for the Blue Jays and their possible rental assets? Spoiler: It isn’t good. 

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That kind of tells you all you need to know about Detroit’s return for their best rental asset. Martinez was easily the best position player available at the trade deadline this season. Martinez missed a chunk of this season with injury, but has been excellent when healthy. Through 57 games, the 29-year-old Martinez has 16 home runs, 39 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.108.

But, unfortunately for the Tigers, there aren’t many buyers out there looking for position players. The D-Backs sent them Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantra, and Jose King. The best of the group is Lugo, who was Arizona’s fourth-ranked prospect. You might remember him as the warm body sent to Arizona back in 2015 when the Jays acquired Cliff Pennington.

Lugo is 22 years old and has a .753 OPS in Double-A, Alcantra is 21 years old and has a .706 OPS in Single-A, and Jose King literally sounds like the kind of player who is generated by the computer when you’re deep into a career mode file on MLB The Show. None of them were ranked on Baseball America’s mid-season Top 100 list earlier this month.

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The Yankees/White Sox deal was a lot more interesting. Chicago, who shipped Chris Sale and Adam Eaton away last winter for massive returns, added to their ridiculous crop of prospects by sending New York what they have left of actual Major League assets. They sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees and got back Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Tyler Clippard.

According to South Side Sox, this deal is best to be broken into two separate trades… 

  • White Sox get: Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, and Tyler Clippard
  • Yankees get: Todd Frazier and David Robertson


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  • White Sox get: Blake Rutherford
  • Yankees get: Tommy Kahnle

The first part of the deal is much like Detroit’s return for Martinez.

Fraizer is a former All-Star who’s had a pretty miserable season at the plate, owning .207 batting average and .761 OPS through 81 games, but is still an upgrade on New York’s light-hitting first/third base situation. Robertson spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Yankees before signing with the White Sox prior to the 2015 season.

Tyler Clippard is a salary dump going back to Chicago, and Robertson will immediately be an upgrade on him in a seventh inning role. Clarkin was a first round pick by the Yankees in 2013. He’s missed quite a but of time due to injury, but is a prospect with high upside. Polo is a 22-year-old with a .780 OPS in Single-A. Clarkin will show up somewhere between No. 15-25 on Yankees’ prospect rankings while Polo is more of a flier.

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The second part of the deal shows you how valuable young relievers with control are right now.

Blake Rutherford comes in at No. 36 on Baseball America’s Top 100 list. He was selected 18th overall in the 2016 draft and is hitting a .733 OPS in Single-A as a 20-year-old this season. He has a smooth left-handed stroke with great bat speed and recognizes pitches well. If all goes well, Rutherford projects to be one of those rare players that hits for contact and power.

Kahnle, interestingly enough, was drafted by the Yankees back in 2010, but was scooped up by the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft. He was acquired by the Sox in a deal before the 2016 season and has been excellent since. This season, Kahnle has tossed 36 innings with a 2.50 ERA and is striking out a whopping 15 batters per nine innings.

What does it all mean?

The market for position players are virtually non-existent right now. Really, the market seems to be heavily favouring the buyer. That might change as we get closer to the deadline, but as of right now, it isn’t costing contending teams very much to make major upgrades.

J.D. Martinez, a very, very good player, returned virtually nothing of consequence. If you thought Jose Bautista was going to net the Blue Jays something good on the trade market, this should tell you otherwise. Obviously the deal split that South Side Sox put together isn’t perfect and that surely isn’t how it actually went down, but it also shows how little value Frazier, a struggling player with a track record, has right now.

This also brings me to Josh Donaldson’s market. Many have suggested the time is now to trade Donaldson because he’ll have more value for two playoff runs rather than one. Obviously that makes a lot of sense, but judging by how teams seem to be skittish on position players right now, it’s best to wait until the offseason. One year of J.D. Martinez isn’t two years of Josh Donaldson, but based on that return, it’s hard to imagine being happy with that we’d get for the former MVP in a deadline sell.

The most interesting thing here, I figure, is how much Kahnle was able to return. Though Robertson and Frazier are the bigger names in the deal, it seems that Kahnle was the player that the Yankees were willing to pay a high price for. That, along with what Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and others have garnered recently, suggests that if the Jays are actually going to go the rebuild route next year, Roberto Osuna would be able to net them a massive package in return.

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  • The Humungus

    Ken Rosenthal speculating that the Yanks could look to deal Betances, maybe now, but likely in the winter, to recoup the prospect capitol lost through this trade. I thought that was pretty telling about him and the value of relievers.

    Aside from that, maybe now is the time to trade JD? I mean, Christ, I don’t even know what to think, aside from Martinez being on nearly 50 homer pace for 162 right now and netting that mediocre of a return as a right handed bat on the wrong side of 30 with worsening defensive metrics. After the Yanks make their deal, you’d have to think that a healthy Joe Smith and JD nets the Jays a monster haul from the BoSox? Shit, that would hurt.

  • breasteve

    I’m good with Osuna being moved provided the return is amazing and the bulk of it is ML ready guys.

    If position players market is down why not trade for Solarte – switch hitting 2B/3B with more bat than Goins/Barney.

  • jerjapan

    Donaldson is no Martinez though … DH only types have seen their value crater, but JD is a legit weapon defensively, at a more important position, he can run, he’s coming off an MVP calibre season … the question is whether or not teams feel his injury is significant going forward.

    • lukewarmwater

      As they were pointing out on the broadcast this evening, poor Donaldson is more banged up than Carroll was with the Raptors. Feet acting up, hamstring problems, thumb problem, knee acting up. No wonder he has slumped into the 240 range and has been committing a number of errors. Teams might be quite apprehensive on the former M.V.P.