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Weighing the risks of including Ricky Tiedemann in a potential Juan Soto deal
2 months ago
Another off-season, another article outlining why it’s less than ideal to want to trade Ricky Tiedemann.
Last season, the 21-year-old left-handed prospect’s name came up in trade rumours for Bryan Reynolds of all players. If you’re wondering, Pittsburgh’s star player re-signed with the Pirates and slashed .263/.330/.460 with 24 homers in 640 plate appearances for a 110 wRC+ and 2.3 fWAR.
But this year, they aren’t talking about trading Tiedemann for Reynolds, and are instead talking about trading him for generational talent Juan Soto.
We’ll go over both Tiedemann and Soto’s numbers, before looking at why this would be a bad idea.
Brief overview of the numbers:
Last season, Soto slashed .275/.410/.519 with a career-high 35 homers in 708 plate appearances for a 155 wRC+ and 5.5 fWAR. As the 25-year-old outfielder is one to do, he walked (18.6 BB%) more than he struck out (18.2 K%) with the Padres in 2023.
Although it was a fantastic season and better than the majority of players in the major leagues, it was not his best. That season came in 2021, when he slashed .313/.465/.534 with 29 homers in 654 plate appearances for a 164 wRC+ and a 7 fWAR. He’s still a great player.
As for Tiedemann, the 21-year-old broke into MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospect list after a fantastic 2022 season when he had a 2.17 ERA and 2.51 FIP in 78.2 innings pitched between Single-A, High-A, and Triple-A, along with a 38.9 K% and 9.6 BB%
The 2023 season didn’t run as smoothly for Tiedemann, as he posted a 5.06 ERA and 2.12 FIP in 32 innings pitched in Double-A, where he also had a 39.7 K% and a 13.7 BB%. Not just that, but he had a left bicep injury that kept him out of action for a couple of months, which prompted the Jays to send him to the Arizona Fall League (where he won the Pitcher of the Year).
Without additional context, you absolutely trade a prospect pitcher for a generational talent any day that ends with a y. However, let’s look at some reasons why it’s less than ideal to trade Tiedemann.
Juan Soto is an expiring free agent:
Whenever you trade for a major rental like Soto, you better win the World Series or hope you can re-sign him, because if not, there’s a good chance you lose that trade.
The thing is, only one team can win the World Series and one player can’t do it all (look no further than Shohei Ohtani on the Angels). While the Jays are better constructed than the Angels, adding Soto may not be enough to push them over the edge unless players like Alejandro Kirk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and George Springer have similar seasons to 2021 and 2022.
What about re-signing him? That seems unlikely as Soto is a Scott Boras client. The super agent’s clients almost always head to free agency when they’re able to.
Not many suitors for his contract:
Within the next few months, Juan Soto is going to make more money than any of us reading this article will ever make (on top of the money he’s already made). MLB Trade Rumors predicts that he’ll make $33,000,000 from his final arbitration, while SportTrac believes he’ll make a lot less, $27,000,000 to be exact.
There are only a finite number of suitors willing to take on that type of money. The Philadelphia Phillies spend big and may even have room for Soto after Bryce Harper had been moved to first base; however, they haven’t been mentioned in any rumors.
The New York Mets have gone on a spending spree the past two off-seasons, but with how much they underperformed, are they willing to trade a bunch of players for one year of Soto? Maybe not, especially considering they are going to “re-tool” for the 2024 season according to former Mets pitcher, Max Scherzer.
The Dodgers of course, are always big players in free agency and have no issues spending big. However, they are in the same division as the Padres and are the betting favourites to sign Shohei Ohtani, with Yoshinobu Yamamoto being the likely backup option.
Of course, a team like Texas or Chicago could swoop in and trade for Soto, but it seems as if the Soto sweepstakes will be down to the Blue Jays or the Yankees. While they have some leverage, Soto’s contract estimates will knock out over half the league from attempting to trade for him.
Padres looking to cut payroll:
At the start of November, an article from The Athletic was published which reported the fact that the Padres took out a loan worth $50,000,000 to pay for salaries. Now, this happens quite often so some officials weren’t concerned, but where there is smoke, there’s fire.
It seems increasingly likely that the Padres will trade Soto, and due to the fact they took out a loan and are looking to cut salary, that may weaken the Padres’ leverage significantly.
To wrap this up, let’s look at Tiedeman’s potential.
The list of left-handed starting pitchers that average over 95 mph on their fastball is slim. According to Baseball Savant statistics, the only pitchers that averaged 95 mph or more on their fastball are: Shane McClanahan, Jesús Luzardo, and Cole Ragans, Tarik Skubal, Blake Snell, Carlos Rodón, James Paxton, Ryan Weathers, MacKenzie Gore, and Yusei Kikuchi.
There’s some not-so-great pitchers on that list, specifically Rodóon who was brutal for the Yankees in 2023, but that’s a pretty damn good list of excellent pitchers or pitchers with the potential to be excellent.
When Tiedemann pitched with the Buffalo Bisons in September, the 21-year-old’s fastball averaged 95.1 mph. Keep in mind, this was after the injury and towards the end of the season and it’s natural for velocity to drop as the season wears on, Nathan Eovaldi is a prime example of this. When Tiedemann rehabbed with the Dunedin Blue Jays, his fastball averaged 96.1 mph and an even better 97.2 mph in Spring Training.
Add the fact that his changeup is rated as a 70 grade by MLB Pipeline with an above average slider and average control (minus a rough walk rate in 2023), and Tiedemann has the makings of a front-end of the rotation starter.
There’s a common saying that “banners fly forever” that makes me upset. I, like many of you probably are, am a fan of the Toronto Raptors. If you look at the state of the team now, are you thinking “I’m happy with one championship if it means where they are in 2023-24”, or are you like me and are like “I really wish they were able to sign Kawhi Leonard”?
Winning a championship is hard in sports and consistently being good for a decade or longer gives you your best chance of winning multiple championships.
When it comes down to it, keeping Tiedemann or trading him for Juan Soto both carry risks. If the Jays were to trade Tiedemann + for Soto, it would help their chances of winning the World Series in 2024, but diminish it in the following seasons if he doesn’t re-sign. While keeping Tiedemann likely doesn’t help the team in 2024, his potential as a front-line rotation starter could help the Jays push for a title in the following seasons as he’ll have six seasons of team control.
This isn’t even to mention the fact that they could just sign Shohei Ohtani in the 2023-24 off-season to get that generational bat. If they don’t get him, why not just wait an extra season and push for Soto in the 2024-25 season? Why give up a potential ace for a season of Soto? To me, it doesn’t make sense even if Tiedemann doesn’t reach his potential.
I’m not saying don’t trade for Juan Soto, all I’m saying is that trading Tiedemann for his isn’t a smart idea.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.
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