On the heels of perhaps the biggest trade rumor that will surface during the off-season, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A’s and Miami Marlins pulled off another shocker, agreeing to send three-time All Star closer Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington to Miami while Oakland landed center fielder Chris Young and the Marlins receiving prospect Yordy Cabrera.
Miami will pay $8 million of the $21 million owed to Bell over the next two seasons. Each of the players involved in the trade, however, are coming off of disappointing seasons.
Bell, who was one of the many splashes Miami made during the last offseason, disappointed in his first year, posting a 5.09 ERA and closing out 19 of just 27 save opportunities before eventually losing his ninth inning duties.
Pennington hit .215/.278/.311 and his total offensive production was 35% below the league average. Young has the highest ceiling among all the involved players, but injured his shoulder this season and never quite recovered. And Cabrera hit just .232/.293/.332 in High-A.
Assuming Young’s shoulder woes won’t be an issue going forward – and that’s not a certainty, he hit .206/.284/.371 after his return from the DL – this should be an easy win for Oakland.
Having lost his job to Stephen Drew down the stretch, Pennington failed to capitalize on his singular strong showing in 2010 when he earned nearly four wins above replacement. Since then, the 28-year old totaled 2.8 wins. At best, he’s a league average starter, maybe a touch above.
After Bell’s initial struggles, he was able to rebound, posting a 3.10 ERA with a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio from July 15. But he’s 35 and hasn’t had a dominating season since 2010.
He’s definitely going to rebound next season – thanks in large part to a fluky .340 BABIP and low strand rate this year – but he’s going to be overpaid for the type of production he’ll likely post, even at the pro-rated amount Arizona will have to pick up.
Cabrera, Oakland’s 15th prospect coming into the season, showed no development at the plate this year, which is troubling because he’s in an age-appropriate level. Plus, both his strikeout and walk rates took minor steps back too. He has potential, but is far too raw right now.
As for Young, he’s one of the more underappreciated players in the league. Coming off of back to back seasons in which he was worth 4.6 fWAR, he still managed to earn nearly three wins because of his above-average defense.
At his best he’s a solid four-tool player capable of 20+ steals and home runs, great defense and a strong arm. The only drawback being his low averages (.239 for his career). But, fortunately, for him he’s walking into easily the most recognizable – right or wrong – statistically based teams in baseball.
In the end, Oakland upgraded a pivotal position, especially considering Young’s defensive prowess and the team’s young pitching, without a significant cost.