Trade Scripts: Price/Jackson/Smyly

Not to be outdone by Oakland, the Tigers add another ace in David Price
Not to be outdone by Oakland, the Tigers add another ace in David Price

In one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent memory, the stories and tweets surrounding David Price changed every hour. On Wednesday night it seemed like the Rays were going to keep him and make a run at the postseason, if not the AL East on the heels of a 16 win July. As the deadline loomed it became apparent that the Rays were going to trade their ace, and the Tigers became the suitor. Dave Dombrowski has made it his signature to get what the Tigers need at times when it appears they are not worthy. Chalk another one up as not only did he get David Price, but it did not auction off the farm system, although the defense in center field took a definitive downgrade. The long and short of this trade is that the Detroit Tigers acquired David Price after trading Drew Smyly, Austin Jackson and Willy Adames to the Rays who in turn traded Jackson to the Mariners for Nick Franklin. There are many opining that the Rays did not get enough in return for Price but as Buster Olney of ESPN speculated, they probably would have gotten less in return in the offseason. It remains to be seen what will become of all of the parts of this trade, but the Tigers and Mariners addressed present day needs in this deal without mortgaging too much of the future. However, the Rays seem to think they can make Smyly an effective starter now as he will assume the #5 role for the rest of the season. Here are the fantasy implications:

David Price 2014 Stats: 11 W, 170.2 IP, 189:32 K:BB, 3.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

By adding Price to the rotation, not only did the Tigers answer the A’s trade for Lester, but they now have three Cy Young award winners in their starting five. His swinging strike percentage of 11% this year is the second highest of his career and he will join the Tigers for what looks like ten more starts this year. As it projects out, here are his upcoming contests:

Price’s future games: @NY Yankees, @ Toronto, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Tampa Bay, vs. NY Yankees, @ Cleveland, vs. San Francisco, vs. Cleveland, @ Kansas City, vs. Chicago White Sox

Using the games above to get a feel of Price’s outlook, here are his stats against the teams he has faced so far in 2014 or in the last three years courtesy of ESPN.com:

Against NY Yankees: 1 W, 19 IP, 23 K’s, 3.79 ERA
Against Toronto: 2 W, 15.1 IP, 22 K’s, 1.17 ERA
Against Pittsburgh: 1 W, 8.1 IP, 11 K’s, 1.08 ERA
Against Cleveland: 3 W, 27 IP, 29 K’s, 3.33 ERA
Against San Francisco: 9 IP, 5 K’s, 1.00 ERA
Against Kansas City: 8 IP, 8 K’s, 0 earned runs
Against Chicago White Sox: 1 L, 6 IP, 7 K’s, 9.00 ERA

With the exception of the White Sox, Price has had much success against his upcoming opponents. The most interesting opponent very well may be his matchup against his former team in his old house. Trading for Price does not guarantee the Tigers a World Series, but it makes them a serious contender and if everyone gets the heavyweight bout of Oakland and Detroit in the ALCS, it will be great pitching every game.

As an aside, with Austin Jackson gone and Rajai Davis being a weak center fielder, the Tigers have promoted Ezequiel Carrera from their AAA affiliate in Toledo. While he has struggled making contact in the bigs, slashing 251/306/339 over 131 games, Carrera has shown a better approach and is stealing bases. Here are his stats: Ezequiel Carrera AAA 2014 Stats: 97 G, 68 R, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 43 SB, 307/387/422

He may start out at the bottom of the lineup but if he can get on base and steal, he may end up leading off against right-handed pitching as his defense will be needed by Detroit. An intriguing grab in AL only and deeper mixed leagues.

Seattle Mariners get their man in the middle:

Austin Jackson 2014 Stats: 52 R, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 9 SB, 273/332/398

In the midst of his age 27 season, Austin Jackson has been a bit of a disappointment for fantasy owners. Although he did not require use of a high pick to draft, many had A-Jax on breakout lists and figured him to score plenty of runs as the leadoff batter for a prolific offense. However, after early season struggles and batting in the bottom third of the lineup, Jackson seemed to be regressing. Jackson turned his season around after the Tigers put him back at leadoff and it seemed to spark him. Part of Jackson’s struggles can be a bit of bad luck as his line drive and home run per fly ball percentages are both down in 2014. But here is his second half thus far:

13 G, 8 R, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 352/407/537

What’s better is that his peripheral stats support the breakout. Jackson’s second half wOBA is up to .413 and his wRC+ (100 is league average) has jumped to 164 which placed him firmly back on the radar. The move to Seattle should not have much of an effect on him offensively due to the ballpark. It may be the type of move that will help Robinson Cano as he will have someone to drive in. Seattle has been searching not only for a strong defensive center fielder but a leadoff hitter as well. They were able to get both in this deal for Austin Jackson. But it does beg to question, why didn’t they just up the ante and offer James Paxton and get David Price? We will never know but Jackson will stay at leadoff and may run more in Seattle.

Tampa Bay three-way returns Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin, Willy Adames

Drew Smyly 2014: 6 W, 105.1 IP, 89/31 K/BB, 3.93 ERA, 1.31 WHIP

Smyly has been a media favorite as a breakout pitcher for Detroit over the past couple of seasons. They really limited his innings early on but once they needed a fifth starter he got his chance in. However, if the Rays are trying to fill the void left by Price with Smyly, it will be a difficult sell to their fan base. There are a couple of concerns I have about him long term as a starter and it begins with his difficulty in getting right handed batters out. This was limited when he was a reliever but for 2014 here are his present splits:

Versus LHB: 164/192/259 wOBA .201
Versus RHB: 295/360/511 wOBA .378

The struggles in his WHIP lie in the numbers above as right-handed hitters get on base almost 40% of the time. Moving to the AL East is not as bad as it once was, but there are still three other teams in the hunt. Another concern is that he is throwing his slider 30% of the time which is not a worry yet, but it is his go-to pitch to generate swinging strikes and once teams scout him more may lay off the pitch. Extrapolating out his remaining ten starts, these are his matchups:

Smyly as a Ray: @ Oakland, @ Texas, vs. NY Yankees, @ Toronto, @ Baltimore, vs. Boston, vs. Baltimore, @ Toronto, vs. NY Yankees, @ Boston.

Here are his statistics against teams he has faced:
Against Oakland: L, 5 IP, 3 K’s, 4 HR allowed, 10.8 ERA
Against Texas: 1 W, 7 IP, 6 K’s, 0 earned runs
Against NY Yankees: 1 W, 11.2 IP, 13 K’s, 0.77 ERA
Against Baltimore: 1 W, 9 IP, 10 K’s, 1.00 ERA
Against Toronto: 2.2 IP, 2 K’s, 0 earned runs
Against Boston: 1 W, 6 IP, 4 K’s, 1.50 ERA

Admittedly, I was shocked at how well he has done against the AL East teams in particular. But the Yankees have added Chase Headley and Martin Prado, Baltimore has Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz et al with Toronto getting healthy soon, these are going to be some tough matchups. There has to be something that Tampa Bay sees in him to take him as part of this trade, I for one am interested to see how the rest of Smyly’s season goes. I am not adding him as a result of this trade in fact I would sell if the chance arose.

Nick Franklin 2014 AAA Stats: 75 G, 45 R, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 9 SB, 294/392/455

Can Franklin reach his lofty potential in Tampa?
Can Franklin reach his lofty potential in Tampa?

Taking the AAA statistics with a grain of salt is necessary as he plays in the hitter friendly PCL, but he is a former top 100 prospect and it is much too soon to give up on him offensively. A switch hitting second middle infielder that can provide a combination of power and speed is not to be taken lightly in fantasy. With the way that the Rays like to utilize players it will be fun to see if they can fix Franklin and allow him to play not only in September, but for seasons to come. Like Jackson, the ballpark effects are nil as both Seattle and Tampa Bay are pitcher’s parks. This is about opportunity and Franklin got to the majors as a high OBP guy and that is something the Rays cherish.

Willy Adames 2014 A Stats: 98 G, 40 R, 6 HR, 50 RBI, 3 SB, 269/346/428

This is the piece of the trade that will take time to process. It is hard to grade out the winners and losers though many are seeing this as a huge loss by Tampa. Willy Adames is the youngest player in the Midwest League but has posted a very respectable slash line in the process. Jim Callis and Ben Badler both were high on hearing the Rays get Adames in return for David Price. Rival executives had Adames as their highest rated prospect in the Tigers system so although it looks like the Rays lost huge in this deal, if Adames can match the hype and continue his fast climb through the minors, it could be a couple years down the road for the Rays. Time will tell but keeper league AL-only players have a shortstop they can stash as Tampa Bay has needed a high end shortstop prospect for some time. It just begs the question though, if Addison Russell could have been had for Price, then trading him would have been more palatable to the Rays fan base.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: ESPN.com, BrooksBaseball.net, Fangraphs.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/XjZB7t (Price), http://goo.gl/fVfMef (Franklin)

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