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Graterol Trade On Hold? Valuing Starters and Relievers

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is reporting that the Red Sox’ examination of Twins pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol may have raised concerns before the deal is finalized. The Red Sox “evidently agree that he is not suited for a 150- to 170-inning workload” and, the trade could require an adjustment before the deal can be completed. The new twist highlights how teams (and fans) value relievers versus starting pitchers.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
In the now-delayed deal, the Twins acquired starting pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers in exchange for sending Graterol to the Red Sox. The surprising trade was announced Tuesday night, and Twins fans’ evaluation of the deal tended to vary depending on this very question: just how much upside does Graterol have?

The other side of the trade is easier to evaluate. Maeda’s talent is considerable, and his team-friendly contract makes him even more valuable. But as recently as a month ago, the assumption was that the 100-mph-throwing Graterol would begin the season in the minors as a starting pitcher, keeping him on the path of becoming a rotational ace.

That narrative was reversed when Twins coach Wes Johnson revealed that Graterol was preparing for a bullpen role a few weeks ago. Graterol served in that role in September and in the postseason for the Twins, but had been a starting pitcher to begin the season, before a shoulder impingement shelved him for three months.

If he started the season in a relief role, it was unlikely he would ever return to the starter role for two reasons. First, he was expected to have tremendous success as a late-inning reliever with a triple-digit fastball and a plus-plus slider. But he also had never made more than 19 starts as a pitcher in any year, or pitcher more than 102 innings. His arm had never shown it could withstand a starter’s workload.

“Value” is a tricky term, as it can mean a lot of things. The value to a team of a fire-throwing reliever versus a top-of-the-rotation starter can be debated. Because relievers are used more often, and especially because they are inserted into games in critical moments, they can impact more games in more meaningful ways than a starting pitcher. But starting pitchers pitch more innings, thus suppressing more runs.

Those two values are depicted differently by different statistics. Wins Over Replacement (WAR) values innings pitched, and starting pitchers lead relievers in it every year. But Win Probability Added (WPA) values how much a player increased the probability of their team winning a game. High-impact relievers often lead pitching staffs in that metric.

However, there is another meaning of value: rarity. It is usually harder to find starting pitchers than relievers. This has been especially true for the Twins, as their top-tier bullpen includes lots of reclamation projects, while they spent their offseason futilely begging “impact” starting pitchers to take their six-figure deals.

So when the Twins, who are hungry for impact pitching and flush with relief arms, decided to move potential ace Graterol to the bullpen, it probably should have told us something. It probably should have told the Red Sox something too. Apparently it is now, and it’s significant enough that it is jeopardizing their signature offseason deal, including shedding over $40M in payroll this year.

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134 Comments

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birdwatcher
Feb 06 2020 12:03 PM

Like others, I'm guessing Chaim Bloom has some buyers remorse and feels the sting of the critics, and that the hesitancy is unrelated to new medical information.

 

However, I'd also guess that Boston can figure out a way to look at those MRI's and find language that describes what's in those images in new and creative ways to make their case if they so choose. 

 

I certainly have no reason to expect, you know, some form of honesty somewhere in the mix. Not in this industry.

    • SQUIRREL likes this
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Don Walcott
Feb 06 2020 12:12 PM

 

Could it be the simplest explanation? The RS looked at Graterol's medical history and didn't like what they see?

 

Sheesh. 

You working for the Red Sox, now Chief?

 

In other news, everyone around me seems to have a Boston accent today. They're everywhere!!

    • Nine of twelve likes this

 

Like others, I'm guessing Chaim Bloom has some buyers remorse and feels the sting of the critics, and that the hesitancy is unrelated to new medical information.

 

However, I'd also guess that Boston can figure out a way to look at those MRI's and find language that describes what's in those images in new and creative ways to make their case if they so choose. 

 

I certainly have no reason to expect, you know, some form of honesty somewhere in the mix. Not in this industry.

I get being suspicious of motives, etc. -- but doesn't this theory go way beyond that? You're also assuming Bloom and the Red Sox are pretty naive (to put it charitably), to publicly complete 95% of a long-discussed blockbuster trade of one of the best players in franchise history PLUS ~$50 mil cash, without realizing the trade would hurt a bit and generate negative PR.

    • chpettit19 likes this

 

I get being suspicious of motives, etc. -- but doesn't this theory go way beyond that? You're also assuming Bloom and the Red Sox are pretty naive (to put it charitably), to publicly complete 95% of a long-discussed blockbuster trade of one of the best players in franchise history PLUS ~$50 mil cash, without realizing the trade would hurt a bit and generate negative PR.

I agree. The idea that Bloom is just now realizing that Boston fans would be upset with him trading the face of the franchise and a top 3-5 player in all of baseball is pretty out there. The better idea would be that they didn't look hard enough at whatever medicals they had on Graterol, or are getting different info from their in house drs. Worst case is the Twins did something shady, but I find that to be almost as far fetched as the idea that the Red Sox didn't know they'd take a PR hit by trading Betts.

    • Lasorda_This_Out likes this
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birdwatcher
Feb 06 2020 12:50 PM

 

I get being suspicious of motives, etc. -- but doesn't this theory go way beyond that? You're also assuming Bloom and the Red Sox are pretty naive (to put it charitably), to publicly complete 95% of a long-discussed blockbuster trade of one of the best players in franchise history PLUS ~$50 mil cash, without realizing the trade would hurt a bit and generate negative PR.

 

 

I can only imagine their reaction is related to one of three things: 1) a failure to do a thorough review of the medicals; 2) criticism beyond what they expected; or 3) actual new medical information previously unshared.

 

The first two indicate being "pretty naive". I pick Door # 2, but it's just a guess.

    • Rigby and gagu like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Feb 06 2020 12:58 PM
I think this deal will get done. What will probably happen is I that the Twins will throw in a low minors prospect with upside, or the Dodgers will do that or take on more of Price's contract. I don't think the Twins should really do anything. The Red Sox and the Dodgers need this deal much more than the Twins do. I live in LA and the papers are already trumpeting about how management took on more money and more risk to win that long hoped for championship. The Red Sox need payroll relief. The Twins want Maeda, but they don't NEED Maeda. I think in order of hierarchy this deal is most important to the Dodgers, then to the Red Sox, then to the Twins. I would expect a deal to be tweeked then concluded with the first two doing most of the work
    • alphanumeric, howieramone2, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

 

I can only imagine their reaction is related to one of three things: 1) a failure to do a thorough review of the medicals; 2) criticism beyond what they expected; or 3) actual new medical information previously unshared.

 

The first two indicate being "pretty naive". I pick Door # 2, but it's just a guess.

It's my impression that teams don't actually review any medicals before agreeing in principle on a trade. So it's not really a failure of the Red Sox, or withholding from the Twins.

 

Unless we think the Twins had to share any pessimism they may have felt about Graterol's future as a starter during negotiations. I don't think they have any responsibility to do that; but I think it's entirely possible the Red Sox developed a similar pessimism once they got access to the medicals.

    • wabene likes this

 

I think this deal will get done. What will probably happen is I that the Twins will throw in a low minors prospect with upside, or the Dodgers will do that or take on more of Price's contract. I don't think the Twins should really do anything. The Red Sox and the Dodgers need this deal much more than the Twins do. I live in LA and the papers are already trumpeting about how management took on more money and more risk to win that long hoped for championship. The Red Sox need payroll relief. The Twins want Maeda, but they don't NEED Maeda. I think in order of hierarchy this deal is most important to the Dodgers, then to the Red Sox, then to the Twins. I would expect a deal to be tweeked then concluded with the first two doing most of the work

 

I agree. Betts will be a Dodger when this is all said and done. This trade is really all about the Dodgers and Red Sox. 

 

However... I'm not sure why the Dodgers will pay the difference. If there is an issue with the Twins contribution to the thing. The Twins would have to be the team that makes up the difference so balance is restored. 

 

If the Dodgers make up the difference... the Twins would likely be out. The Red Sox get Maeda or the Dodgers keep Maeda and provide the prospect equivalent to the Red Sox or they replace the Twins with a different third team to satisfy the Red Sox. 

 

The Dodgers are not going to let the Twins stand in the way. This is all about Betts. The Dodgers want him, he's been announced to the fan base. The Red Sox won't want to go through the trade speculation process again. The optimism expressed that this won't sideline the deal is probably referring to the main piece Mookie Betts. The Dodgers and Red Sox probably have a contingency plan worked out and that contingency could have the potential to uninvite the Twins to the party. 

 

Purely Guesses from me... of course.:)

    • Wizard11 likes this
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LewFordLives
Feb 06 2020 02:03 PM
I generally agree with the above posts this trade is more about the Dodgers and Red Sox than the Twins. With the Dodgers taking Price, Maeda is the odd man out (in a way he was odd man out even before this trade). The Sox don't want Maeda because with his incentives his salary could hit $10 million per year, which would defeat the purpose of what they're trying to achieve with this trade. They either need to include the Twins or find another taker for Maeda.
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birdwatcher
Feb 06 2020 02:12 PM

 

It's my impression that teams don't actually review any medicals before agreeing in principle on a trade. So it's not really a failure of the Red Sox, or withholding from the Twins.

 

Unless we think the Twins had to share any pessimism they may have felt about Graterol's future as a starter during negotiations. I don't think they have any responsibility to do that; but I think it's entirely possible the Red Sox developed a similar pessimism once they got access to the medicals.

 

That could be, but i very much doubt that teams are in the habit of negotiating and agreeing to trades like this without receiving the medicals. Skipping that kind of due diligence, even when the decision can be reversed at the mere cost of a monstrous hit to a firm's reputation, would be an act of negligence in any industry that I've ever covered.

 

I agree that the Twins were under no obligation to share their own conclusions, even those based on medicals.

 

That could be, but i very much doubt that teams are in the habit of negotiating and agreeing to trades like this without receiving the medicals. Skipping that kind of due diligence, even when the decision can be reversed at the mere cost of a monstrous hit to a firm's reputation, would be an act of negligence in any industry that I've ever covered.

 

I agree that the Twins were under no obligation to share their own conclusions, even those based on medicals.

I think it's just the opposite. Teams don't see "medicals" or schedule physicals until trade parameters are agreed to. That's why we often see "pending physical" when we learn of trades on MLBTradeRumors.

 

And it's why, to the best of my knowledge, this trade was never formally announced by any of the three teams involved. It was reported widely in the media, but by none of the teams.

 

And again...the simplest explanation is, when Boston did see the medicals, they didn't like what they saw. 

 

No PR considerations, no conspiracies, no attempts to squeeze more from the Twins. They just don't like his chances of being a full time MLB reliever. My guess is the shoulder is the problem, not the elbow, but that's pure speculation.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 9 others like this

 

 

However... I'm not sure why the Dodgers will pay the difference. If there is an issue with the Twins contribution to the thing. The Twins would have to be the team that makes up the difference so balance is restored. 

 

I believe this was basically 2 trades. The Twins agreed to send Graterol to the Dodgers in return for Maeda and the Dodgers then moved Graterol to the Sox in the Betts portion of it. With the Twins only getting Maeda in return I think it's reasonable for them to say "if we're kicking in more we want more" or "this is all we're willing to pay for Maeda." Graterol and Verdugo were the return for Betts and Price (and there was money stuff) so the Twins are certainly within their rights to say "it's not our problem that you don't feel you got enough for Betts, we agreed to a swap of Graterol for Maeda."

 

But then, to your other point, the Dodgers could then pull out of the Maeda part of the trade and give up their own prospect or find a 3rd team. But there is definitely a real reason for why the Twins wouldn't kick in any more and the Dodgers would pay the difference. Not to say they won't, but they have no reason to beyond really wanting Maeda.

 

 

 

 

    • Riverbrian likes this

Just keep those grubby Red Sox mitts off of Balazovic!

    • birdwatcher, James, Twins33 and 6 others like this

NBC Sports is now calling Brusdar "Damaged Goods" - there's no way Boston completes this trade as is with the rumors and PR swirling out there. The media influence has done too much damage at this point.

 

@NBCSBoston

 

Kenta, we hardly knew ye. My guess is that it's back to the drawing board for the Twins unfortunately.

 

https://www.nbcsport...-sox-apparently

 

That could be, but i very much doubt that teams are in the habit of negotiating and agreeing to trades like this without receiving the medicals.

Teams don't hand over medicals on their players just because another team expresses interest. They need to know the other team is serious before handing over that valuable private information, and they do this by unofficially "agreeing in principle" to the trade first, pending medical review. Note that no official trade agreement was ever announced here.

NBC Sports is now calling Brusdar "Damaged Goods" - there's no way Boston completes this trade as is with the rumors and PR swirling out there. The media influence has done too much damage at this point.

@NBCSBoston

Kenta, we hardly knew ye. My guess is that it's back to the drawing board for the Twins unfortunately.

https://www.nbcsport...-sox-apparently


What a shame... At least the prospect people are happy to have their dominant back end reliever again.
    • Twins33, laloesch, bighat and 1 other like this

 

NBC Sports is now calling Brusdar "Damaged Goods" - there's no way Boston completes this trade as is with the rumors and PR swirling out there. The media influence has done too much damage at this point.

 

@NBCSBoston

 

Kenta, we hardly knew ye. My guess is that it's back to the drawing board for the Twins unfortunately.

 

https://www.nbcsport...-sox-apparently

This is a lot like the conspiracy theories that the Sox are trying to get out of it because of unexpected bad PR. There is a 0% chance Bloom, and the rest of the org, didn't expect huge blow back on trading Betts. They were never going to get equal player value in return and it's why they made taking Price part of any possible deal. The team doesn't care that NBC Boston wrote a bad article about them. Bad articles are written every day about every team. The teams don't care.

 

Now that doesn't mean that the Twins aren't pushed out of this deal and end up with no Maeda and Graterol back. But it has absolutely nothing to do with John Tomase writing an article about Brusdar. Media influence has played no role in this trade.

    • USAFChief, SwainZag, Danchat and 4 others like this
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TwinsFan347
Feb 06 2020 03:42 PM

Maeda is a good pitcher, but I'll be happy if we back out of this deal completely. Absolutely, in no way should we add anything to this deal.

    • Jeff_M likes this

 

Maeda is a good pitcher, but I'll be happy if we back out of this deal completely. Absolutely, in no way should we add anything to this deal.

If we add a low-level lottery ticket, I'd be okay with it - albeit grudgingly - but I don't think the Twins should have to pony up anything. It's amazing the backtracking the Sox GM has done, and how the media's run with the story about Brusdar being "damaged goods".

As others have said here, not only do we lose Maeda but Brusdar's value is taking a huge hit and the Twins won't be able to get anything for him if he stays here.

    • Twins33 likes this
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TwinsFan347
Feb 06 2020 04:04 PM

Graterol's perceived value is of little concern to me. I want him pitching for the Twins whether it's out of the BP or as a SP. You can never have too many arms in the BP in today's game.

 

The Red Sox created this mess let them work it out with LA.

    • Jeff_M likes this
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Lasorda_This_Out
Feb 06 2020 04:12 PM

"The Dodgers are not going to let the Twins stand in the way. This is all about Betts. The Dodgers want him, he's been announced to the fan base. The Red Sox won't want to go through the trade speculation process again. The optimism expressed that this won't sideline the deal is probably referring to the main piece Mookie Betts. The Dodgers and Red Sox probably have a contingency plan worked out and that contingency could have the potential to uninvite the Twins to the party."

 

Fine...then the Twins should say "Thanks guys, it was fun..good luck" and keep Brusdar. No worse off or better than we were two days ago....I'm good with that (for now)....

    • Nine of twelve and Jeff_M like this
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birdwatcher
Feb 06 2020 04:44 PM

 

I think it's just the opposite. Teams don't see "medicals" or schedule physicals until trade parameters are agreed to. That's why we often see "pending physical" when we learn of trades on MLBTradeRumors.

 

And it's why, to the best of my knowledge, this trade was never formally announced by any of the three teams involved. It was reported widely in the media, but by none of the teams.

 

And again...the simplest explanation is, when Boston did see the medicals, they didn't like what they saw. 

 

No PR considerations, no conspiracies, no attempts to squeeze more from the Twins. They just don't like his chances of being a full time MLB reliever. My guess is the shoulder is the problem, not the elbow, but that's pure speculation.

 

 

Again, could be, but I'd still be inclined to think the medical review starts earlier with the sharing of existing medicals, and then the trade only becomes official once the acquiring team's own medical staff has a chance to complete a scheduled physical of the player.

 

Personally, I find it utterly unfathomable that the Dodgers would take on half of Price's contract without first seeing what the existing medicals tell them. But hey, what do I know? No more than your average beat writer on the subject i'm guessing.

    • SQUIRREL and Dantes929 like this
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SpicyGarvSauce
Feb 06 2020 04:50 PM

"Damaged goods."

 

LOL okay.

    • Lasorda_This_Out likes this

 

Could it be the simplest explanation? The RS looked at Graterol's medical history and didn't like what they see?

 

Sheesh. 

 

No, it can't be simple. Everyone is out to get "us" and screw "us" over. 

    • Oxtung, Mr. Brooks and chpettit19 like this

 

I think it's just the opposite. Teams don't see "medicals" or schedule physicals until trade parameters are agreed to. That's why we often see "pending physical" when we learn of trades on MLBTradeRumors.

 

And it's why, to the best of my knowledge, this trade was never formally announced by any of the three teams involved. It was reported widely in the media, but by none of the teams.

 

And again...the simplest explanation is, when Boston did see the medicals, they didn't like what they saw. 

 

No PR considerations, no conspiracies, no attempts to squeeze more from the Twins. They just don't like his chances of being a full time MLB reliever. My guess is the shoulder is the problem, not the elbow, but that's pure speculation.

Does anyone actually know the process for certain?I always assumed also that sharing the past medical records were done before it gets to this stage.The "pending physical" was the part where the acquiring team does their own physical before finalizing the deal.Again the language seems weird. They are not saying there are tears or damage. They are saying they are not sure his future ispitching 170 innings which is hardly news.

    • Jeff_M likes this

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