Twins' Front Office Finds Desired Balance in the Brusdar Graterol Trade
Image courtesy of © Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsFalvey and general manager Thad Levine found that balance last week when they traded MLB Pipeline’s No. 83 prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Los Angeles Dodgers for veteran starting pitcher Kenta Maeda. Graterol was a consensus top five prospect in the Twins’ system and was slated to throw peas in Minnesota’s 2020 bullpen. Here was the finalized deal:
Maeda is an entirely serviceable mid-rotation arm with great strikeout numbers and postseason pedigree. In a division and league loaded with right-handed sluggers, the Twins may have pegged Maeda’s stout ability to get them out.
This isn’t a Royce Lewis-for-Noah Syndergaard type of deal. The Twins are both quietly and outwardly expressing their continued desire for sustained success. Maeda is under control for four more seasons at a base salary of $3 million per year. With the Dodgers sending $10 million, the Twins theoretically pay Maeda $500,000 in guaranteed yearly salary.
The incentives are the kicker. Maeda has averaged 26 starts, 147 innings and $8.25 million in the first four years of his contract. This is essentially a four-year, $34-42 million contract if Maeda stays healthy and effective. By penciling in José Berríos, Maeda, and Michael Pineda into the 2021 rotation, Falvey and Levine avoid repeating the daunting task of filling four rotation spots next winter.
This is absolutely an investment in the current 101-win core, but in the duo’s eyes, they are also adding to the floor of the future. There will be signifcant overlap with current assets into the next core of Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jhoan Duran, and Jordan Balazovic. The more overlap, the higher the floor and ceiling. Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler are Twins through at least 2024, and Miguel Sanó, Maeda, and Mitch Garver are under contract through 2023. Lewis isn’t far away, Kirilloff was phenomenal at the end of 2019, and once you get a pronunciation tweet, you’re coming soon.
While the instant perception to any prospect-for-veteran trade is sacrificing the future for the present, this case may be different. Maeda provides sustained stability to a roster that may become too full of excelling regulars in the next few years. Graterol is an immense talent with an unknown future, and Falvey and Levine chose the sure thing in Maeda.
Josh Donaldson adds upside and flare to a team filled with consistent contributors. He is a prize for focusing on team-friendly, short-term deals since Falvey and Levine took over in 2016. Maeda is another piece with a considerable floor of four solid years, with maybe some untapped potential too. By creating cost control and seeking relatively "free" books, Falvey and Levine will be able to target high-profile free agents every single winter.
What do you think? Was the Graterol-for-Maeda trade more about 2020 or the future? Comment below!
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