The three-team mega blockbuster involving the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers is finally complete.
At this point, most Twins fans are aware of what happened - a deal was in place on February 4th, sending Graterol to Boston as part of the return for offloading Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers. However, that soon changed after Boston came to the conclusion that Graterol was not destined to be a starting pitcher. This was a conclusion that the Twins publicly announced well in advance of the trade. Chaos, medical speculation, and finger pointing ensued, and the entire trade between the three teams was put on ice.
This was perhaps the most dramatic trade saga of my Minnesota Twins fandom, maybe ranking behind the Johan Santana rumors that dominated the entire 2008 offseason.
I will spare you all the back-and-forth rumors between Boston getting cold feet and the revised agreement between the three teams, as this is a massive movement of players. Instead, the changes in the Twins aspect is highlighted below:
2/4 Twins Agreement V1
- Twins trade Brusdar Graterol to Boston.
- Twins acquire Kenta Maeda from Los Angeles.
2/9 Twins Agreement V2
- Twins trade Brusdar Graterol, 2020 Comp B Draft Pick, and Luke Raley to Los Angeles
- Twins acquire Kenta Maeda, $10M in cash assets, and Jair Camargo © from Los Angeles.
The second version is much more complex, but paints a better picture of the Twins 2020 mindset. While the delay was agonizing, irritating, and heart-burn inducing, I think the Twins used time to their advantage and improved their haul from the first version.
Let’s review what changed from the first trade to the second, and how the Twins sacrificed future unknowns for increased flexibility to improve the 2020 club at a later date.
The 67th Pick In the 2020 MLB Draft
Here’s a look at the Twins’ last 25 second round picks - ranging from pick number 37 to 92.
There’s a lot of variability here, with 71% of the bWAR coming from the combination of Scott Baker and Jesse Crain. The Twins have failed to receive value from the second round in the last decade, but the second round picks from the Falvine regime are legitimate prospects within the system. The jury is out on anyone drafted from 2016 onward.
Make no mistake - the Twins are taking an unprecedented risk for this organization by trading a draft pick this high, especially after losing the #99 pick for signing Josh Donaldson. However, there’s a very realistic chance this pick doesn’t reach the MLB level. If the player were to reach the majors, it would likely be in year outside of the Twins current competitive window. There’s plenty of second round draft talent currently in the system to supplement the current core.
Another way to look at the value of this pick is by equating it to a monetary value. Fangraphs placed the value of the 67th pick in 2019 at $4.1M. That factors in a signing bonus subtracted from projected future value, based on historic WAR from players picked in that slot. That’s an interesting way to look at this part of the trade, considering the dollar amount that Los Angeles is providing.
$10M in Cash Assets
Cash. Don’t worry, this isn’t meant to line the pockets of the Pohlads. This is spending money for the 2020 Trade Deadline in late July/early August. This allows them to acquire an asset at the deadline using more financial capital, and less prospect capital.
Judging from their pre-Donaldson free agent signings, it’s clear that Falvey and Levine crave financial flexibility. Here are several ways to look at this incoming cash, beyond use in a trade scenario:
- Covering the majority of Kenta Maeda’s base salary ($12.5M through 2023)
- Covering Maeda’s full 2020 contract, if he hits the majority of his incentives.
- Pays for the #67 Comp B draft pick, with roughly $5.9M in excess value.
This is a huge benefit over the previous agreement, as it protects the Twins if Maeda flames out, or allows more budget room to acquire a pricier trade target in July. The $10M from Los Angeles will go to valid use in many scenarios.
Luke Raley for Jair Camargo
Luke Raley boomerangs back to the organization that dealt him to Minnesota for Brian Dozier in 2018. In exchange, the Twins are receiving a low-level catching prospect in Jair Camargo.
Camargo is a young catcher at 20 years old, and played at Class A last year in the Great Lakes league. His offensive line was middling with a .642 OPS, but he is rumored to have a strong exit velocity from his bat (90 MPH+) with a high hard hit percentage. The Twins seem to like that offensive profile, and the fact it's coming from a catcher is extra appealing. It never hurts to add catching depth at any level.
The Twins are giving up Raley, who was a fine prospect, but he suffered through an injury for the majority of 2019. He projects as a corner outfield platoon/bench piece, and that role is valuable to MLB clubs. However, the Twins outfield depth is immense, with a young starting core on the MLB team, and multiple top 100 ranked outfield prospects behind him in Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff.
Even with blockages in front of him, and top prospects behind him - Raley was competing alongside multiple outfielders at a similar level of development. Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade Jr, and Brent Rooker are all fellow outfielders with similar ages and projections to Raley. All of these similar corner outfielders were occupying 40-man roster spots.
The major benefit in trading away Raley to Los Angeles, is that it immediately opens up a 40-man roster spot for the 2020 team. Camargo is years away from being added, and is essentially a lottery ticket at a premium position. For now, the open 40-man roster vacancy creates a large amount of flexibility. The open spot can be used for Jhoulys Chacín, an injury replacement, or a future acquisition.
Brusdar Graterol Is Gone - But To A Different Opponent
Fair trades are supposed to hurt, right? This aspect did not change, as pitchers who throw 100 MPH+ do not grow on trees.
It still hurts to lose Graterol, but the same analysis that applied a few days ago remains the same. The Twins are betting that Graterol will remain in the bullpen, and are filling an area of need in the starting rotation, from an area of strength on the 2020 team. Unlike Boston, Los Angeles is fine with Graterol’s likely reliever projection. The Twins are hoping Graterol doesn’t turn into Aroldis Chapman.
So why is the version of the trade more beneficial to the Twins, in relation to Brusdar? Simple, the Twins won’t have to face him nearly as much over the next few years if he’s pitching in the National League, compared to two guaranteed series per year against Boston. Of course, that could change with a few late October match-ups against Los Angeles, but we’d all be very pleased if that’s the case. It’ll be much easier to root for him in Dodger Blue for the next few years.
The End Result
The one constant between the two versions of this trade is that Kenta Maeda is still coming to the Twins, as the #3 starter to open the season. The Twins had to get a bit more creative after Boston shied away from Graterol, but Los Angeles was a flexible trade partner.
While the first version of this trade was already risky with the Twins shipping away Graterol’s sky-high potential, the second version adds even more risk to the equation. The loss of the Comp B draft pick and Luke Raley could come back to sting in their own rights. However, I’m glad the Twins doubled down, as the increased roster and financial flexibility for 2020 are the only known factors in this entire deal.