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Revisiting Falvine Trades: Part 1, Ryan Pressly


Tyy1117

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The 2021 Minnesota Twins have a very bad, beyond terrible, no-good bullpen. We all know that. Let's take a break from the 2021 Minnesota Twins Dumpsterfire Bullpen, and talk about something closely related, the Ryan Pressly trade. As part 1 in a series where we'll take a look back at trades "Falvine" made early in their tenure, and re-evaluate them, what's more fitting for right now than this deal that has an impact on Twins' bullpens of past, present, and future?

The Trade:

Houston Astros Receive: RP Ryan Pressly (MLB)

 

Minnesota Twins Receive: P Jorge Alcala (MiLB), OF Gilberto Celestino (MiLB)

 

Twins' fans weren't fans of this one at first, especially as Pressly went on to be dominant down the stretch in 2018 posting a 1.49 FIP in 23.1 IP after his arrival in Houston. In 2019 he followed that performance up with an All-Star appearance in a season worth 1.7 WAR. All this and Twins' fans had yet to see Celestino or Alcala in the Majors. So at this point some of y'all may be saying "So if we weren't fans of it at first, why would we be fans now?" The answer, Jorge Alcala. He had a 3.79 xFIP in 2020 and has followed it up with a 3.80 xFIP so far in 2021 (although he has had some home-run-itis lately, but that should regress to the mean according to xFIP). He has started to become a quality reliever, and has just barely hit a year of service time. 

 

Oh, and don't forget the Twins' number 8 prospect according to MLB.com, and Buxton's heir apparent, Gilberto Celestino. He's not going to be Buxton, but he does profile as an eventual starting center fielder. 

So let's break down exactly what each team got in terms of production.

 

Houston Astros:

--Ryan Pressly

          3.1 WAR paying $2,800,000 and eventually the right to overpay him by a LOT.

 

Minnesota Twins:

--Jorge Alcala

          0.5 WAR paying minimum MLB salary, and 5 more years of team control.

--Gilberto Celestino

          Nothing, yet. However he is the 8th best prospect the Twins have, which holds considerable value for the future

 

Hey, it all seems okay. A trade where the Twins probably got more value, but the Astros got a reliever that helped them hold on to leads given to them by trash cans, leading them deep into the playoffs. All parties involved come away happy, the makings of a wonderful trade.

 

All stats are thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs, photo is thanks to MLB.com

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Good read. I wasn’t a huge fan of the trade at the time, but I think this is a case where both teams come out as “winners”. Pressly has been good for the Astros, and Alcala is a decent MR with room to grow forward. Celestino is a wild card here, and at the floor is a 4th OF. 

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IIRC, at the time I thought it was a pretty good trade, though obviously a controversial one. It still looks that way on paper, though there's a lot more that needs to play out to see how the Twins fared in that deal.

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While relatively minor in terms of WAR, it's a very interesting trade to analyze.

There are a couple other factors worth considering:

1. The Twins traded Pressly in 2018, but then turned around and traded minor league assets for relief help at the 2019 deadline. Had they kept Pressly, maybe those assets could have gone toward bolstering the lineup and rotation instead. Hard to imagine what would break the playoff curse at this point, but a different approach in 2019 (and 2020) could have helped.

2. Alcala and Celestino could easily out-produce Pressly over the span of their team control years -- but if those performances come in seasons when the rest of the team is poor, they may be less valuable than Pressly's 2019 could have been to a postseason team.

3. I'm not sure how to phrase it, but piggybacking on #2, I think future WAR can often be "discounted" a little bit compared to present WAR. Maybe "opportunity cost"? If Alcala contributes 1 WAR to the 2022 pen, that's nice -- but it's not as if we would have been 1 WAR worse in 2022 if we hadn't made the Pressly trade. Four years of FA, trade, and development decisions would have all changed a bit in that alternate scenario, and we probably could have come up with a 2022 alternative that provided some percentage of Alcala's contribution. Enough that a slight edge in WAR may not be enough to tip the scales toward the Twins side of the ledger -- some plus performances from Alcala and Celestino might be necessary for that.

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Hope vs Reality. I take Reality. This trade still only sucks.

Looking like the Expert Pitching Identifiers in the FO laid a monster egg on trading Huascar Ynoa (who is looking like a stud for the Braves) for Jaimie Garcia flipped for Enns and Littell. Is anyone still believing these guys can select and develop top notch pitching? I sure don't.

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I was not a big fan of the trade at the time as I felt the 2018 Twins had more talentthan their record and had a shot to be pretty good in 2019. And, as it turned out, the Twins WERE very good in 2019 and ended up with a solid bullpen, overall, to finish the season even though the first half was held together with duct tape, bailing wire and overuse of Rogers.

However, the arm talent of Alcala is tantalizing, even if he never achieves stud closer status. There is absolutely potential for him to at least be a quality set-up man. Celestino is not a direct replacement for Buxton, shoud that occur in a couple of years. But he is a legitimate CF defensively with a budding bat, some pop and a little potential power to go along with speed and SB potential to bring a different dimension to the club.

Right now, I would rather have had Pressly the past 3yrs, even though I don't know how much of a difference he would make here in 2021. He AND May this season may have made a difference. But 2yrs from now, I think it's very possible we watch Alcala in the pen and Celestino as a starting OF, or at worst a young 4th OF still developing, and we may see this as a WIN for the Twins. But I think we're still a couple seasons from having a final determination here.

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7 hours ago, h2oface said:

Hope vs Reality. I take Reality. This trade still only sucks.

Looking like the Expert Pitching Identifiers in the FO laid a monster egg on trading Huascar Ynoa (who is looking like a stud for the Braves) for Jaimie Garcia flipped for Enns and Littell. Is anyone still believing these guys can select and develop top notch pitching? I sure don't.

Not to continue this tangent, but this and done.  It looks like Ynoa isn't too smart, though....
"Ynoa broke his hand after punching the dugout in frustration following a tough outing yesterday against the Brewers, and will now spend approximately two months or more in recovery.  It’s a very unfortunate setback for a player who has become an unexpectedly big part of Atlanta’ rotation this season."

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I’m still not sure I’d call this a win, or an even trade for Minnesota 3 years later. Alcala has a bit more Jim Hoey to him than I’d like. Dude throws hard but has no clue where it’s going to end up. Celestino is still a year or more away from being considered an MLB asset. 

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11 hours ago, h2oface said:

Not to continue this tangent, but this and done.  It looks like Ynoa isn't too smart, though....
"Ynoa broke his hand after punching the dugout in frustration following a tough outing yesterday against the Brewers, and will now spend approximately two months or more in recovery.  It’s a very unfortunate setback for a player who has become an unexpectedly big part of Atlanta’ rotation this season."

Huascar should've watched "Bull Durham". Then he'd have known not to use his pitching arm! :)

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