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  • Trade Retrospective: Who Won the Jake Cave/Luis Gil Trade?


    Cody Christie

    On Monday, Luis Gil took the mound against his former organization, and he has been impressive in his first taste of the big leagues. Does that mean the Yankees won the Jake Cave trade? It's a lot more complicated than that.

    Image courtesy of Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports

    In March 2018, the Yankees had a surplus of big-league caliber players on their 40-man roster. This made Jake Cave expendable as the team designated him for assignment. At 25-years-old, Cave hadn’t made a big-league appearance, but he had compiled some strong numbers at Triple-A. In 72 games, he hit .324/.367/.554 with 15 homers. As Minnesota entered their winning window, Cave made sense as outfield depth on a team ready to contend. 

    At the time of the trade, Luis Gil was a 19-year old that was coming off a season in the Dominican Summer League. He was older than the average age of the competition at that level and he posted a 2.59 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. Minnesota had initially signed him in 2015 for a $90,000 signing bonus. He made his professional debut in 2015 but missed all of 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He was far from the big leagues, and the Twins didn’t think he would develop into a starter. 

    During Monday’s TV broadcast, Justin Morneau brought up the point that the Twins saw Gil as only having two pitches, which usually results in being a reliever. So far in his big-league career, this evaluation was correct as he has used his fastball and slider over 92% of the time. He has thrown his changeup less than 30 times in five starts. 

    Gil’s first four starts were impressive. He posted a 1.42 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 24 strikeouts across 19 innings. Minnesota’s line-up messed with those numbers on Monday as the club scored five earned runs on seven hits, including three long balls. His fastball is a plus pitch, and his slider is strong, but the 23-year-old has a long time to go before proving he can make it as a starter.  

    Cave’s time in Minnesota can be challenging for fans to evaluate since he is nearing the end of an injury-plagued season. In 64 games, he has hit .193/.259/.310 with a 58 OPS+ a -0.5 WAR. These totals are a far cry from the player that posted a .795 OPS and a 112 OPS+ in his first 163 games with the Twins. He posted positive WAR totals from 2018-2020, which combined for 2.6 total WAR. He was more than filling the role of fourth outfielder. 

    It’s easy to look at Gil and say it would be great for the Twins to have him back in the organization. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and there was no way to know he would develop this way. To add a little perspective, non of his teammates on the 2015 DSL roster have played in the big leagues. Maybe switching organizations changed his development path? Perhaps the Twins would have moved him to a relief role? Perhaps he still ends up as a reliever? 

    Cave has provided some excellent big-league moments, and Gil was a wild-card that the Yankees have turned into one of their organization’s top pitching prospects. It's still going to take time to see how Gil develops, but young, controllable starting pitching is a valuable commodity. Ultimately, it is going to take more time before a true winner of this trade can be declared. 

    Who do you think won the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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    7 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    The Cave that had a WAR of 1.5 in 2018 in 91 games, the Cave that had a .9 WAR in 72 games, even last year had a .3 in 42 games. That is better than replacement level. Wade played some in 19 and 20 in was negative in the WAR  or 0. I am not a really a fan of Cave, but he played a role in two divisions champions that was statistically better than replacement.

     

     

    Yeah what you wrote is good to remember.  He hasn't been a total bust but I think the fans and the FO were expecting more when they traded for him.  I think the FO thought they were getting a quality backup center fielder to cover for Buxton, something they didn't really have in the system at the time, and an above average defensive left fielder if the wheels fell off for center.

    While I am not sure I saw it at the time he was a little insurance in case of injury which in hindsight was prudent given all of Buxtons injuries. IIRC I don't know that anyone on this board thought it was a great trade at the time but we knew so little about Gil and Cave it seemed hard to quantify.  The one thing it did help with is it gave the Twins an almost ready player for MLB for someone three to four years away. It gave them a guy they could easily bring up and down because he had options for a guy that wouldn't be able to help them when they needed help. It seemed like a decent move at the time at least IMO.

    I think long term the Twins felt Cave was a legit MLB outfielder not a 4th outfielder but it doesn't look like it is going to work out that way.  Honestly I would rather have Contreras or Palacios on the 40 man than Cave right now.  Heck the way Cave has been at the plate I think I would rather have Whitefield up than Cave.  With his lack of improvement and no options left I just don't see him being very useful anymore.  I think it is time to try another young guy with potential and see what they can do.

    I think the Yankee's end up winning this trade but with pitchers who knows.  He could injure his arm tomorrow and never be the same.  Still nice get for the yank's who were going to DFA Cave to make room on the 40 man anyway.

     

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    nothing wrong w Cave...but nothing special about him either....trading for a 4th outfielder just never a wise thing to do.  Surprised he has hung around as long as he has w the Twins......

    Twins just can't seem to develop Pitching or identify when they have a chance to do something......

     

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    54 minutes ago, In My La Z boy said:

    Gil is still 2 years younger than Ryan - 3 years younger than Barnes and Ober - is there an "eye" test anymore? How about trading Ynoa? Same mistake.
    No, these are not the type of pitchers you trade for bench players. Strotman we just got in the Cruz trade is 2 years older than Gil right now. He is the type of pitcher you trade. Not electric, not 19, not for a bench player. 

    So only trade minor league pitchers that have proven they aren't what you are looking for (not sure that is how to get decent players from other team trading for your garbage)

    Not sure what Ynoa has to do with a Gil/Cave trade, unless your are saying this FO shouldn't have a job, there are a bunch of other threads complaining about them. (also Littell was a huge part of a division championship, Ynoa has less than 100 MLB innings, lets see how that works out)

    I will say this is the kind of trade the Twins need to do the opposite way, when you have a 40 man crunch you trade for a young high end prospect. (That is one of the reasons the Rays gave up Strotman)

    I wasn't afraid when the Twins traded Gil, and I am not worried going forward they traded him, if he turns out to be a star, good for him, the FO did something they needed to do, and that was upgrade the major league team.

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    20 hours ago, Danchat said:

    As far as I can tell he’s healthy now and he was healthy in 2020... I don’t see him suddenly turning back into what he was in 2018/19. He’s striking out about as much as Sano this year and has worse plate discipline... and that’s not to mention his frustrating fielding. There will be many superior 4th OF options out there, I see no reason to retain him.

    Like . . . LaMonte Wade Jr?

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    52 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

    Would you trade a lottery ticket for something you can pick up in any convenience store on any street corner?

    I'd probably keep the scratcher.

    I can and do often. I don't play the lottery but I'll buy a beverage if I'm thirsty.

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    2 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

    Negative, negative, negative.  Your consistency is amazing.

    Probably got that from the way some speak of Cave, Simmons and La Tortuga, what goes around comes around while all  the bring up blah, blah, blah as if it will magically fix the Twins is silly blind faith.

    The LaMonte Wade Jr. , Badoo etc. are doing well with another team, what makes one think that that would happen here of course Schoop and C.J. Cron are doing well with another team, why does no one miss them?

    Happ is doing well with another team, hmmmm....

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    1 minute ago, RpR said:

    Probably got that from the way some speak of Cave, Simmons and La Tortuga, what goes around comes around while all  the bring up blah, blah, blah as if it will magically fix the Twins is silly blind faith.

    Relax.  Have a drink.  It's only a game.

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    2 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    So only trade minor league pitchers that have proven they aren't what you are looking for (not sure that is how to get decent players from other team trading for your garbage)

    Not sure what Ynoa has to do with a Gil/Cave trade, unless your are saying this FO shouldn't have a job, there are a bunch of other threads complaining about them. (also Littell was a huge part of a division championship, Ynoa has less than 100 MLB innings, lets see how that works out)

    I will say this is the kind of trade the Twins need to do the opposite way, when you have a 40 man crunch you trade for a young high end prospect. (That is one of the reasons the Rays gave up Strotman)

    I wasn't afraid when the Twins traded Gil, and I am not worried going forward they traded him, if he turns out to be a star, good for him, the FO did something they needed to do, and that was upgrade the major league team.

    Why do you advocate for trading minor league pitchers? I'd say our organization has no business trading minor league pitchers until we field a group of 5 starters that can keep us in games. I mentioned Ynoa because he was another very young pitching prospect we traded for what turned out to be nothing. As you say - you trade pitching like Tampa - or how about the Dodgers dealing us Smeltzer. For whatever reason we've accumulated way too many 25-26 year old AAAA guys - potential maybe 5th starter guys.
    We then compounded the Gil/Cave error, by choosing to keep Cave over Wade, and here we are watching the Yankees giving Gil a starting rotation position at 23 years old. Same age as Balazovic. The Yankees see something they like very much in Gil, that is obvious or he'd be in the minors. 

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    53 minutes ago, In My La Z boy said:

    Why do you advocate for trading minor league pitchers?

    Because for every Gil or Ynoa, there are dozens of others that fail, Stewart, Jay, Gonzo, Romero, Meyer, and on and on and on.

    If you are a contending team and there is a player you think could help you win, you can trade those young pitchers because the odds of them becoming even a fairly reliable relief pitcher so super low. Now I am not saying you trade a Chase Perry to another team because they are having a hard time finding a 40 man spot for, but do I trade Perry for the right controllable pitcher, yup.

    Remember when people on here were complaining or worried about trading Chih-Wei Hu after his first 10 innings in TB?

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    27 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    Because for every Gil or Ynoa, there are dozens of others that fail, Stewart, Jay, Gonzo, Romero, Meyer, and on and on and on.

    If you are a contending team and there is a player you think could help you win, you can trade those young pitchers because the odds of them becoming even a fairly reliable relief pitcher so super low. Now I am not saying you trade a Chase Perry to another team because they are having a hard time finding a 40 man spot for, but do I trade Perry for the right controllable pitcher, yup.

    Remember when people on here were complaining or worried about trading Chih-Wei Hu after his first 10 innings in TB?

    I guess I am asking too much from our front office to trade the Jays Stewarts Gonzalves's of the org and not the Ynoas & Gils. C'mon man. This is why they get paid. Trade the Alex Meyers when the Nationals traded him to us. You are making my point. We seem to be on the wrong end of many of these. We should be trading the Smeltzers, not acquiring them. We should be trading the Caves, not acquiring them. I can't name a diamond we uncovered for a bag of balls. We've certainly received some bags of balls for some diamonds in recent years. The only good returns we've received is from trading good players. All of us fans with no front office experience could have gotten good returns for Pressly/Escobar/Cruz and Berrios. 

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    If you look at the progression of Gil, he was Rule 5 eligible each of the past two seasons, but was still in the low minors. Even this year he started at AA and progressed to AAA. Nothing really outstanding there, but enough for the Yankees to looksee because they needed to add him to the 40-man come the off-season or he would probably walk elsewhere.

     

    If Gil had not lost a season of play so early, who knows. Now he ends up in option land. The fact that he is only 23 works well in his favor, and that the Yankees did push to see if he can contribute.

     

    Compare that to the Twins who have Balazovic languishing at AA ball, even when injured part of this season. This was a guy who was going to pitch AA/AAA ball and get a looksee by the Twins this year. The difference between the Twins and Yankees is that the Yankees tried a rookie in a positive year for their team (although looks like they are just missing the playoffs) while the Twins are running thru a list of old standards for some odd reason, rather than give big league time to a few more guys who might be on the roster, still in 2023-24-25.

     

    Is Jax a better pitcher, or Barnes, for getting major league innings out of the way this year? Even Ober. Plus getting a chance to work with major league coaches and try things in the majors.

     

    Cave gave the Twins a need, especially with Buxton going down each season. But at some point he becomes too expensive in arbitration. He will still find work (ala Grossman).

     

    Have to see what happens to Gil in the end. But at some point, he seemed too rough and too many years away to keep in the system, especially in a Twins system where they like pitchers to be much older before coming to the major leagues.

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    19 hours ago, In My La Z boy said:

    I guess I am asking too much from our front office to trade the Jays Stewarts Gonzalves's of the org and not the Ynoas & Gils. C'mon man. This is why they get paid. Trade the Alex Meyers when the Nationals traded him to us. You are making my point. We seem to be on the wrong end of many of these. We should be trading the Smeltzers, not acquiring them. We should be trading the Caves, not acquiring them. I can't name a diamond we uncovered for a bag of balls. We've certainly received some bags of balls for some diamonds in recent years. The only good returns we've received is from trading good players. All of us fans with no front office experience could have gotten good returns for Pressly/Escobar/Cruz and Berrios. 

    If you want to say the front office has done a terrible job in general with trades, you will not get an argument from me. I was just looking at this trade by itself, because the topic was who won the Jake Cave/Luis Gil trade, and IMO I can't say how any trade where one teams gets more major league WAR over the other team getting 25 innings pitched years later goes to the 25 innings pitched team, not at this point anyway, maybe next year Gil turns into a reliable relief pitcher or even better than that, then the Yanks probably win the trade, but I would make that type of trade every time,

    The twins signed him in 2015 and they just now would be getting a guy to the majors that twice hasn't been drafted in rule 5. compared to a guy that has already had two decent or better years in the majors, a OK year, and a terrible year. 

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    2 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    If you want to say the front office has done a terrible job in general with trades, you will not get an argument from me. I was just looking at this trade by itself, because the topic was who won the Jake Cave/Luis Gil trade, and IMO I can't say how any trade where one teams gets more major league WAR over the other team getting 25 innings pitched years later goes to the 25 innings pitched team, not at this point anyway, maybe next year Gil turns into a reliable relief pitcher or even better than that, then the Yanks probably win the trade, but I would make that type of trade every time,

    The twins signed him in 2015 and they just know would be getting a guy to the majors that twice hasn't been drafted in rule 5. compared to a guy that has already had to decent or better years in the majors, a OK year, and a terrible year. 

    Totally fair argument. I disagree, but your side has merit. I am probably more upset with the end of the season, no games for 6 months, and a suck year, after barely any ball last year. So many unknowns, and zero confidence this front office nails it this off season. 

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    Twins won. Jake Cave was just good enough to start in CF in 2018-2019. Since the Twins had Buxton, Cave was relegated to 4th outfielder to which he was better suited, but he was a good everyday player in the long stints of Buxton's injuries.

    Gil will not stay in an MLB rotation without a legit 3rd pitch and it's pretty questionable one develops for him. He was rocking a 4.66/4.47 ERA/FIP at AAA before joining the Yankees and his 5.4 BB/9, 1.28 WHIP, 3.97 FIP and 4.76 xFIP suggest Gil is due to get pasted a few more times as things balance out. Ultimately, he's going to be a bullpen arm who is getting his first appearance 3 years after Cave was already producing value for the Twins. Will Gil turn into a closer? Probably not. He just doesn't have the control for it and if past results are to be relied upon, Gil is going to have to sacrifice some of his velocity or movement to get his control to acceptable levels meaning he's likely destined for middle relief where he may rack up 0.5 WAR per season. It'll take a long time to make up the ground Cave put on him in WAR vs. WAR, let alone the net present value of that WAR.

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    The Twins should have never let Wade, Jr. go and kept him instead of Cave,  or kept both, as the year they were both on the team Cave has less HR pop and Wade is better in nearly every way..

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