The San Diego Padres had two words for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the rest of Major League Baseball at the Aug. 31 trade deadline: All in.
The up-and-coming Friars made the biggest headlines with a nine-player blockbuster that landed Mike Clevinger – one of the top starters from the best rotation in baseball. They also acquired Mitch Moreland, Austin Nola, Trevor Rosenthal and several others to announce their arrival as an NL power that isn’t going away any time soon.
But what does the data say about how much the 22-15 Padres narrowed the separation between them and the MLB-best Dodgers (26-10)? We’re going to break that down, along with whether the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds took major steps forward with their key moves at the deadline.
The Padres acquire RHP Mike Clevinger, OF Greg Allen and a PTBNL from the Cleveland Indians for C Austin Hedges, OF Josh Naylor, RHP Cal Quantrill, INF Gabriel Arias, LHP Joey Cantillo and INF Owen Miller
Clevinger (1-1, 3.18 ERA) helped Cleveland to the best starting rotation ERA in baseball (3.00 ERA). But he wore out his welcome in Cleveland when he and teammate Zach Plesac broke team protocols around COVID-19 safeguards.
The Padres already have the seventh-best starters’ ERA at 3.72, but there’s room for improvement in terms of depth. In the fifth spot, Joey Lucchesi, Michel Baez, Luis Perdomo, Cal Quantrill (sent to Cleveland in the Clevinger deal) and Adrian Morejon combined for a 5.82 ERA over their seven starts.
Clevinger went 13-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 21 starts in 2019 but he’s been getting hit harder this season. After finishing last season well above average in Raw Value- (59) and Whiff+ (133), the 29-year-old right-hander is 484th out of 659 big-league pitchers with a 133 RV- entering the week. While his 115 Whiff+ is above average, it’s far lower than his 2019 mark.
Clevinger’s 147 BIP- is also poor, but the Padres obviously don’t expect that to continue and are counting on his metrics to trend back toward his 2019 form.
The Padres acquire 1B/DH Mitch Moreland from the Boston Red Sox for 3B Hudson Potts, OF Jeisson Rosario
At first base, San Diego now features a pair of former Gold Glovers in Eric Hosmer (4-time winner) and the new addition Moreland (2016 winner).
It’s also a considerable upgrade offensively for the Padres, whose designated hitters have a .268/.340/.442 slash line with five home runs. Moreland is batting .328/.430/.746 with eight homers. He also ranks 39th in the majors in BIP+ (158) and 41st in Raw Value+ (139) among players with at least 70 at-bats.
His probability of a batted ball being a home run is the 12th highest in MLB at 12.6%.
The Padres acquire RHP Trevor Rosenthal from the Kansas City Royals for OF Edward Olivares and a PTBNL
The Padres also helped a bullpen that ranks 23rd in the majors with a 5.01 ERA and is tied for the second-most blown saves (8) by acquiring the veteran reliever Rosenthal, who has had a long road back to regaining his top form.
Rosenthal, who missed the 2018 season following Tommy John surgery, has converted all seven of his save opportunities while posting an above-average RV- (60) and Whiff+ (141) in 14 appearances this season.
San Diego is hoping Rosenthal and Drew Pomeranz can combine to give the club a strong 1-2 punch in the pen after possibly losing Kirby Yates for the season following elbow surgery.
The Padres acquire C Austin Nola, RHP Austin Adams and RHP Dan Altavilla from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for OF Taylor Trammell, C Luis Torrens, RHP Andres Muñoz and INF Ty France
San Diego’s biggest upgrade was behind the plate. Entering trade deadline day, San Diego catchers were hitting just .136/.224/.282 with four home runs and eight RBIs; only the Indians had a worse batting average (.114) at the catcher position. Though the Padres gave up top pitch-framer Austin Hedges, Nola immediately improves that spot offensively.
The 30-year-old is batting .306 with five home runs and is second only to Salvador Perez (153) of the Royals in RV+ (151) among catchers. Perhaps what’s most impressive is that Nola rates above average in RV+, BIP+ (136), Contact+ (102) and Discipline+ (123) – the sign of a complete all-around really good hitter.
San Diego also picked up backup catcher Jason Castro from the Los Angeles Angels in a separate deal.
The Marlins acquire OF Starling Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Humberto Mejía and a PTBNL
The surprising Marlins haven’t reached the postseason since 2003 and lost 105 games a year ago, but they made it clear they intend to stay in the race by going after Marte.
Miami sought to upgrade a light-hitting outfield that ranks 25th in the majors with a .213 batting average and 28th with a .322 slugging percentage. Marte owns a .311/.384/.443 slash line over 33 games this season and is a .288 career hitter, but he rates below average in RV+ (89), BIP+ (65) – 196th out of 253 batters with at least 70 at-bats – and Discipline+ (91) in 2020 after hitting .295 with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs last season.
Marte isn’t hitting for power (two home runs, eight doubles), isn’t hitting the ball hard and we don’t believe his career-low strikeout rate is sustainable. Not a good combination for the Fish.
The Reds acquire RHP Archie Bradley from the Diamondbacks for OF Stuart Fairchild, UTIL Josh VanMeter
The Reds own the sixth-best rotation in baseball based on ERA (3.68) as they try to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013. So at the deadline, they focused on bolstering a bullpen that ranks 21st with a 4.90 ERA and has blown five of its nine save opportunities.
Though Bradley helps deepen Cincinnati’s pen and allows Raisel Iglesias to move into a setup role, he’s been well below average in RV- (131) and Whiff+ (85) – probably the most important metric for a reliever/closer. Bradley has struck out only 12 batters and has allowed 13 hits over his 10 2/3 innings.
The right-hander has had some bad luck, as his .448 BABIP would attest, but his inability to generate strikeouts as a closer is alarming.
Data modeling and analysis provided by Lucas Haupt
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