Turkey Day 3-Way Deal: Cubs meet the Mets and Arizona

The possibility that all three teams get needs filled are remote. As usually one team feels screwed, and therefore, would never do the deal at all.

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Mets Receive:

2B/SS Chris Owings (from AZ)  – Rookie year. Good prospect. Hit throughout minors. Could be a decent SS, or at least 2B. 6 more years of control Sandy Alderson.
OF Cody Ross (from AZ) Remaining MLB contract of 19M for 2 years with 1M buyout. Platoon Split against LHP of 1.012 OPS in 2013.
RF Nate SchierholtzArbitration eligible, likely well under 5M. RHP Platoon split of .799 with a .499 slugging percentage in 2013.
RHP Jake Arrieta Not arb eligible until 2015, likely 1M+. RHP Starter. Throws in the mid-90s. Durable so far. 5th starter material, potentially, a mid-rotation starter.
Plus 5M in cash from the Cubs for Schierholtz and Arrieta’s expected salaries.
Plus 5M in cash from Arizona for Ross’s contract.

Mets DFA or Release: Omar Quintanilla and Andrew Brown to put Schierholtz, Ross, and Arrieta on roster. Steven Matz moved to Cubs removes the need for a 3rd roster move. May need another to get Owings there. But he has options left…

Strengths: Why? Mets need another RF that can drive in runs. They are cash strapped. So, Cubs and Arizona give them a platoon option for cheap, paying 50% of Cody Ross’s salary. Arrieta subs for Matt Harvey. Well, he fills the rotation spot for 2014. He more Harvey, the rabbit, that disappears, than a Matt Harvey. Arrieta could be a quality pickup. Mets, while having pitching, must either trade for a OF Bat or buy it. The get a young prospect SS that can hit so far in the MLB. .290/.360OBP was his line in limited action.

Weaknesses: They will give up 2 arms (a top 150 prospect in Steven Matz; no real biggie there from a FO standpoint. He completed A ball with aplomb though.) But they have to part with Noah Syndergaard (or if scout approved, Rafael Montero), to get those 3 usable bats, and actually, a proven MLB 5th starter. That is fair, if they want to compete at all in 2014, as Atlanta is down without McCann or vet Hudson.

Arizona Receive:

SP Jeff Samardzija – 1st Year Arb – 6M. Good TOR option. Not far from a #1 option.
LF/CF Junior Lake – Non-Arb eligible. Good power. Nice splits in 1st year against LHP (.956 OPS) – replaces what Cody Ross was at 1/20 the price.
2B Darwin Barney – 1st year Arbitration. Great glove and makes contact. No power. Very weak hitter. Could rebound though..not yet 30.
Plus 8M in cash from the Cubs for Barney’s, Lake’s, and Samardzija’s expected contract.

Notes: No Roster moves as Skaggs, Owings, and Ross were on 40-man roster.

Strengths: 2 years of a solid #2 arm to compete with the Dodgers. Lake, a young, aggressive, if raw, and possibly flawed talent goes to Arizona to fill for Ross, who did the same killing of RHP at a much higher cost. This helps Arizona get help elsewhere before the prices get high.

Arizona gets rid of some payroll in Ross and gets some relief from the Cubs too.

Weakness: They give up on a LHP in Skaggs, who did improve statistically, but loss velocity, in 2013. But AZ has LHPs Corbin and Miley. And they keep Archie Bradley, as much as I think the Cubs want Bradley, Kevin Towers would be strung up for the parting. They part early with Chris Owings, who goes to the Mets. He got a quick cup of coffee last year and did well enough. But they have Didi; and Barney can play some SS if an emergency happened. Lastly, they do eat Darwin Barney for the Cubs. He could be released, if the D-Backs don’t want him.  

Cubs Receive:

Strengths: Holmberg could just go into the rotation in 2014, placing Skaggs in AAA.  Both pitched on the MLB Diamondbacks roster. Both are in the 22-23 year old range. In essence more advance that many of the Cubs top pitching prospects currently.

But Syndergaard/Montero is the linchpin of this trade. Due to the quantity of players moved make it important to hit on 2 guys for future MLB production at a decent level (2 WAR). The Cubs get at least 1 top 30-50 prospect. 2 top 100 prospects. And 2 top 200 prospects.

Snydergaard is most coveted because of size, stuff, and performance at very young age of 20. Yet, Sandy Alderson & Co. probably have the same untouchable tag as Archie Bradley has on him. Thus, while the Cubs may actually want him bar nothing, taking a shot at their next best, if Montero passes scouting muster, might be a decent and fruitful exercise. (See graphic above which compares 2 potential guys acquired.)

So we turn instead to Rafael Montero, ranked in the top 50 by some prospect hounds:

“As far as we know, nobody, aside from Cuban-born players, has ever gone quicker from the Dominican Summer League to Triple-A than Montero, who basically did it in the course of about 24 months. [He] pounds the zone with a plus fastball, does it easy, not a lot of effort to the delivery. There’s a little bit of Mariano Rivera deception to his delivery because it looks so easy and it jumps on hitters the last 10 feet. The same thing with the slider, he’s got excellent command of the slider, he can change the shape of it and the location of it.” 

 From Scouting Book:

“Another product of the Mets’ Latin American prospecting machine, Dominican righthander Rafael Montero is yet another hard thrower coming up fast through the minor league system. Montero has a lean and mean mound presence, not unlike the young Pedro Martinez, and he has the electric stuff to live up to that comp. Montero brings a mid-90’s fastball that’s solid and accurate, but it’s the advanced nature of his secondary pitches (especially the wicked slider and sometimes-plus change) that frustrates hitters”

C Kevin Plawecki is AA bound, is said to have:“He’s a guy, who even in college, always had a good strike zone and always had low strikeout totals. He puts the ball in play but puts the ball in play with some authority.” From Metsprospects.com:

“Kevin Plawecki struck out a mere 77 times in his professional career while Nimmo struck out 131 times alone in in 2013. While Nimmo had 71 walks (ridiculous), Plawecki had about 30 more hits than Nimmo. Plate discipline is about patience, but it also comes with a higher propensity of striking out, as Nimmo displayed. Plawecki also only struck out 29 times in three seasons at Purdue. That’s serious strike-zone judgment.”

Plawecki also had a .390OBP in A/A+ ball, while striking out less than 10% of the time. He calls his own games. Weakish arm, but that’s not the hold back test. The AA test will make him either untouchable, or expose flaws. I am betting against that. 

 LHP Steven Matz. 

“You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about this 2009 second-round pick. Matz entered 2013 having played in six professional games following 2010 Tommy John surgery. The 22-year-old had a stellar season, posting a 2.62 ERA while fanning 122 batters over 106 1/3 innings for the Sand Gnats. He was just as good in the postseason, not yielding a run in two starts. “I think we were just so happy for Steven,” DePodesta said. “He’s put in so much work and so much time and all the rehab … and had gotten to a point where he could pitch a full season. He had a terrific year, his ERA was great and he struck out a ton of a guys. He has a plus changeup to go with his fastball.

More from the Mets Minor League blog

The best left-handed pitching prospect in the New York Mets system. Matz was very effective for Savannah in 2013 putting up a 2.62 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 38 walks in 106.1 innings. He struck out 28% of opposing batters and walked 8.9%. He was up to 97 mph with his fastball, and regularly 92-95 with his heat. There just are not enough left-handed pitchers with this kind of velocity to leave Matz unprotected.

I thought at the time, his changeup flashed as a plus Major League pitch with arm speed and sink. As I wrote in September, “there was a time early in the year when Matz and Savannah Pitching Coach Frank Viola were trying to make this breaking ball a slider, but by the second half of the South Atlantic League season, they had abandoned that effort to focus on his curveball, which was his primary breaking ball in high school and early professional career. The pitch indeed shows promise with, when it’s right, good depth and late movement.

So both of these are quantity with upside.  A catcher that could remind of Paul Lo Duca or A.J Pierzynski.
A lefty with velocity – that dominated righties more than lefties. Matz has overcome a lot. So, that tells of good makeup.

While the Cubs will blow up their pitching staff up, they get back 30 years of controlled value; two top arms and three-mid tier prospects, at present. (As they could raise their stock.)

Weaknesses: Total rebuild mode. No OF, but for Sweeney and their current 40-man. Costs the 13M saved last year to acquire 2 potentially top pitching prospects, a catching prospect, and two potential usable arms down the road.

It is total prospect mode. 2014 Cubs will not be winning many ballgames.

which includes Noah SyndergaardNoah

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