On Monday we looked at the Giants as trade partners for the Rays this off-season, identifying Brandon Guyer and Desmond Jennings as trade bait. Then yesterday the Yankees dealt for OF Aaron Hicks, and used that as a plumb line for Brandon Guyer's trade value.
To finish out these thoughts, let's see not only what the Giants can offer the Rays in a deal, but also consider the present value of Desmond Jennings.
Not dead yet
A comparison for a trade around Desmond Jennings seems a bit harder to find than was Guyer, and I had to reach a bit more into the past, but I think I found a comparable trade from 2012 that could give us a better idea of what to expect for Jennings.
Just before the 2013 season, the Minnesota Twins sent experience outfielder Denard Span to the Nationals for 25 year old right handed pitching prospect Alex Meyer. Span was coming off a year where he posted a 104 wRC+ with the Twins in 2012. He also posted an average fWAR of 3.04 from 2008-2012.
At the time of being traded, Span came with three years of cost control after signing a 5 year/$16.5 million deal with the Twins in 2010. Desmond Jennings is going into his second year of arbitration this year and is projected by MLBTR to earn $3.1 million. Jennings also comes with another year of cost control, with his last year of arbitration in 2017, and then becoming a free agent in 2018. That's two years of control, coming off an injured season. This deal still isn't apples-to-apples, but stay with me.
In return, the Twins received Alex Meyer. He currently ranks as the #6 prospect in the Twins' system, according to Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs, and holds a Future Value (FV) of 55.Here is a detailed introduction to the world of scouting by Kiley that explains how he comes up with that number, but the long story short is that Meyer looks like a major league pitcher.
That is a fantastic return for Span, but he was also coming off an effective and relatively healthy season (Span played in 128 games in 2012). Jennings has proven his effectiveness as an everyday bat in previous years, but last season was filled with injury and complications. Those concerns have definitely hurt his value, and probably will not net as high of a prospect as a result.
That being said, lets take a look at Denard Span's numbers before he was traded to Washington after the 2012 season, and compare it to Desmond Jennings' last full year in 2014:
|Denard Span ('12)||568||104||.325||10.9%||8.5%|
|Desmond Jennings ('14)||542||103||.313||19.9%||8.7%|
Except for Jennings' strikeout rate, the numbers are nearly identical. And a Jennings with healthy knees just as capable of being the center fielder he was for the Rays in 2014. It's not often that any team sells a player a year removed from injury, but as others have said before me, a move away from artificial turf would do his career some good. Jennings has a history of success and can show that again.
I would love to say that the Rays can expect a top 10 prospect from the Giants in return for Jennings, but due to the circumstances of health and the Rays' lack of leverage, they would probably only net a prospect in the 11-20 range from the Giants system.
Finding What Fits
Now that we know what kind of value the Rays can expect, is there anyone on the Giants that Silverman would be interested in?
First category is catcher, but the Giants are obviously not going to part with Buster Posey, and with the former MVP moving towards 1B, that also takes highly regarded Andrew Susac off the market.
Looking at the Giants' top 30 prospects on MLB.com, the next catcher they have listed is Aramis Garcia at #11 and has a FV of 40 according to Kiley, who is "scheduled" to arrive in 2017, or right around the same time as Justin O'Connor to the Rays. It could be an option for the Rays, and could add some necessary depth.
Everyone always says the Rays should trade for a big bat. If that is what Silverman & Co are really looking for, then the Giants might not be the right fit.
Besides Susac, the next "big bat" prospect outside of the top ten is outfielder Mac Williamson who is ranked as the Giants #13 prospect on MLB.com, and #16 on Kiley McDaniels list on Fangraphs with a FV of 40.
Heres what Kiley had to say about Mac:
Williamson has an above average arm, fringy speed and plus raw power to all fields, making for a class right field profile, but there’s questions about his contact ability at upper levels due to his trouble with off-speed pitches.
Another option for the Rays is to go after more pitching, and they could seek some bullpen or spot starter help in Clayton Blackburn.
MLB.com has Blackburn ranked #21 on their prospect watch list, while Kiley has him at #12 and a FV of 40. In 123 innings at AAA, Blackburn posted a 7.24 K/9 rate along with a 2.34 BB/9 rate good enough for 2.85 ERA, although his FIP is a little worse at 3.55.
He sits 88-91 and hits 93 mph with his sinker, backing it up with a curveball that’s usually above average and his best off-speed pitch, but the slider is sometimes sharper and the changeup is average.
Blackburn has some great stuff, and would be a good addition to the Rays in 2016 as an injury backup, or as a long reliever similar to Brandon Gomes.
This is all of course speculation, but it seems to work just right for the Giants and the Rays. San Fransisco has the opportunity to gain a young, cheap, and (mostly) healthy outfielder who is capable in playing all three spots.
The Giants also did have injury issues with Pagan, Pence, Belt, and Blanco all spending time on the DL, and might be desperate for a reliable OF. The Rays have an opportunity to deal from another strength (outfield depth), and the Giants seem like a logical fit. It will be an exciting off-season to see what moves both teams make.