In case you missed the news, last night the Rays finalized a deal to send Nathan Karns to the Seattle Mariners for Brad Miller in a six player swap.
I find the deal to be quite logical. The Rays were faced with moving Karns to the bullpen next season as the sixth man in a strong rotation, while Seattle had decided that Miller was not their starting short stop in light of two decent prospects banging down the door.
Everything else was ancillary, but allowed both teams to deal from depth.
Earlier this morning, Ian offered an overview of how "surplus value" played a role in making this trade happen, and found it to be "a balanced trade."
I'm starting with R.J.'s write up for its concise, need-to-know excellence. It's behind a paywall, so I can't give away all his logic, but he's got some great observations for both sides. If you read one non-DRaysBay write up on the pieces exchanged, make it his.
Here's some of his details on the pieces received:
Brad Miller: For now, the expectation is that he'll become the Rays' starting shortstop. Miller is a plus runner who hits the ball over the park. He doesn't have the firmest grasp on the strike zone, and his production against same-handed pitching has been putrid... but overall he's been an above-average hitter... Defensively, Miller ...has a tendency to rush or over-complicate plays.
Logan Morrison: He's around to take John Jaso's place as the designated hitter against right-handed pitchers... Expect Kevin Cash, whose Rays led the majors in pinch-hitters used in place of non-pitchers by a wide margin, to deploy Morrison more optimally...
Danny Farquhar: listed at 5-foot-9, has a deeper arsenal than most relievers [cutter, fastball, spike-curve, change]. He's reliant on his upper-80s cutter, which is peculiar within itself since his boring fastball touches into the mid-90s and grades as a plus offering... The Rays have had some success with the similarly sized Steve Geltz...
R.J. doesn't land on a particular side for this, but luckily there's twitter.
@d_russ I prefer TB's side. I have reservations about Powell and Rief translating to the majors.— R.J. Anderson (@r_j_anderson) November 6, 2015
The team over at the SB Nation Mariners site are unabashed fans of Brad Miller, forever and always.
Mariners. Stop the charade. Brad Miller isn't just the starting shortstop, he could be a future superstar. Not star. Super. Star.— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 19, 2014
Their write up goes into detail for each player coming and going in the trade, but their thoughts on Brad Miller (which would have been most valued here, as the everyday observers) are limited to the comment that he's an above-average short stop.
Final conclusion, though?
It's a loss. Miller is one of the site's favorites, and for an organization that always seems to struggle so mightily drafting and developing positional talent giving up one of the few homegrown talents worth a damn stings. I don't love the trade, as trading positional for pitching talent always makes me squeamish with the higher attrition rate of pitchers.
Here's the most detailed breakdown you will be able to find on this trade this morning. He goes into varying perspectives on how real Brad Miller's UZR or Nate Karns's HR rates were, so please read the whole article for those details. On Brad Miller's offense, this comment sticks out in particular:
As a big leaguer, he has a 99 wRC+, which ranks 8th among players who have played at least 25% of their games at shortstop over the last three years. If you exclude Hanley Ramirez and Yunel Escobar — neither of whom played an inning at the position last year, and won't play it in 2016 either — then you're left with only Troy Tulowitzki, Jhonny Peralta, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Crawford, and Ian Desmond as shortstops who have better offensive numbers since Miller's debut.
Given that he's also a good baserunner and headed into the years where most players peak, there just aren't a lot of guys out there who can play shortstop and provide this level of offense.
And that's including the times Miller had to hit against left handed pitching!
In the end, Cameron sees the deal as a mere swap of Miller and Karns, with the other pieces being superfluous. As for his overall thoughts on the trade:
Personally, I think Miller's mostly fine at shortstop, especially with a team like Tampa Bay that specializes in positioning their defenders, and my long-standing faith in his abilities remains. I think he's the best player in this deal by a pretty good margin, and I think the Rays did really well to pick up a guy who can be an above average player during his prime years, which still lie ahead of him.
I think Karns is interesting, and pitching is so hard to predict that it's certainly possible that Karns turns out to be a quality starter for the Mariners, but there are a lot of red flags there...
For me, I'd rather have a middle infielder without elite defense and some problems against left-handed pitching than a pitcher with health problems and an issue keeping the ball in the ballpark... [Don't] be too surprised if the Rays ended up not missing any of what they gave up, while Miller proves to be a pretty nice piece at a position that isn't easy to fill.
Finally, I found this write up by Quinn to peg the proper feelings around the deal.
Both teams filled long-term needs in this trade, so there is certainly a case to be made on each side. However, I think the Rays win this trade because they acquire three players who could have huge roles on their major league team right from the get-go.
Seattle has to be satisfied with improving an incredibly top-heavy rotation, but it appears the ball club may have sold low on a young and improving Brad Miller, a fixable Logan Morrison, and a Danny Farquhar who is primed for a rebound. This deal, though, fully depends on Karns.
If he grows into an established No. 2 starter or even a reliable No. 3, Seattle easily wins this trade. If not, the nod will go to Tampa for parlaying a 26-year-old rookie's solid 150 inning performance into three legitimate contributors.
If you see other worthwhile takes on the trade, please share them in the comments!