Fact: The Rays were looking to add a right handed hitter at the deadline as they have struggled against lefty pitcher.
Fact: Trevor Plouffe is our right handed bat off the bench.
Fact: In 2017, Plouffe is slashing .203/.267/.331.
Given these facts, I really do not understand why the Rays just traded Tim Beckham.
This trade doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance, and, as a red blooded American, my immediate reaction to things I do not understand is to get angry.
The Man Who Won’t be Posey
Tim Beckham may have been a big disappointment as a number one overall draft pick, but he did eventually make it to the majors, and last year was his breakout year, proving he could be a solid utility infielder and productive hitter of southpaw pitching.
This year, especially before the All Star break, Beckham stepped up even more. After Matt Duffy went through a vortex at the Springfield Mystery Spot, Beckham was needed to serve as the everyday shortstop. While he may make some frustrating errors (as do all players), between last year and this year he has played above league average defense at shortstop. That is something that is often taken for granted, but it really shouldn’t be and that versatility out of a utility guy has value to a playoff contender.
Beckham also happens to have some righty pop in that bat, and the Rays needed more of that in the lineup and off the bench. For his career, Beckahm has hit LHP to the tune of 103 wRC+, a .320 wOBA, and an ISO of .178. Nothing earth-shaking, but certainly an above average bat with above average defense, who can play above average glove at shortstop when needed, is valuable. Especially when no one currently on the Rays active roster has this skill set (including Trevor Plouffe).
(For Danny Russell’s quick take on this trade, click here)
This Move Doesn’t Make Sense (right now)
The Rays were buyers at the deadline. They fancy themselves playoff contenders, and they should. Despite putrid series against the Rangers and Yankees that blasted big holes into the Rays playoff ship, this team still should be playing meaningful games in September. For teams playing those meaningful games, you want a bench of players who are tough to bench. You want a guy who was your starting shortstop, and then starting second baseman, to become your top right handed utility option.
This move does nothing to make the Rays more competitive this year. For a team relying on Trevor Plouffe and Peter Bourjos as the best right handed bat options, it seems odd to sell a breakout young utility player (who is controlled for a few more seasons).
It especially seems odd since SS/2B Daniel Robertson is just starting his rehab assignment. And even if Matt Duffy suddenly heals like Wolverine and appears through the clubhouse doors in an hour, it still doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure about you, but I’d prefer Beckham on the bench than Trevor Plouffe.
Right now, it will be Tyler Featherston. While Featherston performed admirably in his first stint with the Rays, he is not somebody a contending team, one that actually acted like Buyers at the Trade Deadline, should be counting on. A guy so average that you can’t be sure without Googling whether his name is actually Taylor rather than Tyler.
I am not analyzing this deal from a talent perspective. Maybe the pitcher they received for Beckham is a great sleeper prospect. Had the Rays been clearly out of the hunt maybe selling off major league pieces for future talent would make sense. The actual trade itself, in a vacuum might be fine.
But right now, the Rays are worse than they were one hour ago. Is that how pennant-chasing teams behave?
Of course...this does mean there is a right-handed hitting middle infield spot open on the team. And I know of one right-handed hitting middle infielder on the 40-man roster just a phone call away.
The only way this deal seems reasonable is if the Rays have decided they are calling up our top prospect sooner rather than later. If the Tim Beckham Era has ended, let’s hope the Willy Adames Era is about to begin.