Last night we discussed the AL East shakeups after the trade deadline, today let’s cover the AL Central. Again, I’m looking for what’s been shaken up as a result of these trades, and less focused on the big names coming across to the contending teams. Fortunately the AL Central has plenty of non-contending teams.
Royals – Brett Phillips used to be a highly-rated prospect, but he had stagnated with the Brewers, hitting just .240/.331/.411 in his second season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. I’ve often speculated that guys who are blocked in one organization could falter when they realize that there’s no place for them at the big league level. Phillips certainly was thoroughly blocked in Milwaukee – their redundancies had redundancies. This is a great chance for him to re-establish himself. We’ll see what happens when Brian Goodwin returns from the DL, however – they may have to split two outfield jobs between Phillips, Goodwin, and Rosell Herrera, though the latter strikes me as less of a prospect.
I have to say I’m surprised that Hunter Dozier hasn’t played more than he has in the wake of the Mike Moustakas trade. Dozier was the Royals’ first-round pick in 2013 that looked to be a pretty decent prospect back in 2016, but injuries wrecked his 2017 season. He started last night against the White Sox, but was out the two previous days.
Tigers – With all the closers being dealt, it was a surprise that the Tigers didn’t find a buyer for Shane Greene. We were pretty much ready to crown Joe Jimenez as the next closer, but that’s obviously going to have to wait. Most of their significant trades occurred earlier, but they did swap Leonys Martin away to the Indians on Tuesday. That probably means more playing time for Victor Reyes, though Reyes didn’t play on Tuesday (the day of the trade). Reyes has picked up seven stolen bases in limited playing time already, so he and Brian Goodwin are two decent hidden sources of stolen bases. The downside to Reyes is that he’s not much of a hitter – he has a 2:26 BB:K, and a .052 ISO in the big leagues this year.
Twins – It’s not a big surprise that the Twins had more inventory to sell off than their division mates. After all, they were expected to contend this year, and instead were bitter failures, in a year where the Indians have looked vulnerable no less. The big surprise, at least to me, is that they couldn’t find a buyer for Fernando Rodney. I wouldn’t be shocked if that still happens in the waiver-trade period this month, however.
With Eduardo Escobar getting dealt to the Diamondbacks, Miguel Sano was removed from minor league purgatory and called back up to the bigs. He’ll obviously play every day if healthy. So far in five games he’s 4-for-16 with two walks and seven strikeouts, with no homers yet. The Twins really need him to regain his power if they’re ever going to make a push going forward. Because the Twins added Logan Forsythe in the Brian Dozier trade and recalled Sano when they traded Escobar, there’s no real in-house option that benefits otherwise. That’s also the case in the rotation – they dealt Lance Lynn to the Yankees, but they had Ervin Santana coming off the DL at the same time, so it’s a one-to-one swap. So barring future deals, there’s surprisingly little windfall opportunities in playing time here.
White Sox – The only significant trade by the White Sox prior to the deadline was to send closer Joakim Soria to the Brewers. It appears to be a committee closing games for the White Sox now. Jace Fry has the best component numbers on the team, but he blew a save Sunday and then was used Thursday in the eighth inning to record a critical out. Luis Avilan is a lefty like Fry, and got the save Thursday, but only after Jeanmar Gomez began the inning and got the first out. Gomez has closing experience, for whatever that’s worth, but also isn’t very good. That may not matter too much for the White Sox, though it’s not as if they want to lose games or put the worst pitcher in that position. It feels as if it’ll be a mess for the final two months here.
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Indians – For a prohibitive division favorite, the Indians’ outfield is kind of a mess still. Michael Brantley is really solid in left field, but center field and right field are rather unsettled. The Indians came up short in trying to trade for Bryce Harper (as did the rest of the league), but I wouldn’t be surprised if another outfielder still comes over this month. Perhaps Andrew McCutchen? At any rate, I’m not a big believer in Leonys Martin, though at least he’s hitting righties well this year, at a .277/.351/.433 clip. The Indians really were hurt by Bradley Zimmer’s poor season and subsequent injury. If no more trades happen, they’ll make do with a makeshift combination of Martin, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Melky Cabrera and Tyler Naquin when he returns from the DL.