“Big” trade options
While we looked at guys who were perhaps a bit more under radar in the previous sections, but with the depth of options, we will just look at big options here that would likely be a major impact reliever and/or a closer.
Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles
We did profile Orioles reliever Brad Brach in July as a trade deadline possibility, and he could be an option as well, but if the team was going to go big, why not go for Givens, who has comparable stuff, is 4 years younger, and actually had better numbers in 2017? Givens isn’t even arbitration eligible until after next season, meaning he’s very cheap for a team right now, not reaching free agency until after the 2021 season. That also means he’ll cost a significant amount in trade, but the 27 year old righty has a career 2.75 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over the last 3 seasons in 157 appearances and 183 1/3 innings, posting a 67/222 BB/K ratio. Givens works with hard stuff, using a fastball that averages 95.8 MPH and a 87.6 MPH slider. He sprinkles in a change that runs in the mid-80s as well to really throw off hitters.
Barraclough made a big impression in 2016 when he struck out 113 batters in just 72 2/3 relief innings. He showed similar production in 2017 with 76 strikeouts over 66 innings. The big righty can run his fastball up to triple digits, but he can struggle with his location and was hit for 5 home runs in 2017 after allowing just 1 in his first 100 games pitched in the major leagues. Barraclough is not eligible for arbitration until after next season and not a free agent until after 2021, so he likely won’t come cheap in the trade market, but he’d certainly offer the sort of high-velocity, strikeout stuff desired at the back of the pen.
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Neris has been an impressive performer the last two years for the Phillies, but entering into his first season of arbitration with a year as a closer, he’s going to be expensive in arbitration, so the Phillies are listening. The price certainly won’t be cheap in trade, but the closer with one of the best split-finger fastballs in the game has impressive strikeout stuff as well as 5 pitches that he can go to out of the closer role (4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, split-finger fastball, change, slider), though he does use a fastball variation in almost 98.5% of all pitches.
Perhaps the most prominent lefty on the market this offseason will be Minnesota native Brad Hand, who had an elite season for the Padres in 2017. Hand is entering his second season of arbitration this season and just had a season where he moved into the closer role, saved 21 games, and struck out over 100 batters as a reliever. He’ll be under team control through 2019, so there’s just two years of control, but Hand has already had two seasons of high level performance, striking out 215 hitters the last two seasons in 168 2/3 relief innings.
Cincinnati Reds arms
The Reds have a few arms with the power that you would want in the role, and they could have a varying degree of attainability. I personally have thought big righty Sal Romano was destined for the bullpen for quite some time, and his time in the majors this year did little to dissuade that opinion, in spite of making 16 starts. Ariel Hernandez may be a late bloomer, but he has an arm that can pump out upper 90s velocity and was just a rookie in 2017, so he could be more easily acquired possibly
The big get would be righty Raisel Iglesias, who is under contract until 2020, though he still has a season of control through arbitration after that, so he’s truly controllable through the 2021 season. He was a big signee out of Cuba, with a three pitch mix that could work both as a starter and reliever, though he has found himself at home as the key of the Reds bullpen, using a three pitch mix with a fastball that can rub triple digits, a wicked fastball, and a change with nasty movement. He’d likely cost as much or more than some “ace” starters in the trade market.