Christopher Crawford

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Houston Verlands Ace

Friday, September 1, 2017


The August 31 trade deadline is often quiet; filled with moves for backend starters, backup catchers and relievers, at best.

That wasn’t the case this August 31, as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball will head to Houston in the form of Justin Verlander.

The move comes as a shock, if only because Verlander had apparently turned down a deal to Houston earlier in the day -- he had a limited no-trade clause that could block a move -- and the trade become official some 20 minutes after the deadline.

Obviously, this is a huge pickup for the Astros, and it should help Verlander going forward. While his overall numbers aren’t elite, he’s been sensational since July 19, posting a 2.32 ERA and 73 strikeouts over his 62 innings with Detroit. Few hurlers can miss bats at his level, and now he’s going to get the run support that should allow him to post plenty of wins now that he’s no longer playing for a poor Tigers club.

Considering Verlander is due $56 million over the next two years, the Tigers were still able to get a quality return for the hurler. Franklin Perez is a right-hander with three plus pitches and throws lots of strikes, and he could be a No. 2 starter if everything clicks. Daz Cameron is an outfielder with solid power, and his hitting talent should be good enough for him to be a .270-ish hitter. Finally, Jake Rogers is one of the best defensive catchers in minor-league baseball, and he’s not bereft of offensive skills either.

It’s rare to see a win-win trade in baseball now a days, but this was a deal that made an awful lot of sense for both clubs.

 

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Upton Heads to Halos

It isn’t quite the headliner of the Verlander deal, but the Angels made a huge splash on Thursday, acquiring Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers for minor-league pitcher Grayson Long.

At first glance, the move is surprising, but it also makes sense for both clubs. Upton is owed $22 million a year for the next five seasons, and with the Tigers in a clear rebuilding mode, it doesn’t make sense to pay a not-elite player that kind of cash, especially with the outfielder’s defensive skills declining. Upton has an opt-out in his contract after the season and there's been increasing buzz that he'll use it.

But the Angels also did well here, and took advantage of the best prospect in their system: cash. And in return for eating the Upton contract, they pick up a hitter who has posted a .904 OPS with 28 homers and 10 stolen bases. He’ll likely hit immediately after or very close to after Mike Trout, and that should give him even more chances to knock in runs. There might be a short adjustment period, but Upton is a legit middle-of-the-order hitter that can put up big numbers for Los Angeles in 2017 and beyond (if he doesn't opt out).

It’s also worth mentioning that Long is not just a throw-in to this deal. He’s a right-handed pitcher who has posted a 2.69 ERA in High-A and Double-A, with 125 strikeouts in just under 136 innings. He has a low-90s fastball, and his slider flashes plus along with a usable change. He should be a solid backend starter in the coming seasons.


Maybin picked up by Astros

Acquiring Justin Verlander wasn’t the only move that the Astros made on Thursday, as they also picked up outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Angels. The move was a straight waiver claim for Houston, and saves the Angels $1.5 million over the remainder of the season.

At first glance, Maybin is a curious fit for the Astros. If you look deeper, however, Maybin makes sense. Derek Fisher has struggled with the bat as of late, and he’s not a great defender. Maybin is at worst a competent defender, and he gives Houston some speed either at the top or bottom of the lineup. At worst, he becomes a solid bench option, but if he plays every day, he could provide plenty of runs and some steals as well.

 


National League Quick Hits: The Cubs acquired OF Leonys Martin from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash or a player to be named later. Martin had been recently designated for assignment by the Mariners and was playing in Triple-A Tacoma. … Marlins 2B Dee Gordon went 3-for-5 with a stolen base on Thursday, giving him five multi-hit games in a row. … Giants SP Madison Bumgarner won’t make his return until Sunday at the earliest, as he recovers from the flu. … Giants C Buster Posey returned to the lineup on Thursday. He had been out since August 20 with a bruised thumb. … Brewers C Manny Pina was held out of the lineup again on Thursday, and will undergo more tests on his hip on Friday. … After getting shelled for six runs in his previous start on Tuesday, the Brewers will skip RHP Matt Garza’s turn in the rotation … The Cardinals will call up RHP Sandy Alcantara on Friday, a hard-throwing right-hander who can get his fastball into triple-digits. … The Phillies claimed RHP Juan Nicasio off waivers on Thursday. Nicasio had posted a 2.85 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 60 innings for the Pirates.

American League Quick Hits: The Angels acquired 2B Brandon Phillips from the Braves in exchange for C Tony Sanchez. Phillips is hitting .291/323/.429 in 470 at-bats on the year. … Blue Jays DH Kendrys Morales had a monster night at the plate, going 4-for-5 with three homers and seven RBI in an 11-8 victory over Baltimore. … After initially being diagnosed with a broken bone in his hamate, Twins OF Byron Buxton was diagnosed with bruise rather than a break. He wasn’t used on Thursday, but was available on the bench. … Red Sox LHP David Price said his elbow “responded well” to a bullpen session, and he’ll throw again on Friday. ... Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre will undergo an MRI on Friday after being diagnosed with a strained calf. … Blue Jays 1B Justin Smoak remained out of the lineup on Thursday with a minor calf injury. Steve Pearce played first base in his place.



Christopher Crawford is a prospect writer for Rotoworld. He's scouted and covered prospects since 2009 and resides in Coronado, Calif. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.
Email :Christopher Crawford



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