Diaz - Kelenic / Dunn trade analysis


You can imagine what the Zeus trade was like for me.  LOL.  But it was actually the Edwin Diaz trade that put the kibosh on my rooting M's 2019.  

That one was the one that felt like a tire blowout, 65 MPH twenty-three vehicles currently reported ... it was dumping the bullpen, that dispelled any illusions I was trying to maintain.  At first glance and at 2nd, 3rd and further glances ... Diaz?  Colome?  Segura?  What, are you going for an NBA lotto pick?

But on our Trade Ratings, here is the Sugar trade doing with a 7.5 rating.  EVERYBODY loves the deal now. Diderot's wide-cast "Gentleman's D for the offseason" notwithstanding.

Until a couple of days ago, I hadn't even tried unwind the deal.  The mighty Jeff Sullivan thrashed around for a couple thousand words on Fangraphs and didn't get very far.  "Fascinating trade," he concluded with satisfaction.  But finally having looked at a good bit more intel on it, and a thin bit more Justin Dunn curve balls, Dr. D has arrived at a few thoughts.


Number one.  Remember, Jeff, remember.  To "analyze" is to cut into smaller sections.  Greek "loosen up," to untie something by looking at smaller parts.  

For me, one good way to split the deal is Cano and $50M for nothing, and then Sugar for Kelenic-Dunn-Bautista.  We ain't chasing our tail around the coffee table asking "Who won the deal?"  Very often both teams win a deal; very often both teams lose a deal.  

If you're asking "Who won the deal" you're asking a much different question than I am.  What is this, 1997 rotoball? :- )  My question is, if Dr. D is GM then what does the Cano dump do to my 1-year, 3-year and 5-year plans?

*Bruce gets $29M and Swarzak $8M; lessay Bruce is worth $10M or so to me for two years, Swarzak $1M.  So if you're sitting at my desk, you gave up $46M in goods, services and Pokecoins to pay down 40-50% of Cano's salary, loosely speaking.


I like it a lot.  We enjoyed the first half of Cano's deal, the age 31-35 part and don't have to deal with the 36-40 part.  Is Felix reminding us now what we don't like about the later years of superstar contracts?  :- )

Flexibility/mobility is the essence of positional play in chess; give yourself options, options, options.  In this context, I like having be-done with Robinson Cano. 


Number three.  I took Jay Bruce as a sunk cost, but that was before watching his bat launch this year on TV.  Then, looking around ... the projections all have him at 100-115 OPS+ this year.  Hm.  How bout dat.  Little bit Ryon Healyish?  Whatever.  Just saying, I can see a few little scenarios out there where Bruce does have an UP year for us.


Number four.  Edwin Diaz for Kelenic, Dunn and Bautista?

Day of trade, I figured assumed Dunn was a Grade B prospect, who had a good 50% chance of being bullpenned.  (So did Scott Servais, as near as I can tell.)  But we're all grading this trade 7, or 8, or 9 because a month of looking at it has us thinking differently.  Dunn is a certified top-100 starter with the velo, the vicious offspeed and all the trimmings.  

And Dunn is ML-ready, loosely speaking; his command is supposed to be better than Sheffield's.  It isn't often you see a ML-ready top-100 righty SP traded for anything, much less a reliever.

Kelenic as a super-blue chip teenager and Bautista as the near-100 MPH reliever we all had pegged easily enough. SSI sermonizes on this point constantly and annoyingly.  If the Angels trade Mike Trout you'll probably only recognize one name of the 8 coming back...


Not that we care who "won" the trade but in the comments section to this Fangraphs article, there is a spirited argument as to whether this 3-for-1 (Diaz for Kelenic, Dunn and Bautista) was the largest return for any RP in history.  No kidding, I looked up that article after splitting the deal, so I'm as dumb or sharp as Fangraphs posters, I guess.

The debate starts with the below gentleman's remark:

I doubt Diaz would’ve commanded much more than Kelenic + Dunn + Bautista if traded alone. That’s more than CIN or NYY got for Chapman or than SD got for Kimbrel. It’s probably a bit less than NYY got for Miller (Frazier and Sheffield were BA #44 and #88 that year — if you told me that Kelenic and Dunn were going to be #44 and #88, respectively in the BA mid-season Top 100, I wouldn’t be that surprised).  (Aren't they already at least that in MLB's? - Jeff)


OK, the analysis makes this much easier.  We've isolated to a 3-for-1 that is obviously a huge haul for a young, volatile closer.  The Mets get him for 4 years, but year 4 will cost them what, $20M?  Ah well ...


Point five is this.  I forgot something.   Totally forgot one of my most-stubbornly held sabr beliefs.

Closers are overrated.


Dr D



... we mean they're overrated in the industry, not by fans, of course.  Aroldis Chapman got 1.9 WAR last year; Craig Kimbrel got 1.5.  The industry is so out of whack on them because of the shibboleth of the "saves" myth.

The punch line here is not to say, "Hey we fleeced everybody and take over as the next Astros right now!"  The punch line is merely --- > If we're going to fly by our instruments, and not our instincts, we gotta remember we just converted a minor leaguer into a closer and cashed him in for a giant haul.

New closers can be manufactured; do you s'pose JeDi imagines Gerson Bautista to be one?  ;- )


But Diaz got Kelenic.  That alone has both trivia and punchline possibilities.  I know everyone was thinking Diaz payed down Cano's contract but I think Cano raised Diaz' return.  Cano doesn't seem to be completely undervalued here, that was Segura.

Just have to make 2 closers so you can afford to trade one.  But with that thinking I figured if a relief ace breaks out this year they're likely fodder.  I'd gladly do the deal again.  Got 'yer Slocumb right here. 


We had to take on short-term salary (Bruce/Swarzak) to dump Cano’s longer-term contract.  I have advocated a Bruce trade all winter, but not because I didn’t think he had a resurgence in him; he is simply easier to trade than EE.  But I think a 105+ Bruce is perfectly reasonable to expect.  He is a career .816 vR hitter who fell all the way to .688 last year.  I sort of think of Bruce as a BA-type guy, but I am wrong.  His career is built upon a .230 ISO vs RHP.  That sort of thing doesn’t usually disappear at age 32, which he will turn in three weeks.  Nelson Cruz ISO vR is .238, if you are interested. 

Bruce hit 36 homers just a couple of years ago.

If we look at the other half of the swap as a straight 3 for 1, then we traded a very good RP for a top-of-the-heap, blue chip, tool-loaded young CF AND two potent arms.  Over the next 4 seasons, we might have squeezed 270 innings out of Diaz, maybe.  We may get 6 years, or more, in CF from Kelenic.  And then you add the rotational inning from Dunn.

JD killed that trade.

And here’s to moving Kelenic up in a hurry.  He will be 20 before the season ends, I want him in AA by then, on the heels of a Lewis/Fraley/or both promotion.  

One last thing:  Dan Vogelbach looks like the most in-Control hitter in the park, each and every game.  I will never know the weird opposition that Servais had developed for him; perhaps some dude named Dan stole his high school GF, I don’t know.  But if Vogs doesn’t get about  30 of the first 40 starts I am going to blow a fuse.  

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.