The Diamondbacks and Mariners Combine on One-for-One Swap

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Mini commerce alert! Yesterday, the Seattle Mariners despatched outfielder Kyle Lewis to the Arizona Diamondbacks in alternate for outfielder/catcher Cooper Hummel. That’s the whole alternate – no different gamers, no money, only a one-for-one swap. It’s not terribly thrilling, however its simplicity makes it simpler to interrupt down. Shall we?

Two years in the past is not loads, however contemplating all of the ruckus that has occurred between then and now – and I’ll spare you the loathsome, typically non-baseball-related particulars – it would as properly be endlessly. That’s additionally when Lewis received the American League Rookie of the Year. After a prolonged detour brought on by persistent knee accidents, Lewis appeared on a positive path to turning into an integral a part of an up-and-coming Mariners core. But the hardship continued into his sophomore season as a result of one other tear to the identical knee that had been bothering him for years; he performed simply 36 video games in 2021. And if that wasn’t sufficient, the already battered Lewis, who started his 2022 on the injured checklist, was hit by a pitch a mere week after being known as up in May. He recovered, however struggled immensely on the plate. Eventually, the Mariners despatched him again right down to Triple-A Tacoma, the place he wrapped up a grueling season.

Laid in entrance of us are 4 fragmented seasons, together with a cup of espresso in 2019, from which to guage Lewis. The fact is, it is a difficult process. When samples are small and distant from each other, distinguishing the results of harm from random variance and a potential decline in talent is about as productive as imagining “what might have been.” But from a projection system’s perspective, a brief resume really paints Lewis in a constructive mild. Steamer, for instance, forecasts a .240/.323/.426 slashline and a 110 wRC+ for 2023, seemingly due to his latest minor league output and the truth that most of his main league expertise comes from an award-winning rookie season. The ceiling of an on a regular basis middle fielder nonetheless exists, and a 116 wRC+ in Triple-A final season that wasn’t BABIP-driven is motive for optimism.

The Mariners might have held on to Lewis, however their resolution to half with him is smart. So a lot time has handed since his debut that he entered the offseason arbitration-eligible. I’m undecided the cynicism concerned in refusing to pay a participant at the very least a million-plus factored into this commerce, however that is how the trade typically operates, so it is a potential clarification. In addition, Julio Rodríguez is locked up as Seattle’s middle fielder and Teoscar Hernández just lately joined the group through commerce. Jarred Kelenic, Jesse Winker, Sam Haggerty, Dylan Moore, and Taylor Trammell are all inner potentialities to man left subject. If room for Lewis had been scarce earlier than, it grew to become just about nonexistent within the final couple of months. The Mariners are not that sort of group wants to hold onto Lewis. It’s bittersweet, but it surely’s additionally a testomony to how far they’ve come.

Not that the Diamondbacks are in dire want of an outfielder. Ass Kiley McDaniel just lately identified on a extremely secure social media web site, Arizona now has a plethora of outfield choices – choices which may level to future strikes. But Lewis seems to be like a participant the group needs to maintain, and not like the Mariners, the Diamondbacks are exactly the kind of membership that can provide him a chance. Lewis is not younger by baseball requirements anymore, however his new group is not after a hitter in his prime. The Diamondbacks presumably wish to see if they will work out these power knee points, and whether or not Lewis can discover his footing as soon as wholesome. It’s a big gamble, though in comparison with signing a flame-throwing reliever with management points, extra like a spherical of theoretically optimum bingo. If you could not inform already, I like this for Arizona – it is the precise sort of transfer a group within the center phases of a rebuild ought to pursue.

In buying Lewis, the Diamondbacks parted methods with a participant who’s noteworthy in a number of points. Hummel is an outfielder who can (form of) catch, and that distinctive positional versatility is a small but actual benefit. But novelty alone is not price a roster spot. What makes Hummel intriguing is his intensive minor league observe document: As a switch-hitter, he is been productive on either side of the plate, boasting good plate self-discipline and line drive charges that might represent 60 levels. During his time within the Brewers’ group – he joined the Diamondbacks as a part of the Eduardo Escobar deal – Hummel skilled an influence surge, which he is maintained ever since. And though conventional scouting experiences had him as a barely below-average runner, Statcast has captured aggressive working instances from the 27-year-old catcher; his common dash velocity ranked within the 88th percentile final season, suggesting a sure diploma of athleticism.

These are all constructive traits – so why is not Hummel a much bigger deal? The quick reply is a 65 wRC+ in 201 large league plate appearances. The longer, extra in-depth reply begins with understanding that whereas Hummel has the qualities of an everyday contributor, they by no means harmonized in his debut season. To wit: Upon contact, balls exit Hummel’s bat at persistently medium-high speeds, however hardly ever on the optimum angles. He hit fastballs properly, however Hummel drove breaking balls and offspeed pitches into the bottom with alarming frequency. And what’s exit velocity good for if provided to a grounder? Pitchers are a sensible bunch, and they caught on. Consider the connection between the proportion of sliders Hummel noticed and his rolling-average wOBA. It in all probability is not coincidence:

What’s extra, though Hummel recorded a formidable out-of-zone swing proportion, his in-the-zone whiffs result in an inflated strikeout charge. Basically, he aced the troublesome portion of a check however made foolish errors on simpler issues. The excellent news is that in-zone contact points are simpler to deal with than out-of-zone aggression, at the very least in idea. The unhealthy information is that Hummel won’t be as malleable as he was in, say, 2018. That discrepancy between his Triple-A numbers and his large league numbers thus far evokes the picture of a prototypical Quad-A hitter – somebody who’s too good for the higher minors, however not ok for the present.

All advised, Hummel is a loaded project for the Mariners, who, just like the Diamondbacks, aimed for upside reasonably than organizational want. He has these aforementioned qualities, however will want improved timing versus non-fastballs. How far a group can take Hummel as a catcher additionally stays to be seen. Will the Mariners associate him with Cal Raleigh in some unspecified time in the future, or will Hummel primarily roam the outfield grass? (Maybe he is left for good in Triple-A, however let’s fear about that situation later.)

A one-for-one commerce implies stability. I’m undecided Hummel and Lewis are the identical caliber of participant, however they share a standard vulnerability. To some, the 2 are washed-up outfielders who will lengthen their careers as organizational depth earlier than calling it quits. Perhaps so. It’d be incorrect to jot down them off utterly, nonetheless. Derailed by a cascade of accidents, Lewis’ profession thus far doesn’t even quantity to at least one full season; he is a gifted participant who deserves a recent begin. Hummel may need had a depressing large league debut, however that does not erase a robust hit instrument and a number of seasons of statistical excellence. In spirit, Hummel-for-Lewis is equal. The Diamondbacks and Mariners appeared to provide from their surplus, then take no matter they might get. It seems one participant every is ample.

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