The Braves have been looking for left handed relief pitching to backup Luis Avilan for a while now but haven’t found anything they believe is a good deal. While everyone was watching Oakland and the Cubs set off fireworks, the Angels and Diamondbacks began the relief pitching carousel for this season and gave us an idea of the value of left handed relief.
A Trade for Relief Pitching
Jerry Dipoto has said all along he was happy with his rotation and wanted to strengthen his pen; this does that. Functionally the D’Backs sent lefty specialist Joe Thatcher and 28 year old LHH minor league outfielder Tony Campana to the Angels for right handed relief pitching in the form of 21 year old Joey Krehbiel currently in High A and 23 year old LHH outfielder Zach Borenstein who has had some AAA experience but is currently in AA. Campana looks like a depth throw in to replace Borenstein so essentially it’s Krehbiel and Borenstein for Thatcher.
Krehbiel was drafted in the twelfth round in 2011 and thought they wanted him to play third base. While BA had him as the Angels 23rd ranked prospect their evaluation (subscription required) isn’t sure.
He has been used as a set-up man as an Angels farmhand, so he isn’t exactly a priority prospect, but he’s shown a 91-93 mph fastball that touches 95 from a low-three-quarters arm slot that makes him a very rough look for right handers (.454 OPS at low Class A Burlington in 2013) but a relatively easy one for lefties (.806 OPS).
Borenstein is a useful utility kind of player whose best position according to Baseball America (subscription required) “is in the batter’s box.” They go on to say that his carrying tool is “that he’s a left handed hitter with plus power potential.” Going into this year BA had him ranked as the Angel’s 9th rated prospect.
That’s a C rated pitching prospect under 23 and a C rated hitter under 23 for a 1/2 a year of a 32 year old true LOOGY; his L/R split leans harder left unlike someone like Eric O’Flaherty has a reverse split.
What that means to the Braves
We’ve looked at relief pitching options several times; Ryan specifically looked at a Thatcher trade and was right on in his estimate of what it would take. Thatcher is essentially a replacement level lefty and as quality improves the price goes up but while middle relievers – particularly lefties – are essential they aren’t all that expensive. A guy like Antonio Bastardo who was a 1.2 rWAR reliever last year and is under control through 2016 would bring a higher level prospect but nothing that should put a dent in our system. Excluding teams that still consider themselves in the chase, here’s a list of lefty relievers who might be available.
The list is sorted on WHIP from best to worst. As I noted a few days ago, Capuano has been released and would essentially be free. He also essentially awful this season which is why he’s still a free agent. I also left those with worse numbers than Capuano off for obvious reasons. Looking at the list who would you make your target? There’s a poll below where you may pick your top 3 let us know. The poll will remain open until Monday evening.
What's your preference for lefty relief pitching?
- Jake McGee (28%, 12 Votes)
- Tony Sipp (23%, 10 Votes)
- Mike Dunn (19%, 8 Votes)
- Oliver Perez (14%, 6 Votes)
- James Russell (12%, 5 Votes)
- Chris Capuano (9%, 4 Votes)
- Andrew Miller (7%, 3 Votes)
- Antonio Bastardo (7%, 3 Votes)
- Rex Brothers (7%, 3 Votes)
- We don't need another lefty reliever (5%, 2 Votes)
- Alex Torres (5%, 2 Votes)
- Darin Downs (2%, 1 Votes)
- Wesley Wright (2%, 1 Votes)
- Marc Rzepczynski (2%, 1 Votes)
- Boone Logan (2%, 1 Votes)
- Dan Jennings (2%, 1 Votes)
- Neal Cotts (2%, 1 Votes)
- Jake Diekman (2%, 1 Votes)
- Mario Hollands (0%, 0 Votes)
- Aaron Poreda (0%, 0 Votes)
- Josh Outman (0%, 0 Votes)
- Brian Duensing (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 43
That’s A Wrap
The market for relief pitching will be more active after the All Star break as the non-waiver trade deadline approached. The D’Backs traded Thatcher because his value now is his value then and they liked the offer. Most teams will hold out as long as they can and wait for the best offer. The Braves may not make a trade at all though history says they will do something even if it’s just symbolic – think Rick Ankiel – as a way to show the players they are searching for help. As we get information on their dealings we’ll post it here at the Take.
Tags: Atlanta Braves