Contenders don’t trade productive starters, they said. For most of the day on Thursday, a few of baseball’s national scribes derided the Indians for even considering dealing Trevor Bauer. Why would a team deal a starter while in a hunt for a division title? Once the return on the recently completed three team trade was announced, the scope became clear.
The Indians sent one and a half years of Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati. The Reds sent a bona fide outfield prospect in Taylor Trammell to San Diego. The Reds and Padres teamed up to send a cavalcade of players packing for Cleveland. Over five years of Franmil Reyes, a legit power hitter, plus a half a season of Yasiel Puig, and a recently top 100 lefty starter in Logan Allen. On top of that, lower minor infielder Victor Nova and 2016 fourth round pick Scott Moss are also trekking to the Indians organization. Oh, and the Indians saved about a million 2019 dollars in the process.
In order to offer our greatest due diligence, Everyone Hates Cleveland will be writing about each of these trade chips individually.
Let’s get to know Franmil Reyes. You can’t miss him. Literally.
At six feet five inches and 275 pounds, Clevelanders will likely mistake him for a Browns defensive end if they were to bump into (get knocked over by) him on East Fourth. Predictably, that frame delivers punch.
Until 2025, the home run threat, who has 27 already in 2019, will be under club control. That means Franmil Reyes will be a Cleveland Indian for the league minimum half a million dollar annual salary for the remainder of this year, next year, and in 2021. An extremely efficient use of limited funds to buy 30 to 40 jacks each year.
The peripherals are kind to Franmil, as well. Though he has a tendency to hit the ball on the ground a tad too often, he seldom does so without authority. Only 13 of 152 qualified hitters have a hard hit rate higher than his 47.6% share. Expanding on the contact authority theme, 188 players have at least 200 batted ball events in 2019. Of those 188, only nine have a higher average exit velocity than Reyes’ 92.3 mile per hour mark. This places him around the 95th percentile in terms of sheer pound-the-ball-ness.
As with most mashers, there is some swing and miss to his game, but Reyes counters with an acceptable walk rate. His career walk numbers hover right around league average, but if projections and minor league history tell us anything there may just be the capacity for more.
Some might take a gander at his 116 wRC+ and scoff a little, remarking that he’s a glorified designated hitter (his fielding endeavors have the capability of being comical) so he should be mashing. But actual output does not always tell the entire story with a baseball player.
First, we can look at his slugging totals. The 0.535 slugging mark is quite impressive in its own right, measuring in the top 15th percentile of qualified hitters. However, his expected slugging, gathered from launch angle and exit velocity inputs, is in the top tenth percentile. Essentially, his inputs have been greater than he’s received credit for on the results spectrum.
Oh, hey, look, here’s a bunch of Franmil Reyes homers spliced together conveniently for you Indians heathens.
Notice that sweet swing. The second homer in the clip shows an opposite field shot that was as free and easy as a Dierks Bentley track. It’s no coincidence an opposite field mash was in short order — Franmil has eight of them on the year, good for fourth most in major league baseball. His power is not limited to pull side. In fact, he pretty much negates any outfield shift presented.
Beyond shifting, Reyes can beat the pitcher shuffle, too. While he has crushed lefties in his brief major league career (144 wRC+), he has shown an ability to hit righties, as well (114 wRC+). Drop him in the middle of your order and go. There’s that mythical right-handed power bat.
Trading Trevor Bauer was never going to be an easy decision. It required, to borrow a phrase from EHC’s own Michael Hattery and Jim Pete, threading the needle to the fullest extent. Franmil Reyes serves as the perfect headliner for such a deal, filling a need now and offering a collection of benefits in future years. Oh, and this guy is freshly 24 years old. There’s only room to grow.