On this dreary snoozy December day, Walt Jocketty got his wish and made a splash for the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason. In return for four years of Mat Latos, the Reds sent the San Diego Padres Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger.
This seems like one of those rare trades where it makes sense from both sides. For the Reds, four years of control of a #2 starter is huge, for the Padres, they need to continue to restock an already potent farm system with some bats.
But, while that is all well and good, what does it mean for you, the fantasy player?
Without a doubt this hurts the value of Mat Latos – but by how much is up for debate. When you think Padres pitching, you assume they get huge bumps from Petco – not exactly the case for Latos. While he has a slightly better K:BB rate at home during the course of his career, his slash lines are virtually identical: .229/.287/.348 at home versus .224/.286/.351 on the road.
Of course, the Great American Launching Pad is by no means your average park away from home. That said, Latos has put up good numbers in noted hitter’s havens:
Cincinnati: 14 IPs, two starts, 4.5 K:BB rate, .111/.149/.267, 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP
Colorado: 25.2 IPs, four starts, 4 K:BB rate, .255/.291/.429, 3.51 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Philadelphia: 11 IPs, two starts, 2.17 K:BB rate, .220/.333/.415, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP
Arizona: 19 IPs, three starts, 4 K:BB rate, .209/.274/.358, 1.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Obviously, this is not a definitive sample; however it is not damning whatsoever. If you look at these 11 starts, it paints a cozy feeling. Clearly the change in home venue could hurt the amount of HRs Latos gives up. Still, Latos has appeared to be good at limiting HRs. He has the 18th best HR/FB percentage in the majors over the last two seasons, behind guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Johnny Cueto, CJ Wilson, and Daniel Hudson.
I’ll knock Latos a tad because of the switch, but I am not worried about his 2012. He should pick up a few more wins at the expense of his ratios – that’s not the worst trade-off in the world. If others dock him majorly, be prepared to swoop in and reap the benefits.
As for the pieces coming from the Reds, Volquez appears to be the closest to being an impact player in the majors. Since his breakout 2008 campaign, the man once traded for Josh Hamilton has pitched just barely over 220 innings in the majors. Blessed with an incredible ability to strike batters out (8.67 K/9), his kryptonite (i.e., inability to throw strikes: 4.84 BB/9) is crippling.
That said, this trade spells nothing but good things for Volquez. He hasn’t had a HR/FB rate in single digits since 2008, without giving up a ton of fly balls (just 33.3% of the time). A subtle change in the right direction for his HR/FB rate paired with a slight uptick in his command and we could see Edinson Volquez with an ERA right around 4.00. I’m willing to give him 160 Ks, and a not unusable 1.35-1.40 WHIP. He won’t win many games, but the Ks could be nice.
The other player closest to the majors is Yonder Alonso. In just under 100 plate appearances last year, Alonso made quite the impression, hitting .330/.398/.545 with a .387 BABIP. Not surprising, given the ridiculously small sample, Alonso hit much better on the road than at home. The Reds made him available because he proved incapable of fielding any position outside of first base. Padres will send Anthony Rizzo back to Triple-A for now and play Alonso in 2012. Alonso should have some late round flyer value for those willing to gamble a corner slot on upside.
Grandal is, in actuality, the huge get in the deal. Grandal was a first round pick in 2010 and rocketed through three levels (A+, AA and AAA) last season, hitting a combined .305/.401/.500. There isn’t much keeping Grandal from starting 2012 in the majors behind the dish. While that’s a tad optimistic, I bet he becomes a real force for the Padres early on next year. He should be on all keeper, dynasty and NL-only owners shopping lists and watched with avid curiosity in shallower leagues. He could be a difference maker at catcher.
Boxberger isn’t much. At 23, he split time at AA and AAA last season, pitching just 62 innings. He was effective though: 2.03 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 13.5 K/9 and 3.32 K:BB rate. He really appears to be the relief version of Volquez: big K numbers with huge walk numbers. Petco has had the ability of turning good relievers into great relievers, but a lot would have to break right for Boxberger to be a viable option in any fantasy format. He might luck his way into saves at some point, but I’d bet most of my money on him being, at most, a solid reliever for a handful of seasons.