The Cleveland Indians thought they had already made a huge splash as the trade deadline nears, acquiring Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers. Unfortunately, that didn't quite work out. But another blockbuster did.
On Sunday morning, the Indians also acquired one of the best relievers in baseball, getting Yankees' eighth inning man, Andrew Miller, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Miller will fetch lots of prospects for the Yankees, including Indians' No. 1 prospect, outfielder Clint Frazier. Also heading to New York are left-hander Justus Sheffield and right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen.
The Indians have shown that they have wanted to acquire a relief pitcher before the deadline. They were most connected to Miller, but it was unknown whether he would ultimately be traded. Their group of bullpen arms was below average, posting the 17th-best fWAR in the Majors. It was obvious they needed an upgrade.
And Miller is quite the upgrade for the Indians. He's by far one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, if not the best. He's 31, and this season he has a 1.39 ERA and a 77-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 45 1/3 innings pitched. Miller's 1.8 fWAR this season is equivalent to the fWAR the entire Indians bullpen has posted.
Another advantage to acquiring Miller for Cleveland is his contract status. He's signed through the 2018 season on a four-year, $36 million contract that paid him $9 million annually. The Indians not only get Miller through the end of the season, but they also get him at just $18 million for the next two years, too.
Due to all these advantages, it was not known whether the Yankees would deal Miller at the deadline. They reportedly turned down a Lucas Giolito-for-Miller deal from the Nationals, leading many to believe that he would be staying in New York.
But after seeing the team struggle against the last place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees decided to sell. They already did move Aroldis Chapman to Chicago last week, but he was also just a rental piece. With this move, the Yankees are truly committed to selling.
And they do get a great return for one of the primer bullpen pieces in the Majors.
Frazier, 21, was just promoted Triple-A this season and is hitting .273/.350/.461 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 94 games. He was the Indians' 1st round pick in 2013 and is now their No. 1 prospect.
No. 5 prospect Justus Sheffield also heads to New York. He's at High Class-A and has a 3.59 ERA and a 93-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio there in 95 1/3 innings pitched.
Heller, 24, is the Indians' No. 30 prospect and has a 1.73 ERA and a 48-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 2/3 innings pitched this season between Double- and Triple-A. Cover Those Bases ran a profile on the hard-throwing righty in June.
And Feyereisen, 23, was not listed in the Indians' top 30 prospects. He's at Double-A, where he has posted a 2.23 ERA and a 56-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 1/3 innings pitched this season.
UPDATE: Jonathan Lucroy has exercised his no-trade clause and will veto the trade to the Indians, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Cleveland Indians are going all-in.
On early Sunday morning, the team agreed to acquire catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
In exchange for Lucroy, the Brewers will receive four top prospects, including catcher Francisco Mejia, shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang, outfielder Greg Allen and someone else.
Lucroy, 30, is regarded as one of the best catchers in the Major Leagues. The two-time All-Star is a threat on both sides of the ball, as he is hitting .300/.360/.484 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 375 plate appearances while also being above-average defensively. When looked at as a whole, Lucroy has been worth 2.8 Wins Above Replacement this season (FanGraphs).
Catcher was likely the Indians' most troubled position this season. Yan Gomes, their No. 1 option, is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks. Roberto Perez, their backup, has one hit in 23 at bats.
As a whole, Indians' catchers have posted a combined -1.2 fWAR this season, easily ranking last in the Major Leagues.
The deal will not go through until Lucroy approves a trade. The Indians are a team on his no-trade list. He is signed to an extremely team-friendly contract that is paying him just $4 million this season with a $5.25 million team option for 2017. It's possible that Lucroy will want some financial obligation before waiving the no-trade clause. This still has to be sorted out before the deal is completed.
Regardless, the Brewers will get a haul for arguably their best player.
Mejia, 20 years old and the headliner in this deal, was the Indians' sixth-best prospect. He's down in High Class A, where he is hitting for a .329/.338/.487 slash line with two home runs and 16 RBI in 18 games. He also boasts a great arm behind the plate. Worth nothing, Mejia also is in the midst of a 42-game hitting streak between his two minor league stops this season.
The 20-year-old Chang is also at High Class A. The Indians' No. 12 prospect, he is hitting for a .272/.346/.490 slash line with 12 home runs and 69 RBI in 95 games this season. The Taiwanese Chang does not have a standout tool, rather he is great all around.
Allen, 23, is closest to the Majors of these three players but still resides in Double-A. The center fielder has some good speed and has hit for a .295/.415/.399 slash line this season with five home runs, 35 RBI and 39 stolen bases in 98 games between High-A and Double-A. He is the Indians' No. 22 prospect.
This deal is an absolute blockbuster for Cleveland. The team is 59-42, the best record in the American League. They want to go to the World Series, and by getting Lucroy, they have really worked on shoring up what was their weakest link in their lineup.
As for the Brewers, it makes sense to move Lucroy now. He's not a rental, which boosts his price tag. They're not a contending team at 46-56, but they proved that they are willing to go head-deep into the rebuild. Prior to this season, the Brewers already had the 10th-best farm system (via Baseball Prospectus) and this deal makes it even stronger.
Padres outfielder Matt Kemp and Braves infielder Hector Olivera have not quite worked out when it comes to their contract situations.
So, on Saturday, the two sides have swapped the players, as first reported by Keith Law of ESPN.com. The New York Post's Joel Sherman reports that the Padres will be sending the Braves cash considerations as well. The deal is pending medical review.
The 31-year-old Kemp is signed to an eight-year, $160 million contract through the 2019 season. After this season, he is still owed $65.25 million over the next three years, $10.5 million of which will be paid by the Dodgers.
Kemp has struggled to hit and stay healthy since signing that deal. This season, he is hitting for a .262/.285/.489 slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI. Though he looks fairly productive at first, Kemp's defense has been so bad he's been worth just 0.4 Wins Above Replacement (FanGraphs).
As for Olivera, the one-time highly regarded Cuban prospect is signed through 2020 with an option for 2021 on a six-year, $62.5 million contract. He's still owed $47,166,668 after this year, $18.68 million of which also will be paid by the Dodgers.
Olivera has played in just 30 big league games and was suspended 82 this season for domestic assault. While an extremely small sample, the 31-year-old has hit just .245/.296/.378 with two home runs and 13 RBI over 108 plate appearances.
The Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The trade is definitely an interesting one. It appears as if the Braves wanted to move Olivera due to his domestic violence history, with the only way them being able to is by taking on a bad contract such as Kemp's.
For the Padres, they can open up a roster spot in the outfield for a younger prospect such as Manuel Margot. It's possible that Olivera does not fit into their future plans regardless.
The Washington Nationals have added an impactful bullpen piece on Saturday.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals have acquired All-Star closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rosenthal reported just a few hours ago that the Nationals were focusing in on him.
In exchange for Melancon, the Pirates acquired two players: left-handers Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, was an All-Star this year, his third appearance in the past four seasons. In 45 games, he is 1-1 with a 1.51 ERA and a 38-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 2/3 innings pitched. He also has 30 saves in 33 appearances.
The right-hander is expected to become a free agent at the end of this season. He was arbitration eligible for his third and final time last offseason and signed a one-year, $9.65 million deal with Pittsburgh.
Melancon definitely fills a big need for the Nationals, who are struggling to close out games at the moment. Closer Jonathan Papelbon has struggled as of late, posting a 7.36 ERA in his last 13 games. He effectively had already lost the closer's spot.
While the Pirates are in contention this season, Melancon was expendable for them. They feel as if they have other options for the 9th inning, and considering the price for relief pitching, it would make sense for them to trade him.
As for their return, Rivero should be able to help out in the big league bullpen now, which makes this a good two-way trade for both contending teams.
The 25-year-old lefty is under team control through 2021 and has shown decent results in his big league career. This season, Rivero has a 4.53 ERA and a 53-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 49 2/3 innings pitched. He sees his fastball sit in the 95 MPH range while also mixing in a slider and change-up.
Hearn, on the other hand, is still a few years away from the Majors. At 21, he is still pitching in Class A, where he has a 3.18 ERA and a 31-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 2/3 innings pitched (8 games; 2 starts). He was listed as the Nationals' No. 27 prospect on MLB.com.
The Washington Nationals are in the market for a relief pitcher. Jonathan Papelbon has struggled, and the team has explored lots of options, from Andrew Miller to Aroldis Chapman.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are focusing in on acquiring Pirates closer Mark Melancon.
Washington has seen Jonathan Papelbon implode over the past few weeks, forcing Dusty Baker to effectively move him out of the 9th inning role.
Since the beginning of June, Papelbon has pitched in 13 games, going 2-2 with a 7.36 ERA. He has not had his trademark command, striking out 13 and walking eight in his 11 innings pitched.
This has led the Nationals to look for another back-end relief pitcher like Melancon. The 31-year-old has had a phenomenal season this year, posting a 1.51 ERA and a 38-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 2/3 innings pitched, saving 30 of his 33 opportunities.
Melancon would be a rental for the Nationals, as he will be a free agent at the end of the season.
In fact, this is the very reason why the Pirates would consider moving him. The team is still in contention, and they feel as if they have comparable options to handle the 9th innings. Melancon could bring in a haul for them even though they are in contention.