By Jon Becker
The MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and as is usually the case, it was pitching that dominated the headlines. Trevor Bauer went to the Cincinnati Reds, Shane Greene to the Atlanta Braves, and Zack Greinke to the Houston Astros. While there weren’t names quite as big or seasons quite as good acquired on the offensive side of things, there were still a small handful of meaningful position players acquired. Let’s take a look at some of them.
OF/DH Franmil Reyes, traded from San Diego Padres to Cleveland Indians
Reyes has been one of the most under-the-radar hitters in baseball this year, with a 34% hard-hit rate that puts him in the top 50 among the nearly 200 batters with 300-plus at-bats. His 27 home runs this year gives him 43 for his career in under 600 at-bats, though interestingly enough he’s hit only 18 doubles and driven in 77 runs. The righty swinger actually does most of his damage against same-sided pitching, with a 36% hard-hit rate against such pitchers (25% against southpaws) and 24 of his 27 round-trippers.
A big factor in the Padres’ willingness to trade Reyes was likely his poor defense, which our Sam Weber wrote about yesterday. He’ll probably spend most of his time in Cleveland as the designated hitter.
RF Nicholas Castellanos, traded from Detroit Tigers to Chicago Cubs
Despite this being the most homer-happy season in MLB history, Castellanos hasn’t quite gotten the memo, hitting just 11 home runs after clubbing 23 last year. He has hit 37 doubles, to lead MLB, only 9 off of his career-high with one-third of the season still to be played. The Cubs’ biggest offensive woes have come against lefties, and Castellanos will definitely help there. He’s hitting .347 this year when holding the platoon advantage, with four of his home runs and a 43% hard-hit rate. That hard-hit rate puts him just outside the top 10 of the 200+ hitters with at least 50 at-bats against lefties.
One thing that ought to worry the Cubs, though, is Castellanos’ defense; he’s improved, but has still been well below average, with a -6 DRS after -19 last year. The acquisition will also give Jason Heyward more time in center and less in right; Heyward’s fifth amongst right fielders with 9 DRS, but has cost the Cubs six runs when playing up the middle.
RF Yasiel Puig, traded from Reds to Indians
It’s been a weird season for Puig, who slashed just .218/.268/.391 through the end of May but was excellent in the next two months, batting .290/.340/.568. His hard-contact rate has improved a lot as well; it’s been 33% over the last two months after having a hard-hit ball in less than a quarter of his at-bats prior. Similarly to new teammate Reyes, he’s a bit of a reverse-splits hitter: his batting average is 14 points higher against lefties but his hard-hit rate is almost two percentage points higher against righties, against whom he’s hit 17 of his 22 home runs.
Puig, unlike the other two names above, is an above-average fielder, with 3 DRS in right field this year and four outfield assists, with runners taking the extra base on less than 50% of opportunities. Puig has 16 Good Fielding Plays, one shy of the MLB lead at the position. He does sometimes try to do too much — he has 13 Defensive Misplays & Errors — but that doesn’t offset his positives.
INF/OF Eric Sogard, traded from Toronto Blue Jays to Tampa Bay Rays
The most out-of-nowhere impact trade candidate on the market, Sogard parlayed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays into an excellent .300/.363/.477 slashline, hitting 10 home runs in 330 plate appearances after slugging just 11 in over 1,700 career plate appearances prior. He hasn’t hit the ball particularly hard, with a hard-hit rate of just over 30%, but that still represents a career high. He’s also been excellent at using the whole field, pulling just 37% of batted balls and hitting 63% up the middle or to the left side.
The bespectacled Sogard has started games at second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field this year. He’s cost his teams four runs at second base, and has been +1 at the other positions.