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Willy Adames is Headed to Milwaukee

Since earlier than the beginning of the season, the Rays have telegraphed their willingness to maneuver Willy Adames. It wasn’t a lot in what they mentioned — in that they didn’t say a lot of something — however two components made it a virtually foregone conclusion. First, the Rays are *loaded* at shortstop within the higher minors. Second, the Rays don’t compete by letting surplus expertise rot on the vine. Adames might be eligible for arbitration after this yr, so his presence on the main league roster blocked these cheaper minor leaguers.

It was only a matter of getting previous the Tremendous-Two deadline and a few staff assembly their asking value. On Friday, each of these components lined up: the Rays have traded Adames and Trevor Richards to the Brewers in trade for Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen, as’s Mark Feinsand first reported.

The Brewers want a shortstop badly. They’re 21–22 to date this yr, 4 video games again within the NL Central, and lackluster efficiency at shortstop has held them again. Luis Urías is an intriguing expertise, however he’s hitting .221/.313/.327 since becoming a member of Milwaukee final yr, good for a measly 78 wRC+. He’s additionally stretched defensively on the place: He’s a pure second baseman taking part in shortstop to accommodate first Keston Hiura and now Kolten Wong.

Urías is proficient sufficient that it could really feel bizarre to commerce for a shortstop solely to stash him on the bench, however that received’t be the case in Milwaukee. Including Adames will set off a cascade of strikes that ought to assist bandage the staff’s dicey infield protection. Although Urías is a pure second baseman, he also can play third, the place Travis Shaw presently begins. That lets Shaw transfer over to first base, the place Hiura’s gradual begin and eventual demotion has created yet one more gap.

This multi-position rearrangement works due to Adames. He’s off to a gradual begin offensively this yr, and his 35.9% strikeout fee continues a latest worrisome pattern, however he’s a greater defensive shortstop than Urías, and given the infield’s total offensive struggles, it’s arduous to fault the Brewers for selecting protection. Aside from Wong, Adames’s batting line suits proper in:

Brewers Infield Choices

Participant Okay% BB% BABIP OBP SLG wRC+
Willy Adames 35.9% 7.0% .276 .254 .371 78
Keston Hiura 36.0% 6.7% .239 .247 .266 47
Daniel Vogelbach 21.7% 13.2% .242 .311 .348 84
Kolten Wong 14.4% 8.3% .309 .348 .402 108
Luis Urías 25.0% 13.6% .250 .317 .359 87
Travis Shaw 26.0% 9.1% .258 .292 .372 85

It’s a grotesque unit within the mixture, and Adames virtually has to assist; even when he doesn’t begin hitting higher, you’ll hardly be shocked to know that having him play protection as a substitute of Vogelbach will increase the defensive functionality of the unit as a complete. The staff will nonetheless have the ability to run out a lefty-heavy lineup with Shaw and Vogelbach on the infield corners when they need offense, however I anticipate the defense-first unit to get a good bit of taking part in time.

For this commerce to work, although, Adames can’t preserve hitting the best way he has this yr. He struck out fairly a bit final yr (36.1%) however nonetheless put up a stable offensive line due to a .388 BABIP and good energy numbers: 15 doubles and eight homers in solely 205 plate appearances. That didn’t really feel sustainable, clearly, however neither does this yr’s tough efficiency really feel consultant of his true expertise.

Adames has been extraordinarily aggressive to date this yr, swinging at a career-high fee in each zone. He’s additionally change into a low-contact hitter: After placing up roughly league-average contact metrics till final yr, he light in an enormous means. For the reason that begin of 2020, he’s made contact on solely 63.2% of his swings, the fifth-worst mark within the majors. That’s Javier Baez (or, sadly, Keston Hiura) territory, which helps clarify why his strikeouts went from elevated to ghastly.

As is so usually the case, this alteration hasn’t occurred in isolation. As he’s missed extra usually, he’s additionally accomplished extra harm when he connects. His barrel fee, hard-hit fee, and anticipated slugging fee are all at profession highs this yr, and he’s hitting a staggering 69.1% of his batted balls within the air, a top-ten mark within the majors.

How did he flip right into a feast-or-famine (and largely famine this yr) slugger? You may assume it’s his cartoonish, Wario-esque leg kick, which he confirmed right here in taking Taylor Hearn out of the park:

Severely, look how excessive his leg is with the ball already out of Hearn’s hand:

Only one drawback: that’s not a brand new improvement. Right here’s a 2019 house run:

But it surely hasn’t at all times been the case. Right here’s his first main league house run, off of Chris Sale in 2018:

Possibly it’s the leg kick. Possibly it’s one thing else. No matter it’s, his present energy output isn’t making up for his 19.4% swinging-strike fee. The Brewers absolutely hope he’ll have the ability to get again to his earlier contact and batted ball profile, and hey, as talked about, there’s hardly a excessive offensive bar to clear in Milwaukee.

In Tampa, alternatively, shortstop was getting crowded. Wander Franco, the very best prospect within the recreation, is hitting properly at Triple-A Durham. Vidal Brujan, who we mission as extra of a second baseman however who can deal with quick in a pinch, is off to a torrid .333/.429/.650 begin. Taylor Partitions is the very best of the bunch defensively, and he’s additionally swinging a sizzling bat in Durham. He’ll get the primary crack at it; the Rays have already called him up within the wake of the commerce.

Extra importantly from their perspective, the bullpen cabinet was getting naked. The Rays have a whole staff of pitchers on the IL: Chris Archer, Yonny Chirinos, Luis Patiño, Michael Wacha, Nick Anderson, Jalen Beeks, Oliver Drake, Chris Mazza, Colin Poche, Cody Reed, and Chaz Roe are all out of fee in the mean time. A few of these accidents occurred final yr, however the level stays: they’re struggling to cobble collectively sufficient innings.

It’s not a lot a top quality problem: Tampa Bay continues to be among the many finest ten groups within the league in pitching WAR. It’s extra of a amount problem; in some unspecified time in the future, there merely aren’t sufficient our bodies to fill out a serious league roster, notably provided that solely one in every of their 5 starters is averaging six innings per begin — Tyler Glasnow, naturally sufficient.

Feyereisen and Rasmussen will reinforce the Tampa bullpen with extra of what it’s change into recognized for: an limitless pile of swings and misses. Feyereisen, a former Yankees farmhand whom the Brewers acquired in 2019, has a 16.8% swinging-strike fee since debuting in 2020. He picked up a brand new changeup within the offseason, and it’s been almost unhittable: Batters are arising empty on 60% of their swings towards it.

That apart, he’s a traditional reliever archetype: a using four-seamer that batters swing underneath, paired with a slider he throws within the mid 80s. He’s struggled with management to date this yr, strolling 14.3% of opposing batters, however he completely has the stuff to succeed; it’s only a matter of hitting the zone to arrange both a slider or changeup to finish issues.

Rasmussen, in the meantime, has at all times felt like a Rays pitcher. He began within the minors however pitched a restricted workload in these begins, largely as a result of his checkered harm historical past. He sits within the higher 90s and might contact 100 together with his fastball, although it doesn’t have the plus experience that makes Feyereisen’s model of the pitch play up. He enhances that with a slider (and two rarely-seen choices, a curve and changeup).

Like Feyereisen, Rasmussen has struggled together with his command of late. In his transient main league profession, he’s walked 14.2% of opposing batters, although he’s struck out a powerful 31.1%. He has all of the instruments — if he can harness them. His short-stint begins additionally match completely with Tampa Bay, a staff that makes use of that technique to nice impact. Each Rasmussen and Feyereisen may very well be workhorses — or they could by no means throw sufficient strikes to make it work.

Although Adames was the headliner of the deal, the 2 sides agreed that he wasn’t *fairly* value Feyereisen and Rasmussen on his personal. So the Rays threw in Richards, a swingman they acquired as a part of the Nick Anderson deal in 2019, to finish the commerce. Richards by no means discovered a constant position in Tampa: he began somewhat, relieved somewhat, and customarily papered over no matter cracks the staff had in its ever-shifting pitching plans.

In contrast to the 2 arms leaving Milwaukee, Richards doesn’t blow opponents away together with his fastball. He sat round 90 mph as a starter, although he’s added a number of ticks of velocity in a multi-inning aid position this yr. His finest pitch is likely to be a diving changeup that he throws 30% of the time. With the Brewers dropping two aid arms as a part of this commerce, they too have been getting stretched there — Justin Topa, Bobby Wahl, and Eric Yardley are all on the IL in the mean time — so getting a reliever that Tampa Bay not deliberate to make use of squared the commerce up for everybody.

This commerce makes loads of sense, in my eyes, for each groups. The Brewers wanted to do one thing about their infield, as a result of their present configuration wasn’t working. Adames might use a change of surroundings, however even when he doesn’t choose it up on the plate, he’s very doubtless a greater defender than Urías, and the knock-on results throughout the infield are helpful as properly.

The Rays wanted extra pitching, they usually additionally wanted to maneuver Adames. They merely have too many minor leaguers arising, they usually weren’t going to pay him in arbitration. They absolutely want they might have cashed him in when he wasn’t slumping, however they’re getting what they want, proper this minute, in two bullpen arms, and with Partitions filling in, they won’t lose something at shortstop both. Total, it is a workmanlike commerce for each side, one which fixes points throughout the board with out undue threat by both staff.

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