Everybody loves a three-way (trade)! This one was a true three-team deal unlike the last one with the Rays that was actually just a couple of deals closely linked together. The big headliner in this deal is Texas sending the former top prospect in baseball, Jurickson Profar, to Oakland, but several other interesting prospects also changed hands here. The Rays were able to cash in on some of their upper level and 40-man roster glut by moving from those prospects for a top-40 pick and a MLB ready relief arm, while the Rangers added some upper level talent and some pool money to spread around to several of the remaining international guys out there.
Here’s a brief summary:
Oakland: INF Jurickson Profar (TEX)
Texas: LHP Brock Burke (TB), LHP Kyle Bird (TB), RHP Yoel Espinal (TB), INF Eli White (OAK), $750,000 Pool Money (OAK)
Tampa Bay: RHP Emilio Pagan (OAK), RHP Rollie Lacy (TEX), 2019 Comp. Round A Selection (OAK)
Jurickson Profar- Profar had a breakout 2018 campaign as the oft-injured former number one prospect in baseball was finally able to put it together and ended up with a .254/.335/.458 triple slash with 20 homers and ten stolen bases. He provided some versatility and production as he ended up just under 3.0 WAR (2.9) despite not playing a full season. It seemed like Profar was the heir-apparent to the third base job after the retirement of Adrian Beltre, but long-term extension talks had reportedly gone nowhere and now here we are. Profar is represented by super-agent Scott Boras and they were apparently upset about Texas not calling up Profar in 2017 and delaying Profar’s free agency. Oakland receives Profar, and his two years of control, by sending out Emilio Pagan, Eli White, $750K in International money, and their Competitive Balance Round A selection in the 2019 draft.
Brock Burke- The left-handed cover boy of our Rays Top 30, Jason Woodell has you covered:
Burke has a large frame, athletic body, and a plus fastball. He struggled early in the season but was lights out after April. The fastball sits 96 and his curve flashes plus with good depth. His change-up is still a work in progress as is the command. At present, he is more control over command but the strides he made in the second half in Double-A cannot be understated. Both his K/9 and BB/9 trended in the right direction. If the changeup and command continue to progress, we are looking at middle-of-rotation power arm.
Burke has long been a favorite of mine, and Texas adds another power arm to their stable. Burke could be in Arlington in as soon as 2020.
Kyle Bird- Bird was the Rays 35th rounder in 2014 out of Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. The lefty has two above-average breaking balls that highlight the arsenal. The four-seamer sits 90-92 but his two-seamer is a few ticks below that with some run. The changeup is a below average pitch for me. Tampa Bay’s use of the opener made it’s way to Durham last season and Bird started the first six games of his professional career. He throws strikes and will be a serviceable reliever for the Rangers, more than just a matchup guy in my opinion. He will turn 26 shortly after opening day, so we should see him in Texas in 2019. Bird is on the Rangers 40-man roster.
Yoel Espinal- The Rays snagged Espinal in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft out of the Detroit system in 2015. Espinal was phenomenal out of the pen in 2018 for Double-A Montgomery, and has a plus ability to miss bats as he only allowed 29 hits and struck out 71 hitters in 54 2/3 innings. He has a mid-90s heater, high-80s change and a slider in the mid-80s that he will mix in. Espinal did just turn 26 this offseason, so it’s not out of the question to see him in Arlington during the 2019 season, and he could possibly work himself into a right-handed setup role. In order to solidify himself in a high leverage role, Espinal needs to cut the walks down. He’s much more volatile than Bird due to his inability to throw strikes consistently. Espinal has never posted a BB/9 of better than 4.77, which he posted in 2018, during his pro career.
Eli White- I covered White in my Oakland A’s prospects list. This is what I wrote:
The former Clemson Tiger was an 11th-round pick by the A’s in 2016. Even though he has a good enough glove to stick at short, the A’s seem focused on making him into a utility type because of their depth. White had a better offensive season because he began spraying the ball to all fields. White is a great athlete with above-average speed.
He went to the Arizona Fall League and began playing some second base there, as expected. I still think the Rangers will continue the plan to develop White as an offensive -minded utility option, and he should start 2019 in Triple-A. White hit .306/.388/.450 with a career high nine homers and 18 steals.
Emilio Pagan- With this deal Pagan joins his third organization in as many years as he was the primary return from Seattle for 3B/1B Ryon Healy. Pagan is a strike throwing fastball-slider reliever that will provide value to Tampa through his cost-controlled seasons. He’s too homer-prone to be a long-term solution at the back-end of a bullpen. He’s an extreme fly-ball guy and should benefit from the athletic projected Pham-Kiermaier-Meadows outfield.
Rollie Lacy- Rollie is a 60-grade name for a pitcher, IMO. You may have heard the name before as Lacy was part of the return from the Cubs for Cole Hamels. The most notable thing here is Lacy’s extreme groundball tendency. He throws strikes and gets swings and misses with his sinker/changeup combo. The sub-90 MPH fastball has tremendous sink and run, and a plus changeup also gets groundballs. A move to the bullpen could add a few ticks on the radar gun, and a move to a progressive organization like Tampa should be a plus for him. I think his future ceiling is in the pen as a situational bullpen piece.