I may have gotten in that Carlos Villanueva/Royals blurb just in time, as the Kansas City Royals may now have picked up the bullpenner they sought.
In a minor trade with the Rangers, the Royals today received righty Jason Frasor for AAA righty Spencer Patton. The deal is interesting here from a few perspectives, in that (1) it kicks off the Rangers’ selling (which we knew was coming), (2) it possibly closes the books on the Royals picking up any other relief arms (as discussed), and (3) it places another comp on the market for this kind of rental reliever deal.
Patton, 26, was a fantastic reliever in the middle minors in 2013, with a minuscule ERA and huge strikeout rate. Since coming to the PCL this year, however, his walk rate has increased a bit and his home run rate has skyrocketed (as it sometimes does in the PCL). His age is a bit misleading, because he was an older college draftee, and he’s actually only just now in his third full professional season.
It’s always an inexact science describing this type of player for purposes of asset valuation – all of our easy levers are unavailable (i.e., he wasn’t ranked in the Royals’ system) – but I’d call Patton someone interesting that you’d like to have at AAA. He’s not unlike a number of interesting relief prospect arms the Cubs have, albeit probably on a lower tier.
For Patton, the Rangers gave up 36-year-old Jason Frasor (who will make just about $700,000 the rest of the way), currently sporting a 3.34 ERA, a 3.51 FIP, and a 3.66 xFIP over 29.2 innings. Frasor is what he is: a solid, dependable, unsexy reliever rental. The price on a guy like that should be something like Patton.
Any direct overlap here with respect to a Cubs deal? Carlos Villanueva might be the closest shoppable comp for the Cubs, but he’s younger, can start, and more expensive. I’m not sure this deal tells us much of anything about that market. As for the Cubs’ other relievers who could be moved – James Russell and Wesley Wright – they are younger lefties who offer a year of control after this one. Again, not a lot of overlap for comparison purposes.
In the end, it’s mostly just interesting because TRADES. There is absolutely a reactionary, momentum-y pace to these things – as the Royals now improve, perhaps the Tigers get closer to making a move. And as they’ve started to unload, maybe the Rangers pull the trigger on another deal soon.
And so on, and so forth.