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Friday, January 10, 2020

Cardinals Acquire Matt Liberatore

6:16PM: Harrison Bader and Lane Thomas aren’t expected to be part of the trade, Passan reports.  Fowler also isn’t thought to be part of this deal, though he could eventually be on the move elsewhere since the Cardinals have been discussing him in other trade negotiations.

5:37PM: The trade is shaping up as a multi-player blockbuster, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links) reports that the Cardinals and Rays are each sending three “pieces” to the other in the deal.  “At least two of those pieces are draft picks,” Rosenthal notes, indicating that Competitive Balance Round selections (the only type of draft picks that can be traded) are in play.  The Cards are slated to pick in Competitive Balance Round A following the first round of the draft, whereas the Rays draw after the second round in Competitive Balance Round B, so there is roughly a 30-slot gap between the two picks.

4:57PM: The Cardinals have discussed Tyler O’Neill with the Rays and other teams this offseason, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, though there isn’t yet any indication that O’Neill could be involved in the Liberatore trade.

3:53PM: The Cardinals have acquired left-hander Matthew Liberatore from the Rays, ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  The return headed back to Tampa Bay is expected to include at least one player from the Cards’ Major League roster, and hints at a very notable trade given Liberatore’s status as one of the top prospects in the Rays’ system.

Other sources are indicating that Jose Martinez is also part of this trade.

 

QLE Posted: January 10, 2020 at 01:34 AM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, jose martinez, matt liberatore, trades

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   1. PreservedFish Posted: January 10, 2020 at 06:58 AM (#5914426)
"Blockbuster" doesn't seem like the right word to describe a trade of players that I've largely never heard of and draft assets I barely even understand.
   2. salvomania Posted: January 10, 2020 at 08:44 AM (#5914438)
Cardinals are sending over Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena; the latter played sparingly for the Cardinals after being called up in mid-August, hitting .300/.391/.500 in just 23 PA after putting up a 1.023 OPS in AA/AAA.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 10, 2020 at 09:07 AM (#5914445)
He will presumably be greeted as a Liberatore by the Cards organization.
   4. asinwreck Posted: January 10, 2020 at 09:10 AM (#5914446)
The swap of competitive balance picks mean the Rays also move up about three dozen slots in the 2020 amateur draft, giving them a larger bonus pool.
   5. sotapop Posted: January 10, 2020 at 10:05 AM (#5914469)
A lot of stories are talking about the Rays wanting Martinez to fix their lack of RH power, but in the Tampa Bay Times, GM Neander sounds like Arozarena was the key:

“There’s risks. There’s outcomes with Matthew that you could always look back and play the what-if games,’’ general manager Erik Neander said. “But we believe Randy, the way he fits our club and the upside he possesses and his timeline basically being on the major-league doorstep, made this move worthwhile. And certainly with Jose in there and how he fits our club in the immediate future."

I don't know how the Cards operate but this is pretty much in the TB wheelhouse. They need RH power, and Martinez does that. They love those one-year rentals, and Martinez is arb-eligible after this season, I think. They're obsessed with OF defense, and Arozarena fits that bill. And improving their draft picks-- asinwreck is spot-on.

I hate to see the Rays give up a solid LH pitching prospect, but... TINSTAAPP, maybe? Liberatore is 20 and in low-A ball. At least if he turns into Randy Johnson, we won't have to face him anytime soon.
   6. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: January 10, 2020 at 10:10 AM (#5914471)
Much as I agree that "blockbuster" kind of oversells it -

Liberatore was the Ray's 2018 1st rounder and is something of a fringe top 100 guy... He didn't set the world on fire in his first full pro season - but he's a legit SP prospect.

Arozarena is an interesting guy, too. Cuban signee who was originally a 2B, but I see the Cards have pretty much kept him in the OF full time.

It's an interesting trade...
   7. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: January 10, 2020 at 10:17 AM (#5914472)
FWIW - Liberatore is a relatively tall LHP (something like 6'6").... but his curve is his best pitch. He jumped in the 2018 draft when he added a bit to his fastball - reaching the low/mid 90s consistently. The scouting reports I've seen on him say that people think a bit of tinkering - and filling out his frame - could add more velocity.
   8. Dock Ellis Posted: January 10, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5914488)
Said in the daily thread yesterday that Jose Martinez murders LHP to the tune of 331/405/570, which isn't great news for the Red Sox in 20202.
   9. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: January 10, 2020 at 11:54 AM (#5914517)
This is weird. I kind of don't like the trade for either team but it's two teams that as a rule don't make mistakes when they start making trades so presumably it will work out great for both.
   10. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: January 10, 2020 at 01:46 PM (#5914579)
Ben Clemens was just added to Fangraphs and has done some great early work - here's his take on this trade.
   11. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: January 10, 2020 at 01:53 PM (#5914582)
Ben Clemens was just added to Fangraphs and has done some great early work - here's his take on this trade.


He knows more than I do - but "future ace" seems like a bit of an oversell on Liberatore.

Still, the Cardinals seem to remain quite good at developing their pitching prospects... Flaherty and Hudson both arrived, pretty much hitting their ceilings. Even guys like Wacha and Martinez - they've more stalled at the big league level, after some initial success.... Reyes got hurt.

I suppose one can very much make the case that makes it an excellent trade for the Cardinals: They continue to be quite good at taking young pitchers and getting the most out of them.
   12. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: January 10, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5914586)
What happened to CFB? He hasn't been around for a while. Ordinarily I'd expect several consecutive posts from him on something like this.
   13. Mike Webber Posted: January 10, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5914587)
It's difficult to argue that last year could have been much better for StL, winning the division and advancing to the NLCS, but this trade is also seems a year late for the Cardinals.

After they acquired Goldschmidt last year, they could have traded a 29-year old coming off 134 and 124 OPS+ seasons, who because of the defensive limitations and the rest of the roster didn't seem to have a clear path for playing time

But instead they traded a 30-year old player coming off a 97 OPS+ season, where his batting average dropped 40 points compared to the prior two years.

But maybe the 72 starts they got out of him in RF and DH couldn't have come from Tyler O'Neil and Tommy Edman and they don't win the division, and playing it this way was perfect.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 10, 2020 at 02:03 PM (#5914588)
What happened to CFB? He hasn't been around for a while. Ordinarily I'd expect several consecutive posts from him on something like this.
Yeah, and he missed a "lawyers are worthless scum" opportunity on the other thread. Should we be worried?
   15. The Duke Posted: January 10, 2020 at 03:58 PM (#5914647)
Looks like Tampa is where the cards send players they don’t like. Pham complained and got sent there and then arozerana filmed Shildt’s expletive filled NLDS celebration and put it on social media. Now he is in Tampa too
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 10, 2020 at 04:04 PM (#5914650)
Looks like Tampa is where the cards send players they don’t like. Pham complained and got sent there and then arozerana filmed Shildt’s expletive filled NLDS celebration and put it on social media. Now he is in Tampa too
"Mr. Neander? There's a Mr. Herzog on line 2, asking if you're interested in trading for Hall of Famer Ted Simmmons."
   17. Walt Davis Posted: January 10, 2020 at 04:13 PM (#5914655)
They're obsessed with OF defense, and Arozarena fits that bill.

Does he? Just asking. He played mostly LF in the minors, he's not a great base stealer (not terrible) and I suppose has a reasonable number of triples. Anyway, on the surface stats, not super-speedy. Obviously it doesn't take much defense to be a good LF (and the Rays have Kiermaier in CF anyway) but I would have thought that type of guy would be mostly in CF in the minors. His limited statcast data looks promising -- 0 outs added but a 29.4 sprint speed which is the same as Kiermaier and Acuna, little better than Robles and Trout.

Anyway, we discussed this a good bit in yesterday's dugout when the story broke. Pointed out by several folks that TB are really overloaded in the corners/DH right now -- Aroz, Martinez, N Lowe, Choi, Meadows, Tsutsugo, Renfroe. Choi hasn't played LF since 2016 (and not much then), Lowe has played almost nothing but 1B (smidgen of 3B), Martinez shouldn't be allowed in the field anywhere but 1B and it's not clear Meadows should be allowed in the field either. Meadows crushed it last year and they're excited about Martinez's bat so that would seem to be 1B and DH most of the time. Presumably they signed Tsutsugo to get at least 500 PA in a corner spot with Renfroe and Arozarena splitting the other one and backing up Tsutsugo and Kiermaier? That leaves Choi and Lowe out in the cold although I suppose one of them could grab some platoon starts from Martinez.
   18. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: January 10, 2020 at 04:19 PM (#5914659)
And Yandy.
   19. Perry Posted: January 10, 2020 at 04:50 PM (#5914673)
Martinez shouldn't be allowed in the field anywhere but 1B


I've seen that said in a few places. Actually he shouldn't be allowed in the field at all, but if you have to, you're better off with him in RF. He catches everything he gets to (and gets to more than you'd think he would) and has a good arm. He's an utter disaster at 1B, really the worst I've ever seen; a big part of the Cards' defensive improvement in the IF last season was replacing him with Goldschmidt, who saved the other IFs a ton of errors.
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 10, 2020 at 05:15 PM (#5914682)
He's an utter disaster at 1B, really the worst I've ever seen;
Yeah - I've seen him consistently have problems with literally just putting his foot touching the bag and catching a throw.
   21. Rally Posted: January 10, 2020 at 05:27 PM (#5914686)
Interesting. As a right handed thrower, I’ve experienced similar troubles playing first base. Never had to deal with that in my youth as I mostly played short or outfield, but trying to play softball with the youngins in my late 40s has pushed me down on the defensive spectrum. My solution is to play 1B with my lefty glove. My best throw as a lefty is 10 MPH worse than right handed, but I can live with that since I’m playing 1B and amateur leagues don’t scout enough to let everyone know I’m not really a lefty. It is just so much more natural to find the bag with your left foot to touch the base and stretch out to receive a throw with your right hand.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2020 at 06:24 PM (#5914695)
I agree that blockbuster is not really an accurate way to describe this trade...I would call it a trade that helps both teams, and also some of the players involved. The Cardinals organization have made it no secret that they really like Jose Martinez as a person/player and that he also would be much better served in his career in the AL. Even after they signed him to a two year contract last year, which they did because they weren't receiving good enough offers for Martinez in trade talks, and because...well he's fairly old and they liked him, and he never had a payday. This allowed him to not fret about whether he was going to be given a legit chance and instead just enjoy the game and play his game.

Trading him and getting a legit (at a minimum B prospect, but young enough with enough ceiling to be even higher than that) was something the Cardinals had to do. They don't have any real holes at the major league level, so any trades they make is going to be prospect based or filling in the 23rd spot on the roster. Giving up on Arozarena has a very good chance of looking like a bad move in five years.... I think at the worse(worst?) is that he is a fourth outfielder for the next five years with flashes of excellence... but at the same time, he could actually put up All-Star quality seasons and nobody would be shocked by it.

Still this clears up the outfield for the Cardinals, Bader will be given a legit chance, Fowler (assuming he is a Cardinal at the beginning of the season) can have another solid year, Ozuna (which it seems is about 50/50 to be signed by the Cardinals) will have another chance to increase his value for free agency(in a year or two probably) O'Neil, the Cardinals best power bat, will have time to work through slumps, and Carlson will be given every opportunity to make the big league team.


I like this trade simply because of what it means to the players we are giving up, both deserve a legit chance of more playing time, something they weren't going to get with the Cardinals. Jose Martinez could be the second coming of Jose Bautista or maybe not, but putting him on a team where you aren't trying to change him from a poor outfielder to a really bad first baseman, (which probably gets into one's head) and instead letting him just be a poor outfielder or a dh, probably allows him to relax a bit.


Yeah - I've seen him consistently have problems with literally just putting his foot touching the bag and catching a throw.


I am an optimist, so I keep thinking he'll get better, but both him and Carpenter just don't have the footwork figured out, his is much more glaring though. It's not that he fails to catch the balls, so much as he's positioned poorly on the throws. No stretching to speak of, misses the bag, what feels like about once a week.

What happened to CFB? He hasn't been around for a while. Ordinarily I'd expect several consecutive posts from him on something like this.


Nothing specific, just I work retail and it was a weird holiday season and I was focusing on that, add in that I just haven't been enjoying being on the internet recently for the most part, so have been less active in anything I do online.


Ultimately I think the Cardinals will lose out on this deal, but they will lose out because they wouldn't have been able to find the playing time for the two names they gave up, while the Rays will. Maybe it will be JD Drew for Wainwright good in the end, but it more than likely will be much less.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2020 at 06:58 PM (#5914705)
Forgot to mention that Jose had an off year with the bat last season, and I fully attribute it to not having consistent enough playing time. Obviously the season started with Ozuna, Bader, Fowler as the starters and Goldschmidt manning first, so he was going to have a loss of playing time, but I think the gaps (and the contract) allowed him to put more pressure on himself and struggled, he still never looked bad last season, just not as good as he did the year previously. The results didn't always match up with how well he was playing offensively. Meaning I think he had a little bad luck last year. It could be him being over 30, or it could just be him having an off year, he's worth taking a chance on to see which.
   24. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 10, 2020 at 08:05 PM (#5914717)
Jose had an off year with the bat last season, and I fully attribute it to not having consistent enough playing time

That's the funny thing about this trade. It's not as if Martinez has a clear path to consistent playing time in Tampa, especially if Arozarena blossoms as the Rays think he will and occupies an outfield corner full-time. Then again, I like it for Tampa generally because TINSTAAP.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: January 10, 2020 at 08:55 PM (#5914721)
I’ve experienced similar troubles playing first base.

Find the bag first, with both feet, then worry about the throw, stepping toward it using whichever foot works best. At the softball level, the issue is usually that the 1B already has the right foot on the bag, already has the left foot forward and on the home plate side and gets completely tied up on throws even a little bit to the OF side of the bag. (Or vice versa for a lefty thrower.)

On where Martinez can field ... dunno but DRS puts him at -17 in 950 innings in RF (and a further -5 in about 250 innings in LF) and only -6 in 950 innings at 1B. This is compounded by Meadows being -12 in 611 innings in RF (but OK so far in LF) and never having played 1B. Assuming they both play the vast majority of the time, one of them has to go in the field somewhere. Alas, apparently Tsutsugo is considered below average in a corner OF spot too and has very little experience at 1B. Either the Rays are going to have doubly horrific OF defense or one of these guys has to learn 1B (so they have just singly horrific OF defense).

I can easily believe that Martinez has looked very poor in <1000 innings spread over 2 seasons but it can be learned. In the old days, there'd be almost no doubt he'd be sent there but, over the last couple of decades or so, it does seem that teams have preferred to hide lumberers in LF rather than 1B. Still, of these three, Martinez is the one with the most experience at 1B. Meadows of course might be able to pick it up or maybe there's a Meadows "blockbuster" in the works. The other possibility is that Martinez is just not gonna get a lot of PT (Aroz really was the target) or is about to be moved on.

Anyway, all an odd series of moves -- reminiscent of the MoneyBall A's who went into spring training with something like 4 DHs and 5 LOOGYs (both possibly an exaggeration).
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2020 at 10:08 PM (#5914729)
For the record... I absolutely believe that first base is the position that Martinez can be slightly below average at... but when watching him play... as a fan, the clear... dumbass actions he makes at the position just seems brutal..

In the outfield most of his mistakes are attributed to mostly poor speed, not poor mechanics.... sometimes you can blame mechanics, but for the most part just observing them, he's more comfortable in the outfield..... I don't doubt he could be a first baseman... I've pushed it as an option, but right now he's not there yet. He looks bad at first base (so did Carpenter...both in theory should be better than they look)

It can change, and if I was a gm, I would continue to ask Martinez to practice at first... don't get me wrong on that, his skill set clearly indicates that (or DH) is where he should be shooting for, but his mistakes in the outfield, regardless of the stats, don't look as bad as his mistakes at first does... and again as Perry pointed out, Goldschmidt made other infielders look better.

   27. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2020 at 10:13 PM (#5914731)
That's the funny thing about this trade. It's not as if Martinez has a clear path to consistent playing time in Tampa, especially if Arozarena blossoms as the Rays think he will and occupies an outfield corner full-time. Then again, I like it for Tampa generally because TINSTAAP.


Martinez path has never been about a clear path, it's about the opportunity... and he has a much better opportunity in Tampa than St Louis, simply because of the extra position of the DH... He still has to earn it of course and if an all star shows up to take it away from him, that is life, (and yes he's seen that happen before) but his options has improved simply because of the extra position.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2020 at 11:02 PM (#5914734)
What happened to CFB? He hasn't been around for a while. Ordinarily I'd expect several consecutive posts from him on something like this.


Was that better...:)
   29. Walt Davis Posted: January 11, 2020 at 07:27 PM (#5914830)
In response to #26 on Martinez and 1B ... I don't doubt what you StL folks are saying at all and his DRS numbers at 1B are quite bad (it's kinda hard to give up more than 10 runs at 1B but that's about where he is). It's just that ...

a) The only guys with substantial 1B experience here are Choi and Lowe but they're probably the two worst of all 7 players ... and both are LHB. Tsutsugo has some time at 1B but apparently not much. Hard to tell since b-r's NPB fielding stats only go through 2017 but he hadn't played there since 2014 and all the recent sources refer to him mainly as an OF. Anyway, if Choi or Lowe is the main 1B, then that pushe Martinez to OF or DH and they still would want a RHB for 1B.

b) If Martinez goes to DH, that pushes Meadows to the OF. Based on age and numbers, Meadows is probably better than Martinez (statcast thinks Meadows was OK at -2 vs -9 for Martinez).

c) Tsutsugo seems to have been mainly a LF so that would put Meadows in RF (where DRS really doesn't like him) and Arozarena as 4th OF and probably platoon partner for Tsutsugo.

d) But where does that leave Renfroe?

They paid 2/$12 to Tsutsugo which is big money in Tampa. Martinez gets just $2 in 2020 then 2 more years of arb so even by Tampa standards that's not a big deal yet. Renfroe is first year super-2 and projected to $3.4 and they traded Pham for him. Choi, Lowe, Meadows and Aroz aren't arb-eligible yet. Of course there could be injuries ... or Martinez wasn't actually any good last year and maybe he'll play his way out in the spring. But barring that, I keep seeing it as Meadows, Martinez and Tsutsugo dividing up most of the LF/1B/DH PAs which likely means pretty poor defense at those spots. But if I have to guess, I'll defer to Cards' fans and guess that it's most likely Tsutsugo at 1B, Meadows in LF, Martinez at DH against RHP and possibly Martinez to 1B against LHP (Meadows to DH and Aroz/Renfroe in LF).

Anyway Lowe and Choi don't fit. The 26th man might allow you to carry one of them. Given they acquired them this offseason, it seems unlikely they'd already be looking to trade Renfroe, Arozarena, Martinez or Tsutsugo. Meadows was their best hitter last year and still dirt cheap so surely he's not going anywhere. Choi/Lowe are only useful for taking PA away from Martinez vs. RHP.
   30. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: January 11, 2020 at 09:52 PM (#5914859)
Okay, so lets work out a trade for Nate Lowe (and/or Ji-Man Choi). It really comes down to: who needs a first baseman.

Team - Incumbent - Comment
BOS: Supposedly Michael Chavis, but he played 2B last season and Jose Peraza isn't any good.
MIN: Open. (MLB lists Marwin Gonzalez, which, no.)
LAA: Jared Walsh/Albert Pujols. Walsh is an interesting 2-way player.
DET: CJ Cron.

I'm not really seeing a good fit with BOS.

MIN trade: Lowe and Choi for Jordan Balazovic and Ryan Jeffers. Balazovic headlines the return, but having Mike Zunino as your starting C is scary, and he's only under contract for one more year, and Jeffers gives you A. an emergency replacement in 2020 if necessary, and B. a long-term plan.

Hard to see a LAA trade. Maybe I'm higher on Walsh than most. Calhoun is gone. Adell is coming up, which would give them an OF of Goodwin/Trout/Adell. I'm not sure that I'd count on Goodwin, and Adell is still young. They could use an outfielder. Maybe Jose Suarez for Choi and hope he can hack it in left?

The DET deal: Lowe and Choi for Tarik Skubal. Skubal is an awesome young pitcher, but behind Mize and Manning on DET's depth charts. Lowe and Choi are instantly starters. Both have enough time left that it doesn't matter that DET is in the middle of a re-build. The Tigers signed Cron to play first, but he's not much of a plan A.
   31. DCA Posted: January 11, 2020 at 11:16 PM (#5914872)
I don't see any reason for TB to move Lowe or Choi. Neither costs money, so that's not a factor. Choi is very obviously their best option at 1B vs RHP. Lowe has options, and finished last season badly, so he starts in AAA. There are plenty of ways that a spot opens up for him, so he probably spends more than half the season on the MLB roster anyway.
   32. JJ1986 Posted: January 11, 2020 at 11:27 PM (#5914876)
I don't know how much Martinez will play against RHP, but I think they can find enough at bats for Choi, Tsutsugo and Martinez at 1B/DH with very occasional outfield starts. If Meadows is too bad to play in the outfield regularly, then they may have a real issue.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2020 at 01:19 AM (#5914888)
MIN trade: Lowe and Choi

Was that supposed to read Lowe or Choi? Cuz with Cruz at DH and both those guys being LHB, Minn doesn't need both.

I don't see any reason for TB to move Lowe or Choi.

Once again ... if Choi is the platoon 1B against RHP then ... that moves Martinez to DH ... that puts Meadows/Tsutsugo in the corners which means pretty crappy defense (probably) ... that puts both Arozarena and Renfroe on the bench about 2/3 of the time so why trade for those two guys? They added 4 guys to this mix this offseason, an odd thing to do if their plan is Choi as platoon 1B much less if they ever expect to have any use for Lowe.

There are lots of ways to make it work especially if some combo of the following are true: (a) they don't think Lowe is ML ready; (b) they think Martinez is a major collapse risk (and he collapses); (c) they're intending to reset Arozarena's clocks (2 months) even if they think he's ready ... which they might not. But those are essentially all saying we don't have 7 ML-ready players, we really only have 5-6.

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