Atlanta picks up around $6.5M in salary relief in this deal, and considering Maybin was owed $8M with a $1M buyout for 2017, it seems reasonable to assume Atlanta is sending $2.5M to Detroit. I’m sure some Braves fans expected more in return, but they might be inflating Maybin’s value. Using combined WAR, a combination of bWAR, fWAR, and WARP, here are Maybin’s last 3 seasons:
2015 was a return to usefulness for Maybin, but let’s not mistake him for a star player. He OBP’d .327 and slugged .370. The average CF OBP’d .326 and slugged .408. Even with his offensive resurgence, he finished the year below average for his position. Maybin’s efficient base stealing will be missed (79% success last year and for his career), but overall, he’s a below average player on offense. On defense, different metrics disagreed. The more popular metrics, DRS and UZR, weren’t fans at all, grading Maybin at -16 runs and -7.2 runs respectively. Baseball Prospectus’ FRAA, however, saw a positive contribution at 2.3 runs. Single season defensive numbers just aren’t reliable, so it’s better to look at three year totals. Doing so, Maybin is in the red defensively. At the very least, you can safely assume his defense isn’t a significant asset.
The initial reaction to this trade is disappointment that it didn’t happen in July. On the 8th of the month, Maybin had a .295/.362/.429 line, and there was some perceived interest in him. Granted, some of the interest was speculation on the part of beat writers, but it stands to reason that the resurgent, in his prime center fielder would get interest with a line like that. After that point, he batted .236/.285/.304. When Maybin was unable to maintain his performance, it sapped future trade value as it began to look like his first three months with Atlanta were the aberration for him. I really hope it’s not. Maybin seemingly loved Atlanta, played pretty well here, and is an easy player to root for. I hope things go well for him in Detroit.
In July, Atlanta might have gotten a useful prospect for Maybin. Now, they’re getting salary relief. That’s not nothing, so don’t dismiss it outright. The salary is the thing here, so we’ll see later what Atlanta uses that $6.5M on. But also coming are two lefty relievers, so let’s have a brief look.
Ian Krol, who will turn 25 next season, has over 100 games of MLB experience, experience that has not been productive, as indicated by a 4.91 career ERA. He’s better against lefty hitters than he is righties, but that has more to do with how righties have just hammered him to the tune of a .305/.376/.568 career line. His stuff is good, but his command of it isn’t. That was an unexpected career path for Krol, who in 2011 was ranked by Baseball Prospectus as the #89 prospect in baseball. Here’s what BP wrote about him at the time:
He will never light up a radar gun, but Krol has above-average velocity for a southpaw, a curveball that flashes plus, and perhaps the best changeup in the Midwest League. Added to his pitching arsenal is the kind of poise and command that many big-leaguers can’t match.
That tells me that Krol might be fixable, as he’s had command in the past. Also, check out his player card on Brooks Baseball. He generates groundballs with his two primary pitches, a four seamer and straight-down slider, but he doesn’t with his sinker, which is thrown harder than his four seamer. It’s a bizarre pitch profile. Perhaps there’s something salvageable there. Any time a pitch profile looks odd like that, I think there’s something that’s potentially fixable. For a former top prospect with good stuff, working with Roger McDowell on his sinker should be a positive relationship. That said, Krol is very much a project. He hasn’t been good.
Gabe Speier reached low-A ball this year and will be 21 next season. In two developmental years in the Boston system, he was primarily a starter, one who struck out lots of batters. Detroit converted him to relief, but that was a one year plan to ease his recovery from TJ surgery. Here’s what Atlanta’s Kiley McDaniel had to say about Speier a year ago:
average-sized lefty will flash solid average stuff and command, but is still inconsistent
The Red Sox drafted the 19-year-old Speier in the 19th round two years ago. He throws in the low 90s from the left side and a small six-foot frame. His work has been restricted to summers in the Gulf Coast League, where he’s been stretching himself to pitch starter innings.
And here’s something from David Laurila from August of this year, when he talked to Speier:
There was a fourth player involved as well. Detroit also acquired Gabe Speier, who projects as more than a throw-in. The 20-year-old southpaw sports a 2.72 ERA working out of the bullpen at low-A West Michigan.
Relief is a temporary role. Drafted by Boston in 2013, Speier had Tommy Johnsurgery after throwing just four professional innings. He returned to the bump last summer, but this being his first full season as a healthy hurler, he’s being treated with kid gloves. Beginning next year, he’ll be groomed as a starter.
Speier, the younger brother of former MLB reliever Justin Speier, isn’t a high upside prospect or one that’s likely to be a difference maker, but at this point he’s at least an interesting one.