By: Greg Goldstein
While we wait for some of the key free agents to finally sign on the dotted line, the Blue Jays and the Nationals agreed to a trade that sent OF Ben Revere to Washington for Nationals relief pitcher Drew Storen.
Revere was traded to the Blue Jays right before the trade deadline to help improve the teams lineup construction. Toronto needed a quality defensive outfielder with speed to help get on-base for their power hitters in the middle of the lineup. He was already playing well with the Phillies before the trade, hitting for a .298 batting average and stealing 24 bases in 96 games. Toronto got exactly what they were looking for out of the 27 year-old, as he hit .319 with a .354 on-base percentage. Revere is your typical leadoff hitter in that he has a ton of speed and gets on-base at a good rate that allows him to use that speed. You won’t see Revere hit for a lot of power or really line many doubles into the gaps, but he profiles as a guy that can be a quality hitter to lead off the game, but just won’t be one that will carry an offense.
On the other side of the spectrum, Drew Storen was affected extremely negatively by a July trade. The right-hander was having a really good season as a closer for the Nats. He had saved 29 games in 34 chances and Washington was just starting to show the potential of the team they thought they could be before the season…then they traded for Jonathan Papelbon. I’m a believer that trades should only be made to improve the weakness of your team. Washington was getting consistent good performances from Storen in getting the last three outs of the game, so why did they trade for Papelbon to be the new closer of the team? I thought it would only hurt the team more than help, especially when you add a fiery personality like Papelbon into a tricky situation. We all know how the season ended for the Nationals, this included a lot of losing that handed the NL East to the rival Mets and poor outings from both Storen and Papelbon, which included a disgraceful fight the took place during the last series of their season. Here’s the video in case you didn’t see it…
Courtesy of G4MarchMadnessHD
I personally think that Harper would have landed a couple of haymakers on Papelbon if the fight kept going, but I digress. I thought antics like this, combined with poor outings, would mean that the former Phillies and Red Sox closer would be out in the nation’s captiol, but instead they are getting rid of Storen to help improve their outfield. Obviously, trading Papelbon is very difficult, as I would expect that teams would be hesitant to take on that type of baggage, especially with his poor performance to end the year.
On the Blue Jays: With Toronto losing David Price to free agency, the Jays decided to replace him by using the method of relocating all that money they would have spent on him to signing multiple pitchers to replace him. To replace Price they went and re-signed SP Marco Estrada (breakdown here), who was the second best pitcher in their rotation, signed SP J.A. Happ and traded relief pitcher Liam Hendricks to Oakland to get SP Jesse Chavez (which I also graded). I liked the deal to get back Estrada, but wasn’t as big of a fan of them adding both Happ and Chavez because of their lack of consistency in their performance. Here’s what the Blue Jays’ starting rotation and bullpen looks like with the trade for Storen if the season started today (which it obviously doesn’t)…
Like most teams are doing right now, it seems that the team from north of the border is looking to mend the loss of Price by improving their bullpen. The Blue Jays bullpen was good after acquiring Mark Lowe and Latroy Hawkins at the deadline last season, but now both of those guys are gone. Osuna was impressive in his time as closer. He has electric stuff and I expected him to be back in that role in 2016, but it looks like the season won’t start that way. I like Storen as a closer, especially with his strikeout numbers improving from 2014, in which he recorded about 11 K’s per nine innings. I just don’t think he’s an elite closer. Revere is not a huge loss to the team, especially with top prospect Dalton Pompey on the horizon to replace him, in addition to Michael Saunders providing depth in the outfield. The Jays are dealing from a position of strength to improve the team elsewhere, which I like, I just think that they should have done that in the starting rotation instead of replacing a productive closer in Osuna with Storen, just like how Storen was replaced by Papelbon in the second half of 2015.
On the Nationals: The Storen-Papelbon relationship was just not going to work in 2016 and I totally get that. I understand that Papelbon was going to tough to trade and that the mistake to trade for him in July may bite them in 2016. With that being said, Storen was clearly a reliable closer for the Nats for the first half of the season. Papelbon on the other hand was not good nearly every time he took the mound in a Washington uniform. Papelbon has proven to be an upper echelon closer in this league, however I don’t think that will be the case in 2016. Washington would have been much better off with Storen coming into close games rather than the former Phillies closer. However, in making this trade, the Nationals have sufficiently replaced their leadoff hitter from the past couple of years in Denard Span, who signed with the Giants last week (which a discuss here). Revere will fit very well into their batting order with him setting the table for the likes of Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. The Nats’ new center fielder is probably the last piece of the puzzle to the their lineup this offseason, but now Washington is going to have to add another reliever before opening day to replace Storen. I like the Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley signings to beef up the pen, but I don’t think that the Nats pen is complete just yet. I don’t want the Papelbon trade to affect my grade of this deal, but I think that it needs to, because the only reason they had to trade Storen is because of Papelbon.
This deal fills needs for both clubs, but it also subtracts to some degree as well. Toronto comes out on the slightly better end of this trade because they have more adequate replacements in house, while the Nationals will have to keep on searching for an adequate reliever to replace Storen. What are your thoughts about this trade?