the tigers A bad major league team right now, so they did what bad major league teams should do – they traded in a decent but barely elite team for the talent of a young player, and sent Gregory Soto to me VelesWith Cody ClemensFor three batters led by Matt Ferling. The Phillies are National League champions, so trading prospects and young batters who don’t need to bolster weak spots is what they should do…but if my hunch is right on one of those hitters, it might be a lot to pay to add a left hand to their office.
Soto made two All-Star teams like the Tiger, probably because he was closer to them both. He had 30 saves in 2022, which makes him young with 30 saves, and nothing more than that, because saves are about as useless as you can find. He walked 12.9 percent of batters last year, exactly in line with his career average, and he survived a significant drop in his strikeout rate (27.5 percent in 2021 to 22.8 percent last year) with a significant dip in his home run rate (from 0.99 HR/9 in 2021 to 0.33 HR/9 in 2022), which isn’t the kind that usually changes much without some change in the shooter’s ammunition. His outfield stat is rated as a not-so-good sinker, and his ground ball rates are slightly above average, while his slider is the only pitch and he’s most effective against left-handed hitters. 277 in his major league career and had a huge split platoon over his three-plus years in the majors. He was most effective against right-wingers in 2022, but there was a lot of smoke and mirrors, as his peripheral rates were worse against them than against the left. He is better than a left-handed specialist, but not good enough for high leverage work on a opposing team.
The Phillies also got Clemens, who is probably a four-man because he’s never had a hitter for the corner profile and might just be a first baseman. With all the types of first base/DH the Phillies have, I don’t know where he fits.
The Tigers got three players back, and if I were them, I’d be happy to trade just Soto for Vierling, who hasn’t done much in the majors so far in his 25-year season but looks like a standout candidate after making some big swing adjustments last year. Vierling has always had good exit speeds, but he hits the ball in the ground a lot until 2022, when the work he’s been doing with the Phillies to get the ball in the air begins to pay off, with his average shooting angle from 6.3 degrees to 12 degrees and a ground ball rate He dropped from 53.8 percent of his balls in play to 41.4 percent. He also lowered his strike rate from 2021, though that year was a fairly small sample in the majors. He had some bad luck with balls on play and hit the ball more often last year, but he hits the ball hard, consistently, and he’s got good pace and has shown he can handle changes. He’s played all three outfield positions and should be above average at either corner — though maybe he’s 45 at center field — and the Phillies used him a bit at second and third last year, too. The Tigers just have to stick him in right field and give him 500 at bats; They may have a regular regimen, which in itself would justify giving up three years of Soto.
Nick Mattoon He’s a solid fielder who might have a chance at being a regular at second base, though I don’t know if his bat would have any effect on him, even with his sudden burst of power last year; He can hit a fastball but has never shown more than a modest power double before. As a left-handed batter, he also had value as a pinch hitter, and was more than adequate against Southern Paws in the majors in a small sample. He’s the kind of player you’d love to have, even though you might not go out of your way to get him.
Donnie Sands turns 27 in May, but he’s a capable backup catcher and right-handed hitter off the bench who puts the ball into play hard with some power. The case of catching tigers is fluid enough that it can sneak in some playtime, especially if Jake Rogers He has no problem coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2021.
The return will probably go back to Vierling, but I like his short-term outlook given his adjustments last year, and I think the Tigers will come out ahead even if Soto keeps his value for two or three years.
(Top photo by Gregory Soto: Brad Rempel/USA Today)
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