Acquired LHP Luis Ysla from the Giants in exchange for OF-L Alejandro De Aza and cash considerations. [8/31]
Ysla has struggled mightily in the Cal League—6.78 ERA while allowing 109 hits in just under 80 innings pitched—but lots of pitchers struggle mightily in the Cal League. It's kind of a stupid league.
Ysla's fastball sits 93-95 mph with the occasional jump into the 96-97 range, but he doesn't command the pitch well, and it flattens when the velocity increases. His best pitch is an above-average slider with hard bite, and the 23-year-old will also show a fringe-average change that is the least consistent of his three offerings. He struggles to throw any of his three pitches for strikes, but he does have some feel for missing bats, which gives him a chance of contributing out of a bullpen at some point, though likely as the type of reliever who doesn't pitch against righties whenever possible. – Christopher Crawford
Acquired OF-R Jonny Gomes and cash considerations from the Braves in exchange for SS-L Luis Valenzuela. [8/31]
Contenders acquiring last-minute fixes is the overarching theme of this TA. That's because only players already within the organization before September 1st qualify for the postseason; no matter what happens thereafter, no player acquired in September can appear in the playoffs with their new team.
With that established, Gomes is the exact kind of player you'd expect to see moved right before September starts: He's a cheap, willing bench player who also contributes positively in the clubhouse. The catch is that Gomes might play a bigger role in the Royals' outfield, depending on whether or not Alex Rios comes back strong from his bout with the chicken pox. Obviously Gomes is no longer the hitter he used to be—his power seems gone for good, leaving his strike-zone management as his best (and only) offensive skill—yet he's an upgrade at the plate over the Royals' top Rios alternative (Paulo Orlando), which in turn makes him a better fit to platoon with Jarrod Dyson, who would likely start most games before being removed (if at all) in late-and-close situations versus a left-handed reliever.
But before we pencil in Gomes as a big part of Ned Yost's postseason strategy, let's see how the next few weeks play out. Odds are Rios is reinstalled in right field before the tournament begins, relegating Gomes to designated cheer captain and party planner, roles he's more than capable of handling. – R.J. Anderson
Acquired SS-L Luis Valenzuela from the Royals in exchange for OF-R Jonny Gomes and cash considerations. [8/31]
Valenzuela signed originally with the Red Sox, but the Royals were able to sign him as a minor-league free agent as a 19-year-old, and it appears some things that didn't click with Boston have clicked with Kansas City, at least statistically.
He's added some power and quickness to his swing, though his lack of patience diminishes the hit tool, and it's a fool's errand to expect him to put up the same slugging percentages at higher levels. He's a sure-handed defender, but he appears to be nothing more than an organizational infielder who isn't good enough offensively or defensively to even serve as a utility player. – Christopher Crawford
Acquired OF-R Austin Jackson and cash considerations from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later and a 2016 international bonus slot. [8/31]
You might not realize just how deep the Cubs are in the outfield until you start trying to find playing time for Jackson. He can't take over in center field because Dexter Fowler is there (and is the better player). He can't play left field most days either because Kyle Schwarber is around. That leaves Jackson with one choice: right field, at least until Jorge Soler returns. But there's another catch: Chris Coghlan has performed well enough in his platoon role to maintain his playing time against righties.
So what will Joe Maddon do with his newest outfielder? A platoon makes sense on paper. Jackson has always performed better against lefties, and more so in 2015 than usual; Coghlan, obviously enough, is better against righties. The risk here is that Jackson doesn't like (or take to) his new platoon role—he is a free agent at season's end, after all—but you'd like to think he's willing to tolerate it for a few weeks, especially if the reward is a World Series ring. – R.J. Anderson
Acquired OF-R Justin Ruggiano from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. [8/31]
Ruggiano returns to his original organization more than nine years after being traded away. He was banished to the minors in June following a brutal start with the Mariners, yet remains the same player he's been since he broke into the majors back in 2007: an athletic, versatile platoon outfielder who deals in power and strikeouts. Ostensibly the Dodgers view Ruggiano as a nice supplement to their lefty-heavy outfield, which means he's likely going to see a lot of pinch-hit duty through the end of the season, and presumably into October. The Dodgers could keep Ruggiano for another two seasons if they wanted, but that seems farfetched given his less-than-stellar reputation around the league. – R.J. Anderson
Acquired OF-L Alejandro De Aza and cash considerations from the Red Sox in exchange for LHP Luis Ysla. [8/31]
What, was Marlon Byrd not enough? De Aza's surprisingly good run in Boston nets him a trip to the playoff race, albeit only the fringes of it. The Giants will need all the help they can get to return to the postseason, including improved play in high-leverage situations. Bobby Evans seemed to have that reality in mind when he talked about the trade, because he highlighted De Aza's presence on the bench as a way to make Bruce Bochy's job easier. You can't help but wonder if the savvy Bochy will make the opposing pitcher's job tougher by starting De Aza in Byrd's place against righties, or if De Aza will remain in reserve. Either way, De Aza is headed for free agency when the season ends; the Giants just hope he's in town for more than five weeks. – R.J. Anderson