Acquired OF-R Brandon Guyer from Tampa Bay Rays for OF-L Nathan Lukes and RHP Jhonleider Salinas [8/1]
At first glance Guyer looks like an ordinary spare outfielder. He doesn’t quite hit well enough to be an everyday corner guy and he doesn’t field well enough to get the daily nod in center. Look closer, though, and you see a .255 career batting average, a .347 career on-base percentage, and a 5.5 percent career walk rate. Those numbers don’t work out, until you realize that Guyer is a human cowhide magnet. He’s been hit 58 times in 978 big-league plate appearances, and that includes his early career numbers, before Guyer became a HBP machine. So far this season Guyer has been plunked a league-leading 23 times in just 249 PAs, an all-time pace given 600 trips to the plate.
All told, so long as Guyer can keep getting hit by pitches while remaining healthy, he’s a useful piece on a contender. He’s been worth 4.3 WARP since 2014, despite playing a part-time role, and PECOTA projects him for a .270 TAv going forward. A useful stick, a plus base runner, and adequate defense at all three outfield spots, Guyer is close to the perfect fourth outfielder.
The Indians are better positioned in the outfield than they were at last year’s deadline, when they desperately traded for Abraham Almonte. Almonte’s still around, back from an 80-game PED suspension, but so is Tyler Naquin (.339 TAv), Jose Ramirez (.277 TAv), Lonnie Chisenhall (.286 TAv), and Rajai Davis (.267 TAv, 25-28 on stolen bases). With Michael Brantley still on the DL with shoulder issues, there’s room for another bat, particularly a lefty-masher, which is another thing Guyer qualifies as. He’s hit .283/.384/.464 in his career vs. lefties, making him a natural fit to platoon in both corners against southpaws. It’s a bit move, but it makes sense for a team in Cleveland’s position. —Dustin Palmateer
Acquired OF-L Nathan Lukes and RHP Jhonleider Salinas from Cleveland Indians for OF-R Brandon Guyer [8/1]
Nathan Lukes has gone from walk-on at Sacramento State to prospect traded on deadline day. That's a meteoric rise, folks. A left-handed hitting outfielder, Lukes’ best asset are his wheels; he's a plus runner who likes to run on the bases. He is only 15-for-23 in steal attempts this year, however, so getting jumps appears to be in development. At the plate, he shows a left-handed swing without many moving parts, and his willingness to go the other way gives him a chance for an average hit tool despite a lack of bat speed. There's not much power here, but he can help compensate for that by taking the extra base with his speed, as seen in his eight triples this year. He's a good defender with an accurate throwing arm, so you're likely looking at a fourth outfielder who can help with the glove and on the bases.
There is a plethora of "if he could only throw strikes" guys in the lower-levels, and Jhonleider Salinas is another one. He has big arm strength and can miss bats with two pitches in his fastball and breaking ball. He also has no idea where those pitches are going, as seen in his non-so-nice career 6.9 BB/9. If the control can be figured out, maybe you're looking at a guy who pitches in the middle innings, but it's just as likely he's organizational fodder at this point. —Christopher Crawford