Acquired INF-R Yeyson Yrizarri from Texas Rangers in exchange for an international signing bonus slot. [7/15]
Most prospects dealt for international bonus slots have been quite marginal, future middle relief or Quad-A types. Yeyson (pronounced Jason) Yrizarri has way more upside than that, but is about as high a risk as prospects can get in High-A. A toolsy middle infielder whom we ranked sixth in the Rangers' system entering the year, Yrizarri signed for a seven-figure bonus in 2013 because he has quite the starting set of potential MLB abilities. He brings excellent bat speed, considerable athleticism, and a rocket arm, but is raw as sushi at the plate.
We warn frequently not to scout the stat line in A-ball, but Yrizarri has only walked 15 times in 748 plate appearances since the beginning of 2016, mostly in Low-A. When your walk rate makes Nick Williams look like Joey Votto, it’s a problem unless you’re really hitting, and Yrizarri is only hitting a little. He has the benefits of time and tools on his side, and perhaps a change of scenery will do some good here.—Jarrett Seidler
Acquired 1B-R Garrett Cooper from Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for LHP Tyler Webb. [7/13]
New York's season-long game of musical first basemen gives Cooper a chance to show that his monster first half at Triple-A Colorado Springs can translate to success in the big leagues. It's a chance he wouldn't have gotten in Milwaukee with Eric Thames atop the depth chart, and the chance in New York is hardly guaranteed to be a long one if he doesn't hit right away, but the 26-year-old former sixth-round pick out of Auburn will at least get a chance in the big leagues.
Cooper is 6-foot-6, but lacks prototypical first baseman power. Or at least he did, before this season. After totaling 17 homers in 256 games across Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A in 2015 and 2016, he homered 17 times in 75 games at Triple-A this season to convince the Yankees he was worth targeting. Cooper also hit .366 with solid strike-zone control, ranking among the Pacific Coast League's top three in on-base percentage (.428), slugging percentage (.652), and RBIs (82), albeit in the extremely hitter-friendly environment. He's too old to be a prospect and was never considered much of one to begin with, but as a career .305 hitter who has shown recent power development there's some lightning-in-a-bottle potential.—Aaron Gleeman
Acquired LHP Tyler Webb from New York Yankees in exchange for 1B-R Garrett Cooper. [7/13]
Signed RHP Jeanmar Gomez to a minor-league contract. [7/15]
Welcome to the first stop on the win-now Brewers Express! In celebration of losing the Jose Quintana sweepstakes, Milwaukee opted in on another southpaw. This one, however, only has enough MLB games to cover days of the week and adds to the collection of odds 'n ends slowly accumulating behind the outfield fence at Miller Park. Meet Webb, a left-handed pitcher who, by virtue of his 2017 Annual lineout will be ineligible for the Vogelsong Awards after he helps the Brewers bolster their situational relief.
Given the lack of familiarity or expectations Milwaukee fans have with David Stearns' M.O. during a win-now window featuring cash and prospects to burn, this move feels like it's already happened, like it fits the organization perfectly, and that it still helps the club contend. One way to win-now is to improve situational relief in the aspect of testing reserve-control organizational depth. (It is almost as though Stearns is purposefully designing a team that PECOTA will hate more than the 2015 Royals). Webb is the Andrew Miller for this Crew comprised of freely available MLB talent, which only surprises me insofar as general managers continue to reply when Stearns rings. —Nicholas Zettel
Gomez established himself at the apex of a shaky Phillies bullpen early in 2016, and rode out the role to 37 saves despite lacking the type of swing-and-miss stuff typical of a ninth-inning maestro. This year, however, that incumbent success awarded him exactly four games of job security—after earning one save and allowing runs in three of the four games, he was removed from the ninth inning in favor of the equally-ill-fated Joaquin Benoit. Demotion to a lower-leverage role did nothing to put out the tire fire that was Gomez’s 2017 campaign in Philadelphia, however—by the time the Phillies mercifully cut him loose on June 23, he had compiled a 7.25 ERA and 5.60 DRA in 22 1/3 innings.
Still, there’s hope for Brewers fans. Twenty-two innings is a pretty meager sample size and his "luck" numbers are comically bad—a .381 BABIP and a 41 percent HR/FB rate. That’s about as sustainable as a roadside stand selling homemade condor jerky. And underneath that historically bad luck is a pitcher who might be ... better? His 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings are a career-high and his 2.8 walks per nine innings and 50.7 percent ground-ball rate are basically in line with his career numbers.
The Brewers are tied for the 10th-lowest DRA among relief pitchers. Despite some slumps, mostly keyed by the overall crumminess of the since-departed Neftali Feliz, Milwaukee's bullpen has been mostly solid. Still, 10th out of 30 implies room for improvement, and Gomez offers the Brewers a chance to capitalize on that without sacrificing anything in the way of money or organizational depth. And Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson has been masterful at turning other teams’ rubbish into useful parts. Jared Hughes, Oliver Drake, and Carlos Torres have all been key pieces of the bullpen, after being cast off by the Pirates, Orioles, and Mets, respectively.
With approximately two weeks remaining until the trade deadline, this is David Stearns doing what David Stearns does best—playing the underdog, and making a gamble that doesn’t really risk anything substantial. Sometimes, especially with relief pitchers, a change of scenery can do wonders. If that’s the case with Gomez, the Brewers managed to upgrade their already decent bullpen for free. If he continues to pitch like the mound is an Indian burial ground, the Brewers can easily spring for one of the more reliable relievers on the trade market and move on from Gomez with no lasting damage done. —Colin Anderle