Over the weekend, the presumptive second-best team in the AL East sent a key contributor from a recent playoff run to sunny California. In exchange, they received a package including a major league outfielder and a minor league catcher. That’s right — Emilio Pagán is headed to San Diego. As Josh Tolentino first reported, the Rays traded Pagán to the Padres in exchange for Manuel Margot and catching prospect Logan Driscoll.
At first glance, this trade seems pretty straightforward. Pagán was the most valuable pitcher in one of the best bullpens in baseball last year. His fastball/slider combination overwhelmed batters to the tune of a 36% strikeout rate and only a 4.9% walk rate. With Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, José Alvarado, and a host of others ready to pick up the slack, however, he was surplus, and as noted last week, the Rays lacked a right-handed platoon partner to play center alongside Kevin Kiermaier.
Enter Margot, or exit Margot from San Diego’s perspective. Over three seasons as the team’s regular center fielder, he provided spectacular defense and forgettable offense. Per Statcast’s OAA, he’s been the eighth-best defensive outfielder in baseball since the beginning of 2017. His batting line of .248/.301/.394, on the other hand, works out to an 85 wRC+, a cool 207th among qualifying players. The whole package came out to 4.1 WAR over those years, and while that’s a valuable contribution, it’s a fourth outfielder’s line overall, even with the shiny defense. Read the rest of this entry »