by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The three team trade that was pulled off by the Mariners, Indians and Rays was surprising on a few different levels, especially with Edwin Encarnacion landing in Seattle (instead of Tampa Bay). The real fascinating part of the deal comes from the perspective of the Rays, who virtually swapped Jake Bauers for Yandy Diaz (though there were other small aspects of the deal). Which player has the higher upside in their new locale? Who has the highest upside overall? Let’s take a look at these two players and break it down:
Yandy Diaz – Third Baseman
The big question for Diaz will be whether or not he can tap into a little bit more power than he has thus far. That’s because over the past two seasons in the Majors (299 PA) he’s already proven that he has a solid approach and can hit the ball hard:
- SwStr% – 6.4%
- O-Swing% – 17.9%
- Oppo% – 34.4%
- Hard% – 37.7%
That profile shows he can hit for a good average, as he should make consistent contact, use the entire field and hit the ball with authority. A 56.6% groundball rate shows the power limitation, and he has managed to hit just 1 HR thus far (and 13 doubles and 1 triple doesn’t show much).
The power questions have been there at Triple-A, with 15 HR over 1,235 PA and 2.16 GO/AO. Given the depth at third base, even if he hits .300 how much appeal would he have with little speed and only contributing 10-15 HR?
Of course he will also play the year as a 27-year old and should finally get an opportunity for regular AB at the highest level. It’s very possible the Rays work with him to adjust his swing to produce a better launch angle, leading to his power to develop. With that possibility he’s well worth targeting in the later rounds.
Jake Bauers – First Baseman/Outfielder
It appears the Indians acquired Bauers with an eye towards utilizing him as an outfielder, or they plan to jettison Carlos Santana or Yonder Alonso at some point this offseason. In his first taste of the Majors Bauers struggled to a .201 average, though he added 11 HR, 48 RBI, 48 R and 6 SB over 388 PA.
One of the biggest issues was a few too many swings and misses, with an 11.0% SwStr% despite a 24.4% O-Swing% (which helped him to a 13.9% walk rate). The fact that he kept the Whiff% in check against all types of pitches, including a 15.35% Whiff% against breaking balls and 14.60% against offspeed pitches, brings a sense of optimism. Couple that with a 40.5% Hard% and .252 BABIP and it’s easy to envision his average rising. The one thing that can’t be ignored is a pull heavy approach (18.9% Oppo%), though he was showing more at Triple-A (29.5% and 31.1% the previous two seasons).
Even if he can hit just .250, there’s power developing (he added 22 doubles and 2 triples) and also should chip in 10+ SB. A left-handed hitter it is possible the Indians deploy him as part of a platoon, which would limit his value, but the potential is there to be more than that.
Still just 23-years old there’s plenty of time for him to develop, and it could come quickly. He’s well worth targeting in drafts/auctions and should be considered an ideal sleeper for 2019 and beyond.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
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