Hawks/Hustlers Make A Deal

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Hawks/Hustlers Make A Deal

Post by RonCo » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:46 am

2037 Trade Study

If Yellow Springs Nine officers are any barometer, the recent transaction that sent four Omaha Hawks to Vegas in return for star catcher Hank Brewer and young arm Manuel Orozco has left a puzzling array of reactions in its contrails. Or maybe not puzzling reactions so much as conflicting.

It's an interesting transaction.

Here’s the deal:

To Omaha:
C Hank Brewer (ML)
P Manuel Orozco (DL)

To Las Vegas:
C Antonio Robles (ML)
LF Aymeric Barajas (ML)
LF Eliseu Satino (ML)
P Poto Tornatore (AAA)



Brewer is a feared switch hitter who can always be ready to drop a 7 WAR season. He’s also a highly respected defensive player with a mantle lined by a half-dozen Zimmer awards, four Pucketts, and a Landis ring. In theory, he’s an immediate upgrade over Robles, which makes sense for Omaha given that the team is on the back-end of a death match with Twin Cities for the coveted Heartland Division title. It also makes sense given that GM Justin Niles has made a practice of high-profile moves made in mid-season.

But, and here’s the big butt, Brewer is having a dismal season. And at 31 he’s at that time of career that things can fall apart. He’s also owed many buckets of money for the next two years with a player option for a third.
Is he still Hank Brewer? My guess is that he is, but I admit to having a sense that Omaha might have just made a $13M mistake that could help us out.

Add in the fact that the talented Orozco is nursing a torn rotator cuff—which is a tough injury to return from, and you can see that the result of this deal for the Hawks could wind up all over the map. What are the odds that Brewer returns to form and Orozco heals without loss? If that happens, it’s a solid pair if adds. What are the odds, however, that Brewer is on the decline, and Orozco loses an edge to become just mediocre?

Pick your own numbers there. For Brewer I’d say 75% he recovers this year (25% he doesn’t), but 50% that he’s crashing by the end of his contract. Pick a small number, say 10-20% that he’s an anchor by the end. Go add your own categories and timings, I won’t judge you. I’d say 20% that Orozco is toast, 40% he’ll be solid on his return, 40% that he’ll come back completely unscathed.

Play the numbers all you want, but the upside is high, but the downside is perilous.

The hard part is that the Hawks gave up a couple solid young players with far less uncertainty associated with them.

Robles is a solid enough LHB in the catcher’s role, but will be heading to Free Agency this season. He’s also not putting up numbers that Omaha was hoping. He’s 28, though, so you can argue he’s perhaps more likely to recover his form than Brewer. Defensively, he’s an average kind of a guy.

The Hawk pitcher in the deal (Tornatore) needs to find the plate more often to be a real contributor at the big-league level, but he’s 24, so that could still happen. I think he’s more like a lottery chip than anything else, but the downside is middling and the upside big. Given that he’s got an option left, the Hustlers have a little time to find out.

Aymeric Barajas has always been an enigma to us. He’s a solid little player. He can run, he can play a little defense. As a switch hitter, he can be pressed into playing every day, but is better as the strong side of a platoon. He’s not flashy. Not sexy. But all he’s done is post 2.5-4 WAR every year to date. And at 27 he’s in his peak seasons, and given his service time, he’s going to slip one more arbitration season in before hitting the market. At a $6M projection, that could be a value-add deal, depending on how Vegas uses him.

And then we come to the real gem in second-year player, Elio Satino. The kid is 23, so he’s still got growing room. Right now, he’s clunky in the outfield, though passable. His lefty bat is already raking right handed pitching, and his split may grow to the point that he’s passable vs. lefties. The future is a little unclear there, but at the end of the day it almost doesn’t matter. Satino has four seasons of cost control


From the Hawk’s side, this is a high-risk, high-reward kind of moment—which probably goes a way toward explaining the cognitive dissonance in the Nine’s front office. They obviously felt they needed something more to compete, and no guts, no glory. Given that neither catcher has played up to any real numbers this year, the insertion of Brewer for Robles can’t be anything but a positive for this season—and could be a gig benefit.

The question is whether (or how) the Hawks will replace the performance of Barajas and Satino. The fact is that they’ve had difficulty finding playing time for both lefty hitters, so trading Barajas seemed inevitable. But they really do need one of them. If worse comes to worse, they can go dig Terrance Mack out of AAA, but we’re sure that’s not Plan A.

So, to us, this creates a possible hole in the offense that doesn’t really have an answer. If, for example, Brewer bounces back, but they can’t get production from the outfield, is that a net gain? The uncertainty here is puzzling in its strength as conflict yo-yos through my brain. With that current day issue adding to the aging questions of a 31-year-old star catcher, did the Heartland just get easier to win?

From the Vegas side, things look a little rosier. As noted, Brewer already wasn’t doing anything. So if Robles continues to flounder, it’s a 1-for-1 replacement…but even a little regression back to mean will be a positive in the short run. (Yes, Vegas cashed on a potential Hall of Famer, so they have potential for opportunity loss, but I’m looking at this year. They were a hardcore playoff team with Brewer sucking. Robles doing anything is an improvement).

But, especially with Henry Rectenberg on the shelf for a month, the Hustlers have direct needs and values for both Barajas and Satino.

Projecting out, for Vegas the question becomes what are the chances Satino out-produces Brewer? If you know the answer to that question, you win the right to do team previews for life.


This deal is one that serves to show that trades are not really about winning and losing so much as they are about filling needs and moving teams along their paths. “Winners” will not be determined until the years roll out and we see what happens.

So the question is whether the Hustlers and the Hawks accomplished things that pushed them along in their goals.

I think the answer is yes. I think this is a good trade for each team, but the team with the greatest upside/downside risk is clearly Omaha. Basically, Justin went to Vegas and put down a pretty good bet. Matt, on the other hand, is basically playing with house money.
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Re: Hawks/Hustlers Make A Deal

Post by ae37jr » Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:37 pm

I thought about Brewer. It was a high risk high reward situation. He could very well be toast already. Or maybe he is the best catcher in the game next season. Who knows for sure? Same with Arreola. If you're in the market for a catcher, these guys are messing with your head.
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Re: Hawks/Hustlers Make A Deal

Post by niles08 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:48 pm

Great analysis...

To be honest I was going to need a catcher next season and thought the 1 year contract basically for Brewer next season was worth the risk.

I also picked up a starter that I will surely need next season. I dont expect him to be an ace, but if he can be a solid 2 or 3 guy with 4 more years of control I will take that.

Satino unfortunately cannot play in the field. He has been horrible out there and I dont have much of a drop if I let Olivarez DH instead. I actually pick up some speed that way.

I plan to let Marin play LF moving forward with Rojas subbing in across all 3 outfield spots on rest days.

Or maybe not, if I make another move.

I am in a weird spot with my financials as I have a ton of young guys who are going to need paid very soon. Moving Barajas gets that resigning off our books while picking up a pitcher who is going to be on the league minimum next year.

Yes I picked up Hanks contract, but that is 1 year only and something I'm not to concerned with as I will more than likely be declining Moores team option so the money evens out with that move alone except I lose Barajas contract.

I had a hard time with Satino, but figured he was replaceable giving his inability to field and lack of power.

It's still a risk, but a risk that financially I feel fine with. It's more of a risk talent wise for me than anything. Banking on Hank regaining his form in my friendly ball park and on Orasco coming back steady.

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Re: Hawks/Hustlers Make A Deal

Post by RonCo » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:16 am

Brewer has a player option for another season, so there's risk out until he's 34. And I think Satino would be passable in the field if he played there often...but, yeah, it's a deal I'd probably have made in your shoes, too.
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