Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

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Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by lordtoffee » Sat May 02, 2020 2:43 am

It was the biggest BBA trade deadline story this year, as the Kernels were looking to make a deal involving their young star Don Smith . What surprised me was that the Talons were the ones to pull the trigger on the deal. So, let's talk about it a little bit.

Trade Details
Kernels Trade:
ML SP Don Smith
ML 2B Angel De Castillo
AAA CL Hector Gonzalez

Talons Trade:
ML 2B Chua-kah Yang
ML 1B Juan Mateo
ML OF Norihisa Yokoyama
RL SP Anthony DeYoung

Trade Background
Don Smith has the looks of a future ace, having been pitching well for the Kernels this year. With the team struggling at the bottom of the Heartland, GM Geoff Webb was looking to trade Smith and De Castillo in order to try and entice a contender to get a good package in return. In the context of the playoff race, the races to watch so far have been in the Atlantic and both Wild Card races. Webb was always going to get a lot of offers for Smith, and had the advantage of letting teams offer a lot in order to gain an advantage in a year that is wide open at this point. Des Moines chose to pull the trigger on this trade now, and can continue their rebuild with De Castillo's contract off the books he has more flexibility for cap hits down the line on players that interest him in free agency or homegrown players that will be part of the rebuild.

For the Talons, they have been trying to build a contender through homegrown young players, and are in the thick of a Wild Card race in the Johnson that looks to be very tight. GM Sean Marko had the top rated farm system, and thus had a lot of chips to play should he. Pitching had been an area of need for them, and Smith clearly is showing signs of developing in Des Moines. Every great team has their version of "The Trade", and Marko must have felt that the time was right to turbocharge the Talons and make sure that "The SmithStakes" went to him instead of a competitor in the very tight Johnson League.

Kernels Analysis
We shall begin with looking at Yang. Yang is 23 years old, and had made his BBA debut with the Talons this year. He clearly has been going through some rookie struggles at the plate, with not good offensive stats. He has a lot of power potential, and his minor league stats show that he will improve after some early struggles at each level he has been promoted to. Yang will get plenty of playing time for the Kernels, and if he stays the course should be a plus offensive player with a good glove at second base. Webb will not have to worry about a second contract for a while due to plenty of time before arbitration years kick in. I think getting Yang at this early stage looks like a good replacement for De Castillo and with a lot less of a steep contract to pay.

Moving on, we take a look at Mateo. Mateo is young as well at age 22, and has more major league experience than Yang. What makes Mateo a good prospect is that he has shown power in high school and pro ball, and looks like he was starting to get used to BBA pitching this year. He is going to get plenty of playing time next to Yang for the rest of this year. I think Mateo is on the verge of a breakthrough if he can improve his plate discipline and keep getting at bats. A rebuilding team such as the Kernels will get plenty of chances for Mateo. A good prospect acquisition for the Kernels to revamp their infield to compete in the meat grinder that is the Heartland.


We next take a look at Yokoyama. He is a bit of an interesting case to me. He is also young at 22, and has a lot of interesting tools. He is a fast runner and someone who projects well having hit with some power so far this season. The question is that can he continue this given that is arguably the lynchpin of this deal for the Kernels? He is going to be part of the rebuild, and will get plenty of hits. He projects well, provided that he gets enough at bats and can continue to develop at the major league level.


The last player that the Kernels got is DeYoung. He is a young pitcher that shows incredible potential with stuff that looks very live, though his command is going to have to be taught to him a bit so he can fully mature as a pitcher. He is down in the low minors for now, so it's hard to peg him as a contributor at the major league level right now. The biggest risk he faces is the temptation to promote too quickly, and he will need time against better hitters to fully unlock his potential. Give DeYoung a few years, he could surprise you.

Talons Analysis

Obviously, Don Smith is going to be the key for this deal. What he gives you is great stuff, a very affordable contract, an All-Star nod, and touted as the next great pitcher in the BBA. Most importantly, he is not a rental and can stick around after this year. Here is the rub. Smith has been injured a few times in the minors, and he just went from a rebuilding team to the thick of a playoff race where he is the hope of the Talons. That is a very high jump for a young player, especially a pitcher. Don't get me wrong, trading for Smith will help the Talons and he should win games for them. Smith is going to be the future of the Talons, and their fans will love it that Marko was this agressive.

De Castillo was never going to be part of the rebuild for the Kernels, and he can slide into second base for the Talons. What he brings is a proven power pedigree and plenty of postseason experience due to his time with Yellow Springs. What I would be remiss to bring up is that he is getting paid $20 million per year for the next few years, and he is on the back half of his career. This element of the trade is very risky, though he can obviously aid the offense and help win games to get the Talons into the playoffs. Though, he could fall off a cliff due to age and a body with injury miles on it. Still, he is a good key to getting Smith, and he was part of the package by order of Webb.

The final player the Talons recieved was Gonzalez. Gonzalez has closer experience in AAA, and his stuff is very electric with multiple out pitches. That is unique for a closer, as we generally think of closers as having one signature pitch to rely on. He could certainly be promoted to Phoenix should the need arise, but maybe it is best if he acclimate in AAA before getting a full spring with the big club. Gonzalez also replenishes a little depth for now in the farm system, and he is someone who could be a setup guy or a closer in the majors at some point.

Trade Implications

For the Talons, this trade means that they have fully arrived onto the playoff scene. Smith and De Castillo both upgrade their positions and both should contribute right away. At the cost of four very good prospects, this trade is all about making up games against their fellow contenders to clinch that last playoff spot. With the Atlantic race so tight and the Frontier wild card race so tightly packed, teams are going to be feeding on each other the rest of the year. Phoenix just got the jump on their competition by taking two big pieces away from their competitors, and that could be worth a 5 game swing on it's own.

For Des Moines, the rebuild continues. Webb can reload by getting an impressive haul, and he got Smith out of the Heartland and away from playoff contenders in the Frick. The risk is that Smtih could turn out as advertised, and that the prospects the Kernels got in return might all flop. But in terms of getting a return at the deadline, it's hard to argue with 4 good prospects that will get enough time to fully develop. This trade from the Kernel's side will really have to be revisited down the road to see if it really was "The Trade"

Teams That Missed Out

There are going to be a lot of teams that are frustrated to miss out on getting Smith, and it's understandable. Players like that don't get traded much, and especially on a rookie contract is very rare in this league. Here is the thing though. Sometimes the best trade is the one you don't make. This trade set the market for the rest of the deadline frenzy, and now other GM's can weigh that in their thinking. Smith might not be going to Yellow Springs, Brooklyn, or another contender, but there are other good players on the block.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by jleddy » Sat May 02, 2020 3:17 am

Nicely done, Ben.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by bcslouck » Sat May 02, 2020 6:27 am

Nice analysis.

Not sure what he was offered other than what I did (nothing top end but a bunch of 50-60 type guys because that's all I really have to offer), but feel like someone had to of had an overall better package. Yang is a stud but I would of been looking for a better SP prospect than what he got and player at a more premium position or another SP over either the 1B or DH. Not all 60+ potentials are equal.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by JimBob2232 » Sat May 02, 2020 6:58 am

I threw my hat into the ring. Offered a very good player. Was never really a serious contender though.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by jiminyhopkins » Sat May 02, 2020 8:20 am

Well thought-out piece. I figured, I had the prospects, so what the hell. It will be easy to replace positions like 1B and RF, and I didn't have to give either of my best SP prospects.

Yang could get Platinum Sticks for the next half decade, and Smith has to stay healthy. So a lot of risk. But hey, I'm here to have fun, and big trades are always fun.

Except when I dealt away Feliciano Rafael. That wasn't so fun, LOL

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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by RonCo » Sat May 02, 2020 9:38 am

The only thing bad about this analysis is that it wasn't written about Smith moving to Yellow Springs.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by FuzzyRawley » Sat May 02, 2020 11:28 am

In the end Phoenix offered what I needed, which is more power.

I had serious misgivings about giving up Smith, hence why I sat on the decision for a few days. Thinking about what an amazing rotation it would be to have Karnes and Smith under control for a few years. Problem is, we aren't hitting and middle relief is a problem. When I analyzed my roster and decided what was a need versus what was a strength, the needs piled up everywhere but at SP. So this is a classic sell while the gettings good versus waiting and hoping I could fill out my roster in the offseason with more power via free agency. (This strategy has failed me miserably in other leagues).In the end, I didn't get as much as I'd hoped and maybe if I held off till the deadline it might have improved, but I think this starts to round out my offense and I didn't want to risk losing out on a good enough deal.

De Young was a late addition, always feel like you need to get an SP for an SP in any trade since they are so valuable. CL Gonzalez was a late addition on Phoenix's side and made sense for me since I have some young talent at the back end of my bullpen now. We also drafted CL Keil in the first round (stupid auto draft). Getting the De Castillo contract off my books for some return is going to help me a lot in the coming years.

Finally, my other offers were close to, almost pulled the trigger immediately on one of them since it would have bolstered my farm system considerably. Only problem was, I couldn't necessarily see how it would make me a contender in the long run, more perennial middle of the pack. Possibly, if I had used some of these as currency later I could see more benefit.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by bschr682 » Sat May 02, 2020 11:40 am

Only thing ill push back on is the statement that Yang will be a good 2B. No he won't. Not enough range and not enough turn double play. Id try Yang at 3rd. If that fails then he just traded smith for a pitcher who might not make it and three 1b/DH types. Good bats but good bats are going to be everywhere when the 2038 guys need to start getting paid...
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by RonCo » Sat May 02, 2020 11:55 am

Yang is probably where the deal hinges. If he pans out he's Emilio Morales with more power and the ability walk a little more often, and yeah, the ability to double. :) He's 23, though, and still has that room to grow, so there's risk saying he _will_ grow. I'd ponder if he'd be best served at 3B defensively, but that's a question for later, I suppose.

I like Mateo, too, in that he's a serious bopper as the LHB on a platoon approach. If Geoff can pair him with a solid enough RHB the Kernel offense could take off. Yokayama could actually be that bat, though his defense is borderline for 1B...still workable. He's really a DH, and should be a good one soon.

Bottom line, you can't argue against those three bats. DeYoung is an interesting enough get at the bottom of the deal. His intangibles make me unexcited about his path, but those can be fiddled with if PPT can be developed. He's got a long way to go, so he's hard to project one way or another. If he makes a dent in the big leagues, it's a feather in Des Moines' corn row.

On Phoenix's side, I wouldn't see it as a run to the playoffs. Maybe Sean thinks of it that way, I don't know. But they are on the bottom of a long column, I don't see the add putting them into the real mix. Instead, I think it's a way to position themselves for next year. As long as De Castillo doesn't totally die he can hold the fort at second, and there are some bats coming up to patch the losses elsewhere. If that all happens, then the 2043 result is essentially a stable ship with the addition of Don Smith, and that looks pretty good.

Bottom line, I think both teams moved the direction they wanted to move. So now we strap into the time machine and see what really happens.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by RonCo » Sat May 02, 2020 12:01 pm

bschr682 wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 11:40 am
Only thing ill push back on is the statement that Yang will be a good 2B. No he won't. Not enough range and not enough turn double play. Id try Yang at 3rd. If that fails then he just traded smith for a pitcher who might not make it and three 1b/DH types. Good bats but good bats are going to be everywhere when the 2038 guys need to start getting paid...
At 23, I'd probably play Yang at 2B for awhile more. His sure-handedness has made him a slightly better than league average 2B everywhere he's gone. That's "good" ... he just won't be an elite glove guy. For a bat that could be what it could be, that makes Yang's value at 2B very high. Of course, if you find a better 2B who can hit, you could move him to 3B without any real danger. He won't be elite there, either, but he won't hurt the team.

He needs to fill that power out, though. That's his key. Without the power, you'd rather have better defense.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by recte44 » Sat May 02, 2020 2:04 pm

It’s really good to see Des Moines taking a shot here.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by ae37jr » Sat May 02, 2020 2:45 pm

I put in a 5 player offer that I feel was at least in the ballpark or possibly better then this haul talent wise. Nothing spectacular though. Most of my solid youngsters are in the BBA right now and important parts of the team. I think what hurt me was that I didn't include a pitcher or an up the middle player. Like if I would have included Walton and Charette/Espinosa then I might have gotten a better look.

In the end though... Smith is fragile. Probably not a good business model to invest that kind of prospect haul and subsequent long term money on one fragile arm.
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Re: Trade Analysis: The Don Smith Megadeal

Post by jiminyhopkins » Sat May 02, 2020 3:02 pm

ae37jr wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 2:45 pm

In the end though... Smith is fragile. Probably not a good business model to invest that kind of prospect haul and subsequent long term money on one fragile arm.
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