Trade Central: Tigers, Yankees, D-Backs Get Together Again


Almost five years to the day they got together on a deal that sent Max Scherzer to Detroit, Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Ian Kennedy to Arizona, the teams were at it again Friday. The Yankees sent righthander Shane Green to Detroit while the Tigers sent lefthander Robbie Ray and infielder Domingo Leyba to Arizona as the Diamondbacks sent shortstop Didi Gregorius to New York.

Didi Gregorius, ss
Age: 24

The answer to a trivia question, the most uneviable job in baseball and the most scrutinized guy in New York. That’s just part of what Gregorius faces as the man who replaces Derek Jeter as the shortstop for the New York Yankees.

What Gregorius is that Jeter wasn’t is a plus defender, although two metrics, defensive runs saved (0) and UZR (-6.7) rated him neutral or worse in 2014. Jeter, by comparison was a minus 12 in DRS and a minus 12.5 in UZR.

But Gregorius has smooth actions, plus range and a sniper rifle of an arm. His arm rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, allowing him to make plays from deep in the hole that other shortstops can’t. At bat, he slashed .226/.290/.363 in splitting time with Chris Owings in Arizona.

Gregorius’ hitting profile tilts slightly toward fly balls and his isolated power was .137, just below league average. More promisingly, according to ESPN, Gregorius had a hard-hit rate of 20.4 percent, the same as Mike Trout. Hard-hit rate is a subjective measure, admittedly, but teams use it to track exit velocity and contact.

In 2013, the Yankees saw the lefthanded hitter rip a home run into the seats in right in Yankee Stadium against Phil Hughes and a double in the same game. They obviously believe his offensive production will normalize in line with his 2013 performance (.252/.332/.373) while providing above-average defense.

— Vincent Lara Cinisomo

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Reno (PCL) AAA .310 57 226 42 70 14 4 3 25 24 26 3 .389 .447
Arizona (NL) MAJ .226 80 270 35 61 9 5 6 27 22 52 3 .290 .363

Robbie Ray, lhp
Age: 23

One year ago the Nationals were able to pry Doug Fister away from the Tigers for a surprisingly light return headlined by Ray, along with lefty Ian Krol and infielder Steve Lombardozzi. Since then, Ray’s prospect stock has regressed. His fastball is still a plus pitch, sitting in the low-to-mid 90s and reaching 97 mph. It’s his only plus pitch though. His best secondary pitch is an fringe-average changeup with solid sink and fade, but Ray has long struggled to find a reliable breaking ball, experimenting with a slider and a curveball but ditching the curve to focus on the slider toward the end of the year. The lack of a true out pitch explains why he doesn’t miss many bats, with his strikeout rate dropping to 6.7 batters per nine innings in Triple-A in 2014. Ray is a solid strike thrower but needs to improve his command and overall feel for pitching. There are still some scouts who view Ray as a potential back-of-the-rotation starter, though others think he’s better suited for relief work.

— Ben Badler

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
Toledo (IL) AAA 7 6 4.22 20 19 100 106 51 47 6 44 75 .277
Detroit (AL) MAJ 1 4 8.16 9 6 29 43 26 26 5 11 19 .350
Glendale (AFL) WIN 1 1 2.45 4 4 11 9 5 3 0 6 13

Domingo Leyba, ss,
Age: 19

The Tigers’ international scouts have built the organization one of the top Venezuelan pipelines in the game, finding plenty of hidden gems in the country. In 2012, though, the Tigers invested their top two international bonuses in the Dominican Republic—$420,000 for shortstop Willy Adames and $400,000 for Leyba. The early returns have been outstanding on both players, though in true Tigers fashion, both have now already been shipped out of the organization to help the major league team, with Adames now Tampa Bay’s top prospect after heading there in the David Price trade. After leading the Dominican Summer League in OPS as a 17-year-old in his pro debut in 2013, Leyba ranked as the Tigers’ No. 8 prospect, and he improved his stock in 2014, moving up to No. 5 in the organization. The Tigers pushed Leyba aggressively, skipping him over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and pushing him to the college-heavy New York-Penn League as an 18-year-old. Once the Tigers traded Adames to Tampa Bay and had an opening in low Class A West Michigan, the Tigers bumped Leyba up to the Midwest League, where he dominated the final month of the season. Adames is more athletic and has greater upside than Leyba, but Leyba is an extremely mature and polished player for his age and experience level. He has good bat speed and a simple swing from both sides of the plate, with strong bat-to-ball skills and solid control of the strike zone. He has a strong, compact frame for his age without much physical projection, so he’s more of a gap hitter who doesn’t project as a big power threat. He’s a smart, fundamentally sharp player with strong baseball instincts in all phases of the game. Leyba has played some shortstop, but he’s a fringy runner who likely fits better in the long run at second base, where he has average arm strength, a quick exchange and the actions to be a sound defender. Robbie Ray is closer to the big leagues, but Leyba is the key return for the Diamondbacks in this trade.

— Ben Badler

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Connecticut (NYP) SS .264 37 144 20 38 11 1 1 17 8 17 1 .303 .375
West Michigan (MWL) LoA .397 30 116 20 46 7 0 1 7 6 13 1 .431 .483
Glendale (AFL) WIN .171 13 41 2 7 0 0 0 1 4 9 0 .277 .171

Shane Greene, rhp
Age: 26

After a dreadful debut, Greene, a tall, lanky righthander, made his mark on the Yankees' rotation toward the second half of the season. Armed with a mix of a mid-90s fastball, sharp slider and changeup, the 26-year-old former 15th-rounder out of Daytona Beach (Fla.) JC fanned 81 against 27 walks in 79 innings. Greene had Tommy John surgery as a freshman at Division II West Florida in 2008 and transferred to the junior college, where the Yankees scouted him, drafted him and signed him for $100,000 in 2009. He's got more than enough stuff to be effective as a starter, but he needs to refine his command inside and outside of the strike zone, as shown by his 3.3 walks per nine and 9.3 hits per nine. He'll be a nice addition to the back end of Detroit's rotation.

— Josh Norris

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
Scranton/W-B (IL) AAA 5 2 4.61 15 13 66 79 39 34 3 26 57 .295
New York (AL) MAJ 5 4 3.78 15 14 79 81 38 33 8 29 81 .262