Astros, Blue Jays Complete Puzzling Deadline Day Trade
In a puzzling move for the Blue Jays, the Astros acquired rigthanders Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez from the Blue Jays in exchange for outfielder Derek Fisher. Somehow, the Astros also got the Blue Jays to give up their No. 16 prospect, outfielder Cal Stevenson, in the deal. Stevenson is further away from the big leagues than Fisher, but he might end up being the better player in the long term.
Joe Biagini, RHP
Biagini, 29, is a solid middle reliever who can help the Astros' bullpen immediately. He has struck out a career-high 23 percent of batters faced while posting a 118 ERA+ this year. He's arbitration eligible after the season and eligible for free agency in 2023.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP
Sanchez was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball as a 23-year-old in 2016, but that was the last time he was productive. Sanchez, 27, is a reclamation project who still has attributes the Astros prioritize. His fastball sits at 93-95 mph and he has a tight-spinning curveball with sharp bite and good depth, an effective swing-and-miss pitch. But Sanchez has walked 11 percent of hitters this year, showing little signs of command or control the last few seasons. Given Sanchez's skill set and the current rotation in Houston, a move to the bullpen seems like the best course of action for him. He's eligible for free agency in 2021.
Cal Stevenson, OF
It cost the Blue Jays just $5,000 to sign Stevenson last year as a 10th-round senior draft pick from Arizona. He has quickly turned into an intriguing sleeper, ranking as Toronto's No. 16 prospect prior to the trade. Stevenson, 22, skipped low Class A and went straight to the hitter-friendly high Class A Florida State League this year, where he has gotten on base at a high clip and has nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Stevenson has outstanding plate discipline, a short stroke and makes frequent contact, striking out in just 13 percent of his plate appearances. Stevenson's strength's are his hitting ability, strike-zone judgment and above-average speed. With center fielder Chavez Young also on Dunedin, Stevenson has split time between center and left field. The biggest risk with Stevenson is his lack of power. The FSL zaps power numbers, but Stevenson's power is still well below-average, so he's going to have to drive the ball with more impact eventually. If he does, he's a potential everyday center fielder.
BLUE JAYS ACQUIRE
Derek Fisher, OF
Fisher reached Triple-A in 2016, then looked to be on the cusp of breaking through after the 2017 season when he batted .318/.384/.583 in 84 games at the level. Fisher, who turns 26 in August, is still in Triple-A, in part because of a crowded outfield in Houston but also because of holes that have hampered him when he did get to the big leagues. Fisher, who has rotated around all three outfield spots but is best suited in a corner defensively, has plus raw power. That's his best tool, with plenty of bat speed but swing-and-miss tendencies (especially against soft stuff) that have eaten away at his production when he has faced major league pitching. If Fisher can improve his pitch recognition and make more contact, he could be a late developer, but for now it's hard to project him as a big league regular.