Rays, A's and Rangers Execute Three-Team Deal
On the day before the holiday weekend, the A’s, Rangers and Rays got together on a three-team swap that saw the A’s buy low on a former top prospect wracked by injuries over the course of his career, the Rays acquire a two intriguing arms and a draft pick, and the Rangers give their farm system a boost with interesting pieces from the Oakland and Tampa Bay systems.
Rollie Lacy, RHP
This is the second time Lacy has been dealt in 2018. Originally in the Cubs' system, Lacy was dealt to the Rangers at midseason as part of the Cole Hamels deal. The Creighton alum is exceptional at inducing grounders and finished the year with 2.3 groundouts for every flyout. He accomplishes this with a heavy, 88-91 mph fastball as well as a slurvy breaking ball and fringe-average changeup.
Emilio Pagan, RHP
Pagan pitched in 55 games out of the bullpen for the A’s in 2018, working primarily with a low- to mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. He is exceptionally effective against righthanded hitters, whom he held to a .196/.249/.380 slash line in 2018. Despite that dominance, seven of the 31 hits he allowed to righthanders were home runs. He has enough multi-inning flexibility to be used as an opener as well as a traditional bullpen role.
The Rays also picked up the 38th pick in the 2019 draft, which had already been dealt from the Brewers to the Rangers. Tampa Bay now holds three of the draft’s top 40 selections.
Brock Burke, LHP
The Rays’ third-round pick in 2014, Burke brings a well-rounded four-pitch mix to the table. His fastball sits between 92-94 mph and bumps 97 mph, setting up a low-80s changeup with plenty of late fade. His 2-to-7 slider has late tilt, but it tends to blend with his loopier curveball. Refining both of those pitches will be the next step in his development. He has average control and command.
Eli White, SS/2B
Oakland’s 11th-round pick out of Clemson in 2016, White took a leap forward this year when he led the Texas League in hits (154), on-base percentage (.388) and runs (81). He was the best pure hitter in the A’s system and was voted in the 2018 Best Tools survey as the Texas League’s best defensive second baseman. White’s next step is learning to pull the ball and get it in the air more often to turn his bat-to-ball skills and strength into home run power. He continued his excellent season in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted an .865 OPS.
Kyle Bird, LHP
Bird is a funky lefthander whom the Rays selected in the 35th round in 2014. He pitched at both upper levels this year, and he was protected on the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft. He brings a low- to mid-90s fastball from a low slot and a sharp, sweeping breaking ball in the low 80s. He used that combination to whiff 88 hitters in 75.1 innings.
Yoel Espinal, RHP
Espinal was originally signed by the Tigers in 2011, released in 2013 and picked up by the Yankees in 2015. He pitched one season for New York before joining the Rays' system. He pitched at four levels in 2018, and he showed his typical combination of high-velocity fastballs from a whippy arm action in combination with a low-80s slider. He walks more than six hitters per nine innings, however, which has limited his effectiveness.
The Rangers also received $750,000 in international slot money in this deal.
MiLB Top 10 Prospects Flashback: 2011 South Atlantic League
The SAL class of 2011 is notable for its depth, including future MVPs Bryce Harper and Christian Yelich as well as three other high quality regulars.
Jurickson Profar, UTIL
Profar’s tools have long been tantalizing, but he’s had big-time problems staying healthy. He missed all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons with injuries, and he had not played more than 100 games in a season until 2018. He provides exceptional defensive versatility—he played every infield position plus left field this past season—as well as a bat that produced 20 home runs in 2018. He’ll provide flexibility to a young, talented infield that includes Gold Glove winners Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, but has less-cemented options up the middle.