Milwaukee Brewers trade Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston
Another hour and another big time trade came down. Imagine that we still have another day of this. This time, the Milwaukee Brewers traded starting pitcher Mike Fiers and center fielder Carlos Gomez to the Houston Astros in exchange for four prospects. This was less than 24 hours after a trade for Gomez to the Mets fell through because of mysterious circumstances. First, here are the particulars.
SP Mike Fiers
CF Carlos Gomez
SP Adrian Houser
SP Josh Hader
Why does Houston make this trade?
Coming into the Los Angeles Angels series, the Astros had scored zero, one, or two runs 33 times on the season. They had played 100 games at that point. Obviously, the percentages are pretty plain. Getting Scott Kazmir obviously helped the rotation, but the club needed offense. Jed Lowrie returned on Thursday night to presumably take over at third base. George Springer will return in right field in early September. That left first base, catcher, and center field as the major holes in the offense. Jake Marisnick has been a revelation defensively, but offensively he mustered only a .238/.275/.374 slash. Gomez is an obvious upgrade offensively and should be at least equal to Marisnick defensively. Plus, he is signed through 2016. His current .751 OPS is the lowest of his career since 2011 and he’s been hitting better lately.
Mike Fiers is a little more puzzling, but the club had been seeking pitching even after acquiring Kazmir this past week. He’s under cost control until 2017 and under club control until 2020. Clearly, neither player is a rental. He has a 3.89 ERA and a 3.79 FIP this season in Milwaukee. Based on the numbers, he would seem to be most similar to Collin McHugh. That makes him a clear upgrade over Scott Feldman on the current Astros staff. Plus, it gives them seven pitchers on the big league roster capable of starting games (until Vincent Velasquez is presumably sent to the minors). It’s clearly a deep staff.
Why Milwaukee makes this trade?
Every one of the players traded to the Brewers ranked in the top 25 prospects in the Astros system according to MLB.com. The prize is clearly Brett Phillips. Many thought Phillips was untouchable, but Jeff Luhnow had been saying that none of his prospects were untouchable. He is a candidate to take Gomez’s place in center field as early as 2016. Currently, he is ripping through AA pitching, so the Brewers may want to wait another calendar year before exposing him to big league pitching.
Domingo Santana has already had a couple of tastes of big league pitching. The first was a complete disaster, but he showed much more this year in his few weeks up in the big leagues. He might be a good corner outfield candidate right now. He has huge power potential and some speed to go with it. His huge frame and long arms make him susceptible to strikeouts, but if he gets consistent at bats he could become a 30 home run threat. Of the pitchers, Josh Hader is the better of the two. As a lefty, his mid 90s fastball plays up and he has a few good secondary offerings. He will likely need another season in the minors before he will be ready. Adrian Houser is less of a big time prospect and more of an end of the rotation kind of talent. Overall, it was a very good haul for the Brewers.
What this trade means for you
Like with the Price deal, we tend to look at two factors when evaluating pitchers on the move. The first factor is the ballpark effects and whether they will challenge the pitcher. Some bozos over at the MLB Network are locked in a time warp where Minute Maid Park is a banbox where balls fly out with regularity. It hasn’t been a banbox since it became Minute Maid Park ten years ago. They have this thing called the internet folks:
Minute Maid Park 2015: 102
Minute Maid Park Multi: 102
Miller Park 2015: 107
Miller Park Multi: 103
If you take 2015 as gospel then Fiers is already getting a hand up. However, I tend to trust multi-year data more than one year data. In that case, the differences are not enough to really count. Fiers tends to be a flyball pitcher (career 41.1%), but his home runs per flyball rates have been near the league average most of his career. This is where the next category comes into play. The second numbers we typically look at are the defensive efficiency ratings. That is simply the percentage of balls in play that become outs. Also keep in mind that the Brewers best defender is coming in the deal.
Houston 2015: .707 (2nd)
Milwaukee 2015: .676 (26th)
You don’t get much more different than this. For that reason, I would make acquiring Mike Fiers a priority if he is available in your league. If he is on the waiver wire you should claim him immediately. If he is on someone else’s roster I’d make an offer. He could see his ERA dip to below 3.50 before the end of the season. Naturally, he should be in line for more victories as well.