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2019-2020 Off-Season Starting Pitcher Trade Series: Seth Lugo


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By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer

This series will attempt to identify other potential front-line starters that the Angels can possibly trade for and we will continue the series looking at the New York Mets, SP/RP Seth Lugo.

Facts

Contract Status - Seth has entered his first year of arbitration control, in 2020, and settled with the Mets for a yearly salary of $2M for next season. After that he will have the additional, standard two years of arbitration control for a total of three years of team control. If he does return to a starting role, it would not be surprising to see his 2021 salary jump to somewhere in the $4.5M-$5.5M range and in his last year to something approaching the $8M-$9M realm.

Repertoire (2019 as a Reliever) - Four-Seam Fastball (34.8%, 94.5 mph), Curve Ball (23.4%, 79.6 mph), Two-Seam Fastball (22.2%, 94.0 mph), Slider (13.3%, 87.9 mph), and Change Up (6.1%, 87.8 mph)

Statcast Information - Seth has a nice five-pitch mix with his four-seam, two-seam (sinker), and curve ball being the best three of the group. In particular his curve ball has an incredible amount of spin, sitting at 3,285 rpm, which is pretty ridiculous. Those three primary weapons helped Lugo to have a very good season throwing 80 IP out of the bullpen and could serve him well if he moves back to the rotation as he, himself, has indicated he wants to do.

Although Lugo's change up and slider have interesting characteristics, they have not developed into put away weapons yet. The other three, however, generate high strikeout rates and poor contact, against both sides of the plate, making Seth a good candidate to return to a starter role.

Despite the fact that Seth threw in relief in 2019, take a look at this Statcast graphic below of all his four-seam fastballs in the zone last year:

 

SethLugoStatcastInTheZoneFourSeamFastballs

The results? A 43.2 K% with a corresponding .173 Batting Average Against, across 81 plate appearances. Pretty sick numbers even in a relief role!

Outside of the zone?

 

SethLugoStatcastOutOfTheZoneFourSeamFastballs

Results are, expectedly, even better, as Seth struck out 51.4% of the hitters and held them to a ridiculous 0.074 Batting Average Against, across a modest 37 plate appearances!

To be clear, moving to a starting or long-man relief role would likely result in a lower average velocity and decreased effectiveness of his four-seam and other pitches but when you start at such an amazing level it may not be too noticeable.

Injury History Risk - Medium-High (Spondylolisthesis, partial tear of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), and right shoulder impingement)

Three-Year History -

 

SethLugoThreeYearHistory

As you can see, Seth's K-BB% has significantly increased year-to-year over the past three seasons. Certainly, over the last two years, his move to the bullpen can be directly attributable to that improvement but it is also partly due to the increased use of his exceptional curve ball and the upgraded performance of his four-seam fastball. Additionally, his pitch mix usage has fooled batters more, creating poor contact off the bat, particularly against LHH's.

Also here is Lugo's batted ball data:

 

SethLugoThreeYearBattedBall

Seth creates a fair amount of ground ball contact with a lot of balls getting pulled or hit up the middle. Additionally, his line drive contact has gone down year-to-year, again, in-part, due to the move to the bullpen but also attributable to his improved four-seam fastball and curve ball.

Why?

Already this off-season the Mets have added a lot of back-end and relief pitching through free agency.

Behind the Mets starting four of deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, and Matz, they recently signed Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello on one-year deals to supplement the rotation. Additionally, the Mets signed reliever Dellin Betances to an already strong back-end four of Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, and Brad Brach. This leaves little room in the rotation or the bullpen for both Lugo and Robert Gsellman, although if the Mets placed both of them into late inning roles they would have a very frightening relief corps.

However, Seth has made it abundantly clear that he wants to be a starter, in his words an "ace" for the Mets or another team. Lugo had been a starter his entire career up until the 2016-2017 off-season where he played for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and ended up with a partial tear of his UCL.

This forced him to miss the first two months of the 2017 season until June where he continued pitching out of the rotation for a total of 101.1 IP, across 18 starts and 19 games. Even in this abbreviated season with his lingering arm injury he still had solid peripherals. Certainly the move to the bullpen has only strengthened his numbers but it seems pretty clear that Lugo could still thrive in a starting role, particularly with his broad arsenal and above average four-seam, curve ball, and sinker.

All of this lends itself to the idea that someone like Lugo might be available in a trade and his ability to work as a starter or reliever would probably spark interest from multiple teams. In particular, the Angels seem well-suited to placing him in a six-man rotation where they could ease him back into a starting role, allowing him to find his groove in Anaheim.

Proposed Trade

Because the Mets have utilized Seth as a reliever, his surplus value as a trade chip is slightly depressed versus what you could market his worth for as a starter.

However, no matter how you parse it, Lugo does have desirability and New York knows this. In terms of surplus value, Seth probably has close to $35M due to his aforementioned three years of team control and the value he can bring out of the bullpen, even if he fails as a starter.

That surplus value is probably two good prospects (think Top 10) or one good prospect plus two mid-tier prospects. Alternatively it could be a Major League-ready player like Luis Rengifo plus a lower-level prospect, for example.

Realistically, looking at the Mets current projected roster they have pretty good position players around the diamond. However, it has been rumored that they might be shopping Jed Lowrie and Dominic Smith, which could create potential depth needs. If they are concerned about Rosario at SS they might like a player such as Luis Rengifo to platoon a bit with him since Amed hits LHP so well but RHP very poorly, which Luis is better at hitting. Alternatively, they might like to have someone like Taylor Ward who could play some 3B and 1B and in the outfield corners. Both Ward and Rengifo still have options so the Mets could move them up and down as needed throughout the season.

Beyond those two players though, New York may prefer to restock their dwindling farm system instead. In that case they would be targeting two of our Top 10 prospects, probably and we would be offering something from the group of Jordyn Adams, Jose Soriano, Chris Rodriguez, Jerimiah Jackson, Matt Thaiss, Jahmai Jones, Jose Suarez, Jaime Barria, or Patrick Sandoval, in addition to the aforementioned Luis Rengifo and Taylor Ward.

So a trade might look something like this:

Angels send SS/2B Luis Rengifo and OF D'Shawn Knowles to the Mets in exchange for SP/RP Seth Lugo

Alternatively, if they prefer pitching in return, more, they might prefer a grouping like this instead:

Angels send SP Jose Suarez and OF Jordyn Adams to the Mets in exchange for SP/RP Seth Lugo

Finally, if the Mets want to go prospect heavy, they could prefer the following:

Angels send OF Jordyn Adams, SS Jeremiah Jackson, and OF Trent Deveaux in exchange for SP/RP Seth Lugo

Conclusion

Seth Lugo is similar to Carlos Martinez, insofar that their injury risk profiles are elevated. Certainly a partial UCL tear is nothing to trifle about but at the same time, Lugo has a tantalizing five-pitch mix with an absurdly high spin rate on his curve ball, able to successfully attack batters on both sides of the plate and the UCL tear is nearly four years in the rear view mirror.

More importantly, based on the reports, he wants to not only be a starter but be an ace for any team and it appears that the Mets will not likely have that position available for him in 2020 because they are already six starters deep, unless they trade someone, which could very well include Seth.

For the Angels, obtaining three years of a competent pitcher would be very useful and they could have Lugo start, be a long man, or pitch in high-leverage relief, the door really is wide open. As a starter, Seth would certainly not be throwing at a higher relievers velocity but the low-to-mid nineties should still allow him to operate in the 3.00-4.00 ERA range, particularly with his nasty curve ball and quality sinker to pair up with his good four-seam fastball.

Seth will not come cheap but any good pitcher is going to cost the Angels in MLB-ready players or prospect capital and if the price is right, he represents a mid-rotation option with the potential for upside, based on his Statcast data and results to-date.

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no way would lugo go for that, he is their best reliever.

the mets also have Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez as better shortstop ready prospects that they like. In fact some rate  Jimenez almost as high as Adell so why would they even consider Rengifo

realistically with their big need being CF they'll ask for Jo Adell Which the angels will likely turn down. Last year the Tigers offered Boyd for Lugo and the mets turned it down according to John Harper of the NY Daily News so I doubt they have any real interest in moving him

Really Robert you need to do at least a little research before posting these articles. Not only are they biased towards the Angels in trade considerations they show ZERO understanding of the other teams. Literally my 12 year old nephew could do a better job.

 

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17 hours ago, Bill Neftleberg said:

no way would lugo go for that, he is their best reliever.

the mets also have Luis Guillorme as a shortstop ready prospect That they like.

realistically with their big need being CF they'll ask for Adell which the Angels wont do and that ends the discussion

last yearthe Tigers offered Boyd for Lugo and the mets turned it down according to John Harper of the NY Daily News so I dpobt they have any real interest in moving him

 

 

So I would never want to argue with such an esteemed New York fan such as yourself but let us look at the facts:

1) Yes Lugo is one of their best relievers but Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Dellin Betances are all on his level, if not potentially better themselves. This is why Seth has value to any team. Certainly we can disagree about a proposed trade but I am here to point out other solutions to finding an ace for the Angels. Three years of Lugo for multiple years of 2+ players/prospects isn't something to sneeze at. It could certainly be a higher asking price or it could be in that ballpark, they are just suggestions.

2) Guillorme is a slick-fielder but so far he has a combined 69 wRC+ across his 144 plate appearances in the Majors. At best he is a light-hitting low-level regular but much more likely to be a utility backup. Rengifo, as an example and comparison, is better.

3) They traded for Jake Marisnick to pair with Nimmo in a traditional platoon in center field, so they have the position covered for 2020. On top of that Seth Lugo does not have enough surplus value to command a top prospect like Jo Adell. The latter probably has close to $70M+ in surplus value while Lugo has, at best, about $35M or so. The Mets wouldn't even have the gall to ask for Adell in a Lugo deal and if they did that would end the discussion from the Angels point of view and rightfully so since it is such a ridiculous ask.

4) I looked for the John Harper article and couldn't find it so feel free to post a link. I find that trade to be lopsided a bit in the Mets favor as Boyd has a bit more value than Lugo overall.

 

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24 minutes ago, ettin said:

So I would never want to argue with such an esteemed New York fan such as yourself but let us look at the facts:

1) Yes Lugo is one of their best relievers but Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Dellin Betances are all on his level, if not potentially better themselves. This is why Seth has value to any team. Certainly we can disagree about a proposed trade but I am here to point out other solutions to finding an ace for the Angels. Three years of Lugo for multiple years of 2+ players/prospects isn't something to sneeze at. It could certainly be a higher asking price or it could be in that ballpark, they are just suggestions.

2) Guillorme is a slick-fielder but so far he has a combined 69 wRC+ across his 144 plate appearances in the Majors. At best he is a light-hitting low-level regular but much more likely to be a utility backup. Rengifo, as an example and comparison, is better.

3) They traded for Jake Marisnick to pair with Nimmo in a traditional platoon in center field, so they have the position covered for 2020. On top of that Seth Lugo does not have enough surplus value to command a top prospect like Jo Adell. The latter probably has close to $70M+ in surplus value while Lugo has, at best, about $35M or so. The Mets wouldn't even have the gall to ask for Adell in a Lugo deal and if they did that would end the discussion from the Angels point of view and rightfully so since it is such a ridiculous ask.

4) I looked for the John Harper article and couldn't find it so feel free to post a link. I find that trade to be lopsided a bit in the Mets favor as Boyd has a bit more value than Lugo overall.

 

I said the Mets would ask for adell, and the Angels would decline.

The Mets have Rosario. Guillorme and Gimenez. Rengifo is no where near any of the m, sorry but it's true Guillorme has outplayed him in the majors and Gimenez is the better prospect by far. And they still have Rosario and McNeill at short and second

The Mets wouldn't need to have gall to ask for Adell. Since he is really the only prospect the Angels have worth a proven pitcher like Lugo. Marsh has value but not enough. So why would the Mets even consider trading Logo for less? They wouldnt.

it's the same reason the Angels couldn't get a real top of the rotation pitcher this offseason. The only real value prospect you have is Adell. Teams can only ask for what you have

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Luis Rengifo has been 27% better offensively than Guillorme in their mutual time as Major League players and is, notably, three years younger than Guillorme. Respectfully you are not seeing what is in front of your eyes.

17 minutes ago, Bill Neftleberg said:

Since he is really the only prospect the Angels have worth a proven pitcher like Lugo.

This is a completely inaccurate statement.

Prospects and MLB-ready players like Brandon Marsh, Jordyn Adams, Patrick Sandoval, Matt Thaiss, Luis Rengifo, Jose Suarez, Jaime Barria, Jahmai Jones, Jack Kochanowicz, Jeremiah Jackson, Chris Rodriguez, Kevin Maitan, et. al., are all valuable prospects and players. The Angels farm system is much better than you realize or may want to admit.

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Then why did bleacher report rank them 28th of 30 teams  with Adell this season at the end of season review. And more importantly why couldn't the Angels acquire a single top of the rotation starter this offseason.?

they settled for a non tender release in Teheran and a 7-14 5+ Era Bundy as a reclamation project.. Surely if your farm system was so strong you could have gotten someone who is legit yet you didnt. even Cole who was rumored to the Angels went elsewhere. moreno had the money for Rendon. Why not for Ryu, Madbum, Keuchel, or Wheeler . Even if he had to overpay?  Obviously the prospects aren't that good or you'd have gotten better pitchers and you wouldn't want Lugo.

I'm just looking at things from a logistical viewpoint. Trout and Rendon, too for that matter aren't getting any younger, id think if those prospects were so good Clevenger (a former angel) Kluber, or Ray, would be Angels right now. Don't you think?

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On 1/17/2020 at 12:40 PM, Bill Neftleberg said:

 

Then why did bleacher report rank them 28th of 30 teams  with Adell this season at the end of season review. And more importantly why couldn't the Angels acquire a single top of the rotation starter this offseason.?

they settled for a non tender release in Teheran and a 7-14 5+ Era Bundy as a reclamation project.. Surely if your farm system was so strong you could have gotten someone who is legit yet you didnt. even Cole who was rumored to the Angels went elsewhere. moreno had the money for Rendon. Why not for Ryu, Madbum, Keuchel, or Wheeler . Even if he had to overpay?  Obviously the prospects aren't that good or you'd have gotten better pitchers and you wouldn't want Lugo.

I'm just looking at things from a logistical viewpoint. Trout and Rendon, too for that matter aren't getting any younger, id think if those prospects were so good Clevenger (a former angel) Kluber, or Ray, would be Angels right now. Don't you think?

Because Bleacher Report is a notoriously bad site for any baseball news, outside of Scott Miller's reporting, so I would never lend them much credence. They are notorious for bad reporting, outside of a one or two good reporters.

In terms of top of the rotation starters, you should know why. Not only did the Yankees outbid the Angels, Gerrit Cole grew up a fan of the pinstripes, so even if the Angels had matched the 9-year deal Gerrit almost certainly would have taken their offer over ours. Strasburg also chose to stay with the Nationals and it didn't really seem like any other team was going to be able to woo him away. Wheeler's wife wanted to live in Philadelphia on the East Coast and that too was out of the Angels hands. Bumgarner wanted to live in Arizona and took a discount to go there specifically. Ryu got a ridiculous offer from the Blue Jays that even I would not want the Angels to match. Do I need to continue? Ryu and Keuchel both have injury histories that the Halos wanted to avoid. The whole reason they signed Bundy and Teheran was for their apparent durability to provide consistent, stable production over the course of the season. Nothing is promised in baseball but it has been statistically proven that the more injuries you have had the more likely you will get injured again. That is medical fact and Eppler is trying to avoid another season of patchwork pitching that results in bloated ERA's. Even if the Angels do not get another starter this off-season, if they can have the current staff carry them to the Trade Deadline the Angels can revisit many of the top-tier starters that will potentially be available at that point in time.

To top it off the off-season is NOT OVER yet. Come back on Opening Day and if the Angels have not improved their rotation further then I will agree that they dropped the ball in trade but until then your statement about not obtaining a starter cannot be proven true until the rest of the off-season plays out. It would not be shocking to see the Angels wait until Spring Training gets going to ensure that any guy they are going after does not blow their arm(s) out before the season even gets underway. Kluber may have been in play for us but the apparent ask, per our own Jeff Fletcher, was that the Indians were asking for Brandon Marsh and that is a guy Eppler wants to keep, because he has tremendous offensive and defensive potential and it didn't make sense (and I am glad they didn't pay that price). Clevenger will probably cost Jo Adell and the Angels are not doing that trade for all the right reasons because Adell has the potential to be just as productive on the other side of the game than Clevenger is from the mound (although he may not realize that potential in 2020 to be honest). Robbie Ray may not be available as the Diamondbacks look like they want to compete next year (so Ray might be available at the deadline instead).

As this series set out to do, there are other options, like Lugo, that can possibly be acquired. There is still a lot of time left on the clock and I do not think Eppler is done yet so let us revisit this conversation after Opening Day.

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You're still missing the point. The Mets are not trading Logo for trash. MLB has rated your farm as one of the worst in baseball. That is why you haven't acquired a top of the rotation starter and have settled for a guy who was non-tendered (in effect, released) in Teheran and a former top prospect on Dylan Bundy who went 7-14 last year.

outside of Adell and Marsh you don't have any prospects that any team would trade 1 for 1, or even 2 for 1 for a top of the rotation starter. That is why you haven't traded for one. Hell, you had to give 4 of your prospects for Bundy who as mentioned went 7-14. The point is outside of Adell and Marsh, No team is giving you a top of the rotation starter for the dreck you're offering.

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