The Blue Jays made a trade during the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Twins, sending reliever Seunghwan Oh to the Rockies for first base prospect Chad Spanberger, Outfielder Forrest Wall, and a Player to be Named Later. Not included, despite earlier reports is first base prospect Sean Bouchard.
Oh deal to rox is Forrest wall , spanberger and ptbnl
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 26, 2018
Oh, a 36-year-old right-hander, pitched to a 2.68 ERA in 47.0 innings with the Blue Jays, posting a 10.53 K/9 and just a 1.91 BB/9 in a resurgent campaign. The veteran notched a 4.2 WAR in his rookie campaign before falling back to essentially replacement level last season thanks to a large spike in his home run rate that his since come back to earth. Oh’s rebound has also coincided with a return to form for his slider, which lost a significant amount of horizontal movement from 2016 to 2017 before bouncing back this year. His current fly ball rate of 50.4% represents a career-high and might be cause for alarm in Colorado, however. The Blue Jays signed Oh this offseason after a reported deal with the Rangers fell through as a result of some concern over his right elbow.
He has around $500,000 owed to him for the remainder of this season and a club option for next year worth $2.5 million that will vest if he pitches in 70 games this year, giving the Rockies a relatively cheap reliever to add to their cadre of expensive bullpen arms for 2019.
In return, the Blue Jays reportedly add and outfielder/second baseman and a first basemen to their farm system in Forrest Wall and Chad Spanberger.
Wall, a 22-year-old who was drafted as a second baseman but has shifted to the left field after an injury limited his arm, was actually a former first round pick of the Rockies in 2014 (35th overall) and after a strong enough start to his pro career, ranked 90th on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 and 101st on BP’s top 101 entering the 2016 season, but has has stalled out a bit since then. Despite the strong hitting conditions at Lancaster in high-A, Wall failed to hit much in 2016 and was sent back to the level for 2017. After a decent .299/.361/.471 line to start there in 2017, Wall tore his shoulder on a dive and played only 22 games on the year. All healed, and after a decent start at Lancaster this year, Wall was promoted to double-A Hartford and has gotten off to a slow start, with a line of .206/.289/.359. He’ll be interesting to watch as shoulder injuries, even once healed, can sap production for a short while after. He must be added to the 40-man roster this season or be exposed to the Rule Five Draft.
MLB Pipeline still ranks Wall as the 13th best Rockies prospect, citing his consistent, contact-driven line drive stroke that could produce double-digit home runs in the future and his plus to double plus speed. They give him grades of 55 on the hit and 60 speed with 50 fielding, but only 45 power, 40 arm. It’ll be interesting to see how he pans out. Fangraphs was a bit more bullish, ranking Wall #7 in the Rockies system entering the season, though giving out similar tool grades (and a 45 future value).
Spanberger is a left-handed batter who was selected in the 6th round of the 2017 draft out of Arkansas. He broke out in his junior season (2016) with the Razorbacks, finishing ninth in the nation with 20 homers while getting on base at a .389 clip. Spanberger’s legend grew with a monstrous showing in the SEC tournament where he hit five dingers and drove in 10 runs en route to MVP honors. In 2017 with the Grand Junction Rockies (Rookie ball), Spanberger slashed .294/.368/.617 with 19 home runs but has taken another step forward this season, delivering a line of .316/.364/.580, 22 home runs and 16 steals for the Asheville Tourists. He also won the home run derby at the South Atlantic League’s all-star weekend this year. 113 of his 349 at-bats as a Tourist have come against southpaws, against whom he’s hit just three of his homers while posting an OPS of .712.
The 22-year-old has seen his walk rate cut in half (10.0 to 5.3) and his ISO dip from .323 to .264 while his BABIP is sitting pretty at .356, but he’s also cut down on his strikeouts with a K-rate dropping from 26.4% to a more palatable 21.6%. That should quell some concerns about his propensity for the swing-and-miss at least a little bit, and despite definite pull tendencies Spanberger has also gone to the opposite field a little more (26.9%) this season. He has done most of his work in hitters’ parks, however, so take his numbers with a sizable grain of salt.
MLB Pipeline has Spanberger ranked as the Rockies’ No. 24 prospect while Baseball America ranked him as Colorado’s 17th-best prospect after the 2017 season, though their draft report indicated that power is his only “plus” tool. Spanberger has worked exclusively as a first baseman or designated hitter at the pro level but did play a little bit of right field in college after working as a catcher in high school. He’s committed 18 errors in 123 games in the field so far as a professional.
The Player to be Named Later may end up being someone from this year’s draft, just cash considerations, or even potentially the aforementioned Bouchard. We’ll have to wait on that. Regardless, this is a solid return for a player that was supposed to be playing with Texas all year. The Blue Jays get two useful, if flawed, prospects who could provide some value down the road. Oh was never going to be part of a winner in Toronto, so taking advantage of his cheap option to get a better return is a win for the club.
There will likely be a lot more Blue Jays news coming down the pipe in the coming ays as Toronto figures to be a prominent player on the trade market, with J.A. Happ, Curtis Granderson, John Axford and Tyler Clippard among the names appearing in the rumor mill of late.
This space initially had a report on Bouchard, but that has since been removed.
Lead Photo: Dan Hamilton – USA TODAY SPORTS