Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Case For Trading Ben Revere

Having come within a game of the postseason in 2008, the Twins enter the 2009 season with last year's roster almost entirely intact, and with a great opportunity to seize an eminently winnable AL Central division. The problem is that the Twins have not made one meaningful addition this offseason, and if that continues to be the case they're not likely to be favored by many to make the playoffs, much less succeed there. As solid as the the Twins' roster is, they may have a hard time keeping up with competing AL clubs that have been wheeling and dealing to improve their chances. As cliche as it may seem, there's plenty of truth to the notion that adding one impact player could make all the difference in what figures to be a tight division race in '09.

Of course, making a move while holding a "win now" mentality typically means giving away pieces with future value in return for immediate help. The Twins aren't generally in the business of trading away promising minor-leaguers for established veterans (usually they're on the opposite end of those swaps), but they have had some success in the past with trading prospects. As two examples, you can look at the Luis Castillo trade prior to the 2006 season and last year's Delmon Young/Matt Garza swap. In order to acquire Castillo, the Twins had to ship highly touted RP prospect Travis Bowyer to the Marlins along with a solid starting prospect in Scott Tyler. The deal seemed risky at the time, but Bowyer struggled with injury problems immediately after reaching the Marlins organization and hasn't pitched in a professional game since the trade. Meanwhile, Tyler fizzled out and never moved past Double-A. In the Young trade, Bill Smith was forced to include top RP prospect Eduardo Morlan in order to entice the Rays, a move that the time drew ire from fans such as myself. Yet, like Bowyer, Morlan struggled with injury problems last season and after the season was deemed expendable enough by the Rays to be left vulnerable in the Rule V draft.

If the Twins want to make a move and bring in a quality player who can help immediately, it might mean giving up a prospect who is deemed highly valuable by other teams around the league. The trick for the Twins is making sure that player isn't one whose loss will come back to haunt them. To me, the perfect candidate for such a purpose is Ben Revere.

Revere was a great story last year. The diminutive, athletic outfielder had plenty of doubters after being grabbed up by the Twins in the first round of the 2007 draft in what was almost universally viewed as a huge reach intended to save the organization money on a signing bonus. Yet, after a successful half-season rookie-league debut in 2007, Revere took the Midwest League by storm last season, flirting with a .400 average for much of the year and ultimately finishing with a .379/.433/.497 line that earned the 20-year-old the No. 2 slot on Baseball America's postseason organizational Top Ten Prospects list. Clearly, Revere's value is very high right now. And in my mind, there's a very good chance it will never be higher.

I have a sinking feeling that Revere's stock is going to drop significantly, and perhaps as soon as next year. For while the possibility certainly exists that he could ultimately develop into "Ichiro without the arm," as I've heard a few analysts predict, I believe it is much more likely that he develops into a Juan Pierre type player -- an outfielder who hits for a solid average and runs well but doesn't provide much else. Should Revere follow that path, it doesn't mean he can't be a useful player, but it also means he's pretty expendable.

While Revere maintained a nearly even K/BB ratio last year and did manage 18 extra-base hits in 83 games, my fear is that he will never develop great patience at the plate (he's walked only 40 times in 133 minor-league games) or legitimate power (he's homered only once over that same span). If this is true, his value will be tied directly to his ability to hit for a high batting average, and it seems rather unlikely that he'll continue to hit in the high .300s as he moves up through the minors. Should Revere hit something like .300/.350/.390 in Ft. Myers next year, his value could take a pretty significant hit considering that he's an outfielder whose throwing arm is reportedly a considerable liability.

Another key factor worth considering is the fact that Revere is somewhat redundant in this organization. Not only are there several athletic center-field types in front of him -- such as Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Jason Pridie, Dustin Martin and Joe Benson -- he's also got the organization's top prospect right behind him.

Aaron Hicks starred in the Gulf Coast League last year, and he's got something I always look for in a top prospect: outs. What I mean by that is that Hicks has enough intriguing aspects to his game that if he doesn't develop in certain areas, he has other skills that he can reliably fall back on. Hicks showed impressive discipline at the plate in his pro debut last year, and he also displayed solid power. Even if that plate discipline dissipates as he moves up, Hicks still has a decent shot at being a productive hitter because he has a legitimate shot at developing power. Moreover, Hicks is reportedly a very strong defender with a cannon for an arm, so even if the bat doesn't really pan out, he could still find a niche as a top-notch defensive center fielder. A similar case can be made for catcher Wilson Ramos, who I feel is the organization's second-best prospect. Even if Ramos fails to make major strides with his plate discipline, he's already got a pretty powerful bat, and if that fizzles out he can fall back on his reputation as an excellent defensive backstop.

I'm not seeing as many outs for Revere. At 5'9" and 166 lbs, it seems unlikely to me that he'll ever develop much power (though it's certainly not impossible), and should that be the case, then what happens if his plate discipline starts to decline as he moves up, or if his batting averages start to head south?

I like Revere and would love to see what he could do as he moves up the ladder in this organization. But the Twins are in a great position to succeed right now, and in order to bring in something of immediate value through a trade, they must part with something that is perceived as valuable to another club. For this reason, it'd be tough for the Twins to build an attractive package around prospects who aren't at their peak value -- guys like Anthony Swarzak, Jeff Manship and Tyler Robertson. Revere is a hot item right now... perhaps hotter than he will ever be in the future. That makes this the perfect time to move him, particularly considering that the Twins have enough depth to move forward comfortably without him.

---

On a final note, I'd like to send my thoughts to the Pohlad family. Longtime Twins owner Carl Pohlad passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

12 comments:

Topper said...

I heartily agree with you Nick. I would love to see a trade centered around Ben Revere and I think he could bring back some really good value -- much more than Bowyer or Morlan did.

But to be fair, how often does a team go searching for a low minor leaguer who is a couple years away from the majors when they're looking for trades? I think for another club to chase after a Revere deal, they would need to already be deeming themselves non-contenders OR be in the situation we were in last year of having to trade a high priced soon-to-be free agent like we had with Santana for some young returns, in which case Revere would be a hot commodity for either (young cheap talent with huge upside, OR an asset for a team building for a run in the next couple years instead of right now).

So who does that leave us with? The Royals? Padres with Peavy? Beltre (still the no trade clause though)? I just don't see which team would be after him where we want what they have to offer?

Twins Fan c.1981 said...

There has been sizable interest in Revere this offseason. The Rockies (Atkins), Mariners (Beltre) and Cubs (DeRosa) all have asked about him in their trades. Personally, I would like to see him traded for someone who will be a Twin for more than one season but Nick is absolutely correct: we have an outfield surplus it now would be a good time to reap some of the benefits. Namely, trading Revere.

Topper said...

Was Revere ever in the mix with the Mariners and Cubs? I don't remember hearing that. I thought it went:

Mariners: pitching and maybe Cuddyer for some reason?

Cubs: pitching and Kubel

Rockies: Slowey and a major league ready outfielder

If Revere was in the talks I thought it was more as a sweetener to the deal, and that's why we never pulled the trigger. But if Revere were the focal point of one of those trades it might have made more sense.

Twins Fan c.1981 said...

I've heard that after inquiring about Span, who is Major League ready, those teams started to ask about Revere -- Chicago specifically requested Revere according to Phil Rogers. This doesn't mean it would take JUST Revere but that a trade could be built around a group that includes Revere and, more importantly, that Revere is drawing interest.

Curveball said...

Like all "hot" prospects, you dread a year in which they destroy their value. Ft. Myers in 2009...he'll be at the Twins main complex, but the FSL is often where you run into tougher pitching (if I guy is good at Low-A, he usually gets an advance before the hitters).

The bigger question is: What will the Twins outfield be like in 3-5 years. Cuddyer's contract runs out, but if he's an institution, he can always become the DH. Young has three years of arbitration. Gomez is around for at least four more years. Span is around for five more years.

If you look at organizational replacements (no one coming forth in trades or such in the years ahead), Revere would make the Twins in 3 years at his earliest. Hicks at the same time, if not a year later. Then you have Benson, Tosoni, Morales in the mix, and maybe one or two guys that might just be that spare part (shades of Brandon Roberts and Dustin Martin,,,Jason Pridies in the making).

But if Gomez or Span become a free-agent keeper, than they give you the same as Revere. Hicks translates into a Delmon Young-type guy -- doubt that Delmon will be here until his free agency year.

Yes, the Twins could live without Revere. But was this the year to trade him, that's the question. Will his shortness work against him? Even though he was a #1 pick, he wasn't a #1 pick in the eyes of ALL the other teams, so absically he'd be considered part of a trade.

I like the points you made about Bowyer, Tyler and Morlan. We all thought the Twins were losing some future parts...but no one panned out (again, remember back when the Yankees dangled WInfield and the Twins refused to aprt with Willie Banks and Derek Parks).

It's a crap shoot! Weighing the future against the present.

Josh's Thoughts said...

Nicely written, Nick.

If the deal is right, I think any player has its price. With that said, there's no way I'd trade Revere unless I'm getting a player who (A) is All-Star caliber (or close to) and (B) is here for longer than one or two years (or at least has a chance of re-signing). Top prospects close to the majors are also possibilities for me. Players I think that could fit that bill are J.J. Hardy, Yunel Escobar, Alcides Escobar, Carlos Triunfel, Elvis Andrus, Matt Gamel, etc. And no, I'm not suggesting it'd only take Revere to get any of these guys.

I too would love to keep Revere, but if the offer is right, I'd trade him.

Personally, and I know many will think I'm crazy, I'd love to see him moved back to second base as a trial run. He played it in high school and with the lack of a strong arm, the infield could be a better place for him. I doubt the Twins do that because his speed is so valuable in the outfield, but if his arm is as bad as everyone is saying, then perhaps a change is needed. At the very least, do it as a trial and see how he works out.

With there being a a lack of middle infield depth in the organization and with the outfield seemingly crowded for the foreseeable future, why not experiment a little?

roger said...

Great look at Revere and tossing out the idea of a trade. I expect Revere to have a great season next year in the spacious fields of the FSL. With all that space, his spray hitting will probably enable him to have another high average in a league where averages are normally lower. With that said, I don't think the Twins would include him in a deal because low-A players normally don't bring a lot of value. Perhaps a year from now, if he has another .350+ season and hasn't taken a solid step forward defensively (in which case the Twins would want to keep him) a trade could make sense.

NorthDakotaTwinsFan said...

if you have not seen Ben Revere play...then you may want to revisit this once you have seem him play.

I have seen him play many times...you will not find a sweeter stroke in the entire Twins organization...and that includes Mauer.

As for power and comparisons to Juan Pierre..they may not be all that comparable. Revere is the furthest thing from a slap hitter. He absolutely laces the ball...solid line drives. (and plenty of bat speed to hit bombs if he ever tries to elevate the ball) When he hits a gap..it's likely to be a triple. He is faster from home to third than either Gomez or Casilla. You might think I am nuts, but I look for him to hit 15-20 triples a year over 550 at bats, at the MLB level...he is a triples hitting machine. That is not home run power...but he projects to have a .380 plus obp...and a .430 plus slugging %...that plus 70 stolen base potential...

As for his defense...he will likely be a LF to offset his throwing arm...but he covers a lot of ground...If Gomez is faster, it would not be by much.

Moreover...run the numbers for the Twins financials....in 2010 they will exceed $80 million even without a trade or signing...it escalates from there...so who is worth trading Revere for? That will also fit into the salary scheme in 2010 and beyond? Hardy?..Escobar? Not likely to find a trade match that both fills a need and fits the budget...Unless it is for Beltre in 2009...but is that worth it?

DY and Gomez will begin to cost a lot soon..and Gomez will NEVER sign an extension as a Boras client (and why would he?...he will be a free agent at the age of 27...) Revere will be one of those guys we need to produce (high obp..decent slugging %)...at low cost in 2012 and beyond..either that, or the Twins will be way over $100 million in team salary...and we all know how likely that is..

I predict Revere will be at the MLB level in 2011 and will be the starting LF in 2012...and Hicks may very well be the CF that year...with Gomez and Span traded along the way for missing parts or prospects. I hate to seem cynical..but I believe financial constraints will be the reason we trade both Span and Gomez...time will tell..

Anonymous said...

You could make the same case for Span and Gomez. Both of those I believe are at the peak of their trading value and could have less than stellar years next year as well. Plus, they would definitely fetch more than Revere.

Anonymous said...

I've been watching this kid play since he was in middle school. If the Twins don't want him, I would love to see the Indians (my hometown team) take him off their hands. I agree...if you haven't seen him play, you owe it to yourself to watch this young man. He is a menance on the bases, will give every pitcher and catcher fits and can win a game in the late innings with his legs.

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