Pittsburgh Pirates: Return on Tony Watson Trade

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 21: Tony Watson ; (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 21: Tony Watson ; (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Minors: The Pittsburgh Pirates dealt left handed reliever Tony Watson to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  What did the Bucs get in return for the former dominant reliever?  Here is some analysis on the players coming back.

The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the trade deadline with not a lot of options in terms of selling.  The Bucs only had three pending free agents in Tony Watson, Juan Nicasio, and John Jaso.  With the Bucs being somewhat in it, it did not seem logical to trade a high-end reliever like Nicasio. Meanwhile, Jaso does not represent a chip that teams would be actively looking to make a deal for. On the other hand, Watson was expendable.  He is not the pitcher he once was for the Bucs bullpen. The deal will also allow a younger option to get a chance to stick in the bullpen. Furthermore, the Bucs are getting something for a player who would likely sign elsewhere in four months (Boras Client).

Oneil Cruz

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired two prospects in return, infielder Oneil Cruz and right handed pitcher Angel German.  The first prospect to look at is Oneil Cruz.  Cruz is an 18-year-old infielder who plays mainly on the left side of the infield, likely becoming a third baseman down the road.  Cruz is rated at the Dodgers’ number 21 overall prospect.  He is very big, standing at 6’6” and has a lot of raw power.  With his size, he has a very long swing.  So far this year, in 89 games, he has struck out 110 times, so obviously, there is a lot to be done in terms of developing his swing. Still, his size, raw power, and high ranking at such a young age is very intriguing.

Angel German

German is the other player involved coming the Pittsburgh Pirates way.  German does not rank in the Dodgers’ system according to MLB Pipeline. German represents exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates have targeted when dealing for relievers.  He is 6’4”, throws hard, and strikes out a lot of hitters. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, German has hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun, but sits more in the mid to high 90s. He alos has a potential plus slider, which should develop into his put away pitch.

This year in Low-A he has punched out 37 batters in 21 innings for 10.03 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  He is walking 3.83 batters per nine innings, which is somewhat high, but not terrible.  The other great thing about German is that he has induced a lot of groundballs so far this season at a clip of 50.6percent. It seems the Bucs got another projectable back end of the bullpen type arm.

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Next: Watson Going To Los Angeles

Final Thoughts

In general, the Bucs are not losing that important of a piece, and they were able to get something in return for him.  The Dodgers get a proven veteran reliever who did not cost them an arm and a leg.  Meanwhile, the Pirates acquired raw, but higher upside prospects.  Cruz is the bigger ticket, although he needs plenty of work at just 18 years of age. German will likely go to Bradenton and replace Seth McGarry as the team’s closer.  This deal likely allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to move McGarry in the Benoit trade.  All in all, the Pirates moved a pending free agent and one who was under performing for two intriguing prospects.