Bleacher Report tweeted a proposed Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers trade involving left-handed reliever Angel Perdomo. Would this proposed trade be worth it for the Bucs?
The off-season has yet to begin, yet there are already plenty of fan-proposed trade ideas. Of course, this is nothing new, but one proposed trade idea by Bleacher Report's baseball site, Walk Off, recently tweeted out a trade idea where the Pittsburgh Pirates would send left-handed reliever Angel Perdomo to the Texas Rangers for top prospect Abimelec Ortiz.
So, if this trade would occur, would it be worth the Pirates' time? Should the Pirates think about this kind of trade in order to potentially fix what is probably the weakest point of contention in their minor league system right now?
The first thing is that this is only a one-for-one swap. The Pirates are giving out left-handed reliever Angel Perdomo. Perdomo was a minor league signee in December of 2022. Perdomo became a low-cost but high-reward signing despite being a relatively no-name commodity. In the 29 innings pitched with the Pirates, Perdomo had a 3.72 ERA, 3.01 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP. He had an outstanding 37.6% strikeout rate, along with a respectable 9.4% walk rate and 0.93 HR/9 rate.
Perdomo was above the league average in terms of exit velocity at 88.2 MPH and a hard hit rate at 37.3%. But he had a poor 11.9% barrel rate. Still, the underlying numbers loved Perdomo's body of work. He finished off the 2023 season with a 2.62 SIERA, 3.15 xFIP, 2.77 xERA, and 77 DRA-. Unfortunately, Perdomo's season was cut short because of an elbow injury.
In the trade, the Pirates would be getting Texas Rangers' top prospect Abimelec Ortiz. Ortiz was an undrafted free agent by the Rangers in 2021 and had an outstanding 2023 season at the Rangers' A-Ball and High-A affiliates. He slashed .294/.371/.619 with a .430 wOBA, and 161 wRC+ in 391 plate appearances. Ortiz was one of the most productive batters in the minors last season.
Among the minor league hitters with 300+ plate appearances, Ortiz ranked in the top ten in wRC+, OPS, and slugging percentage and was one of seven hitters with an isolated slugging above .300 while ranking 2nd overall in ISO.
Ortiz also drew walks at an above-average 10.8%, but the concerning area of his offensive game was his 27.8% strikeout rate. Ortiz improved slightly, going from a 29.8% strikeout rate at Low-A to 27% at High-A, but that's still over a quarter of his plate appearances.
Ortiz, who stands at 6'0", 230 pounds, has massive raw power. Along with his physical strength, he has high-end bat speed. It's the kind of raw power where you could project a 35+ home run hitter. His other tools are lacking, however. His hit tool projects as fringe-average because of his approach to the plate, which induces more strikeouts than you'd like to see. He's also a well below-average runner. He also doesn't have a strong arm, so it's first base or bust.
In my opinion, if Ortiz had done this in Double-A, I think it's a trade the Pirates may at least consider this offer if it were on the table. But while his numbers were undoubtedly impressive, he was only doing it against High-level competition. Now, sure, High-A level pitchers are nothing to scoff at, but Double-A is where you start seeing the separation from the top prospects and the minor leaguers.
There is one thing I like about Ortiz's profile, however, that could potentially change my mind. Most of his strikeouts are because of his approach, not because he doesn't have the ability to hit the ball. He can reach out and hit things at the top and bottom of the zone, but he swings with 100% effort. Of course, a player's approach at the plate can always be changed, but forgive me for being somewhat skeptical of a guy who struck out over 27% of the time between Low-A and High-A.
Still, Ortiz is a guy who needs to hit to be valuable. He comes with zero value as a base runner, and he may end up as an average defensive first baseman. If you are going to acquire a prospect whose meal ticket to being a successful major leaguer is their ability to hit, I would like a safer option than Ortiz.
The second factor to consider is Perdomo. He's a low-cost left-handed reliever who was solid last season despite an injury cutting his campaign short. It wouldn't be easy to replace Perdomo if the Pirates were to trade him. Jose Hernandez could fill in his role, but he struggled mightily in the second half. The Pirates aren't going to pursue Josh Hader, and if they did, they'd probably end up paying closer money to a guy who would end up as a set-up man. I'd generally prefer if the Pirates didn't go after Aroldis Chapman. That would leave Matt Moore as the best lefty set-up man option for the Pirates to go after if Perdomo was traded.
If this was 2021, I think I'd be okay with this trade, but it's not 2021 anymore. It's 2023 and next year will be the 2024 season. The Pirates shouldn't be trading a guy who could be a key member of the bullpen for a prospect who may be able to help them in 2025, if the risks he presents don't overtake him. I understand the upside, and the fact the Pirates have very little minor league depth at first base, but the Pirates should be making "win in 2024" moves now. Not "win in two years" moves, and that's what this kind of trade would be.