White Sox trade Giolito and set a decent baseline for the Tigers at the deadline

Bless You Boys

Late on Wednesday, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox had agreed on a trade for right-hander Lucas Giolito. Earlier in the day, the Angels had made it clear that they were no longer considering trading Shohei Ohtani after a 7-3 stretch pulled them within four games of a wild card spot. With less than a week to the trade deadline, the first big trade of the season was finally completed.

As a result, Thursday’s doubleheader with the Angels will have a lot more attention on it than expected. They’re going to be extra motivated. Getting swept in a doubleheader by the mediocre Tigers would put a hole in their balloon. The matchup also puts a little extra spotlight on the Tigers, who will be looking at the return for Lucas Giolito with keen interest as they prepare to trade several pitchers in the coming days.

The deal sends the 29-year-old right-hander along with reliever Reynaldo Lopez to the Angels. Giolito is having a solid season, but this isn’t quite prime Lucas Giolito either. He holds a good 3.79 ERA, but he’s been especially home run prone this season as his 4.46 FIP attests. The same can be said for Lopez, who has always had plenty of talent combined with a wild streak. The past few years he finally got things more under control and was a good piece in the White Sox bullpen, but despite a jump in strikeouts this year, Lopez has walked a lot of batters and become home run prone again. A 4.29 ERA tells the tale in his case, as the peripherals back it up well.

So the Angels rented a solid mid-rotation starting pitcher who has shown the ability to be more in the past, and a hard-throwing right-hander who just tends to blow up here and there.

In exchange they got a solid top 100 prospect in switch-hitting catcher Edgar Quero. The 20-year-old generally draws 50 future value (FV) grades, though MLB Pipeline has a 55 on him. FanGraphs recent top 100 update has Quero the 61st ranked prospect in the game

. The 20-year-old catcher continues to show a really good eye at the Double-A level and draws a ton of walks, but his power potential is probably average at best as he puts the ball on the ground too much. He does tend to pull the ball in the air more hitting left-handed. Defensively he’s decent, with an accurate throwing arm, but has work ahead in his blocking and receiving to make a viable major league backup. He’s also just fairly young, so that’s probably par for the course at that age.

The second piece the White Sox received was 23-year-old left-hander Ky Bush. He’s a bit more of a project, drawing 40 FV grades and struggling a bit this year after some core muscle injuries delayed the start of his season.

Bush has a good set of secondary pitches and a mediocre low 90’s fastball. He’s probably the left-handed Mason Englert, where in both cases, teams are looking to get them right and build up their fastball a little, but they’re always going to throw heavy doses of secondary stuff. Bush profiles best as a classic lefty middle reliever with a tricky arm angle and solid command who occasionally makes a spot start. Still there’s upside beyond that, so the White Sox did get an interesting, if flawed pitcher to work with.

Setting the market

That deal sets a bit of a bar for the whole trade market. Things have been very quiet, but most reports indicate that demand for pitching is huge and sellers are trying to hold out in a game of chicken. The Angels jumped first, paying a pretty good price to get a solid starter and a decent bullpen arm. We can’t help noticing that the Tigers have two starting pitchers having better seasons than Giolito to trade, as well as several relievers as good or better than Lopez.

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Pitcher IP FIP ERA K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Pitcher IP FIP ERA K% BB% HR/9 fWAR
Giolito 121 4.46 3.79 25.8 8.3 1.49 1.5
Rodriguez 88.1 3.18 2.95 25.9 6.0 0.82 2.1
Lorenzen 100.2 4.03 3.49 19.1 6.5 0.98 1.3

Of this group, Eduardo Rodriguez is far and away having the best season. Michael Lorenzen should probably be valued pretty close to Giolito’s value. And the Tigers have a multitude of relievers as good or better than Lopez to include in a deal.

So, pretty simple to set some expectations here. Eduardo Rodriguez should draw a better return than Giolito no matter what reliever they pair with the lefty. Lorenzen in theory should draw something in the same ballpark, though he doesn’t have quite the track record. He was an All-Star this year, so put that on the sales pitch, and he’s pitched like it in three really good starts since the break.

The Tigers need to find some offense and we should be able to expect a good hitting position prospect and quite a bit more in the coming days. If that doesn’t happen there better be a pretty good explanation, such as an extension for Rodriguez, or there’s no way Scott Harris’ first trade deadline can be viewed as a success. We think he’ll get it done.

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