Breaking Down the Brandon Moss for Joey Wendle Trade
The Cleveland Indians added a much-needed bat, and the Oakland Athletics added another prospect, as the Indians traded infield prospect Joey Wendle to Athletics for first baseman and outfielder Brandon Moss.
What does this trade mean for both teams? Let's take a look at the numbers to find out.
Why the Indians traded for Moss
Last season, the Indians were among the worst teams in right field and at designated hitter. The Indians ranked last in the AL in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at both right field and designated hitter. David Murphy was among the worst right fielders in baseball last season, posting a -0.5 WAR and batting .262/.319/.385 with a .311 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA). Murphy was also particularly bad in the field, posting a -2.2 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and -16 defensive runs saved in 120 games in right.
At designated hitter, the Indians platooned a combination of Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn among a few others, but neither contributed much. Swisher batted just .208/.278/.331 with a 274 wOBA and was plagued by injuries. Raburn hit .200/.250/.297 with a .244 wOBA. In total, the Indians designated hitter had a -4.3 WAR, worst in the American League, and batted .188/.254/.311 with a .253 wOBA. For a position that's only job is to hit, it was a terrible year.
And even with a possible rebound season from Swisher - Steamer projects him to hit .234/.321/.386 with a .316 wOBA next season - the Indians needed another bat to the add to their lineup. So they traded for Moss. Last season with the Athletics, Moss hit .234/.334/.438 with a .339 wOBA and posted a 2.3 WAR in an injury-plagued year. Moss had hip surgery in the offseason but is expected to be ready for opening day.
Moss instantly brings hitting and power to the Indians lineup. Last season, the Indians finished eigth among AL teams in Isolated Power (ISO) and seventh in runs scored. Moss was among the top 20 last season in ISO, with 25 home runs and 81 RBIs. Now Moss moves to a similar park - one that's more friendly to left-handed power hitters than O.Co Coliseum.
Steamer projects Moss to hit .241/.328/.448 with a .340 wOBA. And fully healthy in a more friendly ballpark, Moss could even top these numbers, hitting upwards of 30 home runs, giving the Indians the power boost they so desperately needed last season.
Acquiring Moss also makes Nick Swisher expendable - if they can move his $30 million contract. The Indians have been trying to move Swisher, who's coming off knee surgery, and the acquisition of Moss will allow them to shop him, without worrying about lost production.
On the flip side, the Indians traded away their ninth-best prospect in middle infield prospect Joey Wendle. Last season in AA, Wendle hit .253/.311/.414 with a .313 wOBA in 87 games. While some scouts project Wendle to be a solid infielder one day, he was expendable to the Indians. In Cleveland there are four or five guys ahead of him, including Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez, and Zach Walters. Wendle was not going to help the team in the coming years, which made him expendable.
Moss, on the other hand, fills a position of need, is under team control for two more years, and costs significantly less than it'd cost in free agency. As long as Moss returns healthy from his surgery, the Indians made themselves a great move.
Why the Athletics traded for Wendle
For the Athletics, Moss was getting expensive. He's eligible for arbitration both of the next two years and should make around $7 million this year, according to NBC Sports. For a team that's retooling, that number's a bit much. At 31, Moss is probably on the downside of his career, and although he probably has a few good years left, acquiring a solid prospect is worth more to the Athletics.
Wendle is one of the Indians' better offensive prospects, and although he's probably a year away from the big leagues, he impressed the Cleveland staff in spring training, according to Susan Slusser.
Two people from #Indians organization were just raving about Joey Wendle to me, called him "a professional hitter at a young age."— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 8, 2014
The Athletics lost Jed Lowrie to free agency and have holes to fill in the middle infield. Wendle may not be able to help them this year, but in a few years, he could be a solid middle infielder. In addition, the Athletics have depth at first base, designated hitter, and right field, especially with the signing of Billy Butler, making Moss expendable.
And we'll never know what's going on the mind of Billy Beane. The Athletics are certainly retooling after trading away Moss and Josh Donaldson, but it remains to be seen what the do the rest of the offseason. Nobody really knows what they're doing right now. The last time the Athletics traded away three All-Stars, 2012, they won the division the next season.
The Indians filled a void in the lineup with Moss, while Athletics' got another prospect to fill a hole in the middle infield over the next few years. It looks like its a win for the Indians right now, but it'll all depend on how Wendle develops over the next few years.