Drew Pomeranz Is a Tremendous Trade Target for Contending Teams

Drew Pomeranz's name is being floated as a potential trade chip prior to the 2016 deadline. Based on what he has done this year, the San Diego Padres' lefty could be a steal for a contending team.

Back in March, Drew Pomeranz was just a guy. He had spent the past two seasons spot starting for the Oakland Athletics, posting decent-but-not-great numbers before they shipped him off to the San Diego Padres before the 2016 campaign.

It's safe to say he's more than "just a guy" now.

Such an ascension will happen when you hold a 2.47 ERA through 17 starts into your first All-Star year while entering your prime seasons. It also doesn't hurt that Pomeranz's salary this year is just $1.35 million and that he'll be arbitration-eligible for the next few seasons.

You want value in a trade chip? Those stars align pretty freaking nicely.

We've still got a relatively small sample on Pomeranz, though, so it's worthwhile to ask: is he really a top-tier trade target? Or is his success all a house of cards waiting to crumble? By taking a deeper look at his numbers, it's clear that there's reason to buy into this new-found lefty hurler.

What the Peripherals Say

Pomeranz isn't Clayton Kershaw, so his ERA isn't likely to stay all the way down at 2.47. That should be fairly obvious. But even when the regression does come, he still figures to be a really solid pitcher.

The table below compares Pomeranz to what average National League starters have done so far this year. Each of the metrics below takes a pitcher's park out of the equation, meaning he will no longer benefit from the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park. Even when that's not on his side, Pomeranz appears to be far superior to your average starter.

PitcherSIERAStrikeout RateWalk RateHard-Hit Rate
Drew Pomeranz3.7528.0%10.0%28.0%
Average N.L. Starter4.2220.8%7.7%31.5%

In every category except for walks, Pomeranz is much more more than your average cookie. You aren't going to get many guys with strikeout rates that robust on the trade market, and a number that big can cure a lot of ills.

The concern with a pitcher like Pomeranz isn't whether he could post high strikeout totals in a short spurt; he showed with the A's that he could do that with a strikeout rate of 23.0% in both 2014 and 2015. Rather, it's about whether or not he could sustain such success as a starter for a full season. We're now halfway through 2016, and he doesn't seem to be slowing down yet.

Here's what Pomeranz's splits look like for each month of the season thus far. If he weren't able to maintain his success, you'd expect his numbers in more recent months to cower relative to what he did in the beginning, but we don't see that right now. Keep in mind that the month of July will only include a two-start sample compared to four starts in April, six in May and five in June.

MonthAverage Fastball VelocitySIERAStrikeout RateContact Rate

After a slight lull in the month of May, Pomeranz has cranked things back up since the start of June, actually posting a lower SIERA over that stretch than he had in April. Additionally, his average fastball velocity has gone up his past two starts, making this all look a bit more sustainable.

If you're worried about that 80.0% contact rate in the month of July, then feel free to rest easily. Those two starts came against the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, the teams with the 2nd- and 10th-highest contact rates in the league. You'd expect his marks to slip in those areas against those types of foes.

Pomeranz is going to regress. That's just how life works when you have first-half numbers as good as his. But even when that happens, he has shown this year that he is a legitimate, above-average pitcher who teams should covet via trade. This becomes even more true when you see the type of competition he may have on the market.

Head of the Class

In discussing the possibility of the Texas Rangers trading for Pomeranz, Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors mentioned that the team had also been linked to Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Rays and Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins. Pomeranz comes out smelling like roses when up against this tier of pitching.

Because Pomeranz pitches in the N.L. -- where he doesn't have to face a designated hitter -- it would be unfair to compare him heads up with the other three starters. Instead, let's show how these four stack up relative to the respective league averages for starters. All positive numbers in the table mean the pitcher is better than league average, even if his number is lower than that mark. These are shown in percentage differences to qualify for the discrepancies in the benchmarks for each league.

PitcherSIERAStrikeout RateWalk RateHard-Hit Rate
Drew Pomeranz+11.1%+34.6%-29.9%+11.1%
Jake Odorizzi+5.4%+14.8%0.0%-12.9%
Matt Moore+2.5%+5.6%+9.0%-2.8%
Ervin Santana-3.4%-10.2%+14.1%+8.5%

None of the others come close to Pomeranz's SIERA or strikeout rate -- relative to league average -- and he also holds the best relative hard-hit rate. He does have the highest walk rate of the bunch, but the gaps elsewhere help compensate for that.

Simply put: he's the best option available among the known pitchers on the block even before you factor in his team-friendly contract situation.

It's understandable if teams have reservations about Pomeranz due to his limited exposure as a full-time starter. However, everything he has done this year shows that he's a truly talented pitcher who could excel outside of Petco Park. Given what else is on the market and his continued success, this is a guy teams should be looking to buy as they scavenge non-contending teams for quality starting pitching.