In a huge development, the San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets finalized a three-way trade Tuesday afternoon. The Padres will gain right-handed starter Joe Musgrove in exchange for sending righty reliever David Bednar and prospects Hudson Head, Omar Cruz and Drake Fellows to the Pirates. The Mets will be sending Endy Rodriguez to the Pirates in return for lefty starter Joey Lucchesi from the Padres. With seven players being moved in this deal, each team looks to benefit greatly from the trade.
The Best Gets Better
The Padres are continuing to reinforce one of baseball’s best rotations. Musgrove, 28, looks to be slotting in as a solid back-end starter. He is currently only signed for one year at $4.45 million, but is arbitration eligible in 2022.
Musgrove is coming off an excellent 2020 campaign. Though he made just eight starts, he set career bests in ERA (3.86), ERA+ (116), FIP (3.42), and K/9 (12.5). Musgrove owes much of this success to his newfound trust in his curveball. Throwing it 20% of the time in 2020, it played a key role in increasing his K/9 by over four points. Overall, through five seasons with the Houston Astros and Pirates, Musgrove owns 4.33 ERA across 83 starts and 108 appearances.
Musgrove is joining a rotation headlined by fellow trade acquisitions Yu Darvish (3.47 Career ERA) and Blake Snell (3.24). Their starting five also includes youngsters Dinelson Lamet (3.76) and Chris Paddack (3.74). Mike Clevinger (3.19) also looks to rejoin this deadly rotation once he returns from Tommy John surgery in 2022. With a combined five All-Star appearances, five top-10 Cy Young finishes and one AL Cy Young win (Snell), this may just be the best rotation in all of baseball.
Shoring Up the Rotation
The Mets also gain a valuable back-end starter in Lucchesi. Set to become a free agent in 2025, Lucchesi has the potential to be a cheap and dependable fixture in the pitching staff for years to come.
With the fifth spot in their starting rotation still open, the Mets will likely have a training camp battle between Lucchesi, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo over the last spot. In addition to being the youngest of the three, he has less wear on his arm than his oft-injured counterparts. Lucchesi also comes equipped with his own unique pitch: the “churve.” Essentially a hybrid between a change-up and a slider, the combination of the confusing pitching motion and unpredictable movement of the pitch leave both righties and lefties baffled at the plate.
Though he only made two starts and one relief appearance last year, accumulating a dreadful 7.94 ERA, Lucchesi was decent in his first two seasons. With a 4.14 ERA across 56 starts from 2018-19, the Mets hope the 27-year-old lefty can have a bounce-back season in 2021.
Building Towards the Future
Still in the midst of a full rebuild, the Pirates are banking on long-term success with this move.
Bednar, 26, is the lone major leaguer in the Pirates’ haul. Despite posting a 6.75 ERA in just 17 career relief appearances, he may still develop into a decent fixture in the Pirates bullpen.
As for the prospects, Head is a highly athletic, 19-year-old outfielder with elite bat speed. He made headlines in 2019 for earning the highest signing bonus ($3 million) of any third-round pick in history. That alone speaks volumes to his amazing potential. He placed seventh on the Padres prospect rankings.
Cruz, meanwhile, ranked 17th in the Padres farm system. The 21-year-old profiles as a promising back-end starter with a low-90s fastball and solid breaking stuff. Through 22 starts across three minor league levels, Cruz owns a 2.38 ERA.
Fellows, 22, is the wildcard of this trade. He is unranked due to a lack of proper evaluation stemming from the elimination of the 2020 minor league season. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, the right-handed pitcher does show a lot of promise. Like Cruz, Fellows has decent breaking stuff, namely his low-80s slider, and a low-90s fastball that has shown the potential to increase to the mid-90s.
Lastly, the 20-year-old Rodriguez was the Mets’ 14th ranked prospect. What makes him special is his ability to play both catcher and the outfield. He is incredibly athletic and quick for a catcher and has good arm strength, hence why he has seen time as a corner outfielder. That said, the Mets mostly used him as a catcher during his brief stint with the organization. Further increasing Rodriguez’s versatility is the fact that he is a high-contact switch hitter with the potential for increased power should he continue to develop.
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