The Indians have traded second base prospect Joe Wendle to the A's for 1B/OF Brandon Moss. Let's be clear about something:
This trade is a big win for the Tribe.
That isn't to say that Moss is a perfect player. He hits for a low average and strikes out a lot, he doesn't have much speed or otherwise run the bases particularly well, and he's below average as a defender. He dealt with a couple injuries during the second half, and we should never assume a player will just put injuries behind them. Moss certainly has flaws, but my oh my do the pros ever outweigh the cons:
Moss has hit 55 home runs over the last two seasons, which ties him for 13th in all of baseball. His isolated power figure of .234 ranks 12th in MLB among the 192 hitters with 800+ PA over the last two years. His walk rate has been an above average 10.8%, so while his batting average is an unattractive .244, his OBP has been a well above average .335. His wRC+ for those two years is 128, which ranks 15th in the American League, just a little behind Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley, and ahead of anyone else on the Indians.
In short, Moss becomes the best power hitter on the Indians, and the third best hitter overall.
His numbers were better in 2013 than in 2014, but his numbers in the first half of 2014 were even better than his 2013 numbers. He had a wRC+ of 148 at the All-Star break (10th in the AL) and he'd already hit 21 home runs (tied for 5th in the AL), before slowing down after straining his calf and spraining his wrist.
You have to be really bullish on the importance of those final two injury-riddled months to see Moss as anything but a very good hitter.
Moss is 31, so it's fair to think he's entered the decline phase of his career, but he's plenty young enough to think he can have a couple more good seasons, which is how many the Indians have him under team control for.
Moss is arbitration eligible for the second time, and is likely to earn something like $7 million for 2015, which would put him on track for $10-12 million in 2016 if he continues to play about the same way he did over the last couple years. If he were a free agent, he'd sign for a lot more than 2 years, 18 million, which means he's bringing a lot of surplus value.
When rumors of discussions first broke last week, there were A's fans wondering if this meant Oakland was going to get Francisco Lindor. We knew that was never going to happen, but Jose Ramirez felt like a pretty good possibility. He's younger and under team control longer, but power like Moss' isn't easy to find, and Ramirez's small sample of moderate success at the plate doesn't mean he's a sure thing to continue hitting well. In a vacuum, I'd rather have Ramirez (than Moss), but given the Tribe's specific strengths and weaknesses, trading him for Moss would have made sense. Instead though, the Indians give up only Joe Wendle.
I don't mean to sully Wendle's good name, because he's a fine prospect, but he's no one's idea of a future star (no one but maybe Billy Beane anyway), and he's something like 5th or 6th on the list of middle infielders the Indians had under team control for another 5 or 6 years. If no one else were traded and Wendle was starting for the Indians at some point in the next five years, it would've meant multiple things had gone badly wrong for the team.
This feels like a dramatic case of selling low by the A's (and I'm not the only one feeling that way; there's a lot of pain in the comments at Athletics Nation this afternoon).
There's likely to be a bit more fallout from this move (which we'll examine in the very near future here at LGT), but no matter what shakes out, the Tribe lineup looks a lot more potent than it did this morning.
Hats off to Chris Antonetti and his staff. This move is a winner.