Cleveland Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti has said that he views positioning at the trade deadline as taking a long-term approach or a short-term approach, as opposed to buying and selling.
Antonetti accomplished a trade Tuesday night that encompassed both scopes. Yasiel Puig is a short-term addition. Logan Allen, Victor Nova and Scott Moss potentially represent a long-term view.
Then there is Franmil Reyes, who like the subtraction of Bauer, has his implications on each.
The freshly-24-year-old has just 115 days of service time as of his Indians debut on Thursday, making him controllable through 2025. His .850 OPS, 27 home runs, and likely ability to thrive as a designated hitter bring the team immense, immediate value.
‘La Mole,’ which (very) roughly translates to ‘The Bulk,’ lives up to his name at 6-foot-5, 275 lbs. Not only has Reyes done more damage at the homer-suppressing Petco Park in 2019, he is perhaps the most powerful hitter to all fields in the game.
To this point, 20 of Reyes’ 27 home runs have gone to center (12) or right (eight). In about 70 fewer plate appearances in 2018, he hit seven to center, but only three to right.
One way in which Reyes has capitalized on his power seems to be sacrificing some of his immense raw power for contact. Just by the eye test, it seems that his swing is quicker to the ball, and that is all it takes for his ‘Mole’ to do the rest.
For example, in 2018:
Just for some fun, added context.
Take in the majesty of it all, but then watch how quick Reyes is to the ball. That doesn’t seem possible. Feel free to now take a moment, go to Reyes’ Baseball Savant page, click random video, click HR, then watch all 43 existing videos. We’ll wait for you.
You good? Fun, wasn’t it?
Anyway, this is where that power to all fields comes into play. With an average 97.4 mph exit velocity on non-pulled balls, and a hard-hit% near 50 (48.2 career), Reyes can take advantage of the same right-field porch that lefties often exploit at Progressive Field.
FanGraphs’ park factors with handedness have Cleveland as tied for the 7th-best park to hit a home run as a lefty. Assuming pull-power has a lot to do with that, it is safe to say that Reyes’ penchant for battering balls to where they are pitched will play well, too.
The other way Reyes has tapped into that massive frame is simply by swinging more, as low-walk, high-power hitters often do now. The slugger’s swing rate has jumped from 46.4% to 52.6% overall, including a leap from 62.9% of pitches in the zone to a hearty 76.9%.
The oddity is that both his contact rate (69.9% to 67.0%) and strikeout rate (28.1% to 26.3%) have somehow each dropped.
Reyes has grown, and has done so in ways that cater to his prevailing tool. It is obvious that his power got him to the upper levels, but his development has focused on utilizing the upper-echelon power more often. The Indians now have a chance to harness and further that.
Puig will likely endure for the rest of 2019 as the marquee acquisition by the Indians in this deal, but it was Reyes that made the deal one worth pursuing. The team secured a right-handed power bat for another five years, and at a position of need, if his services in right field are ever called upon again.
The front office sought to ‘thread the needle’ in a trade for Bauer, adding in areas of need while dealing from a position of strength. They both sold and bought, while acquiring in the short- and long-term. That is quite a needle to thread.
Without Reyes, the deal does not happen. A rental and prospects were never enough to compel Antonetti to move Bauer. With Reyes, the deal seems like a no-brainer.
In the long run, Reyes’ impact on the Indians’ proverbial window will likely shape how we view the Trevor Bauer trade.