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Thoughts on the Leonys Martin trade

AJM ruminates on yesterday's trade that sent Leonys Martin to the Mariners

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Leonys Martin was traded, along with Anthony Bass, to the Seattle Mariners yesterday for Tom Wilhelmsen, James Jones and a PTBNL.  I have some thoughts on the deal...

  • While any initial opinions have to be hedged, depending on who the PTBNL is, my initial reaction is that I'm not all that thrilled about this deal.  Leonys Martin is someone who was a very good center fielder for the Rangers in 2013-14, someone who I think was somewhat underrated because so much of his contributions came in the form of defense and baserunning -- how good could a guy with a sub-700 OPS be, after all?  When Leonys fell apart offensively in 2015, at the same time Delino DeShields was providing a spark, it exacerbated the problem, and led to a certain amount of revisionist history from folks who, for whatever reason, felt it was important to diminish Leonys's previous contributions.
  • Point being, the Rangers sold low on Leonys, a guy who I think still can be at least a Craig Gentry-esque quality defense and baserunning fourth outfielder, and who, if he bounces back offensively, is likely an upper-half of the league quality starting CF.  And in return, Texas got two years of a good, not great, righthanded reliever, and a fast guy who can't hit and doesn't appear to be good defensively.  Again, it depends on the PTBNL, but based on Jones and Wilhelmsen, I'd have just as soon held onto Leonys and made him the fourth outfielder next year (and then the starter when Josh Hamilton goes down with his inevitable injury).
  • The Rangers currently do not have a player on the 40 man roster who would seem to qualify as even average, defensively, in center field.  While there is hope that DeShields can develop more with the glove, at this point, he's below-average in center.  Jones' defensive numbers, albeit in a small sample size, are not good in center, and Lookout Landing had a piece expressing dismay at his glovework in 2014.  The offseason is still early, and I suspect that the Rangers are still going to be hunting for a backup outfielder who can handle center...I'm not convinced that this is a sign that James Jones has the backup CF job on lockdown.
  • What I do think this deal signals, though, is a high level of confidence in Lewis Brinson.  Brinson had a breakout year in 2015, putting up a .332/.403/.601 slash line in 456 plate appearances between high-A, AA and AAA, and has performed strongly in the AFL and in winter league play.  A plus defender and baserunner, the questions with Brinson have been about his ability to make contact, but he has lessened those concerns, and may actually be in the mix for a starting CF job at some point in 2016.
  • The acquisition of Wilhelmsen increases the Rangers' bullpen depth, something that was a serious problem for the first four months of 2015.  The additions of Sam Dyson and Jake Diekman via trade, as well as Andrew Faulkner being called up in August, helped rectify that, but I think we all still remember Shawn Tolleson giving up back-to-back home runs while running on fumes in the next-to-last game of the season, as well as Keone Kela's elbow limited him significantly in September.  So one can certainly assume that this is about adding an experience reliever to the mix for 2016.
  • That being said, there's also reports that the Rangers are listening on Shawn Tolleson, a guy who went from waiver claim to closer on a playoff team in an eighteen month span.  Tolleson has three years of team control left, and now has the "proven closer" label attached to him, so the addition of Wilhelmsen could also be a hedge in case the Rangers decide they like some of the offers they are getting on Tolleson.
  • In the meantime, thanks to Leonys and Bass for their overall solid body of work while they were in Texas, and good luck to them in Seattle.