In yet another deal consummated by Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers are set to send outfielder Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres along with catcher Tim Federowicz, and $32M in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, right handed pitcher Joe Wieland, and minor league righty Zach Eflin. The Padres will now be on the hook for $75M of Matt Kemp's five year, $107M contract. The only player involved in the deal that still retains prospect status is Zach Eflin, but Federowicz only has 271 MLB plate appearances to his name, and Wieland has only thrown 39 innings for the Padres, so we'll explore them in detail as well.
Photo courtesy of Megan Casselle
Zach Eflin was a supplemental first round pick by the Padres in the 2012 draft, selecting him 33rd overall out of Hagerty High School in Florida. The 6'4, 200 pound right hander signed for a $1.2M bonus and reported to the Padres rookie level complex affiliate in the Arizona League. He spent the 2013 season making his full season debut with Low A Fort Wayne as a 19 year old, nearly three years younger than the average Midwest League player. He made 22 starts that year, throwing 118.2 innings with a 2.73 ERA, a 3.54 FIP, and a 1.19 WHIP with 86 strike outs (17.1%) and 31 walks (6.2%). Eflin allowed 110 hits and seven home runs with a .275 BABIP and 68.1% strand rate while the opposition hit .239/.290/.346 off him with 32 extra base knocks. Lefties struggled to do much, hitting just .216/.276/.346 with 44 strike outs to 18 walks in 230 plate appearances as right handers were a bit better, putting up a .258/.301/.345 line in 272 PA's while striking out 42 and walking 13. He was a fly ball pitcher in Fort Wayne, allowing 32.5% outfield flies, a good 4.4% more than Midwest League average and a 0.76 GO:AO ratio.
For the 2014 season, the Padres had Eflin go to A+ Lake Elsinore in the California League, the most notorious hitters league in the minors, as a 20 year old. Luckily for him, Lake Elsinore is the second best park in the league for pitchers going by park factors from Minor League Central. He spent the whole year there making 24 starts covering 128 innings with a 3.80 ERA, a 4.02 FIP, and 1.32 WHIP while striking out 93 (17.4%) with just 31 walks (5.8%), 138 hits, and just nine home runs. Despite Lake Elsinore being pitcher friendly, he was actually worse there than on the road in some of the best hitting environments out there, allowing the opposition to hit .302/.335/.442 at home compared to a .247/.310/.405 line on the road. He was also a bit better against right handed hitters, keeping them to a .279/.319/.419 triple slash with 16 walks, 48 strike outs, and 26 of the 47 extra base hits off him in 298 plate appearances. Those that set up in the left handed batters box put more of a hurting on him, tagging him to a .283/.333/.438 line with 15 walks and 45 strike outs. He was able to completely reverse his batted ball profile, morphing into a ground ball machine with a 50.2% ground ball rate, and a 1.67 GO:AO ratio.
Eflin attacks hitters with a bowling ball low 90's sinker, pitching to contact rather than trying to strike out the world. At times he can ramp it up to the mid 90's but its mostly in the 90-93 mph range. His go-to off speed offering is an above average change up he can throw anywhere, any time, which he pairs with an average slider with good bite on it. All of his pitches play up due to his excellent control and he's already showing good command, being able to hit his spots. His 6'4 frame gives him good downhill plane, adding to the deception on his change and sinker, and he's also got the build to handle innings without issue. If his slider takes another step forward, I could see Eflin developing into a #3 starter that racks up ground balls by the bushel. Even if it doesn't, I think he's a lock to be at least a back end, #4/5 option. Pitching in the California League at such a young age and more than holding his own should be a boon to his development as he was able to learn to keep the ball down and not throw anything without movement. Look for Eflin to debut in 2015 in AA Chattanooga's rotation.
2014 A+ stats
Editors Note - Zach Eflin was later flipped to the Phillies along with Tom Windle for Jimmy Rollins.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports
Signed out of Bishop Manogue High School in Nevada for $263,000, Joe Wieland joined the Texas Rangers organization as a 4th round pick in the 2008 draft. Like most high school draftees, Wieland was sent to the Arizona League after signing with Texas. He was a member of the Rangers until the 2011 trade deadline when he was packaged with LHP Robbie Erlin and sent to the San Diego Padres in exchange for RHP Mike Adams. Wieland missed the entire 2013 regular season while recovering from Tommy John surgery that was performed in July of 2012. His only action was a stint in the Arizona Fall League following the 2013 season where he made two appearances totaling two innings.
Wieland began his slog through Tommy John rehab in 2014, making his season debut in late July in the rookie level Arizona League after dealing with some complications (arthroscopic elbow surgery) that pushed his time table for return back. The 6'3, 210 pound right hander made three starts there, totaling six innings before moving up to AA San Antonio for another pair of starts, throwing nine more innings. By mid August he was ready for a four start trial in AAA El Paso covering 23.2 innings of work and he was promoted back to the big leagues when rosters expanded in September. During his minor league time, he threw a total of 38.2 innings with a 3.03 ERA, a 2.89 FIP, and 1.01 WHIP with 36 strike outs (23.7%) to only six walks (4%) with 33 hits and two home runs allowed. The opposition managed a .231/.258/.392 line against him with a .287 BABIP and a 69.1% strand rate. Wieland made four more appearances with the Padres to finish out the year, throwing 11.1 innings of work with eight strike outs (14.8%), five walks (9.3%), and 16 hits allowed with three balls leaving the yard, a 7.15 ERA, a 6.49 FIP, and a 1.85 WHIP. For the entire year, opposing hitters put up a .257/.293/.445 line against him over 206 plate appearances with 44 K's to 11 walks in 50 innings of work.
This past season was geared to getting Wieland back up to speed after losing so much time to injury. Prior to his elbow doing its best bubblewrap impersonation, he could bump the heater up to 95+ mph with a plus curve, an average change up, and a slightly below average slider. Now he's more in the 90-91 mph range with the fastball with good movement on it. The offspeed stuff is still there, especially the Uncle Charlie, which is as good as ever with huge break in the upper 70's. The slide piece is a get-me-over pitch and the change up is a good weapon on lefties. Wieland has shown really good control and command in his minor league career (86 walks in 95 appearances), and the further he gets from his Tommy John surgery, the more that will return to him. Add it all up and you have a plus hook, a pair of average pitches, and exceptional control which comes out to a solid mid-rotation arm. He needs to prove he can hold up for a whole year though, and with the Dodgers having plenty of options, he should head back to AAA to keep building arm strength and possibly make a spot start or two unless injuries decimate their rotation.
2014 MiLB (R, AA, AAA) stats
2014 MLB stats
Photo courtesy of Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports
Another 2008 draftee, the Boston Red Sox selected Tim Federowicz in the 7th round out of the University of North Carolina, signing him for $150,000. He spent the next three and a half years with the Red Sox before he was a member of a three team trade between the Red Sox, Mariners, and Dodgers at the 2011 trade deadline, like Wieland. He's donned the tools of ignorance for the Dodgers since, shuttling the last four seasons between Los Angeles and AAA Albuquerque. In 2013, He went back and forth until the end of May when he was called up for the rest of the 2013 season. During his minor league time, he only made 98 trips to the plate, hitting an absurd .418/.500/.848 with eight homers and eight doubles, 14 walks (14.3%), and 26 strike outs (26.5%). That was good for a 245 wRC+, a .559 wOBA, and insane .532 BABIP. Tasked with being AJ Ellis' back up for the rest of the 2013 campaign, Federowicz hit .231/.275/.356 over 173 PA's, exhausting his rookie eligibility and proving just how different AAA Albuquerque and Los Angeles really are. With the Dodgers he knocked eight doubles and four home runs, drawing 10 walks (5.8%) with 52 punch outs (32.4%), a 68 wRC+, and a .266 wOBA despite a .327 BABIP. Looking at splits for the enitre year, he was better against southpaws, tagging them with a .294/.383/.574 line over 81 PAs while handling righties well also (.841 OPS). In total he was worth exactly zero fWAR while saving our runs defensively, making five errors and allowing a pair of passed balls. He also threw out 29% of runners in LA while nabbing 41% in AAA.
Affectionately dubbed "FedEx" by the Dodgers faithful, Federowicz hit .328/.383/.555 over 329 plate appearances in AAA Albuquerque as he rode the New Mexico to LA shuttle once again. He tallied 26 doubles, 14 homers, and 26 walks (7.9%) to 66 strike outs (20.1%) while posting a 142 wRC+ and a .406 wOBA on the heels of a .380 BABIP. The batted ball profile showed him as a slight fly ball hitter, but an elevated HR/FB% (home run to fly ball rate) of 19.2%, which is 6.6% higher than PCL average and 5.3% more than his career average, led to the lofty power numbers. Federowicz had three stints with the parent club in 2014, spending most of April, the first half of June, and September as a back up. He totaled 78 plate appearances in that time with a brutal .113/.158/.197 line and 18 strike outs to just three walks, one homer and three doubles. Even platinum glove caliber defense can't salvage that triple slash, resulting in -0.5 fWAR, a -1 wRC+, and a 1 OPS+. At the plate he absolutely torched left handed pitchers, mauling them with a .375/.445/.652 line over 128 plate appearances with eight of his 15 homers and seven doubles with 13 walks to 18 strike outs. He made three errors and allowed a passed ball with the Dodgers and was good for one defensive run saved while throwing out 43% of base thieves. For AAA Albuquerque he was even better, erasing 45% of attempted base stealers with just five passed balls and seven errors.
FedEx is known for his defensive prowess behind the plate and maybe not so much his lefty mashing abilities. Baseball America tabbed him as the best defensive catcher in whatever organization he was playing for in four consecutive years. His arm isn't the rocket you would think with such excellent caught stealing rates, as that's more to do with good footwork, accuracy, and a quick release. Blocking balls in the dirt is kind of his thing, also excelling in the mental aspects of catching like putting the right fingers down. If you want to pick nits, his framing could use some work, but it's not horrendous or anything. FedEx definitely has the strength to run into some and put them in the seats, but won't be much of an asset in the batting average or on base categories. I think best case scenario for him is having a career similar to new Cubs back up, David Ross. Provide some thump and stout defense when the starter needs a break or against a particularly tough southpaw.
2014 AAA stats
2014 MLB stats
The big deal here is that the Dodgers finally dealt from their wealth of MLB quality outfielders, and also managed to move the most expensive of the six options they had. Finding a taker for Matt Kemp's five year deal at this stage in the game looks to be a great move by Friedman, even if he had to kick in $32M to pull it off. Kemp will play the 2015 season at the age of 30 with the contract running out when he's 34 years old. He figures to slot into a corner outfield spot whether he likes it or not, because he is not a center fielder anymore. I don't know how his offense is going to play in Petco, but I feel pretty certain it won't be anything near what he did this past year. The Padres also pick up a very capable back up catcher to pair with newly acquired Derek Norris. Grandal represents an offensive upgrade over AJ Ellis who looks to move to a reserve role and Clayton Kershaw's personal catcher. Wieland still has work to do to come back to where he was pre-TJ surgery, but he was potentially a solid #3 beforehand. I don't think the Dodgers are going to try and rush him back with all the veteran options they currently have. Eflin was a key piece in LA acquiring their starting short stop, and more is to come on Eflin when that trade analysis hits the virtual presses. My gut is telling me the Dodgers came out ahead in this by adding a starting catcher, a starting pitcher, and a potential #4 or 5 that was half of the package it took to bring in Jimmy Rollins, so we'll call it half a J-Roll. All that for an aging, expensive corner outfielder, covering $32M left on said aging corner outfielder's deal, and a back up catcher.