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Key Defensive Acquisitions At The Trade Deadline

September 4, 2020
Most of the trades made around the MLB Trade Deadline were for pitching, as many playoff contenders had a need to add extra arms to their rotations and bullpens.
But there were a few under-the-radar moves that teams made that could help their defense. As defensive performance is something that we focus on intently, let’s look at those trades through a defense-oriented lens.

The White Sox picked up outfielder Jarrod Dyson in a trade with the Pirates. With this deal, the White Sox added on to a group that ranks No. 1 in Defensive Runs Saved. Center fielder Luis Robert has been the key to that. The weak link in their defense is left fielder Eloy Jiménez, for whom Dyson would serve as a late-game replacement.

From 2015 to 2019, Dyson saved the fifth-most runs and played the 60th-most innings among outfielders. He averaged 17 Runs Saved per 1,000 innings in that time, third-highest for any outfielder.

Dyson’s speed is a valuable part of what makes him such a good defender. He was timed at an average 3.97 seconds going home to first on double-play attempts in 2015 and even as he’s aged, he hasn’t yet lost a step. As a 35-year-old last season, his average home-to-first time was 3.94 seconds.

The Indians made one of their strengths even stronger by snagging catcher Austin Hedges from the Padres in a deal that was more heralded for Mike Clevinger heading to San Diego. Since the start of last season, Hedges ranks second in Runs Saved among catchers behind his new teammate, Roberto Pérez. Hedges is considered one of the top pitch framers in the game. He ranked No. 1 in our Strike Zone Runs Saved stat in 2019.

The Padres walked away from that trade with a good defensive acquisition in outfielder Greg Allen. Allen has saved 7 runs in just over 400 career innings in left field and 3 runs in a brief stint in right field. He could start in right field or be a late-game replacement for Jurickson Profar in left field. They’ll replace Hedges behind the plate with Jason Castro, who formerly ranked as a defensive standout, but has cost his teams nine runs with his defense there since the start of 2019.

Two other notable acquisitions should be listed for their defensive histories. The Marlins traded for Starling Marté, who will become their everyday center fielder. Marté is at his best in left field, where he averaged 15 Runs Saved for the Pirates from 2013 to 2016.

Since moving to center field, where he currently plays, those numbers have come down. He cost the Pirates 9 runs with his defense there last season and is currently at -2 Runs Saved in 2020. He’ll stay in center because the Marlins have another left fielder with a good defensive history in Corey Dickerson.

The Blue Jays made a bevvy of trades, including one to get shortstop Jonathan Villar from the Marlins. Villar will fill in for his injured teammate, Bo Bichette. Villar has cost his teams 14 runs in about 3,200 innings at shortstop for his career. He does offer the flexibility to play second base, third base or the outfield if needed.

But the Blue Jays may have missed out on doing more to help their defense. The team ranks 29th in in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved in 2020 and could use more help in that regard as it tries to compete for a spot in the expanded MLB postseason.


COMMENTS (1 Comment)

The Padres also got Austin Nola from Seattle, who presumably will be starting ahead of Castro, or at worst platooning with him, given his promising bat.
4:05 PM Sep 4th
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