Wednesday was the non-tender deadline across the league which means a lot of new players entered free agency. That is the big news from the day, but we’ll cover that a little later this morning in a separate post.
José Iglesias traded to the Angels
As teams were figuring out their tender decisions on Wednesday prior to the deadline, the Orioles and Angels snuck a fairly intriguing trade into the evening. Baltimore sent José Iglesias out west in exchange for prospects Garrett Stallings and Jean Pinto. Iglesias just finished his first season with the Orioles and had by far his best season at the plate of his career. Obviously the small sample played a role in these numbers, but by the end of the season he had hit .373/.400/.556 for a 160 wRC+. That only came over 150 plate appearances, however, and was boosted by a .407 batting average on balls in play.
Offense isn’t really Iglesias’s calling card anyway, however. The shortstop, and former Red Sox prospect, is known much more for his defense as he is one of the best shortstops in all of baseball. And he’ll be replacing a guy who is in the conversation for best defensive shortstops to ever play in Andrelton Simmons. The latter is a free agent this winter, and with the acquisition of Iglesias the Angels have effectively closed the door on a reunion. As for the prospects, Stallings is a left-handed pitcher and was a fifth round pick in the 2019 draft. He’s a low-ceiling starter. Pinto, meanwhile, was signed out of Venezuela and has 12 career innings in the DSL for his professional resume.
Regarding how this affects the Red Sox, there’s not too much. Iglesias, as I mentioned, is a former Red Sox prospect so we always keep tabs on those guys. Additionally, Iglesias destroyed Red Sox pitching in the four meetings they had this past summer, though who didn’t? Still, the Orioles are somehow getting worse, which can only help Boston in the short-term. On the other side, the Angels are ostensibly a wildcard contender with the Red Sox but A) the Red Sox have to actually be wildcard contenders before we care too much about that and B) while Iglesias fills a hole he likely doesn’t change the expectations much in either direction for the Angels.
Corey Knebel traded to the Dodgers
There was another trade right at the non-tender deadline, this one also involving a team from Los Angeles. After it had been reported that former All-Star reliever Corey Knebel would be non-tendered, Milwaukee found a trade partner at the last second, with the Dodgers taking on Knebel and tendering him a deal for 2021. Milwaukee received a player to be named later or cash.
This obviously isn’t a very major move as the Brewers were ready to let Knebel hit free agency for nothing anyway. Still, it wasn’t all that long ago that Knebel was one of the better relievers in the game. Back in 2017, the righty saved 39 games while pitching to a 1.78 ERA to go with a 41 percent strikeout rate. He wasn’t quite as dominant the next season, though he did finish with a solid 3.58 ERA and his 3.08 ERA suggested he could still be one of the better relievers in baseball.
Since then, however, Knebel’s career has been marred by injury. Tommy John surgery caused him to miss the entire 2019 season, and he came back in 2020 to toss 13 1⁄3 innings. Those innings did not go well, as he finished with a 6.08 ERA with a FIP that was even worse than that. The Dodgers get him for almost nothing, though, and are trying to get him back to something resembling his old form. Considering that Knebel just turned 29 about a week ago and that 2020 was so weird, both from a pandemic perspective and that he was returning from a major injury, it’s not a terrible bet. The Dodgers certainly have more leeway with this kind of reclamation project than Boston would given the difference in pitching depth in the two organizations, but Knebel would have been an interesting target for Boston as well.