Willy Adames Moves to the Brewers – How Will the Trade Affect Milwaukee and Tampa Bay?
On the 21st of May, the first “blockbuster” MLB trade of the year struck.
The four-player trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Milwaukee Brewers saw the Rays SS Willy Adames move to the Brewers along with RHP Trevor Richards. Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen, both right-handed relievers, moved the other way.
This is the first big trade of the year and seemed to indicate that arguably the best prospect in baseball, Wander Franco, is ready for his time in the big leagues. The Rays didn’t call him up at the time of the trade, however. Instead, they called up another SS in Taylor Walls.
There is no telling when Wander Franco will be called up to The Show, but moving Willy Adames is a strong indication that Wander is almost ready.
How Adames Will Help the Brewers
Adames is the key piece in this trade because the Brewers have lacked production from the shortstop position for a while now, both offensively and defensively.
Orlando Arcia has been the man at shortstop for the Brewers since 2016, with most of his starts from 2017-2019 (over 100 starts each year), but they moved him to Atlanta in a trade for two pitchers (RHP Chad Sobotka and RHP Patrick Weigel).
The Brewers traded Arcia in hopes of Luis Urias being able to fill the void in the shortstop position, but that hasn’t panned out either. Now it’s Willy Adames’s turn at what seems to be a revolving door for shortstops in Milwaukee in recent memory.
Adames brings most of his value to the Brewers on the offensive side, which the Brewers desperately need. He has been an above-average hitter in recent years, in terms of OPS+.
OPS+ is a metric that gauges a hitter on the scale of 100 being “average,” and the points above or below show how much better or worse they are compared to their fellow position mates across the league.
- In 2018, he had an OPS+ of 109.
- In 2019 he was slightly below average at an OPS+ of 97.
- He had his best year last year at an OPS+ of 128.
- His slash line last year was .259/.332/.481 and an OPS of .813 across 54 games.
Granted, last year was shortened due to COVID-19, but it was still his best year. He seems to be entering his prime as a player in the MLB. This year he hasn’t been in his best form yet, but there’s a lot of the season left, and the Brewers are hoping his best is ahead of him.
He is currently batting .196/.269/.357 and an OPS+ of 80, while also committing 9 errors at shortstop, which is tied for second in the position this year. He also is striking out way too much at a 33.% rate, which is the 5th highest in the league. His walk rate isn’t great either at an 8.9% rate, which is 72nd in the league.
Adames is hitting the ball hard at a 44.4% Hard Hit rate, and his BABIP is suggesting that he has been unlucky this year so far. His BABIP is at .271, which should increase as the year goes on, and his stats should start to look better with that.
The Rays traded away a beloved player in Adames as he was becoming a leader in their clubhouse, and you could see the emotions in the players as they said their goodbyes to him.
Willy Adames is arbitration-eligible in 2022 as well.
Trevor Richards Joins Adames in Milwaukee
Trevor Richards is being sent to the Milwaukee Brewers as well.
The righty will be added to the Brewers already strong bullpen, which ranks top 5 in positional WAR, according to fangraphs.com.
- Richards has pitched 14 innings across 7 games this year.
- He sports an ERA of 3.86, and 10.9 K/9.
- Richards had his best year professionally in 2019 with an ERA+ of 228 with the Rays.
- His ERA+ dropped drastically to just 69 in 2020.
- This year, he sports an ERA+ of 105 and gives up an OPS of .800 to right-handed batters and .709 OPS to left-handed batters.
Throughout his career, he has been better against lefties (.238 batting average allowed) than righties (.271 BAA). He typically throws a fastball (92.1 MPH) and a changeup, but he also mixes in a slider and a cutter.
Richards should be a solid middle reliever who is also due to become arbitration-eligible in 2022 along with Adames. He will help bridge the gap between whoever the starting pitcher is for the game for the Brewers and Josh Hader the closer.
The Brewers will now have Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Brent Suter, and Trevor Richards at the top of their bullpen, which should be more than good enough to slam the door in the faces of opposing offenses.
What Do the Rays Get Out of the Deal?
The two pitchers headed to the Tampa Bay Rays are righties Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen. The Rays activated Feyereisen and he will be added to their bullpen, while Rasmussen will be sent to the minor leagues for the time being.
- Feyereisen has been great this year so far in 23.1 total innings across 24 games.
- He has an ERA of 3.09 with a 9.26 K/9, and has allowed an opponents’ batting average of .152. He throws a fastball at 93.7 MPH, complimented by a slider and a changeup.
- Feyereisen is arbitration-eligible in 2024.
Drew Rasmussen has been decent so far in Milwaukee.
- He has pitched 17 innings across 15 games with an ERA of 4.24.
- He has an electric fastball at 97.4 MPH
- He also throws a slider and sometimes a changeup and curveball.
The Rays may opt to sharpen his pitches in the minor leagues, but he has good potential. Rasmussen is also arbitration-eligible in 2024, so he’s just getting started in Tampa Bay.
These two pitchers, although one is being sent to the minors, join the 8th ranked bullpen in positional WAR. It includes pitchers such as Diego Castillo, Pete Fairbanks, Collin McHugh, Andrew Kittredge, and Ryan Thompson.
They have lost Cody Reed, Chaz Roe, Nick Anderson, Oliver Drake, and Luis Patino to the IL, so the new additions are coming at a good time for the Rays.
The Rays have been popular in trades with the NL Central in recent years with sneaky acquisitions of Randy Arozarena, Tyler Glasnow, and Austin Meadows, who they got from the Cardinals and Pirates.
It seems like they get the best out of their players compared to when they were with their previous teams, so any Rays trade is big news and everyone should keep an eye on them.
Who Wins This Trade?
It is hard to tell who is the winner of the trade initially, as the results of this year and the years to come will determine that.
Willy Adames was the biggest name in the trade, and he has possibly the best chance to become a star entering his prime, but the Rays seem to have gotten good bullpen value out of him.
The Rays could be fine losing the trade if Adames does well in Milwaukee because they need to make room for Wander Franco’s inevitable call-up.
In today’s MLB, bullpen strength is what seems to separate the good teams from the bad and helps with making deep runs in the postseason. The bullpen pitchers who have been swapped in this deal should not be overlooked when it comes to this trade.