Monday, July 29, 2013
Braves get Downs for virtually nothing
By Keith Law
By acquiring Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Cory Rasmus, the Atlanta Braves get an almost-free left-handed reliever while the Angels get salary relief and a warm body.
Downs -- who's in the final year of a three-year, $15 million contract -- hasn't replicated his performances from his days in Toronto but did give the Angels two-plus years of solid, above replacement-level relief work before Monday's trade. He sits just 87-89 mph with a little arm-side run but not much visible sink, surprising given his tremendous ability to keep the ball on the ground.
He's limited left-handed hitters to a .187/.245/.237 line over that span, but is adequate enough against right-handed hitters that he doesn't have to be used purely as a specialist.
Injuries to Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty robbed the Braves of their top two lefties in the bullpen, and Atlanta has two left-handed relievers on its roster now, but the Braves are trying Alex Wood in the rotation, an unlikely role for him given his arm slot and crossfire delivery, leaving Luis Avilan, who is just a specialist, as their lone southpaw in the pen.
Rasmus is a 6-foot right-handed reliever who has given up homers to four of the first 31 batters he's faced in the majors, consistent with his chronic high fly ball rates, flat 90-94 mph fastball and below-average mid-80s slider.
The fly ball trick will play better in the Angels' big home park and with their generally good outfield defense, but Rasmus is just a generic right-handed reliever at this point whose main value is that he's cost-controlled. This doesn't bode well for other teams looking to deal left-handed relievers unless the Angels simply overvalued Rasmus here.