Eduardo Rodriguez was traded for Andrew Mller last year when he was in Double-A with the Orioles. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
With the non-waiver trade deadline coming to a close Friday at 4 p.m., more and more players will be traded on top of the ones who already have this week.
More often than not, most deals involve minor league prospects being exchanged for big league players, as one team is looking to win now and the other building for the future.
This can be a concerning time for these minor leaguers, as for some they are just getting used to playing professionally and they have only known one organization.
A lot of questions can be going through their heads. Am I not good enough? Why didn’t they want me? What does my new organization think of me? Will I ever make the majors?
All those are all legitimate questions, but ultimately it’s all about realizing baseball is a business and teams want to get better in anyway possible.
“I didn’t really realize until I was in the big leagues for a few years,” Hanley Ramirez said, who was traded as a 21-year-old in 2005 to the Marlins by the Red Sox in the deal that landed Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. “That’s when you realize teams are just looking to win — anyway you can do it. If you have to trade a good player, sometimes you don’t want to trade that piece, but there’s a back and forth.”
Ramirez acknowledged at first he didn’t like the fact that he was traded, but once he realized he was going to play in the majors, he was all for it. The current Red Sox left fielder said at that point in his career all he was worried about was just getting a chance at playing full-time in the majors.
“You’re just looking to play in the big leagues,” Ramirez said. “At first, I was a little bit upset because coming in watching the Red Sox in the Dominican, but after that I was fine because it was my opportunity to play in the big leagues.”
Ultimately, it comes down to baseball being like any other organization in the world — a business.
“This is business. You want to win. At the same time you’re an employee and you have to deal with it,” Ramirez said.
More recently, Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was shipped to Boston from the Orioles last July 31 straight up for reliever Andrew Miller.
Rodriguez, who was in Double-A at the time, said he realized at the time of the trade what the Orioles organization wanted — help at the major league level as they were looking to make a playoff run. What he didn’t get was why they picked him.
“I didn’t know how they are thinking,” Rodriguez said. “I just knew they needed a better player in the big leagues last year. That was why I think they traded me.”
Although he didn’t fully understand why it was him being traded, being traded for a proven big leaguer in Miller helped him understand that it wasn’t anything negative towards him.
“Me getting traded for a big league guy, I knew I was important for [the Red Sox.],” he said.
The 22-year-old said getting traded as a prospect comes down to having a positive attitude because going into a new organization with a negative one could ultimately impact the path taken to the majors.
“Wherever you’re going, you have to take it positively because you have to keep working wherever you are,” he said.
Rodriguez got a chance to face the Orioles earlier this season — his third-ever start in the big leagues — a game in which the Red Sox lost 1-0 as Rodriguez went six shutout innings.
Asked if there any extra motivation to face the team that traded him away?
“Yeah,” Rodriguez quickly said with a smile.
RED SOX STAYING PATIENT WITH BALL
Former No. 7 overall pick by the Red Sox in 2013, Trey Ball, is still in High-A Salem, but the Red Sox don’t seem too concerned, nor should they be as Ball just turned 21 at the end of June and is focusing solely on pitching for just the second full season.
Ball was a two-way player, as he played outfield before being drafted in 2011 out of New Castle High School in Indiana.
“Trey was more of a two-way player in high school and he grew up in Indiana,” Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel said recently. “You have to understand the competition baseball-wise that he was facing, especially as two-way player given the weather, his development is probably going to come a little bit later than [Henry Owens’] because there’s a lot of things Henry was probably doing as a pitcher at 15 or 16, but Trey Ball was playing the outfield at that age.
“We’re seeing very good progress from Trey. He’s bigger, stronger, the velocity is starting to pick up. His breaking ball is inconsistent, but that’s another thing where to learn to spin a baseball is something when you’re a two-way guy, you’re not going to learn how to do that until you’re primarily a pitcher. He’s got a good feel for a changeup, just like Henry had coming into the system.”
Ball has gotten better each of his three seasons in the Red Sox’ system. He had a 6.43 ERA in the Gulf Coast League the summer after he was drafted, 4.68 last year with Single-A Greenville and this year he is currently 8-8 with a 3.69 ERA.
Part of the improvement is getting consistent results with all three of his pitches.
“We’re trying to develop a breaking ball,” Treuel said. “He’s trying to develop a breaking ball to complement the changeup, which he had a pretty good feel for last year and continues to have a good feel for. Being able to throw his fastball for both sides of the plate.”
FUTURE RED SOX CLOSER?
Starter-turned-reliever Pat Light doesn’t have the best numbers since getting promoted from Double-A to Triple A earlier this season, as in 15 appearances he has a 6.88 ERA, but he does have 16 strikeouts in 17 innings and a fastball reaching the high-90s.
This isn’t that concerning to members of the Red Sox organization as Light, a 2012 first-round pick, was a starter until the end of spring training this season.
“For me, it was probably going to be his quickest path to advance through the system,” Treuel said. “It was a decision that I think a lot of people were involved in. We just all kind of chimed in and it’s worked out. He had a bit of a hiccup last month, but overall he’s made the transition really well to a reliever. We’ll see where it goes from here.”
Light was moved to the bullpen because of his stuff and high velocity. As a reliever he can let it all out in shorter stints, rather than holding some of that velocity back as a starter.
“If you’re looking a guy who can throw in the mid to uppers 90s and has a good split, I think that could close out games,” Treuel said. “Again, the experience and when you have to close out games in the big leagues, that isn’t that easy of a thing to do. Right now relieving is still new. We don’t talk about it in terms of he’s closing at the minor league level. Put it like this, he has the stuff to close out major league games.”
Earlier in the year, Light talked about his mentality as a closer.
“For me I am coming in, doing my thing and it’s my best pitch vs. your best swing and see who wins because I am coming at you with my stuff,” Light said. “I am not pitching around you or pitching to your weaknesses, just here it is, let’s see if you can do it.”