Brandon Morrow is now property of the Toronto Blue Jays, in exchange for RP Brandon League and OF Johermyn Chavez.
First, let's take a look at what the M's acquired. League features a power sinker, which he uses to induce mostly ground balls and swings and misses. His ERA was a bit high this past season, but there is every reason to believe that is due mostly to bad luck. Brandon adds nice depth to the back end of the M's bullpen.
Johermyn Chavez is a shot in the dark. I will take him over the originally rumored prospect, JP Arencibia, but I am not in love with him. I will say that Chavez is a right-handed bat with power, or in other words, the kind of hitter that isn't likely to ever come to Safeco Field in free agency. However, Chavez went from a sub-.600 OPS in low A two years ago to one over .800 last year. Did he find something, or have a fluke year? Nobody knows, but it's easy to guess what the M's think (or hope). Here is more on him, if you are interested.
The real question is what the Mariners gave up. Like many that first saw this deal, I did not like it. I am still not sure I like it, though I think part of the problem is just how awesome all of Z's deals have been. All of them have had virtually no risk with good to great rewards. This trade, on the other hand, could look bad. Will it though?
Brandon Morrow's biggest problem is consistency. On one night, he looks unhittable, while on others he can't throw a strike. If he ever irons out those issues, and errs more on the side of unhittable, he will be great. If that happens, this deal looks awful for the Mariners. However, if Morrow stays inconsistent, the trade does not look bad at all. Personally, I prefer someone consistently good over a boom-or-bust type.
For a little anecdotal insight, I migrated to Baseball Reference, and checked out the 10 pitchers most like Brandon Morrow through 24 years old (his current age) in MLB history. Here is the list:
- Jim Hannon
- Joe Kerrigan
- Justin Masterson
- Terry Adams
- Dickie Noles
- Bill Caudill
- Johnny Ruffin
- Joey McLaughlin
- Ramon Monzant
- Danys Baez
Meanwhile, if you are wondering like I was, here are the pitchers most similar to Brandon League at his current age (26 years old):
- Tony Pena
- Mark Lowe
- Rick Camp
- John Boozer
- Darren Holmes
- Huck Betts
- Keith Foulke
- Matt Whiteside
- Bo McLaughlin
- Matt Belisle
Brandon Morrow could become a great pitcher. He has the stuff, and we all know Bill Bavasi and friends did him no favors with the way they "developed" him. Morrow seems poised to figure some things out and iron out some of his consistency issues.
However, Morrow could be the next Terry Adams. He had a pretty good arm, and a couple good years, and even bounced between the bullpen and rotation for a few years in his career.
Brandon could also be the next Danys Baez. He had a great arm, flashed potential as a reliever, then was tried as a starter, and is now a guy that bounces from bullpen to bullpen.
History tells us that the Mariners probably did not trade a future star. It could happen, but I am not sure any of us would be up in arms if we just traded our generation's Jim Hannon.
Jack Zduriencik did not get fleeced. We can blame Bill Bavasi for another underwhelming draft pick. Or, we can blame him for terrible mismanagement of Morrow's development. Either way, this trade should be lopsided in Toronto's favor, but it is not.