After rumors swirling all the way back to the most recent Winter Meetings, the Indians finally dealt a shortstop to the Cardinals for a pitcher.
But it wasn’t really what many were hoping for.
Still, the Indians have agreed to send 20-year-old Juan Herrera to St. Louis for southpaw reliever Marc Rzepczynski. No stranger to deadline deals, Rzepczynski was a part of the 2011 trade between the Blue Jays and Cardinals that sent Colby Rasmus to Toronto.
The first instinct of many Tribe fans (besides scrambling to find a name pronunciation) was to wonder how a pitcher recently option to Triple-A Memphis with a 7.84 ERA in the Majors this year is supposed to fix the bullpen. First of all, that ERA comes in 10.1 innings and a .429 BABIP so the sample size is way too small to draw any conclusions. Secondly, the “R” is silent and CZ in Polish is akin to CH in English. Hence, Zep-CHIN-ski.
What really matters about R-Zep (as he is commonly referred to by teammates beleaguered by his last name) is the scouting report. He does not possess blow-you-away stuff with a low-90s fastball and so-so slider, but he still holds a .224/.298/.310 line against left-handers in his career, making him a prime LOOGY option that the bullpen currently lacks due to Francona’s insistence on Rich Hill pitching a full inning.
Rzepczynski is exactly what the Indians were targeting at the deadline in a controllable left-handed reliever, as the 27-year-old will not see free agency until 2016.
As for what was given up, Herrera is a mostly unexciting prospect, but a halfway decent return for the Cardinals who had no need for Rzepczynski. Herrera is currently at Mahoning Valley, with a solid .275/.366/.369 line while playing all around the infield at SS, 3B and 2B. Herrera doesn’t possess enough power or speed to be heavily considered as a future everyday option, but could hit enough to carve himself a career as a halfway decent bench option. With the Indians overloaded with middle infielders, Herrera would never have seen that role.
So this constitutes the strength for strength deal that made the Asdrubal Cabrera to the Cardinals trade rumors so appealing to both fanbases. While it is on a much smaller scale, it is still a deal that worked out nicely for both clubs.