December 6, 2012

Twins trade Ben Revere to Phillies for Vance Worley and Trevor May

In trading Denard Span to the Nationals last week for pitching prospect Alex Meyer the Twins cleared the way for Ben Revere to take over as the everyday center fielder and leadoff man, sacrificing some of their strong outfield depth to address an organization-wide lack of quality pitching. And now it turns out Terry Ryan and company were willing to take that approach one step further, trading Revere to the Phillies for Vance Worley and Trevor May.

Rather than viewing Revere as the long-term replacement for Span the Twins apparently view former first-round pick Aaron Hicks as the long-term replacement for both of them. And rather than waiting until Hicks was clearly ready to replace them--he just turned 23 years old and played at Double-A this year--they moved early to add a middle-of-the-rotation starter for now in Worley and a high-upside prospect for later in May.

Revere predictably was an immediate fan favorite thanks to blazing speed, batting average-fueled offense, and warm smile, but his upside has always been limited by an extreme lack of power and arm strength. Through two seasons he hit .278, but that comes with zero homers, 33 total extra-base hits, and 57 walks in 1,064 plate appearances. Even while hitting .298 this year Revere had a mediocre .333 on-base percentage and measly .342 slugging percentage.

Stealing tons of bases at a good clip makes up for some of that weak production at the plate and Revere's excellent range in center field means that he doesn't have to hit much to hold significant all-around value. However, his terrible arm takes a chunk out of that still-impressive defensive value and there's only so much room for a young hitter to grow when he can barely reach the warning track with fly balls.

Because of his skill set Revere basically has to hit .280-.300 to be an above-average regular and between his elite speed and contact skills he's a good bet to do that, but even then his ceiling is more or less Juan Pierre. Good player? Absolutely. Indispensable building block? Not really. And he still has work to do before reaching the Pierre level. Revere is a good player and an awful lot of fun to watch, but it's difficult to envision him developing much further.

Revere will be missed, just as Span will be missed, but even with both on the team the Twins weren't going to contend in 2013 and were going to struggle to contend in 2014 and beyond if they didn't find a way to bring in some high-upside pitching. Both trades accomplish that and if Hicks stays on his current trajectory he'll be starting in center field soon enough anyway, with one-time top prospect Joe Benson still looming as another potential option.

Hicks took a big step forward this year, hitting .286 with 13 homers, 45 total extra-base hits, 79 walks, and 32 steals in 129 games at Double-A as a 22-year-old and he's considered a very good defender with an exceptional arm. He'll begin 2013 at Triple-A unless the Twins rush him to the majors to replace Span and Revere, and in the meantime they can turn to Darin Mastroianni (or Benson if he can get healthy and back on track) to keep the position warm.

Mastroianni is a question mark defensively and will almost certainly be a dropoff from Span or Revere in center field, but his .252/.320/.350 line in 186 plate appearances as a part-time player this year wasn't far off from Revere hitting .294/.333/.342 as a regular. Mastroianni also stole 21 bases in limited action and has a decent minor-league track record. He's unlikely to be as good as Revere or Span in 2013, but 2013 rightfully isn't the Twins' focus.

And yet the trade isn't all about the future. Worley missed the final month of this season following surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow, but plenty of pitchers--including Johan Santana in his Twins days--come back from that procedure without missing a beat and at the moment he's arguably the Twins' best starter. Even including second-half struggles while pitching with elbow pain Worley has a 3.50 ERA in 278 career innings through age 24.

His secondary numbers aren't quite that good, but a 3.83 xFIP isn't far off--for context, Scott Baker has a 4.07 career xFIP--and Worley has managed 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings despite a fastball that tops out in the low-90s. There are some questions about maintaining that strikeout rate without missing many bats. Worley has gotten a very high percentage of his strikeouts on called third strikes and his swing-and-miss rate is actually below average.

Toss in his elbow issues and Worley is certainly a risk, but he's also just 25 years old with a good track record through two seasons in the majors, currently making the minimum salary, and under team control through 2017. If not for the elbow issues Worley by himself might be a reasonable return for Revere, but the Twins may not even view him as the centerpiece of their haul because May is a good prospect.

Philadelphia's fourth-round pick in 2008, the 6-foot-5 righty led the minors with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 and came into 2012 ranked 69th on Baseball America's annual prospect list, drawing praise for a mid-90s fastball with "heavy life and great angle." Promoted to Double-A as a 22-year-old this season, May often struggled with a 4.87 ERA and 78 walks in 149 innings and his strikeout rate dipped to a still-strong 9.1 per nine frames.

His stock definitely declined, but May is still a borderline top-100 prospect and still has plenty of long-term upside. May is similar to Meyer in that he's a big, hard-throwing right-hander with potential control issues and that's exactly the type of pitcher the Twins misguidedly shied away from for so many years. Neither of them is a sure things by any stretch of the imagination, but they each give the Twins a chance to hit a home run.

In analyzing the Span trade last week I felt the Twins did well enough under less than ideal circumstances, getting good but not great value for a player they'd normally be building around rather than using to help rebuild. In trading Revere they did even better, getting immediate help in Worley and future value in May while selling high on a player with limited upside at a position where they have quality alternatives.

I'm glad the Twins are focusing on 2014 and beyond, as contending in 2013 wasn't realistic and they so desperately needed an influx of young arms. If either Hicks or Benson develop as hoped Span and Revere won't necessarily be missed for long and Ryan got solid value in an obvious area of weakness. Now the question is whether the bold rebuilding moves will continue with Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau following Span and Revere out the door.

For a lot more on the Revere trade and what it means for 2013, check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.


  1. Someone made the point earlier on another site – but regardless of the outcome of this trade, Terry Ryan needs to get credit for identifying the weakest area of the organization and shoring that up with at the expense of the deepest part.

    I also think that Philly may have gotten a bit desperate (trigger happy?) for a cost controlled MLB CF’er that they may have just overpaid because Revere was their top target.

    Which is strange – because here is Revere’s career so far:.278/.319/.323 .642 OPS and 74 SB on 1074 PA

    Here is another 25 year old CF with plus defense, making league minimum and a 940 MLB PA of .247/.301/.402 .703 OPS with 34 steals and elite speed.

    Does it seem strange/unlikely that the Angels could command Worley and May for Peter Bourjos? Aren’t Bourjos and Revere essentially the same player?

    Comment by Karl — December 6, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  2. Huge trade. Great return. Bill Smith would never ever been able to pull off this move. (or, hesitate to say…think of it)

    Comment by AM. — December 6, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

  3. Revere s range is astounding. That’s exactly what the Phillies need – they also have two slow corner outfielders. Also, I think Revere still has some upside — if he improved his bunting skills, he could get on base more often. He’s an NL style of player, and I think he will do well in Philly.

    Comment by Dave T — December 6, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  4. Good trade for the Twins. Loved Revere’s infectious smile, blazing speed and highlight reel catches, but getting two good arms for Ben is potentially a steal for the Twins. Ryan showing some nice moxie on the Span and Revere moves. Need May and Meyer to stay healthy and get Gibson and Wimmers to make big jumps from their post-Tommy John re-do’s and things will start looking better out on the mound.

    Comment by JR Cigar — December 6, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  5. Alex Meyer’s “control issues” last season weren’t too terrible (3.1 BB/9), but Trevor May has really struggled to consistently find the plate. May’s 4.7 BB/9 in AA last season matches his total mark over 5 seasons in the minors. He still has a lot of upside, but he’s never going to amount to much if Twins coaches can’t help him solve that control problem.

    Comment by frightwig — December 6, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

  6. The more I read about these prospects coming in, the more I like them. These are the types of trades the Twins needed to make to get this team back to where they were. So nice to have Ryan back. Smith probably would have traded the same players, but only asked for some magic beans and a cup of coffee in return.

    Comment by nate — December 7, 2012 @ 5:14 am

  7. Is this a white flag for 2013? Or are we searching for the Twins of the early 2000’s? Especially considering this:

    Twins GM Terry Ryan tells MLB Network Radio (via Twitter) that they will listen to all offers on Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

    Is Terry just being polite or does he have desire to move them? I thought they might end up in Boston together. Probably not now with Ortiz signed, but you never know.

    Comment by none — December 7, 2012 @ 6:58 am

  8. I really hope we can move Morneau and Willingham for more pitching or 2B, SS, 3B help. Looking at our top 20 prospects on the Twins site (which might not be the most accurate, but…) what do we have for the these infield positions:
    Miguel Sano, but he’ll probably end up at DH/1B/OF
    Eddie Rosario, who probably doesn’t have the defense to play 2B
    Travis Harrison, who is a decent, but not exceptional 3B prospect

    Comment by Ryan H — December 7, 2012 @ 8:44 am

  9. @None: Ryan’d be foolish not to listen to offers. However, I don’t think there are very many teams out there with those needs to fill and the type of prospect talent we’d need to get in return to make a trade worthwhile.

    It’d suck to lose either of them — Mauer’s Mauer, and Morneau’s my favorite post-Cuddyer Twin — but I like the Twins more than I like either player.

    Comment by haplito — December 7, 2012 @ 8:48 am

  10. Actually, in that appearance on MLB Network Radio, Ryan made it pretty clear that Mauer wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t hear him say he’d listen to offers, but I imagine it came in the form of “you’re always willing to listen, but [5 minutes on how Mauer isn’t going anywhere].”

    Comment by Bill — December 7, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  11. At first I hated the Span trade. I thought Ryan should have gotten back a useful 2012 arm in addition to Meyer, even if it was someone on the John Lannan level. But reading some analysis on Meyer, it started to grow on me.

    Add in the Revere trade and I love the moves collectively. Worley gives the Twins a pitcher who can at least help make a few more games this season tolerable to watch. And now there is a silver lining coming in the form of 2014-2015 and beyond. Hopefully the front office can keep this going.

    Comment by Andy — December 7, 2012 @ 9:35 am

  12. I wonder if Philly would have done the same deal for Span instead of Revere. For me, the Twins not doing the Nats trade then dealing Span for Worley and May would have been the way to go. Completely hindsight and speculation, though.

    Comment by Brian — December 7, 2012 @ 9:38 am

  13. So Brian, you’re saying you’d rather have Revere, Worley and May than Meyer, Worley and May?

    Meyer > Revere, IMO. Regardless of needs, Meyer is still the better value. Potential #2 starter, worst case #4 starter for an average CF?

    Factor in our desperate need for pitching and Meyer for Revere is a homerun for us.

    Comment by Dan — December 7, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  14. people keep saying Revere is average CF….

    maybe true.

    But a .300 .335 OB % guy with 40-50 steals and elite trackdown ability on defense is an average CF?

    ok then.

    I like the trade good move by Terry Ryan and Co. Puts the Twins in great position for 2015. Now for the Free Agents go get McCarthy or Marcum or Dempster i guess and maybe an OF….. Wonder how far Ichiro’s price tag will drop on a 1 or 2 yr deal.

    Comment by SHS — December 7, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  15. my guess is Mark DeRosa will be brought in to compete at 3B with t-money ploufffe.

    Comment by SHS — December 7, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  16. When I browse the comment section in the Star Tribune I see most people are actually upset about this trade and I find that to be bizzare. It’s only further proof that Revere is in fact grossly overvalued by a lot of casual Twins fans to the point where it is comical. Nevermind the over the top gushings from Dick Bremer that literally wanted to make me vomit. Some of these fans are even worse! Maybe it’s the histrionics people fall for?? I don’t know. But the fact is he is an average ballplayer with plenty of limitations. Once you get past the occasional web gem and the big toothy grin he really doesn’t bring so much to the table for a team’s offense. As it is, the Twins have always larded up their roster with punch and Judy hitters who peck away like birds. Ben Revere isn’t what this team needs anymore. This crop of outfielders will hopefully bring something different to the table. It would be nice to see a lineup with better balance. ((It’s possible to have guys who can hit 10 to 15 home runs, play good defense and have plus speed! We need more complete players. NOt guys who have half a game)) It’s a MAJOR coup for Terry Ryan to get this kind of a haul for Revere. I am genuinely floored that TR did this. We actually sold high on a player for a change! I will say this…..Ben better wise up to the market he’s going to enter now. In a city where they boo Santa Claus, I think he’s going to be shocked by the contrast between what he’s gonna have to deal with now and what he had in Minnesota. Once they see he can’t EVER hit a baseball more than 250 feet, doesn’t walk and can’t bunt they will grow tired of his big toothy grin. You don’t win points for smiles in Philly. Ben could be in for a rude awakening, imo. Especially if Worley bounces back

    Comment by ewen21 — December 7, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

  17. I should probably reword the first sentence. People aren’t actually so much ‘upset’ about the trade. It’s more like people are upset about losing Revere. That I cannot understand. Not when we have a bundle of prospects on their way up

    Comment by ewen21 — December 7, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

  18. Re: People upset about the trade – no big deal. No one is going to cancel their season tickets because of this. Great trade. Aaron, a question: Why do you you say “former first round pick”? He will always be a first round pick for the year he was picked. Why not add information and say “2010 first round pick.” Same goes for beauty queens/playmate/Heismann winners; so-and-so will always be Miss America 2009. It actually takes more characters/time to type “former.” Do you think this is done so people just don’t have to look up the information (i.e. they’re lazy)?

    Comment by Brooklynegg — December 9, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

  19. Never been high on Revere. He’s probably at his peak given his complete dependence on the few skills he has.

    Comment by Steve J — December 10, 2012 @ 12:17 am

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