The Tigers acquired outfielder Austin Meadows from Ray for the selection of infielder Isaac Peredes and a competitive balance Round B. Tampa Bay has reportedly been shopping for Meadows in recent weeks, and he will be landing in Detroit.
This is a significant, largely unexpected strike for Detroit. There was no indication that the Tigers were looking for help on the outfield, as they were seemingly content to start the year with a trio of Robbie Grossman, Victor Reyes and Akil Badu. Top Chance Relay Green
However, he broke his leg over the weekend and is expected to be kept away for six to eight weeks. It is not clear if Green’s injury has increased the urgency to add general manager Al Avila and his staff to the outfield, but they will bring in a player who has been left out of the All-Star campaign for just a few seasons.
Meadows was the now-famous part of Ray from Pirates in the 2018 trade deadline for Chris Archer. A top prospect in his days at the Pittsburgh Farm System, he hit the ground with a tough rookie before breaking out next season. Meadows scored a huge score at .291 / .364 / .558 in 2019 with 33 home runs in 591 plate appearances, seemingly emerging as one of the top young sluggers in the game.
He has not been able to maintain that momentum in the last two seasons. Left-hitting meadows stumbled on a .205 / .296 / .371 line during the short 2020 campaign, hitting an alarming 32.9% clip. It was clearly an unusual year, and the former ninth overall pick came back this past season – although not close to his 2019 level. Meadows hit .234 / .315 / .458 in the presence of 591 plates, which offset its 27 homers to a mediocre batting average and somewhat on-base percentage.
To his credit, the strikeout problems were rectified by plaguing the Meadows in 2020. Last season he fanned the plate of his 20.6% trip. Its 77.2% contact rate was consistent with the league mark, while its average departure speed, barrel rate, and hard contact percentage were slightly higher than average. Playing career-low .249 balls instead of the Meadows was plagued by batting averages.
This is not to be underestimated, as he has become increasingly fly-ball oriented in the last few seasons. Of the 135 heaters with the presence of 500+ plates in 2021, Meadows had no higher fly-ball rate than 53% of clips. This is a recipe for hitting for strength but also for bad balls in the game results, as non-homer fly balls rarely turn into hits.
Whatever the concerns about Meadows’ batted ball profile, it’s easy to see his appeal to the Tigers. For some part of the season in the four major leagues, he owns a .260 / .333 / .489 slash line – an offensive product that measures wRC + to test 22 percent more points than the league average. Although he has not done his best in two years, he was still a hitter above average in 2021, and the 2019 campaign hints at an aggressive reversal in his possession if he can bring his fly-ball rate closer again. Up to 42.9% of that season.
Meadows have rather marked platoon divisions. In his career, he is a .271 / .351 / .525 hitter against right-handed pitching. He owns another pedestrian .237 / .295 / .412 Slash Tigers’ outfield against the right wing is already hitting somewhat left-handed, Green and Baddu from that side of the plate when Reyes Grossman is the switch-hitter. Meadows doesn’t have to be a tough platoon player, though, and the rest of the Detroit lineup is fiercely right-handed. Presumably, Meadows will set foot in a daily corner outfield role for captain AJ Hinch, perhaps having the freedom to take him down a bit in the days when the opposing team will roll out a solid lefty starter.
This is an instant upgrade for a Detroit team that includes Javier Base, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tucker Barnhart,
Andrew Chaffin and Michael Pineda this winter. Avila and her staff are definitely trying to get out of their recent reconstruction, and the addition of Meadows should be a significant upgrade to crime. It’s not an absolute win-now move, though, the 26-year-old (next month 27) is manageable for three seasons through arbitration. Meadows and the Rays were set at $ 4M for 2022, and he will not hit free agency until 2024.
This makes Meadows a fairly affordable pickup for Detroit, but he was part of a larger arbitration class that could put pressure on Ray’s salary. Even after deducting his $ 4M salary from the book, according to Jason Martinez of Roster Resources, Tampa Bay has a projected franchise-record $ 83M player salary. Race is known to have made a run to Freddie Freeman, so they were willing to extend beyond their general comfort zone for the right player, but that amazing pursuit has always seemed to be a recognition of Freeman’s star status.
In addition to the fact that Eric Neander, president of baseball operations, and his staff may face any salary constraints, they clearly felt prepared to deal with a position of organizational depth. Red has Randy Arrojarena, Kevin Kiermeyer and Manuel Margot as outfield options. Top prospect Josh Low, meanwhile, looks set for a bigger league after playing .291 / .381 / .535 .291 / .381 / .535 with Durham in the Triple last season.
The team clearly feels ready to play an important role in a team with aspirations for the Low World Series. Ray-pre-game broadcaster Neil Solandz Tweet That club plans to withdraw the 24-year-old for breaking up the Major Camp. Given its status as a unanimous top 50 prospect, Lowe must be on the line for regular at-bats. He, Margot, and Kiermeyer each give potential plus defender, manager Kevin Cash, the chance to run some excellent defensive groups on the grass in three outfield spots. (Arojarena is initially a corner outfielder but has a good rating in his own right there.)
In exchange for dealing with the depths of that outfield, Ray adds another young bat to their infield mix. Peredes has been on the prospect radar for some time, but he recently turned 23. A right-handed heater, he does not possess irresistible strength or athleticism, but he has great ball skills from the bat.
Pardes has not been able to do much in limited big league action in the last few seasons. Presenting more than 163 plates, he owns a .215 / .290 / .302 line and a pair of home runs. Although he has posted great offensive numbers up to the minor league ladder, the Rays are betting on that skill to eventually carry over against the big league pitching.
Paredes, who is at the tail end of Baseball America’s Top 100 Possibilities in both 2019 and 2020, is coming in at .265 / .397 / .451 in plate attendance at 315 Triple. He hit 11 homers and walked in a huge 17.8% clip while only 14.9% of the time came out. Of the 96 triple-east heaters with 300+ plate appearances, Peredes has played the third-highest walking rate. No one in the group had a good walk for the strikeout ratio, the only other player in the minor league experienced Tyler White League who was able to walk more often than even punching out.
Although Peredes has experience in both second base, third base and shortstop, he has initially played in two former positions in recent years. He would step into a Tampa Bay infield mix that is quite crowded in itself. Wonder Franco and Brandon Lowe speak for Middle Infield, while Yandi Diaz Parades and fellow former top pros Taylor Wallace and Vidal Brujan join third base. Diaz has speculated that some DH at-bats have been vacated by the departure of the Meadows, which will enable Ray to get some action in their young players’ hot corners. Wall, Brujan and Peredes all have years of minor league options left, so they can each bounce between St. Petersburg and Durham.
Rashmi has never shied away from churning out players from big league clubs to increase long-term organizational depth. Peredes has more than a year of Big League service under his belt. He won’t be in the free agency until at least after the 2026 campaign, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he spends enough time with minors this season to push the trajectory back another year. Tampa Bay adds a draft pick that will fall after the second round, currently estimated at No. 71 overall. In addition to picking a competitive balance Round B of their own, Rashmi now owns four of the top 75 selections – along with bonus pool spaces that provide stockpiling peaks.
It’s an interesting deal between the two teams imagining both immediate and long-term conflicts in the American League. The Tigers added a potential middle-of-the-order bat, strengthening the outfield from an injury hazard. (In a nutshell, they also raise the possibility of teaming up with Meadows with his younger brother Parker – a high-out outfielder in the Detroit system – at the outfield in Comerica Park.) Which allows them to permanently deal with good players like Meadows with the knowledge that extra talented players are on the horizon.