Six Degrees of Joakim Soria

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

by: Andy Zsiga @zsiga_andy

On Thursday the Milwaukee Brewers traded Kodi Medeiros, Wilber Perez, and one million dollars to the Chicago White Sox for Joakim Soria.

The Soria part of this trade interests me a lot, so let’s start by taking a look at the White Sox “haul” in this trade. 

Medeiros is a former first-round draft pick who is 22 years old and currently playing in Double-A. At the start of the year, he was considered the #13 prospect in the Brewers organization, while had him at the #20 spot at the time of this trade. 

In 103.1 innings at Double-A this year, Medeiros has thrown 107 strikeouts compared to 45 walks with a 3.14 ERA. While the strikeouts are impressive, this is the first year in the minors he has had an ERA under 4.00, issues with his control project a move to the bullpen. I imagine the White Sox are betting on his upside, and expect Medeiros to be a starter, but are fine with him becoming a bullpen arm. The Brewers were probably running out of useful spots for him.

Perez is a 20-year-old in the Dominican league where he has thrown 47 strikeouts compared to 13 walks in 40 innings. Perez is kind of old for the Dominican League, but I am sure the scouts saw something in Perez’s strikeout ability and peripherals to make them think he could be a diamond in the rough. Overall, I personally like this haul for the White Sox. While it could wind up as nothing, there seems to be some upside.

The Brewers have stated that they felt Soria was the best reliever on the market this year, and if they truly believe that, this is a good deal for them. 

What is interesting is that some of their starting pitching has been a firestorm, and their bullpen has been pretty good. 

The Brewers first four starters have been average to good with a sprinkling of bad outings and injuries. It would be nice for them to add a true ace. 

The starting pitching market has not really taken off in the form of great pitchers being shipped out this year and the Brewers have appeared to decide to use a couple moveable pieces to add to their formidable bullpen. Soria will probably slot into the seventh inning before Josh Hader in the eighth and Corey Knebel in the ninth, with Soria taking one of the later innings when Hader or Knebel need a break.

The Kansas City Royals saw a lot of success with below average starting pitching and an excellent bullpen in the not too distant past, and Brewers hope that will happen for them as well.

Soria is so interesting in this trade, but we really need to take a look at his past and at his other ball club changes.

This is the sixth time Soria has changed teams since he made it to the majors with Royals in 2007, but it is not the first time his name has been linked to Knebel’s. In fact, in 2014 the Texas Rangers traded Soria to the Detroit Tigers for Knebel and Jake Thompson (both of whom the Rangers traded off in pennant chases). The sad part about this trade for the Tigers is that Soria seemed broken for them, and they traded him to the Pirates for not much in return.

Soria returned to prominence after pitching a second time for the Royals, when in a bizarre three-team deal, he ended up with the White Sox for nine million dollars this year and ten million next year with a one million dollar buyout.

It really wasn’t too long ago that Soria seemed washed out, so let’s take a look at some of his peripherals to see why the Brewers would want to snag him. 

The first thing that jumps out to me is Soria has produced 9-12 SO/9 everywhere he has been except in Detroit, and his FIP (perhaps obviously) similarly is lowest in Detroit. 

It spikes a little in 2016 when he returned to the Royals, but has stayed under 4.00 every other year. Without comparing this to other relievers, it becomes pretty apparent why the Brewers would value Soria and then you can add in that he has had a 4.90  SO/W ratio this year. He seems to found his mojo, and it seems Soria's time in Detroit is a blip on the radar.

If the worst case scenario happens and Joakim pitches poorly this year, the buyout for next year is relatively cheap. While his salary for next year is expensive for a reliever, the Brewers have time in their system to evaluate his worth.

Overall, this move makes sense for both teams, but I understand why there may be naysayers on each side of the deal. 

I applaud the Brewers for making a semi-low risk move for one of the better commodities they saw on the market instead of making a feelings based move that would seem to fit their team's needs, but not really fix the problem.

One more really good reliever equals one less necessary inning for most games for the Brewers win going forward, that may be as valuable as adding an innings eating starter (especially in this year's market).

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