Another day, another post about a potential trade target. A few days ago we broke down Heath Bell of the Padres, and now it’s time to look at his bullpen mate, Mike Adams. San Diego is on a nice little roll (won four straight), but they’re still ten games back of both the NL West crown and the NL Wildcard in the loss column. Given the demand for high-end relievers, the Padres have let it be known they’re willing to discuss anyone in their bullpen as long as they get the right pieces in return. Let’s take a look at what Adams can and can not do…
- You might not have heard of him, but Adams has been one of the very best relievers in all of baseball over the last few seasons. Since the start of the 2009 season (min. 120 IP), he leads all big league relievers with a 2.03 FIP, a quarter of a run better than the runner up (Bell). His 1.87 FIP this season is better than last year’s 2.31 mark, but lags behind 2009’s FIP of 1.66.
- Adams has struck out 10.16 batters per nine innings over the last two-plus seasons while walking just 2.31 per nine. If we remove intentional walks, it’s 2.06 per nine. His strikeout rate remains sky high this season (9.91 K/9), though his walk rate is his best ever (0.99 uIBB/9).
- A simple man, Adams works with two knockout pitches and a deceptive delivery that is all arms and legs and baggy jersey. His slider has such short and hard break that it looks like a cutter, and he’ll throw it anywhere from 80-90 mph. A two-seamer in the low-90’s is his other pitch, though I’ve seen him reach back and throw a straight four-seamer at 96 in the past.
- Unlike Bell, Adams is under team control next season as an arbitration-eligible player, which is a fantastic and valuable little piece of flexibility.
- Adams is not that young (33 at the end of July) and he has a lengthy injury history. He had surgery to repair a partially torn labrum after the 2008 season, and it kept him on the shelf until early-June 2009. Some soreness in the shoulder cost him basically all of September that year as well. Adams pitched through a minor but nagging oblique strain for four weeks last summer, and his minor league career is littered with injuries.
- Although he’s not an extreme fly ball guy, he doesn’t do a great job of keeping the ball on the ground. Since the start of 2009, Adams’ ground ball rate is just 43.8%. Since the start of last season it’s 41.6%. Of the five homers he’s given up since the start of 2009, three have come on the road away from Petco Park, included the two he’s allowed this season.
- A $2.535M salary is nothing to the Yankees but it is rather expensive for a middle reliever. He’ll earn about $422,500 a month from here on out, and that base salary could put him in line for a $4M payout next season.
- Adams has never pitched in the postseason, the closest he’s come is pitching in five consecutive days down the stretch last year, when the Padres were tying to fend off the Giants. He pitched in seven of San Diego’s final nine games last season.
As I said when we looked at Bell, adding another dominant, late-game reliever is more of a luxury than a requirement for the Yankees at the time. Both Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman have reported in recent days that the Yankees prefer Adams to Bell, which is good to hear because he’s no worse than Bell’s equal on the mound and is more than just a second half rental. I suspect the prospect cost would be similar, and if you’re going to go take the plunge and trade that much for a reliever, I’d rather do it for the guy you can keep beyond this season rather than pay a premium for the Proven Closer™, everything else being equal.