Late into Tuesday evening, Mike Chernoff and Chris Antonetti pulled the trigger on a blockbuster, three-team trade to not only unload Trevor Bauer and his unpleasant contract, but acquire impact bats to contribute in 2019 and beyond. While the media is surely poking fun at the irony of trading one enigmatic, quirky character in Bauer for another in Yasiel Puig, many are ignoring what is arguably the centerpiece of the deal: 24-year-old slugger Franmil Reyes.
Reyes is currently in his 2nd season at the Major League level. He broke onto the scene in 2018 when he proved he could hit for power, smashing 43 home runs through 186 total games played. Standing at 6-5, 275 lbs, Reyes demonstrates several traits of a great hitter. For one, he carries an inside-out swing, allowing him to swat the baseball opposite field and with power.
Watching countless Tribe hitters attempt to pull the ball over and over again have made baseball fans sick to their stomachs in 2019, but Reyes is ahead of the curve. Keep in mind that he accomplished this with Petco Park as a home field, which has large alleys and pitcher-friendly dimensions towards right-center field. Adding on the fact that he won’t hit arbitration until 2022 and under team control until 2024, the meat of this trade becomes rather clear.
“The Franimal,” as they called him in San Diego, was also a fan favorite for his upbeat attitude and impeccable character. He truly balances out the edgy Puig and compliments Francisco Lindor in the Tribe clubhouse. It’s about time the Indians went out and got another young, cornerstone leader without the threat of him bolting after the season. Thinking about the new lineup configuration, Reyes will certainly be plugged into either the 5th or 6th spot, where his power can create maximum offensive impact with runners on base. Frankly, he wasn’t an ideal fit on the west coast, being forced to play the field somehow when he is built to be a designated hitter in the American League.
Though he still needs to improve much in the strikeout department, as well as hitting with runners in scoring position, Reyes will be thrust into a competitive environment where he can show off his power bat at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. We’ve experimented with veteran DH’s in the past in Edwin Encarnacion, Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Gonzalez among them. But now is the chance to secure that position for years to come, in the form of a young slugger with loads of upside.