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Grading the Sam Dyson Trade

The Twins swooped one of the top relievers traded before the deadline. Was it worth it?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants
Hopefully the former Giant will be dice(on)ing for the Twins all the way to the playoffs (Sorry)
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins made a swap for another reliever right as the trade deadline hit on Wednesday afternoon, acquiring a right-handed bullpen arm in Sam Dyson. Minnesota gave up three minor leaguers in the deal, sending OF Jaylin Davis (AAA), RHP Prelander Berroa (Rookie Ball), and RHP Kai-Wei Teng (Low-A) to the San Francisco Giants.

Earlier this week I graded the Twins addition of RP Sergio Romo as a quality deal for the hometown nine. How did the Twins do with their acquisition of Dyson?

What the Twins received

Dyson comes from the Giants as a 31-year old righty with MLB experience in parts of eight seasons. This has been one of the best seasons of the South Carolina alum’s career, as he owns a 2.47 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 0.902 WHIP, and 6.71 K/BB in 51 innings. Dyson will slot into the Twins ‘pen as a high-leverage setup man and may close some games as well. Dyson is a step up from Sergio Romo, and might have been the best reliever dealt at the deadline as many of the big names (Felipe Vazquez, Ken Giles, Will Smith, etc.) stayed put.

The former Giant possess a career 3.29 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 3.66 FIP, and a 2.46 K/BB. Those numbers are a bit deceiving though, as they are poorly inflated by one very poor season in 2017. Starting with his first full season in 2014, Dyson has posted an ERA of 2.69 or lower in every year except for the aforementioned disastrous 2017 (6.09 ERA). Dyson has never been a big strikeout pitcher with a career 7.2 K/9, but he is having one of his best seasons in that category with an 8.3 mark in 2019. He’s also currently posting a career low walk rate of 1.2 walks per nine.

So what makes Dyson effective? Similar to Sergio Romo, Dyson has been his best when he doesn’t have to throw his primary fastball a lot. Unlike Romo, Dyson can hit the mid-90’s with his heater, and does feature his fastball the most frequently of his pitches, throwing his sinker 44.8% of the time. His next most thrown pitch is his cutter, which has been one of the nastiest pitches in baseball this season. Batter’s are slugging just .079 against the pitch. Yes, you read that right. Opposing hitters have hit just three singles against the pitch of the 161 times Dyson has thrown it. His batting average against by pitch is listed below:

Sam Dyson Pitches

Pitch Type Frequency Opp Batting Average
Pitch Type Frequency Opp Batting Average
Sinker 44.8% 0.305
Cutter 24.9% 0.079
Four Seamer 13.0% 0.133
Changeup 11.7% 0.211
Slider 5.6% 0.071

Dyson has been pretty good in high-leverage situations this year for San Fran, posting the 13th best WPA (Win Probability Added) in the major leagues among relievers at 1.83 (Taylor Rogers is ninth). Dyson has held opponents to an OPS of .472 in high leverage spots this season, as well as a miniscule .176 batting average. 11 of his 20 runs given up this year have actually been scored in low leverage situations, according to Baseball Reference. With two outs and runners in scoring position, batters have hit just .222 against Dyson this season.

Dyson isn’t just a rental for the Twins, as he will be arbitration eligible in 2020 as well. Dyson will be a great combination with Taylor Rogers for the rest of this season and next year, as he has held right-handed batters to an OPS of just .514 this season. He and Sergio Romo both have very tough on righties throughout their careers, a trait that may be helpful in the playoffs against the righty heavy lineups of the Yankees and Astros. Similar to Romo, Dyson has been pitching well as of late. The righty not given up an earned run in 16 of his past 17 outings.

What the Twins gave up

The Twins ended up sending three prospects to the city by the bay, but none of the three were close to a premier prospect in the Twins system. None of the three were voted into Twinkie Town’s top 30 prospects prior to the season, and were mostly regarded as depth pieces.

Jaylin Davis was likely the prospect that the Giants considered the headliner of the trade, as the outfielder is enjoying a breakout season at AA and AAA. Davis has slashed .298/.392/.563 with 25 bombs and nine stolen bases between the two levels, with much of that production coming at AAA. Davis will almost assuredly get a chance sooner rather than later in the outfield with the Giants, but his path to playing time in the big leagues with the Twins would have been tough considering the major (Rosario, Kepler, Buxton) and minor league (Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker) talent in the outfield. Davis was not ranked as one Fangraphs’ top 41 prospects for the Twins earlier this season, and was listed as the Twins’ 35th best prospect by our friends over at Twins Daily in June.

Kai-Wei Teng pitched 50.1 innings of quality ball for Low-A Cedar Rapids this season, posting an ERA of 1.60 and a K/9 8.7. Teng was ranked as the Twins’ #32 prospect by Fangraphs this April, but has only pitched 93.1 innings in the Twins system thus far. Teng may have some upside as an arm, but is still a ways away from the big leagues. RHP Prelander Berroa is in a similar boat as the third piece of the trade, as he currently is pitching to a 4.55 ERA and 10.5 K/9 in A-ball. An international signee in 2016, Berroa has yet to generate any significant prospect acclaim.

Grade: A-

To be clear, this is not an overall evaluation of the Twins’ deadline as whole. However, it seems like the Twins got the better of this deal. Minnesota acquired a reliever with a quality track record and a year left of team control for three prospects outside of their top 30. Dyson may not have the flashy strikeout power arm of Ken Giles, but isn’t far off in terms of total numbers and value. While both Davis and Teng have potential, bullpen was an obvious need for the Twins and neither prospect has a clear path to the big show anytime soon.

Time will tell if Dyson can continue to be effective in high-leverage role, but his work so far this season indicates that he will be able to get the job done. Profiling as a pretty strong compliment to Taylor Rogers in the late innings, the Twins were able to snag Dyson at a reasonable price and fill a huge whole. While a move for a top-tier starter or another reliever would have been nice, the Twins front office did good work in their addition of Dyson at the deadline.