NEWS
Emperors Improve Bullpen in Eight Player Deal with Stivali
Vinson deals for three relievers in hopes to improve its 9th-ranked bullpen.
by CAVE DAMERON

The Vinson Emperors have agreed to a deal with the Italia Stivali which will send RP Angelo Ramirez, SP Oliver Bolan, and RP Tesuo Imai to Vinson, with Italia receiving OF Hector Ortiz, RP Francisco Bravo, RP Cesar Silva, RP Chuck Potvin, and SP Gus Soberanis.

Vinson shores up its bullpen which previously had been ranked 9th in the TNBL. The bullpen had been one of Vinson’s major weak points, but this move will likely alleviate any concerns. The 26-year-old Ramirez is the headliner of this package after putting up 1.6 WAR in 68 IP last year for the Stivali. He still has five years left of team control which is firmly inside Italia’s window to compete, and makes moving him a bit of a head-scratcher. Imai is another solid reliever, currently sitting on 1.0 WAR in 42 IP this year. He’s in the final year of team control with a contract of $1.1M. Bolan has been used mainly as a starter this year for the Stivali, but likely will move to the bullpen in Vinson. The Emperors have stated that getting Bolan “gives the club the option of returning Corey Cooper back to a bullpen role," but that’s likely just posturing to improve Bolan’s trade value. Bolan is also on the final year of his contract, a 1 year/$2.5M deal he signed with the Stivali in the offseason.

In return for those three relievers, the Stivali get three pitching prospects: Soberanis, Potvin, and Bravo; a top-prospect-turned-bust in Ortiz; and the contract of Silva, a below-average reliever whose $4M team option for next season will likely be bought out for $1M. Of the three prospects, only Soberanis is worth mentioning. I gave him a 45 FV on my minor league system rankings, calling him at worst a long reliever with the potential to make the back-end of a rotation one day. Soberanis is currently posting a 4.47 ERA through 16 starts in AA as a 23-year-old. Ortiz is the only chance for this deal to work out in Italia’s favor. The former top prospect put up 1.5 WAR in his age-22 season in St. Louis in 2032, but has been dreadful since, posting -0.8 WAR last year before being optioned to AAA this season. Much of his negative value came from him being played out of position by the Emperors as they tried to fill their seemingly-perennial hole in CF. Ortiz is a fantastic defender in LF, and at least looks like he’d be a stud in RF with his elite arm, but he’s only played in right 14 times in his career. If the Stivali notice his arm strength and play him in RF, he has a chance to be very good defensively. He’s been playing well offensively this year in AAA, but until he shows he can hit major league pitching, it’s hard to project him as anything better than a 4th OF.

All in all, this deal will come down to how Ortiz plays. If he ever lives up to his status as a top prospect, Italia will come out on top. I find that highly doubtful. It’s far more likely that Italia took on around $3M of Silva’s contract and gave up five years of a good reliever in Ramirez for little-to-nothing in return.