The Astros traded Carlos Lee (reportedly paying the rest of his salary for the season) to the Miami Marlins for minor leaguers Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen.
Here is Carlos Lee’s spray chart:
As you can see, all 5 homers were put in the Crawford Boxes. In the Miami Marlins’ new park, there is nothing like the short porch in left at Minute Maid. It seems to be more a pitchers’ park. Lee really isn’t a power hitter at this point. His value will mostly be in his lack of strikeouts combined with some walks and a slightly above average defensive first base. The Marlins 1st basemen this year have an OPS of .565. Carlos Lee is a clear improvement over that.
Matt Dominguez was drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft but has not yet made it to the big leagues. He is still young at 22, but he has yet to really hit consistently (at some points, like this year in AAA, he hasn’t hit at all) in the minors. So I watched 3 random games (and another video of one of his at-bats from the Arizona Fall League) on MiLB, watching both balls hit to him defensively and his at-bats.
The first thing you notice is his swing. It isn’t a real flat swing and it seems a little slow and elongated. As a result, the ball doesn’t exactly jump off his bat. He just doesn’t hit very many balls hard. The numbers also back this up as he has had below average line drive rates at every stop. It seems like pitchers are attacking him low and/or outside. Even though it is not hard contact, he does a good job of making contact. It is often times a negative thing than a positive time. Of course, most power hitters strikeout more than average hitters. Worrying too much about contact usually causes hitters to swing at pitches they have no chance of hitting hard. While striking out too much is bad, so is making weak contact on bad pitches. He is susceptible to the breaking ball it seems, but isn’t completely incapable of taking some. Overall he struggles with pitch recognition it looks like, as you can get him to go on off-speed stuff and he isn’t always ready for a fastball.
Considered a good defender, Dominguez showed off some good range accompanied by a good arm when I saw him. With the bat issues, he needs to be a really elite defender to make up for it. Is he an elite defender? I don’t know. If he can play shortstop, he could be a very fine utility guy.
For the Astros, Chris Johnson is a terrible defender at 3rd and athlete Jimmy Paredes was moved from 3rd to 2nd for some reason (I suspect with Altuve at 2nd for the foreseeable future, we will see Paredes moved back to 3rd), so there is a need for a 3rd baseman in the Astros organization. Is Dominguez the answer? That is very doubtful. According to reports, he will immediately start on the big league team, so we will see quickly whether or not he can play in the big leagues.
Rob Rasmussen was the 2nd round pick by the Marlins in 2010 out of UCLA. He was pitching for the Jupiter Hammerheads in Advanced A this year, and none of his starts were on MiLB.TV, so all the notes will come from YouTube (most of which comes from his time in college) videos I have seen and scouting reports. At 5-9, he is projected as a reliever, but has been a starter for most of his college and MiLB career. With that height, he is just going to have problems getting on top of the ball. He throws 93 MPH with curves, sliders, and changes that seem to not want to stay low. However, he is a lefty that throws 93 MPH. There is always value in that. His arm action is somewhat over the top, and isn’t anything that would make you believe he will have bad platoon splits. Jim Callis of Baseball America gives his curve high ratings while Sam Evans of MLB Reports and Marlins Daily (while voicing concerns about his command) mentions his good pick-off moves.
So in review, the Astros moved a guy that had no future with a rebuilding team for 2 low ceiling minor leaguers. The Marlins improve their first base play, and don’t pay much at all for it. This trade makes sense for both sides, as the Marlins will regret it if they miss the playoffs (which they almost certainly will) and Dominguez and Rasmussen turn into something, and the Astros will regret it if they ate that salary for 2 minor leaguers who prove not to help their big league club.