While everyone continues to wait for the Indians to drop a major deal, they continued on with another minor move today, trading second baseman Gionti Turner to the Tampa Bay Rays for right handed reliever Chih-Wei Hu.
As a 27th round pick in 2018, Turner isn’t a well known name in the Indians far system, although he did have a fantastic season in the Arizona League this summer. A good defender with great speed, Turner slashed .296/.348/.396 with ten doubles, two triples and nine steals. Primarily a second baseman, Turner played some at short stop and a little in center. Ultimately, center field could be the perfect place for Gionti as it is the best position to take advantage of his high sprint speed while hiding his arm.
Personally, I had Turner just outside of the Indians top 100 prospects largely because his high strike out rate and lack of power make it unlikely that he can sustain his great offensive numbers from 2018 at higher levels. He still could turn out to be a good player, but the Indians have many other quality middle infielders at the same level with more upside, so it is easy to see why Turner was expendable.
On the Tampa side, the Rays will be saving a spot on the 40 man roster by dealing Hu, a similar reasoning to Pittsburgh’s in last week’s trade. Hu has little MLB experience with a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings across the last two seasons. He has a low 90’s fast ball with 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. These rates are similar to his minor league numbers that span a much more significant 528 innings.
Originally signed out of Taichung, Taiwan by the Twins, he was traded to Tampa along with Alexis Tapia in 2016 for Kevin Jepsen. While he was used exclusively in relief through 2016, Hu has only been used in relief in the majors. Despite this, the Rays moved him back into the rotation in AAA in 2018 where his results were significantly worse than they were in the bullpen in AAA the year before.
With the Indians, Hu immediately becomes a MLB option, but only in the bullpen. With a highly depleted bullpen following the free agencies of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, the Indians will likely be taking many chances on fringe relievers. Hu does have a remaining option, so he could be stored in AAA during part or all of the 2019 season, but he will need to remain on the 40 man roster or could be lost to waivers.