Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Rockies Acquire Yoan Aybar From Red Sox

The Rockies and Red Sox agreed to a minor trade Thursday evening, with infielder Christian Koss going to Boston in return for lefty Yoan Aybar, the Red Sox announced via Twitter. Though it’s not remotely a blockbuster, Aybar was added to the Red Sox 40-man roster last winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

Yoan Aybar | Kelly O’Connor: https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

The Rockies selected Christian Koss in the 12th round of the 2019 draft out of UC Irvine. Koss played with the Rockies rookie ball team, the Grand Junction Rockies. He posted the team’s 3rd highest OPS at 1.052 and 2nd highest Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) at 172 since (at least) 2006. Those numbers rank ahead of big leaguers like Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Corey Dickerson, David Dahl, and Ryan McMahon during their pro-debuts in Grand Junction. His 0.81 walks per strikeout (BB/K) was elite along with 11 home runs. Pioneer League numbers are unreliable since it’s such a hitter-friendly environment, however, his performance was impressive enough for Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs to slot Koss in as the Rockies #27 prospect around this time last year.

Koss split time almost evenly between second base, third, and shortstop, though shortstop is not likely in his future as he progresses through the minor leagues. Turning 23 in January, Koss will likely begin 2021 with Boston’s Class A affiliate, but due to his age and advanced offensive game, he may get pushed ahead quickly.

Yoan Aybar has a very unique profile. Almost 23 and a half years old, the lefty was signed by Boston in 2013 as an outfielder. In 2018, after 240 minor league games to the tune of a .624 OPS, Boston converted Aybar to a reliever, a role that has revitalized his career. Aybar has found relatively immediate success with a 4.45 career ERA so far and 97 strikeouts in 85 innings. Control and command are still a work in progress, indicated by 55 career walks at a 5.8 per 9 rate, though considering his live arm and plus stuff, that’s an acceptable flaw for now.

Aybar sits in the mid to upper 90s and as high as 100. His fastball features healthy arm-side movement that can be really hard for hitters to pick up when his mechanics are dialed in. Aybar mixes in a hard slider that sits in the mid-80s, topping out at 88. Sometimes, the slider moves on both planes and can be a plus-pitch. As the lefty gains more feel for it, his pitchability and overall capability will rise to the next level. Aybar also has a changeup, but he rarely it and it could be considered a project pitch.

In this video from HBU Baseball Videos, Aybar can be seen striking out the side in a spring training game against the Pirates, including a strikeout of top prospect Oneil Cruz. The hard-throwing lefty appears sharp and shows he can be a dominant force when ahead in counts.

Progression could occur quickly for Aybar with how few professional innings he has under his belt, and it’s hard to say whether or not he’s developed a lot since 2019 due to the shutdown of the 2020 minor league season. It’s worth watching where the Rockies start the Dominican-born player as that will indicate the strides he’s made.

Being on the 40-man roster gives Aybar an outside chance to join the active roster later in 2021, though it’s unlikely, especially given MLB’s rule change that limits September rosters to just 28. However, for a team that finished 2020 with just one lefty in its bullpen, the addition of Aybar could be a savvy move to fill out the organizational depth chart. Following the signing of a pair of minor league lefties in Brian Gonzalez and Ian Clarkin, it’s apparent the Rockies are making the position a priority as they tweak their roster.

Overall, this is a good move for the Rockies. The Red Sox were willing to part with Aybar due to the 40-man spot he took up, but otherwise, he has lottery ticket upside – and correlative risk – and offers a long-term left-handed piece to the system. Christian Koss has intriguing offensive potential but with a limited pro-resume, he’s a stomachable price to pay.

Tyler Paddor

A proponent of prospect analysis and endurer of Rockies idiocy. Twitter: @RoxDontRake