Alonzo Harris with Mayos de Navojoa
Transaction Analysis

Transaction Analysis: A Star Trade

Yaquis de Obregón traded 1B/RF-R Xavier Scruggs to Mayos de Navojoa for CF/LF-R Alonzo Harris

For Obregón this move is simple on the surface but more complicated the deeper you dig. It’s a flashy move if the entirety of Harris’ career is taken into account, but far less so when only his Liga Mexicana del Pacífico production is mulled over. The hope is that Harris addresses the majority of the Yaquis on and off the field needs. On paper, he should do that, but whether he actually does is a little harder to peg down.

In Harris, the Yaquis are getting the reigning Liga Mexicana de Béisbol Most Valuable Player and someone who just recently came 1 home run shy of a 40-40 season. In addition to that eye-popping achievement, Harris slashed .343/.431/.691 for Guerreros de Oaxaca. Harris has been one of the best players in LMB since he entered that league in 2018. He brings a speed/power combination to the Yaquis that they have been lacking for some time. He’s also versatile and can play all over the outfield. Such versatility seems to have become a priority for the Yaquis in the past couple of years.

Off the field, Harris is a star throughout Mexico. It’s not that he’s flashy or a star personality per se, rather it’s that he has ingrained himself in the minds of Mexican baseball fans as one of the best in the game. The Yaquis are one of the premier LMP franchises, but it has been some time since they have had anyone who truly qualified as a verifiable star in their prime years. That’s one of many reasons why the Yaquis have struggled to bring in fans in recent years despite their winning ways. Harris should help to rectify that through his mere presence.

Or, the Yaquis will get more of LMP Harris than LMB Harris. Thanks to the differences in style of play between the two leagues Harris has been a much different player in LMP than in LMB (except in base stealing where he has been equally prolific). His power numbers aren’t as good in LMP, he’s never slugged above .435 on Mexico’s pacific coast. Even in his best season with the Mayos he only hit .302, which while good is far less gaudy than his LMB numbers. What the Yaquis are banking on is the middle ground. They don’t need his LMB MVP numbers, though they would surely take them. What they need is the 2018-2019 LMP version of Harris, he slashed .302/.387/.435 that year while cracking 7 homers and stealing 28 bases. If the Yaquis get that production from Harris, and I think they will, then they will have made out like bandits in this trade.

Mayos de Navojoa traded CF/LF-R Alonzo Harris to Yaquis de Obregón for 1B/RF-R Xavier Scruggs

An important distinction is that the Mayos traded for the rights to Scruggs. At this point, the 2020-2021 LMP season is limiting teams to 3 foreign players on their rosters. The chances are that the Mayos are not going to use one of those 3 spots on Scruggs. That makes this a move for the future for the Mayos. Of course, who knows, maybe the Mayos think Scruggs can replicate his 2017 season with the NC Dinos and are prioritizing one of their foreign roster slots for him this season.

In 2017 Scruggs was one of the best players in the Korea Baseball Organization. He slashed .300/.402/.595 with 35 home runs in his role as Eric Thames’ replacement. His numbers dropped a bit the following season, but they weren’t bad. Then the slugging outfielder came to Mexico where he was average at best for the LMB’s Leones de Yucatán. He followed that up with a 2019-2020 LMP season split between Águilas de Mexicali and the Yaquis.

It is that 2019-2020 season that is of the most concern. Scruggs managed 8 home runs in only 194 plate appearances. But, he slashed .223/.333/.410 with Mexicali and then slipped even further to .115/.172/.231 with the Yaquis. The power was still present, but if he wasn’t hitting the ball out of the park the California native wasn’t making much contact at all. He struck out twice as much as he walked and displayed habits that are very troubling for a power hitter.

Still, that power was present and Scruggs has a worldwide pedigree as an above-average hitter. That’s why I think the rights portion of his side of the deal is important. Navojoa thinks there is potential in Scruggs’ bat, but that potential will have to wait until a season further out from the Coronavirus pandemic so that he’s not taking up a valuable foreign roster spot and can be given the time he needs to work on his swing in Mexico’s premier league. The deal has potential for the Mayos, but in the 2020-2021 season, it will be a net negative for them. It’s up to Scruggs to return strong in future seasons or the deal has the potential to be quite bad for the Mayos long-term.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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