There are few things that Dan Duquette loves more in life than making likely-insignificant trades for players you’ve never heard of in order to give him a chance to talk about depth even though the Orioles have no depth. The O’s made another of these on Friday morning, nabbing 23-year-old right-handed pitcher Gabriel Ynoa from the Mets for cash considerations.
To make room for Ynoa on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated catcher Francisco Peña for assignment. Peña was out of options anyway, so the chances of his making it to the end of spring training were slim. If there was ever much mystery about who was going to be the Orioles backup catcher, this would seem to settle the question in favor of Caleb Joseph, unless the Orioles pull another surprise.
The press release in which the Orioles announced this move has one of the funnier lines I’ve ever read in one of their press releases:
He made his Major League debut on August 13, 2016 against San Diego and pitched in 10 games (three starts) with the Mets last season, posting a 2.43 strikeout/walk ratio.
Does anyone care about a guy’s strikeout/walk ratio? OK, it’s a fact worth mentioning, but it’s not what anyone really wants to know first. Usually, you’d ask, “What was his ERA?” Or if you prefer theory to reality, what was his FIP? The press release writer glossed over this because Ynoa’s ERA was 6.38 in those ten games.
It’s a small sample size, so it’s not worth getting worked up that his performance wasn’t great, but come on, Orioles. It’s insulting to the intelligence of fans to not even make the barest acknowledgement that the guy struggled a little at the MLB level.
What’s vaguely intriguing about Ynoa (pronounced ya-know-ah, which is great) is his performance at Triple-A last season, when he posted a 3.97 ERA in 25 starts for the Mets affiliate in Las Vegas while averaging about 6 IP per game started.
The Pacific Coast League is known as being a very hitter-friendly league due to parks and climate, so a near-4 Triple-A ERA in Las Vegas is less discouraging than a similar ERA in Norfolk, like Joe Gunkel posted there last year.
One thing Ynoa does not do is strike people out much. He only struck out 78 in 154.1 innings. That’s a paltry number and will make him having sustained success an uphill battle. Ynoa did strike out batters a bit more often in the lower minors, so maybe the Orioles wonder if they can revive that skill in Triple-A or the big leagues.
The Duquette quote bot deployed to offer this take on Ynoa:
Duquette on Ynoa: "This kid's got a chance to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. He's got a lot of good qualities." #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) February 10, 2017
Thanks, Duquette bot. According to Kubatko, Duquette went on to say that Ynoa has “a good sinker, four-seam fastball that reaches 95, and a good changeup.” I added an Oxford comma for the sake of the progress of civilization. Duquette further said that Ynoa needs a more consistent breaking ball. Some of what Duquette said about Ynoa may even be true.
Cot’s Contracts says that Ynoa had his contract selected by the Mets in November, 2014, probably to protect him from that year’s Rule 5 draft. That means he would have had options used in 2015 and 2016 and will still have one remaining for the 2017 season.
The Orioles will have a whole year to see if they want to keep him around longer, and if he develops at all, their depth will be at least a little better than it was before this trade.