Kodi Medeiros has seen the player-as-commodity business side of MLB before the trade that sent him from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Back in 2014, the Waiakea left-hander was Milwaukee’s first-round pick in the MLB draft. The Brewers picked Saint Louis right-hander Jordan Yamamoto in the 12th round.
They were teammates in the Arizona rookie league in 2014 and reunited in Advanced A-ball with the Carolina Mudcats in 2017.
Yamamoto was traded in January to the Miami Marlins in the package for outfielder Christian Yelich, who wanted out after Derek Jeter started a payroll teardown.
Besides a plus slider, Medeiros has always had a good eye of perspective, and he looked at the trade from a wide lens.
“I am really excited for this opportunity,” he said. “It’s a little stressful because everything happened very quickly, and I was on the move right away when I got the call.
“I’ve made so many friends, and I really enjoyed my time being a part of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.”
For a young farmhand like Medeiros, 22, the hope if a trade happens is to land with a rebuilding team that avoids big-ticket free agents.
Like the Marlins, the White Sox are in full-on teardown mode. They’re 19.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.
According to Cot’s contracts, Chicago has no big pitching deals on its books. Most of the pitchers are signed to one-year deals that expire after the 2018 season.
Of all the BIIF players in MLB farm systems — Kean Wong (Tampa Bay), Quintin Torres-Costa (Milwaukee), Jodd Carter (Cleveland), Joey Jarneski (Texas), and Micah Bello (Milwaukee) — Wong and Medeiros are seemingly in the best promote-from-within organizations.
The small-market Rays rarely sign expensive free agents on the open market because they’ve struggled with attendance since their inception in 1998 at Tropicana Field, where they average 14,947 fans. (Miami is last with an average of 9,762 fans.)
However, the Rays are set to move into a new stadium in 2023 that would cost over $890 million.
The Sports Business Journal reported that the Rays’ new regional TV deal, starting next season, will pay $82 million per season over 15 years, a $1.23 billion total. (For comparison’s sake, the Dodgers signed an $8 billion deal five years ago.)
Whether the Rays remain frugal or chase free agents when their new stadium opens remains to be seen.
For Medeiros (7-5, 3.14 ERA in Double-A ball), he’s in a pitching-rich farm system with the White Sox, who sent closer Joakim Soria to the Brewers.
On mlb.com’s Top 30 prospects list, Medeiros is ranked No. 19, and there are seven pitchers ahead of him, but those prospect websites, such as baseballamerica.com, are dubious at best.
On mlb.com’s Tampa Bay list, Wong is not even ranked. He was a Triple-A all-star and has seen time in the Arizona Fall League, where ballclubs send their best prospects.
Meanwhile, Medeiros has made a steady climb up the minor league ladder and hasn’t suffered an arm injury, negating concerns about his low three-quarter arm angle.
The MLB amateur scouts, who spend their summers scouting the minors, and opposing managers, who file reports on their players and the opposition, likely came to the same conclusion: Medeiros is worth trading for.
“The White Sox told me I’ll be in Double-A with the Birmingham Barons,” Medeiros said. “I’m scheduled to meet up with the team on Saturday. We play the Mississippi Braves.
“I have the same goals, but now it’s just with a different team.”