Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sean Gilmartin for J.R. Graham revisited

Sean Gilmartin spent one season in the Twins system
before the Mets took in in the Rule 5 draft last December.
I wrote about this "Rule 5 trade" back in May, and after Sean Gilmartin's performance Monday for the Mets -- 3.1 shutout innings in the Amazin's comeback win -- it's worth revisiting.

The Twins acquired Gilmartin, a lefty the Braves had drafted in the first round in 2011, from Atlanta for Ryan Doumit after the 2013 season. Gilmartin opened 2014 in Double A for the Twins and went 7-3, 3.12 in 12 starts, 72 innings. They moved him up to Triple A halfway through the season, and he was 2-4, 4.28 in 14 starts, 73.2 innings there. Combined, he was 9-7, 3.71 at the two highest levels of the minor league ladder in 145.2 innings, with good walk (2.8) and strikeout (8.2) rates.

The Twins left him off the 40-man roster. They used that roster slot instead to take J.R. Graham from the Braves in the Rule 5 draft. The Mets took Gilmartin.

Rule 5 picks can't be optioned. They are use or lose, and most are returned to their original organization, Both Gilmartin and Graham have stuck, however, and with less than a week until the rosters expand, it is certain their drafting teams will retain their rights.

It's quite likely that the Twins will option Graham out next year. The righty has a big arm, but he also has a 5.05 ERA in 57 innings, and Paul Molitor has never been comfortable using him in winnable games. (The Twins have won just 12 of his 33 appearances, and most of those were blowouts.) He's given up at least one run in his last six appearances in which he's retired a batter.

Gilmartin, on the other hand, is 3-1, 2.34 after Monday's win. The Mets have used him a bit more often than the Twins have used Graham and for shorter stints -- he gets some LOOGY work, being left-handed -- and have generally avoided using him in close games, although he's gotten decisions in each of his last three outings. He doesn't have the velocity Graham does, but (again) he's left-handed. It's easier to imagine the Mets keeping him around next spring.

Here's a telling comparison: Gilmartin has been charged with 11 runs allowed all season. Graham has allowed 10 home runs.

The Twins may not regret drafting Graham and tying up a roster spot with him. That pick was about the future and about adding velocity, and he may eventually turn into a usable relief arm. But they ought to regret losing Gilmartin in the process.   

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