Back when Jesse Crain was acquired from the White Sox, it was agreed that the Rays would send over compensation at a later date. That compensation was presumably to be determined based on how Crain performed down the stretch for Tampa Bay, with a better return likely if Crain performed well. In the end, it turned out that Crain never threw a pitch for the Rays this season, spending the entire time on the disabled list due to a strained shoulder, and further discomfort that occurred after being activated from the disabled list.
Now, we know what the price for nothing is, at least in terms of the trade for Crain. According to Tampa Bay Times writer Marc Topkin, the Rays will be sending two players to the White Sox, one of which will be 25 year old minor league pitcher Sean Bierman. The trade is expected to become official later on today.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) October 16, 2013
Bierman is likely not someone that would be considered much of a prospect. At age 24 , he has yet to crack the AA level, splitting his time last season between the Bowling Green Hot Rods and the Charlotte Stone Crabs. While he was old for his level, Bierman did put together a solid season, producing a combined record between the two stops of 6-5 with a 2.55 ERA. The Rays had aggressively promoted him, twice bringing him up a level midseason, yet he was not ranked amongst the Rays top thirty prospects heading into the year.
When drafted, it was thought that Bierman could eventually develop into a back of the rotation starter, throwing several different pitches in an attempt to keep hitters off balance. He repertoire includes a fastball in the upper 80’s, a sinker with heavy sink and a decent curve – nothing that indicates that he would be able to suddenly turn into a strikeout machine. That bore itself out during his time in the minors, as Bierman generally did not walk a lot of batters, and had less than impressive strikeout rates. The expectation that he could be a fifth starter, or possibly a long reliever/spot starter, likely has not changed.
However, the concept that the Rays are parting with anything at all without getting any actual production from Crain is disappointing. While Bierman may not turn out to be a star, he could develop into a serviceable major league piece down the road. Add in another prospect, and the trade for Crain likely has to be considered a colossal failure. Unless, of course, the Rays can resign Crain, and he turns out to be a solid option in their bullpen.
The final cost for Jesse Crain is going to be announced later today. It is known that Sean Bierman is already a part of that deal, and although he may not be more than a fringe prospect, that cost may be far too high already.