Analyzing the Cleburne-Lincoln-Sussex County Trade

Analyzing the Cleburne-Lincoln-Sussex County TradeIn American Association Daily, Robert Pannier continues catching up on big trades from around the American Association. In today’s edition, he focuses on the three team trade between the Lincoln Saltdogs and Cleburne Railroaders in the American Association and the Sussex County Miners in the Can-Am. This deal included six players, including Zach Nehrir, Tyler Kane, Austin Boyle, Trevor Sealey, Edward Cruz, and James Campbell.  

Three-Way Trade Alters South Division

It has not taken long for Cleburne Railroaders personnel director Josh Robertson to get comfortable with his new position. The former Wichita Wingnuts general manager has given the Railroaders a very Wingnuts-like feel, but he has also not been afraid to part with players who helped to turn to Wichita into a powerhouse. That was on full display on December 5, when Cleburne made a three-way deal with the Lincoln Saltdogs and Sussex County (Can-Am League).

Cleburne departed with four players in the trade, sending RHPs Tyler Kane and James Campbell to Sussex County and RHP Austin Boyle and OF Trevor Sealey to Lincoln. In return, the Railroaders received RHP Edward Cruz from Sussex County and OF Zach Nehrir from Lincoln.

How the Trade Impacts Lincoln

For the Lincoln Saltdogs, the loss of Zach Nehrir was no real loss. Truthfully, a case could be made that he was the best player in the American Association last season, however, he put up huge numbers for Wichita (.312, 20 doubles, 7 homers, 61 RBI), not for the Saltdogs. He came to Lincoln to complete a deal that sent Angel Reyes back to the Saltdogs, so the team never really lost him.

The Saltdogs have plenty of hitting – what they need is pitching and Austin Boyle has a live arm. Boyle was 2-0 last season with 2.68 ERA in 30 appearances. He also had two saves. The right-hander was outstanding in his two seasons in Wichita, allowing 67 hits in 75.2 innings, walking only 24 while striking out 83.

Boyle could serve a variety of roles in Lincoln. He was a starter in the Pecos League three seasons ago, going 8-3 for Garden City in 13 starts. He made a start for the Wingnuts last year before returning to the bullpen. Boyle has overpowering stuff and could close or work as the primary setup guy. What he does is give Manager Bobby Brown a lot of flexibility.

Versatility may be the key to this trade for Brown, and that is why it was no surprise that he acquired Trevor Sealey as well. Sealey has been in the American Association for two seasons, but had a breakout year in 2018. He started the year in Cleburne, hitting .267 in 85 games with 56 runs scored and 30 RBI. He was traded to the St. Paul Saints and helped the team reach the league championship series.

Sealey can do a lot of things to help a team. First, he can play all three outfield positions and second base. Plus, he has speed, stealing nine bases last year and 10 in 2017. He has a quick bat and makes contact, allowing the Saltdogs to open the playbook a bit.

How the Trade Impacts Cleburne

There is no denying that the Cleburne Railroaders gave up a lot in this deal. Tyler Kane joined the Wingnuts in 2016 and went 21-5 in 42 appearances, 31 starts. He will give Sussex County a genuine ace. James Campbell suffered through an injury plagued 2018 season but, in 2017, he was one of the best relieves in the league, going 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 34 appearances. There is talk that his fastball has reached 99 mph, and he could be the closer for the Can-Am League team.

Cleburne surrendered four players, but Nehrir is a unique talent. He led the league in stolen bases with 38, posted a .382 on-base percentage, and scored 65 runs. Plus, he was probably the best defensive outfielder in the league last season. That he is still in the American Association is a bit of a shock, but there is no doubt that Cleburne fans will instantly fall in love with their centerfielder.

Edward Cruz made a solid comeback in 2018 after sitting out all of 2017. He appeared in two games for the Gary Southshore RailCats, posting two scoreless innings, before joining the Miners. For Sussex County, the right-hander was 0-1 with a 2.38 ERA in six appearances. He allowed only six hits in 11.1 innings pitched, striking out 13.

The great thing about independent baseball is that you actually see trades where everybody benefits. They are not one-sided affairs where one team reaps all the benefits while the other gets shafted. This transaction is one such deal. Everybody won here, and it will be exciting to see how these six players impact their respective playoff chases.

Featured Image by Ed Bailey

By Robert Pannier