Evaluating the Willie Abreu to Sioux Falls Canaries for Wyatt Ulrich Trade
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier evaluates the trade between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Sioux Falls Canaries that sent Willie Abreu to the Canaries for the revisionary rights to OF Wyatt Ulrich.
Sioux Falls Canaries Acquire Willie Abreu for Revisionary Rights to Wyatt Ulrich
On Thursday, the Sioux Falls Canaries acquired outfielder Willie Abreu from the Kansas City Monarchs, for the revisionary rights to outfielder Wyatt Ulrich. Ulrich started the season with the Sioux Falls Canaries, but his contract was transferred to the San Diego Padres organization. He is currently playing for AA-San Antonio.
How Willie Abreu Impacts the Canaries
The trade for Abreu is an obvious one. The Canaries were rolling after acquiring outfielder Aaron Takacs from the Lake Country DockHounds, but have gone into a funk since the contract of Ulrich was purchased by the Padres. The outfielder left the team on July 14, just after the All-Star break, and Sioux Falls is 5-11 since.
Ulrich was a catalyst at the top of the lineup, setting the table for sluggers Gavin LaValley, Jabari Henry, and Trey Michalczewski. However, without that leadoff hitter, Sioux Falls has struggle to produce runs. The team has scored 69 in the 16 games since the transfer, held to two or fewer runs in eight of those contests. That is very un-Canaries like.
Abreu comes with an outstanding bat. In 59 games, he hit .313 with 13 homers, 43 runs scored, and 44 RBI for the Monarchs. Abreu posted an impressive .558 slugging percentage with a .924 OPS. He also his stolen 10 bases, giving Manager Mike Meyer some additional options in how to use the outfielder. The team has been using Ozzie Martinez as their primary leadoff hitter now, and that may remain that way. However, Abreu can hit anywhere in this lineup, including protecting the sluggers in the No. 5 or 6 holes.
No doubt that, if Ulrich returns, he will be missed. He was a fan favorite in Sioux Falls, but the club can use Abreu right now. They need some additional offense as this club is struggling to earn that final spot in the West Division.
How Wyatt Ulrich Impacts the Monarchs
Right now, he does not impact the club at all. He is struggling at AA (hitting .188 through his first a contest), but will likely be given an extended opportunity with the Padres organization, maybe even for the duration of the season. In fact, because Ulrich can impact the lineup in several ways, he should get a legitimate shot to return to the San Diego organization next season.
However, this serves the purposes of Manager Joe Calfapietra in two ways. First, while Abreu was a big part of this Monarchs lineup, Kansas City re-signed Ryan Grotjohn after he was released by the Kansas City Royals organization and added Mallex Smith. Grotjohn was a star for the Monarchs last season, hitting .329 in 91 games with 76 runs scored and 60 RBI. He was going to be taking over in the outfield anyway, leaving Abreu on the bench.
In addition, Calfapietra added former Major Leaguer Mallex Smith on Friday. Smith spent parts of five seasons in MLB, including playing 141 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 when he hit .296, leading the lead with 10 triples. The following season, he stole 46 bases for the Seattle Mariners, also leading the league.
This means that the impact on the Monarchs lineup will be minimal. However, one of the things that makes Calfapietra so successful is his vision for the future. Ulrich will likely return to the American Association at some point, even if it is a year from now. When he does, he will instantly fit into this Kansas City lineup. As he did with Sioux Falls, Ulrich can do many things for the Kansas City Manager as well, including moving runners over, stealing bases, getting on base, even hitting the occasional homerun. Plus, he is a very good outfielder.
To be quite honest, with the return of Grotjohn and the addition of Smith, this is another move by Calfapietra to give one of his guys an opportunity to excel, even if it means that it is with another club. The Monarchs’ Skipper is well known for doing what is in the best interests of his players, and this is another example of him giving Abreu a shot to play.
Who Wins This Trade?
Right now, clearly Sioux Falls is the winner. They are getting a player with exceptional talent who should only help to make this lineup better. The Monarchs get no one at the moment. The reality is that there could become a point where Ulrich does not return at all. Should he hit well in the Padres organization, he may never return to independent baseball. That would mean the Monarchs made a trade for literally nothing in return.
However, they already have the replacement for Abreu. The Monarchs are not going to be impacted by this move negatively at all. They lose a positive clubhouse presence, but they also gain a guy with championship experience who was well respected in that locker room already. Sioux Falls gets a guy who will likely hit 8-10 home runs over the final month of the season while hitting .330. This could be the move that drives Sioux Falls into the playoffs.
By Robert Pannier