Arms trade: White Sox send Avilan out, receive Felix Paulino

The White Sox announced a trade today, shipping left-handed reliever Luis Avilan to the Phillies in exchange for minor league pitcher Felix Paulino.

Paulino is a 23-year-old Dominican right-hander who started his pro career relatively late, at age 19 in the DSL in 2014. A starter in his first three seasons up through 2016 in the short season New York Penn League, he moved to bullpen work during the 2017 season and was there again to open 2018 in High-A. But then he was moved back to a starting role, and promoted recently to AA Reading in the Eastern League where he’s made six starts with less than ideal statistical results (5.46 ERA, 3.9 BB/9, 6.1 K/9).

From a scouting perspective, drawing from reports drawn up by 2080 Ball as well as Matt Winkelman (who runs Phillies Minor Thoughts), Paulino’s repertoire sounds pretty standard. His 4-seam fastball runs low 90’s but can get up to 95, and he complements that with a cutter (or sinker, depending on who you ask) a few ticks lower. Then there’s a low 80’s slider, and a change-up still a work in progress. While he’s generally thrown enough strikes, it sounds like he’s control over command at this time. From Winkelman:

And here’s a video from 2080 to give you a visual:

Paulino will report to AA Birmingham, whose roster currently stands at 23 after a few other moves today. It wasn’t yet clear if he’d be starting or relieving in his new organization.

What might be most interesting about the trade is how the value equation worked over time. Luis Avilan is a lefty reliever who came to the Sox this past offseason in the 3-way trade that brought Joakim Soria to the South Side. Acquired as a 28-year-old and apparent side sweetener in that trade, the lefty is arbitration eligible for the 4th time in 2019 and wouldn’t likely be part of the team’s plans by the time they are contending. Avilan made $2.54 million this year and would be due a raise next season. The White Sox have some tough decisions to make in regards to 40-man roster construction this offseason and they will likely be adding some younger options from the left side. They obviously felt like the money saved in addition to Paulino was a better course of action then carrying Luis into the winter.

Don’t be surprised if other deals of this ilk happen for the South Siders before the postseason roster eligibility deadline at the end of this month, with contenders itching to fill specialist gaps for their stretch runs.

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