(GAME DATE — May 16, 2022) — Toronto ace Knuckles Malone, the four-time Sandy Koufax Award winner, will join the Minneapolis Ravens as part of a blockbuster five player deal that will execute in the next few days.
The 32-year-old right-handed knuckleballer has spent his entire major league career, now in his 8th season, at the top of the Toronto Nomads rotation where he has cemented himself in the team’s records books in multiple pitching stats, including career bests in ERA (2.49), wins (91), winning percentage (.705), pWAR (55.6), completed games (69), shutouts (21), and WHIP (1.01).
In addition to his 4 pitcher of year trophies, his other hardware includes a Rookie of the Year Award, five pitcher of the month awards, and 7 all-star nominations. He also placed 2nd in the Carl Simms MVP Award nomination in 2015, one of the last seasons that pitchers were eligible.
Joining Malone will be center fielder Kenny Peterson, a disciplined batter with speed and a great glove, to add OF depth to the Ravens roster.
In return, the Nomads will pick up three top-100 prospects from the Ravens, including AA-level 3B Carolina Reaper (14th) and future starter Kevin Lutz (50th), along with AAA-level CF Rafael Alaniz (65th).
The 21-year-old Alaniz has shown massive potential as a solid contact hitter with blazing speed and elite center field capabitilies. He was at one time ranked the 27th prospect, and has averaged over .300 at every level above rookie ball. Lutz, a native of Sherbrooke, Quebec, is seen by some as a potentially dominant top of the rotation lefty starter who throws a collection of breaking stuff that includes a talented screwball. Reaper is a cannon-armed third baseman from Charlotte, NC, a product of the Arizona State baseball factory, who has collected college and minor league hardware as he has developed his impressive swing and power potential. Reaper is currently injured with an estimated 2 months of recovery time to go.
The Ravens will now pair Malone with another rotation ace, Ricky Rodriguez, who has just returned from a 12-month injury, giving the team a dominant 1-2 pitching punch once again, which has not been seen since the 2019 season when Minneapolis went 100-62 with Rodriguez, Pete Sharpe, and Aaron Miller atop their rotation, each of whom had 17 or more wins that season.
Critics and observers were quick to comment on the massive trade, which has the potential to disrupt the Lake League West division. Many derided the Nomads as winding up on the losing end of the deal and while time will tell, as is the case with many trades involving high value veterans for high potential prospects, the Nomads seem very content with the deal as they enter a rebuild with both feet.
Malone, who suffered a bout of shoulder tendinitis earlier this season, is 3-0 on the season with a 2.17 ERA and 0.94 WHIP after five starts. His contract runs till 2026 at $28.6 million a year, with a team option for the final year, a price more than affordable for the well-budgeted Ravens.