Another trade in Major League Pickleball (MLP) was announced today as teams are clearly looking to make things happen and know they have to go for it if they want to win. The Hard 8s traded Susannah Barr and John Cincola to the Bus for Kyle Yates and Milan Rane.
It’s a very interesting trade as both teams tried to address a real need – the Hard 8s with their #2 male and the Bus with their #2 female. We have really hammered home the point that the Hard 8s needed to do something about Cincola and they end up with a significant upgrade, but it also comes at a steep price to lose Susannah Barr. The biggest advantage the Hard 8s had as a team is they had two top half women by getting Barr as a steal at the #18 spot. Really, it seems to us that the move for the Hard 8s puts them in a similar predicament, except now they have a two strong men instead of two strong women. You know what they say, when one door closes, another one opens, or something like that.
Daescu and Yates will be a natural fit together as a duo who have played together recently. However, Rane and Yates did not form a particularly strong mixed team in Newport and neither of their mixed results outside of MLP separate are encouraging for them as well. Rane was picked right at the end of the initial draft and it still feels right that she is borderline draftable for MLP. If it weren’t for her close relationship to Jorja Johnson, we would think the play would be to drop her and try to upgrade that spot the waiver wire, especially if the expectation is that there are going to be a number women dropped by other teams. For Yates, he has figured out his place in pickleball as a high end, right-sided guy this year, but the mixed results have continued to trend down. As much as an upgrade as Yates is for the Hard 8s on the men’s side, the resulting downgrade on the women’s side is more significant in our view. It appears the intention is in the right place for improvement for the Hard 8s but it’s difficult to picture to see how this trade improves their standing in the MLP landscape.
Moving over to the Bus, this is a win for them. The Bus did not make the playoffs in Austin or Newport, and now only have one player remaining from their drafted team. They get to pair Lauren Stratman with Susannah Barr and, much like the Hard 8s previous situation, that should be a lethal women’s pairing that rivels that Bright/Kawamoto partnership. The question for the Bus is going to be how this team fares in men’s and for their #2 mixed team. Wes Burrows proved he can get wins with Lauren Stratman against opposing #1 mixed teams, but Cincola did not have a lot of success with either Daescu or Barr. It seems unlikely Cincola would have success with Wes Burrows, who is a weaker men’s doubles player than Daescu.
While both teams are getting upgrades at different spots in this trade, we also think that the weaker player going both ways in the transaction are droppable. If the Bus decide to drop Cincola, there are a number of guys who could fit in with this group that would make them a scary out for any team. Gabe Tardio, Ben Newell and, even former Bus member, Eden Lica are all very viable options. There may not be a ton of consistency in a Burrows/Tardio partnership, but we wouldn’t want to be on the other side of those matchups in a winner take all elimination match. It’s unclear if the Bus can put it all together for an entire event with their roster, but they are one move away from being a scary out.
Ultimately, it’s good to see that teams are understanding where their place is in MLP and they are willing to take some risks in an attempt to better their roster. Even though we think there is a winner and a loser to this trade, both teams looked in the mirror, identified their problem and worked out something creative to try to fix it. This is the last event of the year so if it doesn’t work out you start again next year. We’ll be curious if MLP switches to a dynasty model rather than re-drafting each year as that comes with its own pros and cons. Either way, it’s clear that teams are playing for keeps and there should be more moves on the horizon.
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