MLB Trade Deadline Analysis

Check back for updates as our writers break down the deals leading up to Friday’s trade deadline.

CHRIS PUMMER (11 p.m. Friday): Once again I have to change course and admit this was a pretty busy deadline day. Despite that, I won’t be surprised if we also have a busy August with bigger contracts slipping through waivers.

The biggest surprise was the White Sox reviving an earlier trade for Jake Peavy. I also think it’s a great move for the Sox. Of the four pitchers they gave up, Aaron Poreda is the most highly touted, but Clayton Richard probably has the best future since he’ll stick in a team’s rotation. I’m higher on Richard than some, but if he’s the best pitcher the Sox gave up, this is a great deal.

The most baffling trade to me is the one that sent Victor Martinez from the Indians to the Red Sox for a package that didnt’ include Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden. Justin Masterson, Bryan Price and Nick Hagadone is an alright package, but not for a hitter like Martinez that can catch and is signed for cheap next year.

Some commentators are calling the Reds’ trade for Scott Rolen a head-scratcher. Not me. Rolen is a better hitter and a much better fielder than Edwin Encarnacion, the third baseman packaged with a couple pitching prospects to Toronto. That Encarnacion is comming of a wrist injury makes it even more unlikely he’d be able to match Rolen’s play. It’s a move that helps the Reds compete next season, which more teams are looking to do with these deadline deals.

As far as rentals go, the Twins did very well to trade for Orlando Cabrera, who fills one of their gaping holes. Jarrod Washburn fills a need for the Tigers, though I’m not sure the didn’t need a big bat for their lineup more. And Claudio Vargas could help the Brewers hang in the race a little longer, but unless Milwaukee swallows a contract later this month, it’s not enough pitching help.

The Braves traded Casey Kotchman straight across to bring back Adam LaRoche. LaRoche might be a better player, but the move might be too marginal to make a difference.

While the Pirates got decent value back for the players they’ve dealt, the Nationals only flipped a couple pieces (Nick Johnson, Joe Beimel) and got a bag of crap back.

More later on the overall winners and losers from this week.

CHRIS PUMMER (11 p.m. Thursday): After the Cliff Lee deal, I was almost ready to backtrack on my opinion that this would be another quiet trade deadline. But then Thursday was pretty slow except for the George Sherrill deal. The Dodgers gave the Orioles a nice third base prospect in Josh Bell for the lefty reliever, but right now it looks like the kind of move that helps both teams — especially considering where they are competitively.

The Orioles might finish last in the AL East again, but the team is starting to look pretty interesting. Maybe interesting only gets you as good as third place in that division, but it’s better than where Baltimore has been.

The Cubs also got a pair of left-handers from the Pirates (Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow), but those guys will likely have less impact on the pennant chase and postseason that Sherrill will with the Dodgers. The prospects going back to the Pirates are also less exciting than Bell.

CHRIS PUMMER (11 p.m. Wednesday): The Pirates did ship off Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson, and I have to admit, they got more for them than I thought they would.

Sanchez went to the Giants for a decent pitching prospect in Tim Alderson. Wilson was packaged with the exiled Ian Snell to bring back Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Clement and three minor league pitchers from the Mariners.

While some M’s blogs are disappointed Clement didn’t fetch more, I think those folks need realize that Clement just didn’t have as much value as he did a couple years ago when I looked like he might stick at catcher. He hits right-handed pitching OK, but that makes him, what, the next Ben Broussard with less glove?

What Clement and the others did was bring a real shortstop that the Mariners have been missing since Yuniesky Betancourt played like he gave a shit. And before the griping starts about how expensive Wilson’s option for next year is ($8.4 million), it’s worth noting that a team can’t expect to have an Orlando Cabrera or a surprisingly resurgent Adam Everett fall land in their lap on the cheap. Seattle is aiming to contend again next season, so there’s nothing wrong with getting its ducks in a row while maybe getting a couple guys who can help them climb back into it this year. The Mariners did it by giving up a back full of spare parts.

I mentioned this is more than I thought the Pirates would get for these guys since both are making some decent coin next year (though in the M’s case it’s their call to bring back Wilson). But I’m not sure how these pieces fit in Pittsburgh. Clement is a lesser version of Ryan Doumit. Cedeno is probably just a placeholder at shortstop. And if Snell ever decides to get his act together, the rest of his career might be better than anything any of these pitching prospects are able to do.

That said, the Pirates just weren’t getting any bangfor those Bucs, so moving Wilson, Sanchez and Snell out and trying to start over isn’t that bad of an idea.

DAVE TOMAR: (2PM Wednesday)-World Champs Deal for Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee

FoxSports.com reported early on Wednesday afternoon that the Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement for 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.  Pending medical review, this would add last year’s 22-3 lefty to a starting rotation that is actually coming off an excellent July in which the team has compiled a 19-5 record thus far.

Though rumors have swirled for weeks around Roy Halladay and the World Champs, the Blue Jays asking price could only be described as pigheaded.  With two days to go until Friday’s 4PM trade deadline, it remains uncertain that they will be able to unload the best pitcher in baseball when his value is at its highest.  In the meantime, the Phillies have given up nothing of proven virtue but have succeeded in significantly improving the team’s pitching.  Sending shortstop Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson and pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp to the Indians, Phillies have acquired Cliff Lee through 2010 (when he will be paid $8 mil. as opposed to Halladay’s $15.75 mil.) and a righthanded batter off the bench in outfielder Ben Francisco (read: not Eric Bruntlett).

Though Marson and Donald may yet be major league players, the jury is out.  Either way, starters Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz leave little room for their advancement in the system.  Carrasco has by all accounts been disappointing, compiling a 5.18 ERA. and 6-9 record at AAA Lehigh.   Jason Knapp is considered one of the Phils’ most promising prospects, but has only competed at the Low-A level and is reported to have a history of shoulder problems.

Francisco brings a capable glove and 28 home runs in his two years in the majors.  Lee was the best pitcher in the American league last year, compiling the 12th highest single season winning percentage in baseball history and carrying a 2.54 ERA with 170 strikeouts in 31 starts.  This year, he has a 3.14 ERA  with 107 strikeouts and a 7-9 record with an Indians team that is quite simply terrible.

The Blue Jays had demanded another touted pitching prospect in Kyle Drabek, current major league starter and Rookie of the Year contender in J.A. Happ and one of two outfielder prospects in Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor.  The Phillies parted with none of these chips in acquiring Lee, which suggests that they might not yet be done.  Rumors suggest that talks splintered between the Phils and the Jays in the hours leading up to the finality of the Lee deal.

In his first really significant test as a freshman GM for the Phillies, Ruben Amaro, Jr. has shown that he means business.  It is tantalizing to consider that even with this move—a fantastic one in all likelihood—there are still two days to go til zero hour.

CHRIS PUMMER: I was wrong about the Indians not dealing Lee for less than a top-shelf package. I think the return here for them is pretty underwhelming for a guy that won the Cy Young last year, was pitching well this year, is cheap, AND has a cheap option for next year.

Dave’s right. Great trade for the Phillies. Mark Shapiro is wrong. This move might never help his team.

CHRIS PUMMER (10:29 p.m. Tuesday): Fernando Tatis came up during a discussion of Perpetual Post writers today and it got me thinking about trades in general.

Tatis was a stud prospect for the Rangers when he was packaged with Darren Oliver to the Cardinals in a deadline deal for — wait for it — Royce Clayton and Todd Stottlemyre.

That looked like a bad deal for the Rangers as Tatis went on to have 2 1/2 great seasons in St. Louis. Then the Cards traded him for Dustin Hermansen and Steve Kline in an offseason move that was roundly criticized. It wasn’t long, however, before Tatis’ career completely fell apart.

I like how Tatis kind of represents the best and worst outcomes of a trade. He was the grade A prospect that broke out in a big way after being sent packing for veterans. Then he was the type of established young talent you don’t ever think your team should trade away, but then flamed out after being cashed in for a very modest haul.

You never know how these deadline trades will work out. And I like to think the Tatis example gives us a good reason to be excited for the possiblities involved in a trade. But at the same time, he gives us a reminder that if your team deals a great prospect for help now it’s not the end of the world. That guy might never even be as good as Tatis was for a few years, and even if he were, good organizations still find a way to acquire more talent to fill the gap.

After all, since the Cardinals traded Tatis, they did find a couple guys named Pujols, Polanco and Rolen to play the position for a while.

CHRIS PUMMER (11:37 a.m. Tuesday): Yesterday I mentioned the Twins are (or at least should be) a prime candidate to make a deal this week. But there are a couple contenders that I think are in a bad position.

One of them is the Tigers. Somehow they have a division lead, but I think they’re a very bad team. As constituted, they’re likely to fall off as Edwin Jackson comes back to earth and Rick Porcello goes through a few growing pains. If the rotation struggles without the same caliber of work from those two guys, the Tigers aren’t strong enough to overcome that. They’ve also got a very thin minor league system after recent trades for Miguel Cabrera, Jackson and (barfs) Dontrelle Willis.

The Mariners are also in a tough spot. They’re 7 1/2 games back of a playoff spot with a lousy offense and rotation that has a big hole in it with Erik Bedard going down to injury. But being above .500 might make ownership reluctant to sell usable pieces like Jarrod Washburn, or even Russell Branyan and David Aardsma. You’d really hate to see P.R. reasons keeping the M’s from turning one of those guys into a real MLB-quality shortstop.

CHRIS PUMMER (10:38 p.m. Monday): No surprise the Indians ship Ryan Garko to the Giants. SF needed a better bat at first base, and while Garko’s not great he’s better than what the team had. An A-ball pitching prospect sounds like the right price.

This is probably the only kind of move the Indians make. By that I mean I don’t think it’s likely they move Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez. Both of those guys are top-shelf performers with cheap options for next year. Unless Indians GM Mark Shapiro thinks this team can’t contend next year, he’ll hold on to his stars unless someone blows him away with an offer.

CHRIS PUMMER: For all the hype around Roy Halladay maybe getting dealt, this might just be a quite trade deadline. Halladay’s no lock to be traded, and most of the contenders this year don’t seem to have clear enough needs to make it worthwhile to pay the price in prospects and/or bad contracts.

One team that should be actively buying this year is the Twins. Despite being a game below .500 after Sunday, they’re only four games behind a very, very suspect Tigers team. The also have gapping holes in the middle of their infield where there are obvious needs for upgrades.

How much would it really cost to get Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates?

A big knock on Terry Ryan when he was the Twins’ GM was that he never dealt for enough help to push the team over the top. This is where current GM Bill Smith can leave his own stamp.

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2 Responses to MLB Trade Deadline Analysis

  1. adamd says:

    Dave:

    There’s no doubt about it, this is a great trade for the Phillies. I don’t agree that the Blue Jays were asking for too much for Halladay. He’s a once-in-a-generation, surefire Hall of Famer. Those guys don’t come cheap. But it’s great to be able to keep Happ and Drabek, especially with Myers testing free agency this winter and Moyer riding off into the sunset in 2010 (and maybe even after this season if the Phillies repeat).

    We’ll feel the full value of this trade on three fronts. First, this year’s playoffs, where we expect Lee to win multiple games. Second, next year’s playoffs, assuming we make it. Third, and not to be overlooked, the winter of 2010. After next season, Lee becomes a free agent.

    If Lee and his agent are interested, the Phillies should offer to rip up next year’s $8 million contract and write a new, 4-year deal worth roughly $50-$55 million.

    If Lee chooses to sign with another club after 2010, the Phillies will have traded three middling prospects and a potential #1-#2 type starter for 8 months of Cliff Lee. If, within those 8 months, the Phillies can win one or two more titles, this deal will seal Ruben Amaro’s legacy as a hero in Philadelphia, no matter how well Jason Knapp performs for Cleveland.

    P.S. Getting Ben Francisco as icing on the cake feels like stealing. He’s not well known in Philadelphia because he’s young and has been playing in the American League, but Phillies fans are going to fall in love with him quickly. He can run, hit for power, fields well enough, is young, and is under club control through 2013.

  2. rmiller4 says:

    Dave:

    I agree. This is a win/win situation. We now have cy young pitcher who has good stats when you consider the crap he has backing him up in the field.

    Since we still own all the players the Jays want we could go for broke and pick up Halladay. Imagine the 1.2.3 knockout of Halladay/Lee/Hamels. Then add in Blanton (the way he’s been pitching) and I imagine it would be Moyer or Lopez if the deal were to go through since Happ would be gone. WOW!

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