View From The Bleachers

January 15, 2013

Realism In Hypothetical Trade Proposals

Filed under: Featured,General — Noah Eisner @ 1:00 pm

If you’re on Twitter or read the chat transcripts available on a host of  baseball websites, you know that one of the most entertaining aspects of the internet baseball world is the hypothetical trade proposal. Because they are almost always insane. If I had a quarter for every time I saw a proposed trade for Justin Upton this offseason that involved the D-Backs receiving a return approximating the other team’s fourth, seventh and twelfth best prospects, well… I’d have a wide array of quarters.

So how do you know if a trade proposal is realistic, or something that will result in chuckles? It’s a simple test: what you’re giving up has to hurt as much, or at least nearly as much, as what you’re gaining will help. This is why Justin Upton has not been traded this offseason. The two teams most heavily connected to Upton this offseason were the Rangers and Mariners. Talks with the Rangers never really progressed because the Rangers refused to include shortstops Elvis Andrus or Jurisckson Profar. The one trade that was agreed to, between the D-Back and Mariners, would have been headlined by Taijuan Walker, one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, and he would not have been the only significant prospect included. Upton nixed that trade pursuant to his no-trade rights.

What does this have to do with the Cubs? Chatter has already started regarding who the biggest available trade target will be a year from now, with the big bet on Tampa Bay Rays’ ace and 2012 Cy Young award winner David Price. Chatter has also started that the Cubs could be looking to make their first big move to convert their improved farm system into elite Major League talent by trading for Price next offseason.

But what will Price’s price (terrible pun intended) be? It will certainly be a significant package headed by one of Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora. Quite possibly by two of them. This does not mean that the Cubs should not trade two of those players for Price. Price is one of the truly elite pitchers in baseball, and could be even more dominant moving away from the loaded AL East. This just means don’t expect the Cubs to be able to get a pitcher like David Price for Dan Vogelbach, Robert Whitenack and Matt Szczur.

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Noah Eisner is a Chicago attorney living in the western suburbs with his wife and son (and impending daughter). When he isn’t practicing law or entertaining a toddler, Noah follows Cubs baseball with a focus on the farm system and sabermetric analysis. His Cubs-related ramblings can be followed on Twitter @Noah_Eisner.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    I would have thought a package centered around Vogelbach would be enough to get Price from the Rays.  I guess we’ll need to draft a fatter kid this year.  

  • Zonk

    How about Junior Lake, Logan Watkins, and Nick Struck?  That’s 3 players for just one! :)

    You are dead-on how easy it is to toss out ridiculous scenarios…..we want all these players, but you have to put your other team’s hat on and think “Would I do this?”

    At this point in time, we have nothing we could trade for David Price, short of Rizzo or Castro or maybe both.  Rays would certainly expect a cost-controlled, guaranteed all-star quality player in return, as they should.  We have exactly 2 of those right now, and everyone else is either “OK”, marginal, or way too young to project into anything.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I believe that the Cubs could compete in 2014 if all of the following moves were made:
    1) Garza to the Rangers for Olt and a single A pitcher 2) Price for two of the three prospects above and maybe that single A pitcher 3) Sign Felix Hernandez as a free agent.  The Cubs would have a good young infield, a fantastic pitching staff and an outfield that will need to be filled with either farmhands or some of the many outfielders available in the free agent market

  • Dusty Baylor

    Interesting idea.
    So abort what the Cubs plan has been, and start spending $$ up to $120 million right now?

  • Jedi

    If the Rangers would do Olt for Garza the Cubs should jump at it.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I do not view as aborting the plan.  It is getting two top pitchers for the price of one prospect and a loss of one draft pick. Olt would effectively replace one of the two prospects going to Tampa for Price. 

  • Chuck

    I wonder when McCutchen will become too expensive for the Pirates?  You need to look for a low budget team with a star that is about to go away due to free agency or a very disgruntled player on a bad team.

  • Norm Bothwell

    I don’t think they have to worry about him being too expensive. They just signed him to a 6 year extension last March. Won’t make $10M/year until 2015 and tops out at $14.5.

  • LVCubFan

    Interesting read, however if you look at the past 25 years there have been some superstars traded for mere bags of baseballs.  However, Tampa Bay has a contrarian front office who I would think are too smart to give away Price.

  • Noah_I

    You’ve seen a lot less of this over the last 5 or 6 years, though.  Teams just don’t trade Jeff Bagwell for pitchers in their mid-30s anymore.  

  • Noah_I

    Yeah, I don’t think the Cubs are getting Olt for Garza, at least this offseason.  The Rangers are as tight with holding on to their prospects as anyone.  Maybe if Garza puts up a first half like 2011 and is really the only pitcher of his caliber or above available.  I’d probably say the big piece back if a trade was made in spring training would be Martin Perez at best in a trade with the Rangers.

  • Noah_I

    I agree, but I don’t think Price will be available until at least midseason, and more likely next offseason.  At that point, Baez, Soler and Almora could all have had some playing time in Double A, and you have some other prospects with higher ceilings with outside chances at playing there: Vogelbach, Pierce Johnson, JC Paniagua head the list.  You also have some promising up the middle players who could make big jumps: Arismendy Alcantara, Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez head that list.

    The Cubs will probably have the tools in their farm system to get Price if they want him a year from now.  But it will hurt a good bit on the prospect front.

  • Chuck

    I does go the other way though.  I believe that prospects are the overrated commodity of the day.

  • Noah_I

    I agree, but not to the extent that it swung the other way 20+ years ago.  I think you have teams looking at windows more now, and hoarding prospects until they hit their window.  

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    This site thinks the trade is possible

    http://cubsrumorsandnews.blogspot.com/

  • Noah_I

    I’d more say that the site is noting the Cubs would like a 3B, potentially Olt, in return for someone (I’m not sure the Cubs would trade Garza solely for Chisenhall).  And regarding whom the blog is quoting, I’d just say its someone who I think is good at reporting things he hears, but whose ability to turn those facts into analysis has been subpar recently.

  • YUCottonPickin

    The government might give you Bear Patrol and let the Bears pay the Bear Tax, but in the business world, you have to pay the Bear Tax if you want Bear Patrol.

  • YUCottonPickin

    I don’t see that as drunken spending, I see that as getting 2 top pitchers who haven’t even hit their prime yet.

  • YUCottonPickin

    So when do we make a move for Stanton?

  • YUCottonPickin

    So this means no more Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez for Hee Sop-Choi and Bobby Hill kind of deals?

  • Chuck

    Probably about the time he pulls a Brett Farve and shows up to spring training drunk and out of shape.  He could start doing donuts in the Marlins parking lot while only wearing a jock strap.  Maybe smoking a cigar during at bats and in the field?

    The Marlins would be stupid to trade him for anything less than a boatload of quality prospects and I would give it to them to get a guy like Stanton.

  • Noah_I

    A Lee for Choi could actually still happen.  Choi was still a highly rated young player who the prior year was an elite prospect.  Lee was getting too expensive for the Marlins as he was entering his last years of arbitration.  And, well, the Marlins still act like the Marlins.  Ramirez for Bobby Hill, though?  No, those days are likely done.  

  • LVCubFan

     How about attaching their ’98 and ’03 World Series trophies to the back of his car while doing donuts, ala George Costanza?  That finally got him fired

  • YUCottonPickin

    Should the Cubs do it?

  • YUCottonPickin

    They would probably put him on the disqualified list so he can’t play somewhere else

  • Chuck

    I would trade any prospect or reasonable combination of prospects we have for Stanton.  Period.  (I do not consider any player that has been in the majors 2 or more years a prospect regardless of age, Castro and Rizzo are not prospects, they are MLB players)  Prospects are guys who might, someday, be as good as Stanton.  Stanton is a near All Star (has to be the Marlins All Star doesn’t he?) that is in the same age ballpark as Castro and Rizzo.  I don’t see anybody in the system that I would not trade for that.  Even Soler.  But I would start out a little lower than that and see how it goes.

  • Jedi

    I don’t understand your last sentence there – we aren’t adding anyone to the system who we’ll be able to trade a year from now.  You’re basically just saying that a year from now, people will value our prospects more because of their performance in the coming year, right?

  • Jedi

    Now you just the Bobby Hill’s of the world before they get tested at the MLB level…trade them before they’ve proven their merely a role player and guaranteed that someone in the league will wildly overvalue them.  Remember, there was a time when Rich Hill & Corey Patterson could’ve been the centerpiece to any trade the Cubs wanted to complete – ANY trade…any player in the league could’ve been had before the Cubs promoted those two and proved to everyone that they weren’t anything special.

  • Norm Bothwell

     Everyone drafted in the last draft is a player the Cubs can’t trade now that can be traded a year from now.

  • Jedi

    No crap.  But even if we could trade them, Almora, Soler, whoever isn’t getting us a deal for Price today.  So a year from now, people have to value our farm system more (the players have to perform at or above expectations) in order for us to get this mythical deal for Price.  Because no matter who we draft, they won’t be part of it.  So I ask again, the assumption is that people will value our prospects more in 12 months simply because of performance, right?

  • Jedi

    Yeah, not sure I’d trust the site Jerry; one thing I really like about VFTB, it’s pretty obvious what’s our opinion as to what’s actually rumor/fact.

    And if you scroll down, you’ll see that guy wanted the Cubs to trade for Stanton (or Upton) AND Mike Olt…I don’t think the Cubs have the pieces to get any of those guys right now, but he thinks we can get TWO of them.  That’s some serious dreaming.

  • YUCottonPickin

    We could have had Brian Roberts for Hill, Pie, and Cedeno. Oops.

  • Noah_I

    Essentially yes, although this of course presumes that none of Baez, Almora or Soler bust.  If they all continue to perform well, they will be more valuable a year from now because they will be closer to the Major Leagues and have played against higher levels of competition, both of which would significantly increase the likelihood they’ll be successful Major Leaguers.  Of course, if one of them has an awful year, and Baez is a boom or bust candidate who could be the top prospect in baseball a year from now or could fall to the bottom of the Top 100, then they would be less valuable.  

  • Jedi

    Yeah – that’s really what I’m getting at.  I’m not disputing that you’re correct, a year from now the farm might be worth a lot more.  I just think (and someone said it on another post) that’s a great example of how the pendulum has swung too far…top prospects should have to do something more than destroy a bunch of guys who’ll never sniff the big leagues before teams start protecting them like offspring.  Point being, if a couple of these ‘not even a full season in AA’ players would bring us a Cy Young in his prime, you absolutely have to do that deal.

  • Noah_I

    I don’t disagree with you. Even if Baez, Almora and Soler all have great years, I would have no complaints about the Cubs trading 2 of them for David Price.  Presuming, of course, that Price stays healthy, continues to pitch at or above the level he has for the last two years and is willing to sign an extension.  

  • YUCottonPickin

    The only way I see a drop-off from Price is if he gets hurt. He’s doing his pitching in the AL East

  • Noah_I

    Or if his velocity dipped a couple of MPH. But that would be about it I could think of aside from something absolutely crazy like the yips.

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