Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What Would a Trade for David Price/Jeff Samardzija Look Like?

The trade deadline is coming up in about a month, but there’s already quite a bit of rumor buzz springing up. The two hottest commodities, it would seem so far, look like they’re going to be David Price and Jeff Samardzija. Both have ace credentials in a world were pitching is hard to get ahold of. And not only do they come with those credentials, they both also come with the entire other year under contract after this one. One might call these the ejector seat of trade scenarios; in case you enter a premature tailspin, you can jettison them to save yourself to some extent.

Either way, since I’ve been comparing past trade packages recently, I figured why not continue further down this avenue? What can a team trying to acquire Price or Samardzija expect to give up for a year and a half their services?

Well, to start with, I went around looking for ace-type pitchers who were traded in the last few years. I tried to be as complete as possible, so in some cases, I stretched the similarities, going for players who were under contract for fewer seasons, or who were more “young with potential” than “ace-like” or “old and actually an ace”, and I might have missed some, but in the end, these were the cases I found, in no order:

Cliff Lee to Philadelphia, 2009 (1.5 seasons left)
Cliff Lee to Seattle, 2009-2010 offseason (1)
Cliff Lee to Texas, 2010 (.5)
James Shields to Kansas City, 2012-2013 (2)
CC Sabathia to Milwaukee, 2008 (.5)
Mark Mulder to St. Louis, 2004-2005 (2)
Tim Hudson to Atlanta, 2004-2005 (1)
Dan Haren to Arizona, 2007-2008 (2 plus a club option)
Dan Haren to Los Angeles, 2010 (2.5 plus a club option)
Trevor Cahill to Arizona, 2011-2012 (4)
Gio Gonzalez to Washington, 2011-2012 (5)
Doug Fister to Washington, 2013-2014 (1)
Rich Harden to Chicago, 2008 (1.5)
Matt Garza to Chicago, 2011-2012 (3)
Matt Garza to Texas, 2013 (.5)
Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, 2010-2011 (2)
Zack Greinke to Los Angeles, 2012 (.5)
Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland, 2011 (2.5)
Erik Bedard to Seattle, 2007-2008 (2)
Johan Santana to New York, 2007-2008 (1)
Mat Latos to Cincinnati, 2011-2012 (4)

I’m pretty sure about the service times/years to free agency, but finding past contract information can be hard to verify, so please correct me if I’m wrong. In each case’s return, I’ll refer to the status of the prospects in rankings if applicable.
That’s a lot to cover, so let’s just move on to each case:

Trade: Cliff Lee 1 (traded with Ben Francisco)
Age: 30
Year: 2009
Years Left: 1.5
Commentary: This was actually quite the haul, even if it hasn’t paid off like Cleveland hoped. Knapp was 18 and would be ranked #64 on the next year’s Baseball America (BA) ranking and #82 on the following year’s Baseball Prospectus (BP) ranking. Carrasco, 22 at the time, was the prize, coming off his third ranking on prospect lists (BA-52, BP-43). There were also things to like about Donald (24) and Marson (23), who had both just appeared on the BA list at 69 and 66, respectively.
Summary: No single outstanding prospect, but a lot of depth, with a top-50 and three back-half of top-100 types.

Trade: Cliff Lee 2
Age: 31
Year: 2009-10 offseason
Years Left: 1
Commentary: Aumont, 21, was the only one with something of a pedigree, as he was in between seasons of being ranked #93 both times (BA) or #61 and #78 (BP).  Gillies and Ramirez were young and with potential. Both were coming off a season at High A at the ages of 20, pretty young for the league. Still, it seems lacking compared to what Philadelphia had just given up, as well as what Texas would give up for him just months after this (although I’ve been critical of Ruben Amaro’s trading in the past).
Summary: Centered around a lower-half top-100 prospect, with two younger pieces with potential.

Trade: Cliff Lee 3 (traded with Mark Lowe)
Age: 31
Year: 2010
Years Left: .5
Commentary: Smoak, then a 23-year-old AAA player, was the key part, having just been ranked a rather unanimous top-20 prospect (BA-13, BP-17). No other players were key prospects. Lawson was a AA player who hit well, but always played at around the average age of the league. Beaven, a 21-year-old at AA, was doing well while being 3+ years below league average. Josh Lueke was and still is a piece of shit (who the Mariners probably shouldn’t have even acquired, and it got someone fired), and wasn’t anything too special on the diamond either.
Summary: A top-20 prospect with some supplemental pieces, one being a young lower-level player with potential.

Trade: James Shields (traded with Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson)
Age: 31
Year: 2012-13 offseason
Years Left: 2
Return: Patrick Leonard, Mike Montgomery, Wil Myers, Jack Odorizzi
Commentary: Myers had just been named the minor league’s best prospects, finishing #4 on BA and lists and #7 on BP’s as a 21 year old in AAA. Montgomery had just been ranked #23 and #31 by BA and, respectively. He had faced injury concerns, though (which had taken him off BP’s list), but he had also just finished a season as a 22-year-old in AAA. Odorizzi, who was still on prospect lists before this season, was also just done with his age 22 season, but in AA and a top-50ish prospect (BA-68, MLB-47, BP-47). Lastly, Leonard was a bit of a lottery ticket, who had just finished his first season in the minors and was a 20-year old leaving Rookie ball.
Summary: A top-5 prospect, a former top-30 one with serious questions, a top-50ish, and a lottery ticket

Trade: CC Sabathia
Age: 27
Year: 2008
Years Left: .5
Return: Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley
Commentary: LaPorta was the big name, coming off a ranking as the 23rd (BA) or 31st (BP) best prospect, and leading into another year of similar rankings. He was also only 23. Jackson was a 23-year old in AAA not doing particularly hot.  Bryson was the lottery ticket, as a 20 year old still in A ball (about on par for the league, but a ways off still). Brantly was the Player to Be Named Later, and was named right after his age-21 season, an outfielder who had just hit decently in AA.
Summary: A top-25 prospect, a young “lottery ticket” type, a decent-not-great outfielder, and a sort-of thrown-in pitcher.

Trade: Mark Mulder
Age: 27
Year: 2004-05 offseason
Years Left: 2
Return: Daric Barton, Kiki Calero, and Dan Haren
Commentary: Fresh off his second All-Star selection (albeit for a bit weaker of a season, finishing with a 103 ERA+), Mulder brought back an interesting package or prospects. Barton was about to be named the #32 prospect by BA later that offseason after crushing A-ball pitching as an 18-year old. The Cardinals had been trying to move Haren into the rotation as a 23-year old, but he had been having issues. He had done pretty solidly in the minors before that, but wasn’t in a top-100. Calreo was a good bullpen arm, giving St. Louis 2 years of a 151 ERA+ before being dealt, although his first season in Oakland was his age-30 season.
Summary: A very young but good (possibly top-30ish?) hitter, A good but not top-100 pitcher, and a live bullpen arm for a pitcher with a track record that was pretty good, but not quite fully ace-like yet (114 ERA+).

Trade: Tim Hudson
Age: 28
Year: 2004-05 offseason
Years Left: 1
Commentary: Cruz was about to be 26, and had shown skill as an arm out of the bullpen for the prior three seasons (who had been a top prospect 3 seasons or so before). Meyer was about to be named BA’s #43 prospect a year after ranking #82. He had just finished a solid year as a 22-year-old at AAA. Thomas had never been a top prospect, but had kind of hit in half of a season in the majors in 2004 (109 OPS+). Unfortunately, he was an almost-26 year old corner outfielder, so nothing extremely valuable.
Summary: A former top-prospect turned bullpen arm, throw-in outfield depth, and a top-50ish pitching prospect.

Trade: Dan Haren 1 (with Connor Robrertson)
Age: 27
Year: 2007-08 offseason
Years Left: 2, plus a club option
Commentary: After coming over in a trade for an ace, Haren would later be sent out in his own deal. And a huge one at that. Anderson was about to join the ranks of the top 50 prospects, placing #36 and #50 (BA/BP) later that offseason at the age of 20. Carter, who had just arrived in the Carlos Quentin trade, wouldn’t appear on top-100 lists for another year after arriving. He was going into his age-21 season after crushing A ball as a 20-year old (a little young for his level). Cunningham, another recent arrival from the White Sox, would make BA’s list the next year with Carter, but for now, he was just a 21-year old who had just held his own in AA (about 3 years below league mean). Eveland was a 24-year old with an injury history, but flashes of promises. He had been in AAA at the end of 2008. CarGo was a definite top-30ish prospect, between rankings of 18 and 22 in BA and 31 and 26 in BP. He had just finished his age-21 season at AAA, hitting every step of the way. Lastly, there was Smith, a old 24 year old who had just been called up to AAA the last half of 2008.
Summary: A top 25ish prospect, a top-50ish, two young pieces with a lot of promise, and a pair of pitchers, the more promising of whom came with a bunch of injuries.

Trade: Dan Haren 2
Age:  29
Year: 2010
Years Left: 2.5, plus a club option
Commentary: Haren had been one of the game’s quieter and better pitchers while in Arizona, and the team picked up some nice pieces in flipping him. No one here was ranked before the trade, but Tyler Skaggs would hit #82/83 (BA/BP) the next list cycle, and climb to the top 20 the following year, so there was potential for the then 18-year old in A ball. Corbin was also 20, and doing decently in High A just above him. Rodriguez was just treading water in AAA, though, and was already 25.  Saunders, unusually, was already a major league product. He was a league-average 29-year old with two full season under contract after 2010.
Summary: Two really young pitchers with a lot of potential, a place-holder for the major league rotation, and AAA depth.

Trade: Trevor Cahill (with Craig Breslow)
Age: 24
Year: 2011-12 offseason
Years Left: 4 years, plus two club options
Commentary: Cahill wasn’t really an ace; he’s more here because he was 24, above-average, and under contract for four-to-six more seasons, making him crazy affordable. Parker, 22 and in AA, had been on prospect lists for years, ending in the 30-40 range before this trade (#33 BA, #42 BP). Cowgill was a 25-year old AAA outfielder, so more depth than anything. Cook was a good 24-year old AAA reliever, so a solid piece with a low ceiling (although he’d go on to be an All-Star).
Summary: A top-35ish pitching prospect, a AAA outfielder, and a decent AAA reliever.

Trade: Gio Gonzalez (with Robert Gilliam)
Age: 26
Year: 2011-2012 offseason
Years Left: 4
Commentary: Another player who was included as a key prospect in many deals before (see his transaction page), Gonzalez finally became a centerpiece in a deal that highlighted a busy offseason for the A’s (see the last blurb). Cole was 20, and about to enter the top prospect lists (BA-57, MLB-88, BP-60) after a season at A ball. Milone, now 25, had just debuted at the end of the previous season, and seemed like a solid enough in the minors. Norris was only going on 23 and had just finished a season as a top-40 prospect (BA-38, BP-28), although he would slip to #72/#41 before the season. Lastly, Peacock had ended the season as a 23-year old in AAA, and would make the three prospect lists that Baseball-Reference tracks at the start of the season (BA-36, MLB-75, BP-64).
Summary: There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on any of these guys, but it seems safe to call this at least 3 top-60 prospects and a possible back-end starter.

Trade: Doug Fister
Age: 30
Year: 2013-2014 offseason
Years Left: 1
Commentary: I’m not counting the first Fister trade, as he wasn’t yet a household name when the Tigers got him. I’m not sure the Tigers maximized their return here, though. Krol, though 23, was just a reliever with a chance to be decent,  while Lombardozzi, at 25, was pretty well established as a utility man. Ray, the prize, only made one top prospect list (MLB-97), although he’s still just 22 and he shows promise.
Summary: A top-100 prospect and spare parts.

Trade: Rich Harden (with Chad Gaudin)
Age: 26
Year: 2008
Years Left: 1.5
Return: Josh Donaldson, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson
Commentary: The biggest take away from this is that the A’s just love trading off young ace-y pitchers, and they’re damn good at it. This trade, interestingly, took a while, but he definitely paid off. None of these guys were top prospects…but Harden was already known for pitching with a hologram prone to vaporize at any minute disguised as an arm. Donaldson was a 22-year old (about on par with the league average) catcher in Single A. Gallagher had just been ranked a unanimous #82 prospect before the season, and was bouncing between the minors and majors at 22. Murton was known for crushing minor league pitchers, but he was now 26 and bouncing between the pros and minors as well. Lastly, Patterson was hitting well as a AAA second baseman…but was already 25.
Summary: A lower top-100 prospect and some interesting pieces possibly needing changes of scenery.

Trade: Matt Garza 1 (with Fernando Perez and Zac Rosscup)
Age: 27
Year: 2010-11 Offseason
Years Left: 3
Commentary: Another former teammate of Price who experienced his possible fate. Archer, then 22, had just made it to AAA at the end of the season, and was agreed as a top prospect going in to 2011, although with wide variance in opinions (BA-27, BP-70). Hak-Ju Lee was an interesting place finishing his age-19 season. Baseball Prospectus had ranked him #63 the previous year, and would rank him #65 in 2012, but wasn’t ranked for 2011. Meanwhile, Baseball America would add him to their list that year at #92 (he would rise to #44 the next year). Chirinos was entering his age-27 season having just reached AAA, so he seems a bit like a throw-in. The same applies to Fuld, who was turning 29 and bouncing between AAA and the majors. Lastly, Guyer was 25 and had hit well at every stage. However, he had just played in AA, and was only about league average age-wise.  Overall, this is kind of an interesting package, and kind of difficult to summarize.
Summary: Two top-100 prospects, probably in the top half, both young with room for growth, plus a possibly-useful outfielder, and a fourth outfielder and backup catcher.

Trade: Matt Garza 2
Age: 29
Year: 2013
Years Left: .5
Commentary: Olt had just been ranked a top-30 prospect before the season (BA-22, MLB-22, BP-30), but had been struggling at AAA while visiting the DL with vision problems. Edwards was just 21 and cleaning up at A ball; he would be ranked #28/42/81, demonstrating a wide gulf in opinions. Neil Ramirez was 24 and not doing badly in AA, but was only the league-average age (24). Lastly, Justin Grimm was bouncing between the bullpen and AAA and MLB rotations at the age of 24.
Summary: A top-30 prospect that had some health questions, a young impressive top-40/50ish pitcher, and possible back-rotation pitchers.

Trade: Zack Greinke 1 (with Yuniesky Betancourt)
Age: 27
Year: 2010-11 offseason
Years Left: 2
Return: Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Jake Odorizzi
Commentary: There’s Odorizzi again. Here, he was just a 21-year old coming off a solid run at A. 2011 marked his first foray onto top prospect lists, as BA named him #69 and BP named him #77. Escobar had just made his rookie season in Milwaukee and was going on 24. The year before, he had been in the top 20 of both prospect lists (BA-12, BP-19). Jeffress was a fringe prospect, appearing at #72 on Baseball Prospectus’s list the year before and #76 the upcoming year (and not at all on Baseball America’s list, following a #100 ranking way back before 2009). Lastly, there was Lorenzo Cain, 25-year old outfielder with 22 games at AAA under his bet. He was doing well in the minors, though, even if he was pretty close to league average age, limiting his upside.
Summary: A recent top-20 prospect, a pair of top-75ish prospects (if you average them at least), and a low-ceiling outfielder with a chance to be decent.

Trade: Zack Greinke 2
Age: 28
Year: 2012
Years Left: .5
Commentary: Segura was the major part of this deal. At 22, he had been ranked#55 by BA and MLB before the season, and #67 by BP. Neither of the other two pitchers were ranked. Both Hellwig and Pena were 23 and doing okay at AA, near the league-average age. Neither was a top prospect, and Hellwig improved while Pena went back a step afterwards.
Summary: A young top-60 prospect and two decent pitchers.

Trade: Ubaldo Jimenez
Age: 27
Year: 2011
Years Left: 2.5
Commentary: Ubaldo was in a bit of a slump going in to the trade deadline, and he’s been…spotty at best since then (as a slightly jaded Orioles fan). White and Pomeanz were both 22-year old pitching prospects, taken in consecutive first rounds by Cleveland. White, in AAA, was ranked #47 by BA and #71 by BP before the season. Pomeranz, meanwhile, was just ranked #61 by BA and #43 by BP, and was having a strong minor league debut that would bump him up to #30 and #34. Gardner was a 23-year old pitchers scuffling in AA, while McBride was a 26-year old outfielder in AA. Needless to say, the deal was more about White and Pomeranz.
Summary: A top-40 and a top-50 pitching prospect, plus spare parts.

Trade: Erik Bedard
Age: 29
Year: 2007-08 offseason
Years Left: 2
Return: Tony Butler, Adam Jones, Kam Mickolio, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman
Commentary: This has to be one of the more lopsided trades in recent memory. Jones, having just turned 22, had just lost his prospect status with a few games in the majors. He had a strong 2007 campaign at AAA the year before, and was rated a top prospect in 2007 before losing his rookie status that year (BA-28, BP-44). Tillman would be ranked #67 by BA and #44 by BP at the end of the offseason, and would only rise the following year. When he was traded, he was just 20 and had played as high as the high A level. Mickolio was a 24-year old AAA reliever, which limited his upside a little . He had been doing decently, however. Butler was a bit of a lottery ticket, being a 20-year old pitcher with an inconsistent history up to A ball thus far. Lastly, Sherrill was a 30-year old reliever coming off a great season, but with only a one-year track record and three years of control left.
Summary: A top-40ish prospect, a top-50ish prospect, a solid reliever, and a minor league starter and reliever.

Trade: Johan Santana
Age: 29
Year: 2007-08 offseason
Years Left: 1
Return: Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey
Commentary: This may have been the best case of a lose-lost blockbuster trade, with neither team getting anywhere near the benefits they would have hoped going in. This was quite the set of youngsters, though. Guerra was #35 in BA and #79 in BP going in to the 2008 season. His numbers look shaky, until you realize that he was a 20 year old who had just made high A. Gomez was about to be ranked #52 in BA and #65 in BP, and had been #60 and #34 the year before. He had just finished his age-21 season going between AAA and the majors, so he was pretty advanced. Humber wasn’t on the 2008 lists (possibly due to eligibility?), but he had been #73 (BA) and #26 (BP) on the 2007 rankings, and was a 25 year old who had just finished AAA. Lastly, there was Mulvey, a 23-year old who had spent most of the last season in AA. He wasn’t bad there, although he wasn’t top-100 level.
Summary: Two top-50 pitchers (one top-30 and one top-80, although which was which was debatable), a top-50 outfielder, and a solid minor league pitcher.

Trade: Mat Latos
Age: 24
Year: 2011-12 offseason
Years Left: 4
Commentary: Alonso was about to be ranked #33 by BA, #39 by MLB, and #86 by BP for the 2012 lists. The 25-year old had been trying to find his footing, shuttling between AAA and the bigs when the Padres obtained him. Fellow Cuban defector Yasmani Grandal, would also appear on all three lists at #53 (BA), #68 (MLB), and #38 (BP). At 23, the catcher had just made AAA after spending most of 2011 in AA. Boxberger was a relief pitcher in AAA. He was mostly doing well, and at 23, was still developing. Lastly, there was Edinson Volquez, who was more or less a back-end starter throw-in.
Summary: A top 40 prospect, a top-50, a decent and young pitching prospect, and a placeholder starter.

Whew. That was…more intense than I had initially anticipated. I didn’t even go looking for any past team top 10 lists or anything. So were does that leave Price and Samardzija? As mentioned, both have a year and a half of control and ace-like track records. Price is 28, while Shark is 29, so both are young, too. However, my thinking after writing all of these is that it seems pretty straight-forward; two top prospects, probably averaging out to top-40 level (say, a top-20 and a top-60), another decent young player (possibly towards the bottom half of your team’s personal top ten list), and another spare part-type of some sort, usually more of a low-ceiling starter or fourth outfielder. If you’re an interested team, that’s probably where the bidding starts; who knows where it ends up from there.

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