Mailbag: Sizing up off-season trades

What Went Wrong: Rafael Soriano
Sabathia, Soriano rank as Type-A free agents, Garcia a Type-B

Nick writes: So I know as Yankees fans (and just fans in general) that we over value our prospects/players. Everyone wants a top flight Ace, or a “#2″ starter but they don’t want to give up Montero and Banuelos (for the most part anyway). What type of pitchers are available for a package that could include some of the following prospects: Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine, Adam Warren, David Phelps, George Kontos. Also, the Mets were somehow able to get a top prospect for Beltran for a half year. What kind of haul could Swisher bring back on the pitching prospect side? Maybe one of the Braves young starters? Not saying that should happen, just curious of his value for a full year.

Nick’s question raises a number of issues I’d like to address regarding off-season expectations. He’s clearly right. As fans we tend to overvalue the players in the Yankees’ system while underestimating other teams’ needs. Even if we take a step back and try to look at the situation from a different vantage point, we often misunderstand what teams seek in trades. It all leads back to the RAB off-season mantra: your trade proposal sucks.

Thankfully, Nick’s question stops short of a trade proposal. Here’s a breakdown of a few choice parts and what they mean for the Yankees’ off-season.

What type of pitchers are available for a package that could include some of the following prospects: Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine, Adam Warren, David Phelps, George Kontos.

This question brings one issue to mind. Rarely, if ever, will you see a quantity trade. That is, the more players you add to a hypothetical trade package, the less likely it is to become reality. If a team does desire to trade a No. 1 or 2 starter, they’re going to value quality over quantity. More players in a trade package typically means less high-end value.

Guys such as Phelps and Kontos are afterthoughts in any significant deal. They might go in a package for a pitcher, but they’re not going to play a big part in said package. Even a guy like Sanchez won’t headline any deal. Maybe the Yankees can entice a team by packaging Betances, a high-end and near major league ready arm, with Sanchez, a far away but promising prospect. But there is no chance that they package, say, Sanchez as the headliner in a deal along with Phelps and Kontos. They’re just not going to get much back for that, because the only high-end player in the deal is at least three years away from the majors.

Any trade for a useful pitcher will have to include either Montero, Banuelos, or Betances as the headliner. A few of those other guys might be included, but they’re not the indispensable parts. Without a high-end prospect that is near or at the major league level, teams simply will not part with their top talent. Maybe that changes if the Yankees are looking at a player in a contract year, such as John Danks. But even then it’s hard to see a deal getting done without Betances at least.

Also, the Mets were somehow able to get a top prospect for Beltran for a half year. What kind of haul could Swisher bring back on the pitching prospect side?

The Mets found themselves in a unique position this season. They had one of the best outfielders in the league and had no use for him themselves. They also had a number of teams that could have used the upgrade. But most importantly they had the Giants, a team that was in a rough spot. They were clinging to a three-game lead in the NL West, with Arizona nipping at their heels. Their offense was horribly underpowered, to historic proportions. They absolutely needed Beltran, and so they gave up a valuable pitching prospect for him.

It’s a bit different in the off-season. Teams can take their times constructing rosters. They can also look at a slightly less productive, but much cheaper, option to start the season and then see what develops. In addition, there are a number of free agent outfielders who can fill spots for just money (and perhaps a draft pick). Why trade a pitching prospect for Swisher when you can sign Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham, Cody Ross, Ryan Ludwick, or David DeJesus? Some of them might not be quite as good as Swish, but they also won’t cost a prospect.

That is to say, Swisher’s trade value isn’t that great. Mike made this point pretty clearly in his post about picking up Swisher’s option.

Maybe one of the Braves young starters?

This just brings up a quick note. The Braves traded Derek Lowe today. That doesn’t hurt their rotation much, but the move does make them more reliant on young starters. They’ll likely opt to retain their depth and focus on other areas. I’d be shocked if Atlanta moved any other starters this off-season.

To put it another way: if the Royals are looking to add starters rather than trade some of their young prospects, you can bet that most teams won’t be willing to trade young starters. In fact, as we’ve seen lately, far more teams are promoting and extending their young pitchers. The free agency game just isn’t attractive, and it appears that both players and teams are starting to recognize this.

We can expect the Yankees to remain active this off-season, looking under every rock for a deal that will improve the team for 2012. That might be a trade or an undervalued free agent, but whatever the case we can expect plenty of rumors from the hot stove. What we can’t expect is the Yankees to acquire something for nothing. Furthermore, we can’t expect the Yankees to acquire rare resources that other teams control and covet — especially if they’re only willing to part with fairly common prospects. That is, you’re either going to see the Yankees make a big splash with one or two enormous moves, or you’re going to see them operate as they did last off-season, taking advantage of their pro scouting department to find a few underrated players. Either way, it will make for great winter entertainment.

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What Went Wrong: Rafael Soriano
Sabathia, Soriano rank as Type-A free agents, Garcia a Type-B
  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

    But what will Melky + IPK get us?

    • Rich in NJ

      A lot more than it would have when that joke was new.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

        That joke is still good for one, maybe two, uses a week.

        As for the actual post itself, agreed. There are no magic solutions or quick fixes out there.

    • Thomas Cassidy

      What could it have gotten us if IPK was a 20 game winner, sub 3.00 ERA, and Melky ended up hitting .300 with 20 home runs and 200 hits?

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      Believe it or not, it could have gotten the Yankees Eric Gagne

      http://yankees.lhblogs.com/200.....r-yankees/

      It’s an either/or, but you get the idea.

  • KeithK

    “In fact, as we’ve seen lately, far more teams are promoting and extending their young pitchers. The free agency game just isn’t attractive, and it appears that both players and teams are starting to recognize this.”

    What will be interesting to see is how this affects future CBAs. Right now things are set up so that young players get very little while the established vets (6+ years) rake in the cash. if teams start reducing the amount of money they are willing to dish out to veterans who aren’t stars we might see total player compensation plateau or conceivably even drop a little. The folks who run the the Players Association wouldn’t like that.

  • Nick

    Woo! Thanks for answering my question Joe! As a side not, Lowe was still a Brave when I sent in the question! haha

    • Nick

      argh, note*

  • viridiana

    Neither of us is sitting in the GM’s corner office but it seems to me you’re actually under-valuing Yankee trade prospects. There are many packages that could land a quality pitcher without surrendering Montero, Betances or Banuelos. Of course, the match has to be there, but here are a few appealing combos:

    –Romine, Nunez and Brackman

    –Noesi, Romine and Brett Marshall

    –Swisher and Hughes

    –Swisher, Warren and Sanchez

    The problem is not that Yankee fans overvalue their prospects. It’s that Yankee management has historically undervaluued Yankee prospects. Cashman has done a much better job than did Geroge all those years when Yanks were willing to practically give away the Buhners, Drabeks, McGees, McGriffs etc. Still, we’ve seen in the recent success of IPK, Melancon, Dunn and many others that Yanks still tend to surrender young talent, sometimes foolishly.

    I think Cash has the ammunition to land a quality (though not ace) starter without surrendering our top three prospects.

    • Kosmo

      I would not trade Sanchez who I also would put in the same category as M, B and B, otherwise a package of Warren, Romine ,Joseph and Phelps MIGHT net a Garza or a slightly modified package a Billingsley . Of course not Barbara.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

        You’re missing the point. Sanchez is NOT in the same category as MB&B because he is lightyears ahead of the majors and is still just as likely to not get past AA as he is to become a major league player.

        Not your post, but Dunn & Melancon do not belong in the same comparison as IPK. IPK was dealt because you have to deal something of value to get something of value, which the Yankees did and in spades. I’d still make that trade ten times out of ten. Dunn is a completely disposable part, and Melancon’s stock rapdily declined in the Yankee system once he got to MLB level. I’m glad they found success somewhere else and I wish them the best.

        My opinion is that Nunez may actually be the Yankees’ most danglable chip. I’m ambivalent as to whether they should, or not, though.

        • viridiana

          Lots of dubious points here, Jumping Jack. Melancon never got a real chance with Yanks Yes, IPK was necessary piece. But if Yanks thought he was a Cy Young candidate not so sure they’d have thrown him inot deal. Sanchez, by the way, is going to be very highly valued. A 19 year old who hits 13 home runs in six weeks of A ball is hard to come by. And he is athletic enough to still be useful at a position other than catcher. Nunez has mostly been ranked as a second-tier prospect in a stacked Yankee system. Yes, he has value. But there are many with far greater value.

          • Total

            Well, wait a minute. If you’re going to disprove the point, then give examples. Where have major league teams traded top-flight major league pitching talent for a package of prospects all far from the majors?

            I’m not saying such trades don’t exist, but you need to back up your argument.

    • Dave

      “Still, we’ve seen in the recent success of IPK, Melancon, Dunn and many others that Yanks still tend to surrender young talent, sometimes foolishly.”

      So trading for Curtis Granderson was foolish? Good to know. Dunn was an expendable part. Melancon couldn’t find the plate when he was here. Good for him he found himself in the NL Central.

      Your post highlights the overvaluing of young Yankee players which we are talking aobut. You have to trade some one! Not all of them are going to be great. Just because player is doing well elsewhere, doesn’t mean he would of done the same thing here.

    • BK2ATL

      My main problem is that the Yanks do not consistently give their AAA prospects a shot at MLB. Kennedy didn’t take it seriously, but then got hurt. Joba??? He’s had his chances, but he’s also been jerked around. Now he’s hurt. Hughes??? Same thing, but also hurt.

      It took for everyone else to fail last year (Burnett, Moseley, Mitre, and Gaudin) before Nova was even called up. He’d been pretty dominant in AAA for something like 12 starts in a row prior. Then, he gets to MLB and the rope is extremely short. The Yanks didn’t even know what they had.

      Melancon the same. Remember Albaladejo? He was having a pretty good year in AAA as a closer. he comes to MLB and just about nothing.

      Warren and Phelps? Who knows what they are in MLB? They won’t get a shot.

      It took every bit of blowouts for Kontos, Brackman and Betances to see any garbage time. Montero HAD to hit his way into any consideration. They wouldn’t bring him up even when we needed an offensive spark.

      If I’m any other team, heck yeah I’d want more than what the Yanks are offering. If they don’t have the faith to play these so-called prospects when they have obvious situations to use them, then it could be said that they (those prospects) might not be that good and it’s all NYY hype. They’d rather bring in a veteran also-ran (Mitre, Gaudin, Berkman, Kearns, Wood, Jones, Chavez, Colon, Garcia, etc.) than go with their own farm system first. It does say something.

  • mac1

    I wonder what Melky’s DWAR would have been as a RF vs. CF? Last year was probably his career year, but it was the year I hoped he would have had on the Yanks.

    • Thomas Cassidy

      He’s starting to look like the Melky we were supposed to have. I hope he does well in KC.

      But it’s okay, we got Vazquez!

      • mac1

        Yep, Javy definitely takes the sting out :-). Yanks also unloaded that “stiff” Aroyds too…

        • Thomas Cassidy

          He wasn’t going to be anything anyway, right?

          I hate when trades like that happen. But at least we got Granderson and Swisher for great prices.

          • mac1

            Yep, shit happens. Cash had an unbelievable year last year with low budget, high value FA signings – it was a pretty interesting idea to bring back Javy as a backend guy – for whatever reason he just stunk. Melk was lousy as well in Atlanta, although I am also very happy he had the year he did in KC. It may not make sense, but I feel that ba is a bit underrated and last year he was kind of a mini Cano – albiet an even LAZIER version :-)

            With his offense last year, you could make the arguement that he could play RF. I think if he did he would have had a huge positive # in DWAR vs. the negative one as a CF.

            • BK2ATL

              His stint in Atlanta was pure shellshock. It happens to young players. He went from starting CF on a WS team to being traded to ATL. Screwed with his mind. But he showed what kind of player he will be that he dedicated his off-season to working out with A-Rod and improving himself. That shows maturity.

              200 hits, no matter how they came, is quite an accomplishment. He’d have a good case for comeback player of the year. He had a very good year. Looking forward to see one of our own continue to develop and have success in MLB.

              • mac1

                Yep, I agree. The interesting thing is Atlanta gave up on him – and that stuff also happens all the time. Melk was one of my favorites. The things did/ does at an above average (or slightly above avg) clip – ba, throw, run, not K and catch are a nice mix to have in an older team who place obp above everything (and that’s not a criticism of the importance of obp)

                • BK2ATL

                  He was one of the last of the “clutch” players on our squad. Guess what we’re missing now???

                  • Slugger27

                    his career RISP line is 268/333/378 and his career 2 out, RISP line is 227/305/325

                    we must have 2 very different definitions of clutch

                    • BK2ATL

                      Yeah, the RISP stats say that. Do they explain how many hits he won games with??? I’m sure they don’t, but there were several in 2009 alone. It’s neither here or there. He’s gone.

                  • mac1

                    At the risk of being ridiculed, a guy like Melk – who doesn’t K and hits at an above avg rate (although his obp is avg) and runs at a slightly above avg clip can give the lineup that extra dimension that we may have lacked this year.

                    Doesn’t mean he would have performed better than Swish, its just something I wonder bout. Soriano had an awful 2003 WS but I always remember that HR in game7 in 2001 when he hit that ball on the o/s corner off his shoe tops off of Schillling. You’ll never see most of the current Yanks try to do that, but guys like Berra got into the HOF by being able to hit ridiculously bad pitches – its a skill, and having a guy like that may really be valuable.

                    • Slugger27

                      but isnt it all about production at the end of the day? i mean, what difference does it make HOW you or hit or what your style is if it still produces a pedestrian batting average, pedestrian obp, and a subpar slugging?

                      him being a bad ball hitter doesnt mean he gets hits more often

              • Ted Nelson

                He stunk just as badly in NY in 2008 as in Atlanta… what’s the psychological explanation there?

        • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

          Who exactly do you claim to be quoting when you refer to Vizcaino as a “stiff?” No one claimed that. He was a A lottery ticket which may, or may not, still pay off for the Braves.

          It’s real easy to hate on the Vazquez trade in retrospect. I ws in the minority in not liking it on here when it happened.

          • mac1

            stiff = sarcasm

          • Rainbow Connection

            (Doesn’t get humor)

          • BK2ATL

            I liked the trade at the time, but also did think we gave up too much as well. I liked the idea of bringing in a pitcher who placed 4th in NL Cy Young voting into our rotation. I just thought that we could have done it for a lot cheaper, as the Braves really just wanted to dump salary.

            Vizcaino was ranked pretty highly outside of our organization and is someone to keep an eye on in the very near future, esp. with Lowe now being traded. Dunn was our only lefty reliever prospect of note in the system, and was a year away, once he worked on his command and control. Not sure how Dunn is doing right now, but we got Boone Logan….

            The Braves are loaded with REAL pitching prospects in Minor, Teheran, Vizcaino, and Delgado. Combined with Hanson, Jurrgens, Beachy, Kimbrel, Venters, and Medlen. That’s what I wish we’d assemble. Give our young arms first crack, then if needed, explore outside the organization.

  • BJ

    Would a package of Betances and some MI prospects like David Adams and/or Corban Joseph be able to land us John Danks? The Sox need prospects to repopulate their farm system, and Gordon Beckham doesn’t appear to be fulfilling his high ceiling, so 2B could be an area that the Sox could be looking to improve.

    • Rich in NJ

      I suspect that they would have to include Romine for Danks.

      • Slugger27

        danks is barely an upgrade over nova, if at all. i wouldnt trade romine for him. i love mike, but i hate that he started the danks epidemic on here. the guys nothing special.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Danks already has three full seasons better than what Nova did this year. And it’s not about him being an upgrade over Nova anyway, it’s not a one or the other situation.

        • Ted Nelson
    • Ted Nelson

      I doubt it. The White Sox are a big market team. They don’t have to unload Danks unless they get good value. Kenny Williams is a wildcard, but I think most GMs would laugh heartily at the idea of trading one of the best young LHSP in the game for a deal headlined by an exciting arm with huge control problems and an injury history. I doubt Adams has any value at this point with his health + age, and Corban Joseph is solid but I wouldn’t fall over myself to replace Beckham with him. It’s hard to say what prospects other teams value how, though, so who knows?

  • BJ

    Hmm. I might be willing to do that if I was the Yanks. I like Danks quite a bit.

    • BJ

      Whoops. This was supposed to be a reply to Rich in NJ above.

  • mac1

    Slugger,

    How you hit may be important. BA is part of production. First a guy who hits 300/340 is a guy who is way above avg at getting hits albiet one who is avg at getting on base overall. The question I ponder is could that be more valuable (in a short series) than a guy who hits an an avg or slightly below avg clip but works the strike zone to bb more?

    The other disturbing thing is when obp and ba drop in the case of Swish and Tex – I think you need to look at who the players are now rather than what they were. Not saying this wasn’t a fluke year for Melk and that Swish et al aren’t “clutch”, what I am saying is I wouldn’t mind having one more guy in the mold of Cano – ideally a guy who puts the ball in play, has some power and can run a little.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      This.

      I think sometimes the need to take pitches hurts you in the postseason.

      The pitchers throw more strikes in the postseason, and sometimes throw pitches over the heart of the plate in order to get ahead, espcially when they pretty much know you’re going to take it. Sometimes it can catch the pitcher off-guard to smack that first pitch heater back through the box. Melky just wants to make contact, and that’s often what you need when you get men on base in the playoffs.

      But Swish and Tex are trying to play hero far too much and swing for the fences. Tex used to hit to all fields, but now he’s pulling outside fastballs and popping up rather than going to LF with authority.

    • Ted Nelson

      “what I am saying is I wouldn’t mind having one more guy in the mold of Cano – ideally a guy who puts the ball in play, has some power and can run a little.”

      Cano has a lot more than “a little” power. You’d like another MVP caliber player? Really? I bet the Yankees and other fans hate having MVP caliber players on their roster.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Obviously, fans and teams value their prospects more than the possible trade partners.

    The thing with the Yankees is, what do they REALLY need at this stage that they can’t get out of the farm system or free agency? Especially if the goal is to not trade ManBan, Dellin, and Montero?

    They have a sick Bullpen.

    A stud offense with no holes.

    You’re not going to get a top pitcher w/o giving up one of the big 3. But then you could just sign CJ or Darvish. Why trade Romine, Kontos and/or Brackman for a 5th starter when you can just sign one?

    The most you could do is package one of your second-tier prospects with Burnett for something of value, but you’d still have to pick up 2/3rds of his money anyway.

    Right now the Yanks should just use their second-tier prospects to fill out the edges of the team.

    • Ted Nelson

      I agree that most likely that’s how it will be. However, a situation could arise where the Yankees value a player in another org. more highly than that org. and vice versa. That’s what they have to look for. A team looking to give someone away they like and/or who likes someone the Yankees are willing to give away. We might see a #5 starter they’re trading for, and they might think he has a good chance of blossoming for example. Teams tend to be higher on their own guys, but not always.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        I agree, if that special situation arose.

  • YankeeFan16

    Do you guys think any of these trade combinations work for the yanks or if they even have a small possibilityof happening?

    Trade Dellin Betances,Andrew Brackman, Eduardo Nunez & Greg Golson to the A’s for Gio Gonzalez.

    Trade Phil Hughes, Nick Swisher,Ramiro Pena,Fransisco Cervelli & Hector Noesi to the dodgers for Matt Kemp…would they have to add joseph Corbin or Adam warren or any one else not named banjos and montero to get these deals done?

  • YankeeFan16

    Do you guys think any of these trade combinations work for the yanks or if they even have a small possibilityof happening?

    Trade Dellin Betances,Andrew Brackman, Eduardo Nunez & Greg Golson to the A’s for Gio Gonzalez.

    Trade Phil Hughes, Nick Swisher,Ramiro Pena,Fransisco Cervelli & Hector Noesi to the dodgers for Matt Kemp…would they have to add joseph Corbin or Adam warren or any one else not named banuelos and montero to get these deals done?

    • Ted Nelson

      I find your proposals to be unrealistic and to favor the Yankees heavily. They’re trading big question marks for stars. Very convenient for them, but why would the other teams do that? As Joe says in the article teams generally look for quality more so than quantity. There’s not much quality in your proposals.

      The Dodgers will not trade the NL MVP entering his prime for a scrap heap. All those guys have problems: Hughes was a total mess this season )he might be a buy low candidate but giving up Kemp is not buy low), Swisher has one year left then he’ll get paid (would be somewhat comparable to the Yankees trading CC for CJ Wilson before last season), Pena is little more than junk, Cervelli is a solid back-up and maybe even solid starter but health questions are coupled with defensive and power questions, Noesi is a solid pitching prospect. Kemp is one of the most valuable guys in the game and the Dodgers still play in a huge market despite McCourt’s financial problems.

      The Gio deal might be more realistic, but it relies on Beane being high on Betances and Brackman. Who knows, but it’s a bit of a long-shot. Betances maybe, but enough to headline the Gio deal with a scrap heap behind him? Brackman was worse than Hughes this season, again a buy-low candidate maybe but this is not buying low. Offense is the A’s weakness and they don’t get much in this deal. Golson is a total zero with the bat and Nunez is solid offensively for a SS but nothing more at this point plus his defense takes away any offensive value.

      • YankeeFan16

        Okay so let’s forget the Matt kemp trade, I know for a fact he does not want to stay there and they won’t be able to sign Matt kemp long term because they prefer to give it to Kershaw but since the a’s need offense would swisher, Nunez, Betances and Phil Hughes be better for Gio?

      • YankeeFan16

        Also Matt kemp will be a free agent after the season and I know the Yankees are going to go after him hard just for the simple fact if they let swish walk after the season, right field would be a HUGE QUESTION MARK.