It’s the silly season, and no I’m not referring to the election, I’m talking about the trade deadline. Every year when it rolls around fans and pundits alike predict who’s coming and who’s going. What package makes sense and who’s involved.
It’s good fun, well, it’s more fun when your team is looking to add, than being the team shopping your wares. If you throw enough ideas out there eventually, you’ll hit on something that happens.
As my Dad once told me, I’d rather teach you to fish than give you a stringer full. Sure I have my own ideas on who may or may not be part of a package, who might come back, I’ve written about one on this site as a matter of fact. There are plenty of things that go into trades and I’d like to cover some of those topics today. Maybe it won’t make you an expert (hint, nobody really is) but it can help you propose trades and be reasonably sure they have at least a chance of happening.
Trade Values – This has less familiarity with some of the older generation. A generation I count myself among at the ripe old age of 43. GM’s have used some type of system like this for quite some time, this simply puts numbers into more of a formulaic set up. For beginners I recommend this site https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/ They have definitions and explanations of all the metrics used to generate the values they assign to players, there’s even a separate calculator for MiLB players. One of the coolest features is a trade proposal feature, that allows you to plug in your suggestions and see how fair it is. Great tool, ton of fun to play with, not an exact science. I said up there all GM’s use some type of system, and that’s true, that doesn’t mean they use this one. There are countless variables and valuations weighed differently for every team. After all this isn’t The Show.
Trade Him While He’s Hot –Fans love this one. You’ve heard it a lot just this weekend, as the Pirates swept the Brewers. Polanco is hot, see what you can get for him while he’s hitting. Richard Rodriguez just closed the game Sunday and I heard people saying he added closer to his resume. In a normal trade deadline situation, this might play a bit better, but 24 games in, most players have barely had a streak, let alone a trend. If a GM is swayed to think Polanco is someone they need to go get after 3 good games, that’s a GM I’d like Cherington to keep on speed dial. If Keone Kela somehow is ok and pitches two more times prior to the deadline, it won’t be anything that ups his value per se, his health is the only thing anyone is looking for, that and his resume will be enough. In other words, it would be like thinking if Trevor Williams threw a no hitter on August 30th, he would return exponentially more than he would have on the 29th. That’s just not how it works.
Trade Block –Every team has a trade block. OK, it’s not a physical list maybe, but when you want to make changes to your team or have a specific need, just about every GM in the league will have a pretty good handle on who is being shopped, who might be available if you wanted it bad enough, and who is untouchable (no such thing for most teams). I bring this up because what other teams have available directly effects the value of what you put up. This is where the Trade Value category takes a bit of a hit. Take a trip with me, The Pirates have say, Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove and Derek Holland on the block, meaning they’d be happy to move them if the deal was right. Before you tell me I’m a moron and argue about who is or isn’t on the block, relax, it’s just an exercise. Recently it was reported that the Angels have Dylan Bundy on theirs. So, say the A’s are interested in picking up a starter, the Pirates have three nice options, and the Angels have one, but the A’s have seen him and he’s at least this season less of a long odd bet. That probably does the Pirates value no favors. More names will be added, but this is part of the reason Chris Archer was a hot name at the deadline so many years in a row, he was clearly on the block, had pedigree and most teams don’t like to give up starters with any upside and control away. No that’s not an excuse for what was given for him, but it does explain why he would have brought a nice package from anyone.
Position of Strength –Long before we knew for sure the Pirates would be sellers at the deadline, I had Adam Frazier as a strong candidate. Part of that is his crazy valuation (seriously, use the tool and look him up), but more so, my reasoning is the insane depth the Pirates have at middle infield. This is exactly something the Pirates, and you if you want to play the guessing game, should be looking for in other teams. Want that catching prospect? Better make sure their starter isn’t 36. Might be nice if he wasn’t the only one, they had at any level. In fact, even if he isn’t 36, if they don’t have a ton of money, better make sure his contract isn’t almost up. Sometimes this is where you can find pitching, teams that spend tend to have a fairly locked up rotation and aren’t pining for their AA and AAA prospects to come save the day next season. It may or may not work out but that was the thinking on Musgrove, and it does at times really play to your advantage. That’s if you want the pitching to start relatively quickly, that may not jive with the window you’ve projected. Might want to look even lower and get a real high ceiling guy.
Missing Piece –This doesn’t happen often if I’m honest. But a good example happened last season, the Pirates could very much so have provided the Dodgers with the missing piece, a closer. It’s the one thing they needed to sure up and the fact it didn’t happen is really beside the point. The fact remains it was there, now this doesn’t often happen with position players, if it does, it’s usually a BIG move. If Kela remains hurt, Richard Rondriguez might very well be close for some club out there.
Control –To Small market clubs, there is almost no bigger commodity. It comes with relative cost control and it buys time. When making deadline deals this season, control will probably be more important to every club. We’re talking about buying someone for about a month plus the playoffs. For a starter that’s maybe 5 or 6 starts. For a reliever maybe 15-18 appearances. Some teams might not be inclined to pay for the very reason the Pirates or another small market team doesn’t want to let them walk for nothing. It’s tempting to go for it, and some will, but it better be one of those missing pieces we talked about.
Analytics Trends –Again, our age group is either saying bah humbug or trying like hell to get into it. Important things to look for are OPS, Hard Hit Rate, Spin Rate, Walks and Strike Outs per 9. Those are a few I really like to look for because they give you a nice picture into the performance and where it could be headed. Here is a glossary I like to use to understand what makes all the metrics http://m.mlb.com/glossary/advanced-stats, and here is a site to get a quick look at trends https://www.fangraphs.com/ both are free, but there are premium options should you convert to full nerd. Sometimes it is important to remember you are trading for what a player could be, not what they are.
That’s a few basic things to help make more enlightened proposals. None of these again will make you an expert, but they will make it a bit more fun and help you avoid trying to trade all our bad players for all their good ones.
Given all these angles, hit me with your proposals on Twitter @garymo2007 or Facebook at Inside The Pirates – Gary