Accountability Check: Reviewing a Trade

Bret, Ben and I are often asked our opinions on trades and on prospects, both here or on Twitter. We also get asked what we thought of trades that are already made, and we do our best to give honest answers whether that’s what the questioners want to hear or not. Well, I’m using this forum as an opportunity to discuss two recent trades I made in an AL-Only Keeper league. I’m going to give my rationale, and I’d love to hear what you guys think of the return I got and if the deal makes sense. This also allows you to see us walk the walk when it comes to player valuations. I can tell you I’m high on Adalberto Mondesi…but now you’ll see exactly how high I am. I will try to provide as much context as possible.

Relevant Details:

  • 10 Team AL-Only League
  • 13 keepers
  • 3 year limits on players with 1 player you can keep indefinitely (designated as “franchise player”)
  • Rosters are as follows:
  • Hitters: C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, DH
  • Pitchers: P (10, no designation)
  • No bench
  • 30-man minor league system
  • 10 FA moves allowed (these are pure FA moves and do not get used when reserving a DL’d player or a player sent to minors)
  • 10 MiLB moves allowed (can be made at any time, cannot be traded)
  • Categories: BA, HR, R, RBI, SB, DT (doubles + triples), IP, ERA, W, S, Ratio (some bizarre thing that is BB+H-K/IP, I don’t get it either)

Here is my roster at the time of the deal (I was in last place):

5-9-2013 4-16-31 PM5-9-2013 4-18-12 PM

The trade:

I send

James Shields
Junichi Tazawa (I had just picked him up and he had to yet be added to my roster)

for

Adalberto Mondesi
Taylor Guerrieri
JO Berrios
Jairo Beras
Joe Blanton
Koji Uehara

Rationale:

Despite some very respectable players and a bunch of solid ones, my team had gotten off to a very slow start. My superstars weren’t carrying enough of the load (looking at you Pujols) and aside from Nelson Cruz and Austin Jackson, every other hitter was struggling in one way or another. As I inherited this team in the offseason, I decided to sell on this season and remake the team with guys that I selected. That wasn’t the only issue though…It wasn’t simple to get to 13 keeper worthy guys on this team, and I wasn’t at all confident I could compete in 2014, much less this year.

James Shields is obviously an insanely valuable piece of property in a league like this, but he was harming me in a few ways at this point. 1) He’s been pitching incredibly well, and when you’re not winning in a league like this, losing is vitally important, as having first selection in the offseason draft is a major boon. 2) This isn’t harming me exactly, but he is a FA at the end of 2014. That means if I didn’t compete next season, I’d have to accept reduced value for him because of the uncertainty that he’d be staying in the AL and thus be able to be kept by the owner trading for him. So I was fighting a battle with time, in the event that I wasn’t competitive next year. Could I be competitive by next season? Quite possibly, but I didn’t love my chances and if I need to, I now have the farm system to overpay if necessary.

I think my big failing here is that I did not receive a premium prospect for Shields a la a Myers or a Russell or a Gausman. I had the option to trade Shields for Gausman and little else. Instead I chose a package of prospects that included some serious quality as well. I believe Guerrieri and Mondesi could be top 30 prospects as soon as next season. I think Berrios could be a top 70 guy and Beras is a flier with massive power and solid speed. Minor league value can be hard to come by in this league, what with the 30-man MiLB roster, but I feel I did well to get talents that I view as relatively safe with some premium upside.

I followed that deal up with this trade:

I send

Erick Aybar
Tyler Flowers
Luis Mendoza

for

Derek Norris
Brandon Maurer
Yunel Escobar
Luigi Rodriguez

This deal was essentially Aybar for Norris, Maurer, and Rodriguez with the other pieces added to make it work. Losing a very solid SS in a league like this is tough, but I got a catcher back and given that it’s AL Only and a two-catcher league, I’m very happy with that. On top of that I got Maurer who has struggled some in the early going, but also shown flashes of being a solid pitcher. I said I was a fan of him in the offseason, and I’m walking the walk here, taking a risk in acquiring him. My biggest concern is his injury risk, but I’m willing to live with that to move one keeper and add two. In fact, Maurer’s growing pains are just fine with me, given my desire to be at the bottom of the standings at this point, as long as he’s good enough to remain in the rotation next year.

Ok, so that was a lot of stuff going on. In the end, here’s what my farm system looks like as I plan for 2015 contention (with the possibility of 2014 if I decide to shuffle some talent):

2 Delino Deshields Hou
S Brad Miller Sea
S Adalberto Mondesi KC NOD
S Esteilon Peguero Sea
S Jon Schoop Bal
S Luis Sardinas Tex NOD
S Tony Wolters Cle
S Nick Williams Tex
O Jairo Beras Tex NOD
O Dante Bichette Jr. NYY
O Michael Choice Oak
O Brett Eibner KC
O Gabriel Guerrero Sea
O Courtney Hawkins CHW
O Jared Mitchell CHW
O Luigi Rodriguez Cle NOD
O Bubba Starling KC
O Levon Washington Cle
P Miguel Almonte KC
P JO Berrios Min NOD
P Jose Campos NYY
P Dillon Howard Cle
P Kyle Gibson Min
P Luis Gohara Sea
P Taylor Guerrieri TB NOD
P Roberto Osuna Tor
P Bruce Rondon Det
P Victor Sanchez Sea
P Blake Snell TB NOD
P Alberto Tirado Tor

So, since you often ask our opinion, I’m turning the tables and asking yours. How’d I do? Did I sell too soon? Did I sell too cheap?

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9 comments on “Accountability Check: Reviewing a Trade

  1. Juicebox says:

    Just a general question: when it comes to players like Mondesi, or Russell, when do you expect them to come up? 2015 at the earliest? There is so much that can go wrong (Tim Beckham)

    • Craig Goldstein says:

      It’s a great question and speaks to the risk involved in taking guys that far away. I wouldn’t anticipate Mondesi being up until 2016 at the earliest, and that’s if he doesn’t go a full year at each level. He’s precocious, but 2015 means projecting him in the majors at 19 and I’m not prepared to do that. Addison Russell has been pushed hard, but the kid has special makeup and I think he’s up to the task. He’s taking his lumps as a 19 year old in Hi-A right now, but I’d say 2015 wouldn’t be unreasonable for Russell to break in.

  2. Doog says:

    I think the trade makes a lot of sense as part of a much larger plan to tear the roster down. I think it works best if it’s not in isolation, and you lead me to believe it isn’t. With pieces like Pujols and Victor you might be able to sell hope and target some big young sticks in the OF and CI to compliment the nice prospect middle infield. If it’s me, I see if I can move a couple boom-or-bust guys like Starling and Hawkins for a young MLB buy low like Hosmer…I think you’re going to find it easier to be able to pick up replacement dreams to restock your minors than find good use for all your keeper spots! If you don’t want to wait til 2018 to put a serious challenger out, you need more hitters in their early 20s to provide a solid base. Since I believe in building around bats, I might even float Darvish if you can tempt the Machado owner…or couple him with Pujols or a Trout owner who’s concerned that he’s not getting mid-career Mickey Mantle so far this year. As an aside…would you be allowed to spend a roster spot on a speculative NL trade candidate like Stanton?

    • Craig Goldstein says:

      A ton of great points here. It IS part of a larger tear down plan and a big part of that plan will be trading some of my vets and adding prospects I don’t love (you nailed em with Hawkins/Starling) to get better returns. I definitely plan on making a run at Hosmer and it’s my hope to keep Darvish through it all. I’m open to moving him for an absolutely monster return but I’m not going to actively seek a deal out for him. You’ve nailed my strategy down though, and I do plan on targeting some of those younger 20s type players for a faster rebuild if it’s possible. As for your last question, I cannot reserve a spot for a speculative trade candidate unfortunately. If Stanton is trading in-season, he goes to the AL-Team that was in the lowest position and also had a piece going back the other way. For example, if two separate owners have Profar and Olt and they both get traded for Stanton, whoever is worse in the standings gets Stanton.

      • Doog says:

        That must make for a crazy trading season when rumors are flying near the deadline! So, I dig on Yu, too (heh), and I’m intrigued by the strategy to keep him. Say you’re really ready to sell out for a run in 2017. He’s 31, and if he ages like several of the Japanese pitchers you still have 7 or so great years…maybe all-time sick years. But he’s so damn sexy that it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t fetch a fortune, and pitchers being volatile and the human arm not being meant to (yadda yadda) would tempt me to either diversify assets to speed the rebuild or chase a franchise hitter. Then again, having him is going to make for a lot of fun viewing during your rise to dominance. It could be that having him when he breaks both Harvey Haddix and Orel Hershiser’s records late in the summer of 2016 will provide more raw baseball fun than your first league championship.

      • Craig Goldstein says:

        Yeah, he’s just too much fun for me to deal right now. If there is a massive offer, I’d definitely consider it though.

  3. Chris says:

    Got this trade offer today. I have A.J. Griffin and I was offered straight up trade for Kyle Kendrick. This is a dynasty league. Having a hard time deciding if I should do trade or not.

    • Craig Goldstein says:

      Sorry for the delay in response. I have been a Kendrick hater for a while now, but he’s made some fundamental changes to his game and I think that he’s for real, and right now a better pitcher than Griffin. I suppose it depends how much you value the home parks as Philly is a hitters park and Oakland is very much a pitchers haven. I prefer to go on talent so would probably take Kendrick but if the home park matters more to you than it does to me, I would hold on Griffin. It’s a reasonable offer and not a clear win for either side in my opinion.

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