I swear I don’t usually do this. At least not so soon.
But this past week, I traded a ton of talent and depth to land Carlos Gonzalez. And I don’t regret it at all.
I don’t make giant, franchise-altering trades very often in the first year of my ownership. I trust myself to draft well, and I have a clear plan in mind when drafting. When you change gears so soon after a draft, it generally means you either read your team wrong, are panicking too soon or have suffered some seriously horrendous injury luck.
None of the above applies to me. I know my team’s window of contention is 2014-2016. I know that I sacrificed some MiLB talent to build out my bench during the draft. And while I currently sit in sixth place (but fewer than 30 points out in a 20-team league), I still think I have a reasonable shot at a victory or a top-three finish this year.
So why did I make the deal with J.P. Breen of FanGraphs and Disciples of Uecker fame? Quite simply, I think the value I received was too good to turn down.
Here’s the trade in it’s entirety:
I give: Jonathan Singleton (1B, HOU), Oswaldo Arcia (OF, MIN), Trevor Bauer (SP, CLE), Luis Sardinas (SS, TEX), second-round pick
I get: Carlos Gonzalez (OF, COL), Joe Smith (RP, LAA), Chris Denorfia (OF, SD), Domingo Santana (OF, HOU), Vincent Velasquez (SP, HOU)
It’s tough to figure out how to structure my thought process, so I’ll try to start with the most obvious reasons and work my way down.
CarGo is an elite player, and I was surprised to learn he was available in the first place. I really needed to add power to my team, but when you’re presented a chance to land a player in the midst of his prime like CarGo at reasonable price, you shift your priorities fast. CarGo fits in quite nicely with my other core players, Robinson Cano, David Wright, Justin Verlander, Joe Mauer and Julio Teheran, and gives me a really good shot at earning some hardware between now and 2016. He’s a monster, and it’s unlikely I’ll get another chance to land a talent like him again.
Once J.P. took a look at my roster and we figured out the parameters of a deal (CarGo for Arcia and Singleton-plus), we got into heavier negotiations from there.
I tried quite hard to do this deal without Bauer, who I love, but I couldn’t get J.P. to bite on Kyle Gibson as a substitute. I then tried to get Wilin Rosario for the inclusion of Bauer, but J.P. was justifiably reluctant on that front. Once I conceded that I’d need to deal Bauer to get one of the best players in the game, I moved on to mitigating the damage this deal would do to my depth.
Denorfia was an easy call – he’s not special and a rebuilding team doesn’t need him, but he provides a nice average with a few steals to boot. If nothing else, he’s an upgrade over Scott Van Slyke and Logan Schafer (ahh, deep leagues). Smith had been discussed early in the trade, and given that he’s at his peak value right now, it was smart of J.P. to deal him when he did.
Pushing for Santana and Velasquez was a late move on my part, and it’s probably the part of this deal I’m proudest of completing. I rate Santana ahead of Sardinas but it appears as though J.P. felt differently, so the swap makes sense for both of us. I was also able to leverage the “I included Bauer” angle to get J.P. to budge on Santana, so happyface.
Velasquez was a more interesting conversation. I knew J.P. was interested in draft picks, as we had discussed me giving him a fourth-rounder in a few previous iterations of this deal. I was never going to let a draft pick stop me from getting CarGo, and while it hurts to give up a second-rounder, I’m thrilled to get Velasquez back in return. J.P. might end up getting a prospect with higher upside when he uses that low (hopefully) second rounder, but I got a player who can help me during my window of contention.
In terms of reservations about this deal from my end, it’s fair to say I’m worried about depth. It’s quite possible that with Arica, Josh Willingham and Carlos Quentin all returning from injury soon and Singleton on the way up, my power problems could’ve taken care of themselves. I’d also have a much deeper roster, both for 2014 and for the future.
I’m also worried about the ever-increasing age of my team, as Singleton, Arcia and Bauer–along with Gibson, Julio Teheran and Wilmer Flores–were my only young players who profile as potential above average fantasy starters in the long run.
But at the end of the day, I need to trust my ability to evaluate and obtain minor league talent, and I like my odds at nabbing an up-and-coming prospect more than I do ever getting a shot at a CarGo-like talent again. Plus, given Arcia’s injury and that Singleton and Bauer are in the minors, there’s a very real chance this trade makes me better in 2014.
If I don’t win at some point in the next three years, this trade will look pretty awful for me. That being said, my CarGo/Cano/Wright/Verlander/Teheran combo is one of the best five-somes in the league, and I should be a force to be reckoned with if health is on my side.