Trade Deadline Newsbeat
Friday, August 14, 2015
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
The Blue Jays bought, the Tigers sold and the Mets couldn’t make up their mind. Baseball’s trade deadline, which passed last Friday afternoon, is all about balancing the present against the future. Whether they’re buyers or sellers (or just renters), all deadline-dealers have to evaluate both their World Series chances for the current season and where they will be in the “success cycle” going forward. Blunders in either type of assessment can haunt a franchise for years.
It’s a lot to deal with, and not every team manages the process perfectly. To help model these deadline decisions, we developed a metric we’ve nicknamed the “Doyle Number.” It’s named after the infamous 1987 trade in which the Detroit Tigers sent future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, then a 20-year-old prospect, to the Atlanta Braves for 36-year-old Doyle Alexander.
In principle, the definition of the Doyle Number is simple. It represents the rate at which, at the trade deadline, teams should be willing to trade talent in the future for talent in the current season in order to maximize the total number of World Series that it wins. For instance, if a team has a Doyle Number of 2, that means buying a win’s worth of talent in the current season at the trade deadline is worth giving up two wins in the future. By contrast, a team with a Doyle Number of 0.25 should only be willing to give up one-quarter of a future win for a win now. Not only should such a team not buy wins at that price — it should probably sell veteran talent at the deadline instead, in exchange for prospects.
The wrinkle in the waiver system is that a team with no intention of acquiring a player can put in a waiver claim, forcing his team to pull him back and ending the possibility of him being traded. The waiving team can simply let the player go for nothing – the Devil Rays stuck the Yankees with Jose Canseco this way in 2000 — but most often, it’s used as a blocking tool.
As a result, the players who get through waivers tend to be ones with unmanageable contracts. With the way the market has changed, with such an emphasis on teams being able to get some kind of return for pending free agents, it’s time for the game to change with the times.
What Major League Baseball should do is institute a new system, mixing the old waivers system with something resembling the posting agreement that MLB has with Japan.
Here’s how it would work, using Padres outfielder Will Venable as an example so as not to have to refer to “Player X” repeatedly.
The Padres were unable to make a deal before the deadline to offload Venable, a free agent this winter who does not figure to command a qualifying offer, and thus will leave for nothing if the Padres do not re-sign him, unlike Justin Upton, who will get a qualifying offer and would bring a compensatory draft pick to San Diego if he leaves. So, at some point in August, the Padres would post Venable.
Teams interested in Venable would get 24 hours to contact the Padres and find out what San Diego would want in return. Teams would have until 48 hours after the posting to submit their best offers to the Padres. Such offers could be specific or they could be in the form of a list of prospects from which San Diego would have its choice, the way that player-to-be-named-later deals often work.
Upon receiving each team’s bid, the Padres would review their options, and have 24 hours to review medical reports and decide whether to accept an offer, or not be able to trade Venable for the remainder of the season. After 72 total hours, Venable’s situation would be resolved.
Does this make Ruben a tenth level or eleventh level genius?
“This was as well prepared as we’ve been,” Amaro said. “There were no shortage of suitors, and when you’re talking about five or six teams to cover all those players and all those prospects … we started to target some of those guys during the offseason. The scouting and the addition of the analytics portion of these evaluations put us in the best position to be ready to make the trades.”
Quality is key. Some folks considered the Phillies’ farm system to be among the bottom third in baseball before this season. Following the 2015 Draft and the prospects they received from Texas, Washington and Toronto, some believe they have catapulted into the top half, if not the top third.
But quantity is key, too.
“They always say to get five if you need 10,” Gillick said. “It’s a numbers game. We think we got the numbers, and we think we got the quality. Hopefully out of that group, we’ll get four or five of them that’ll be able to perform in the Major Leagues.”
“You want to dream as much as you possibly can, but you also have to be realistic about the players,” Amaro said.
Monday, August 03, 2015
At the start of the season, a player making $7 million and winning his team one more game than a replacement player would might appear to have a marginal value of $0. That is to say he’s payed exactly what he’ll likely produce, on average. But at the trade deadline, context is important. A team that knows that his one extra win might push them into the playoffs might actually value his contributions at $15 million, while a team that knows that his one extra win will push get them to 75 wins could value that at only $1 million.
In this situation, the two teams should be able to work out a deal, trading him from the team that views him as having a declining surplus value to the team that views him as having a surplus value much higher than his salary. Trades like that are optimal strategies. Both teams are made better by the trade, and every team in baseball should (and mostly does) participate in this trading market.
But while the optimal strategy is to always choose the trade package that brings the highest overall marginal value, when teams start to have preferences for the composition of what return package they want when they trade major leaguers at the deadline, they’re getting into David and Goliath strategies.
Prospects, by their very nature of being unfinished, carry wider variances than major league players. This spectrum is open for debate (especially the high-minors hitters/low-minors pitchers part), but here’s my hypothesis, listed from lowest variance to highest variance:
MLB hitters - MLB pitchers - high-minors hitters - high-minors pitchers - low-minors hitters - low minors pitchers
If a team views themselves as a Goliath, they may tend toward preferring to trade for the players at the left side of the spectrum, while if they view themselves as a David, they may instead prefer to acquire players at the right side of the spectrum, hoping for higher value with a more drastic variability.
Posted: August 03, 2015 at 03:02 PM | 0 comment(s)
Friday, July 31, 2015
Thursday, July 30, 2015
There’s no way to dress this up: That Dustin Ackley’s career as a Mariner ended with him being traded for one fringe 4th OF and a relief pitcher with a horrendous walk rate and iffy health history is a real shame.
Oop Ackley, as Bill the Cat might say.
You mean players aren’t just stat lines?
In 1999, I played for the Detroit Tigers. We weren’t a good team and I was a left-handed reliever, the most dispensable job in baseball. In late July, the rumors were flying. I had a player I knew well from an opposing team come up to me during batting practice one day and say, “Yankees, huh? That would be nice.”
Word had gotten around that there was a possibility of a deal that would send me to the New York Yankees. I am a New York native and was a Yankees fan as a kid. This was the greatest kind of rumor I could hear, but nothing ever came of it. There’s a deflating moment for a player who was rumored to be on the move, wanted to move and ultimately woke up on Aug. 1 to realize he wasn’t moved. Many guys will go through that this July 31; they just won’t say so publicly.
There’s also denial that you’d even be traded. The Reds drafted me ninth overall in 1994. At the deadline in 1995, there were rumors I would be on the move. I thought that was impossible. My team just drafted me 13 months ago; how could it possibly trade me already? I ignored the rumors. This predated cell phones. I walked into my apartment in Triple-A Indianapolis in the early evening to my landline phone ringing. “Hey, CJ, we just traded you to Detroit for David Wells.” I was in disbelief.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Neyer declares war on “need.”
So you’ve got all those contending teams and all those late-July trades, and I can’t find a single compelling instance of a player who really made a difference.
Is this normal? No, and yes. Last season was atypical, just in terms of how few division races wound up being even remotely close. But let’s just think about the math for a moment. Leaving aside Mike Trout, your typical great player is worth about six wins above replacement over a whole season … which means he’s worth only two wins after the trade deadline. How many races come down to two wins or fewer? Not many. How many of the teams in those races ultimately win the World Series? Even fewer?
Here’s the problem with using the word “need” ... According to Baseball Prospectus’s latest Playoff Odds Report, the Blue Jays have a 4.7-percent chance of winning the World Series. That is, a title. Let’s say they add a starter and a reliever. Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. Which would really be something, wouldn’t it? That’s about as well as they could possibly do!
If they added both those guys, made a true blockbuster deal, their chances of winning the World Series might jump all the way to eight or nine percent. But probably more like six or seven.
Which is why I don’t buy into need, but rather want or good to have. Because I’m pretty sure the Angels aren’t listening on Trout.
Addendum: Everything above refers to contenders. As we’ve seen, it’s difficult to make a trade that actually makes a real difference in the standings, let alone in October. But if you’re the Phillies or the Reds or one of another dozen or so teams that’s got very little chance of playing big games in September, let alone October? Then, yeah: I’ll go ahead and say you need to get something done. If you ask me, late July is a great time to be out of contention. Because all those teams with prospects think they need your veterans.
Posted: July 25, 2015 at 05:41 PM | 23 comment(s)
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Keep the trade deadline where it is.
Commissioner Rob Manfred thinks baseball may need to consider moving the trade deadline back to give teams in the hunt for a wild card more time.
A second wild card in each league was added in 2012, keeping more teams in playoff contention long past the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And those clubs may not have enough time to evaluate whether their rosters are good enough to get one.
“I think that the July 31st deadline is something that we may want to revisit in the context of the revised playoff format,” Manfred said Wednesday. “Obviously when you have two additional opportunities to be in the playoffs, you have more teams in the hunt and they may want to wait a little longer before they make decisions.”
“On the other hand, you’ve got to remember, we want teams that the core of which have been together for the year playing in the postseason,” he said. “So you have to just balance those two issues, I think.”
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Is Cueto hurt?
But even with so many teams still in contention, there will be impact players changing teams, possibly several of them. Reds ace Johnny Cueto could be the best, but there is a long list of others, including Cueto’s teammate Mike Leake.
Monday, July 13, 2015
What surprised the Pirates, and many industry observers, was the Tampa Bay Rays preferred a return of young, major league players. The Boston Red Sox also traded their ace, Jon Lester, for a major league player in Yoenis Cespedes prior to the deadline. Huntington said the focus of the sellers has again been on major league talent — not prospects — as the July 31st trade deadline approaches.
Why the change?
“It’s a seller’s market, so there are fewer teams that are looking to trade established major league players for prospects,” Huntington said. “The impatience of the industry. The expectation that you can turn an organization around in a year. Rather than (targeting) the best prospect in the system that may be in A-ball, teams are starting to look for the guy in Triple-A that might have an impact in a year or two.”
Posted: July 13, 2015 at 08:20 AM | 0 comment(s)
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
The older age is improved and empowered by the new age, the new age buoyed by the eyes, ears, experience and human understanding of the traditionalists. Scioscia and DiPoto should have worked. Did each make mistakes? Probably. But while Moreno is running his own businesses, he needed to define the Angels organization and, instead, sometimes making capricious decisions (like Josh Hamilton) and not having a clear, defined structure, created confusion.
This is not about stat freaks and baseball men, it’s about how the a billion dollar business has to be structured and run. Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio talked about how Marge Schott wanted to be in on every decision, and the drifts that created. Similarly, Moreno preferred what he saw as his own traditional company model, and the result is that there were no partners, there was little collaborative thought and now Bill Stoneman, the first and fourth of Moreno’s general managers, is out looking for number five.
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