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Saturday, September 23, 2017

How the Astros’ trade for Justin Verlander came together | SI.com

If you are interested in trade discussions, this is a must read.

“The reality is that any economic modeling that includes projections is not going to like a deadline deal, where you’re trading what could be an enormous amount of future value for a decent amount of present value,” says Luhnow. “The math does not support these types of deals. It’s a matter of using your best judgment.”

Jim Furtado Posted: September 23, 2017 at 09:13 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, justin verlander, tigers

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   1. fra paolo Posted: September 23, 2017 at 05:10 PM (#5537430)
Avila had invited six members of his front office to his house to dine on seafood and yellow rice, his wife’s specialty. They discussed the circumstances under which they would still trade Verlander, their ace for a dozen years.

There is not much about the Detroit angle in this deal, but there are a few neat domestic touches like this, and some product placement.
   2. No longer interested in this website Posted: September 23, 2017 at 07:15 PM (#5537483)
Most swaps of prospects for established players end up being a great deal for the team that gets MLB players. It's not really even close. Fans like to talk about the Jeff Bagwell or John Smoltz deal, but for every one of those we have ten or twelve where the prospects end up delivering bupkis.

I still hate the Verlander deal, and not because I grew up a Tigers fan, but because there are many ways that a player like Verlander brings value to your franchise. The time you end up investing in prospects for the slim chance that they may some day contribute is very valuable. You may as well buy your value, even if it's at a slightly inflated price.
   3. No longer interested in this website Posted: September 23, 2017 at 07:34 PM (#5537491)
If you read the article it sounds as if Luhnow had a rather casual approach to the August 31 trade deadline. He was not actively working that hard to improve his team and barely within cell phone reach at times. Verlander fell in his lap because Avila wanted to get rid of him.
   4. RMc's Unenviable Situation Posted: September 23, 2017 at 09:19 PM (#5537530)
JV's HOF chances just went up by a huge amount. By the time he's done in the early-to-mid-2020s, he could be around 250 wins, 80+ WAR, perhaps with a ring or two.
   5. bookbook Posted: September 24, 2017 at 11:09 AM (#5537658)
I wouldn't bet on JV having several more years of that quality. I'd love to see it, but if you're taking bets I'd take the under. Easily.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5537760)
#2 is in complete disagreement with the statement in the excerpt.

It's not a simple question. In this particular instance, the prospects the Tigers got don't necessarily have to produce a single WAR for Detroit to "win" this trade. As long as Verlander is not worth the $45+ M the Astros will pay him (and Detroit won't) then, by that accounting, the Tigers win. Any WAR that the prospects do produce is a further "savings" -- i.e. one of these guys makes it to 5 WAR, that then means Verlander has to produce about 10 WAR in 2+ seasons for the Tigers to "lose."

The other common deadline deal is trading two months of a star ... this really is the case where those two months do have close to zero marginal value for the sending team but also relatively small marginal value for the receiving team. In the FA era, this sort of trade never should have produced a good return of prospects ... but it often has. Still, from a baseball standpoint, the prospects will almost always produce more WAR than the 1-2 produced by the star in two months.

As Luhnow says, these deals almost never make economic sense for the acquiring team. The Verlander deal probably will make baseball sense for the Astros -- i.e. Verlander will produce more WAR than the prospects. Of course the Astros run the risk of losing on the baseball side by a lot.

So it's primarily about time-shifting wins and how much is a marginal win worth this season and the next two for the Astros. Obviously they want their first WS title and I don't think we have any useful estimate of how much that is worth to a franchise. Detroit is potentially sacrificing tickets sold over the next 2+ seasons, aggravating some of the fan base, plus wins but saving salary and hopefully getting at least some of those wins back. We don't really know what the financial effects of those first two elements are -- we shouldn't really assume they are zero as we usually do in trade discussions but I don't think we have evidence that they are particularly large either.
   7. Greg K Posted: September 24, 2017 at 05:04 PM (#5537764)
Avila had invited six members of his front office to his house to dine on seafood and yellow rice, his wife’s specialty. They discussed the circumstances under which they would still trade Verlander, their ace for a dozen years.

There is not much about the Detroit angle in this deal, but there are a few neat domestic touches like this, and some product placement.

Is "seafood and yellow rice" what they call paella in Detroit?
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2017 at 05:52 PM (#5537788)
As Luhnow says, these deals almost never make economic sense for the acquiring team.

But that's simply because if you want to win the $/WAR you should never employ anyone except pre-arb players.

The economic structure of MLB (with the shifting of player comp from young players to veterans, and the massive shared revenue) means it never makes economic sense to do anything except run a minimal payroll, and stink.
   9. haven Posted: September 24, 2017 at 08:55 PM (#5537825)
If you read the article it sounds as if Luhnow had a rather casual approach to the August 31 trade deadline. He was not actively working that hard to improve his team and barely within cell phone reach at times. Verlander fell in his lap because Avila wanted to get rid of him.


seemed pretty clear from the article that luhnow's approach to the deadline was greatly affected by hurricane harvey
   10. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2017 at 10:23 PM (#5537841)
But that's simply because if you want to win the $/WAR you should never employ anyone except pre-arb players.

Right. But, for trade evaluation (and everything else), it raises the question if the Astros could by as many or more WAR out on the open market than what they will pay Verlander. Or whether the Tigers will spend their savings on more WAR.

A team can easily be better off in a pure baseball sense with a new set of prospects and $X million to spend than they would be spending $X million on a pricey veteran and having none of those prospects.

Further of course, the pricey veteran may not deliver for his new team. That team might not achieve what they hoped for this year then might be stuck with little value for the next two while the traded prospects out-produce the pricey veteran ... they might have still not achieved what they wanted this year but would have been in better shape over the next 5 years if they hadn't made the deal.

In the case at hand, the Astros apparently decided that these prospects plus paying full freight for Verlander was not a good trade for them. The Tigers agreed to cover $16 M and the deal was made. We might not like to think about the money but the teams certainly are. The Astros seem to have decided that the time-shifting of the WAR was not worth the longer-term WAR difference unless the Tigers coughed up $16 M ... or the Tigers felt their own time-shifting and longer-term WAR differences were worth enough that it was still worth it if they paid $16 M ... or the new Tigers' owners don't give a damn about wins and wanted as much of $56 M in their pockets as they could sucker some other team into taking on.

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