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Friday, August 06, 2021

BA: Few Prospects Traded At The Deadline Go On To Significant Major League Careers

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Baseball America reviewed every July trade made from 2001-2016 to examine how often a prospect acquired in such a trade went on to play the majority of more than one season in the major leagues and post a positive career WAR, as measured by Baseball-Reference.com. (Note: The 2016 trade deadline was Aug. 1, so trades made on that day are included.) Players traded as prospects in 2017 or later are largely still making their way up the minors and cannot be fully evaluated yet.

In all, 124 of the 612 prospects traded in non-waiver deadline deals from 2001-2016 went on to play the majority of more than one season in the majors and post a positive career WAR. That’s just 20.3% of all prospects moved in such trades.

There were big hits among the successes. Corey Kluber, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Cliff Lee, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Santana and were all traded as prospects in July deals. Players traded as prospects in deadline deals more recently include Yordan Alvarez, Zack Wheeler, Gleyber Torres, Josh Hader, Mitch Haniger, Kyle Hendricks, Sean Manaea and Jean Segura.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 02:32 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: prospects

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   1. Nasty Nate Posted: August 06, 2021 at 03:50 PM (#6033264)
Players traded as prospects in deadline deals more recently include Yordan Alvarez
I did not know that. Apparently the Dodgers signed him, and then traded him 6 weeks later before he even played a game in the minors. Why didn't the Astros just sign him themselves? Was this an end-around to beat international spending limits?
   2. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2021 at 06:58 PM (#6033301)
#1: I have no idea but maybe the Astros and Dodgers were both after him, Dodgers made the better offer. When the Dodgers called for Fields, Astros knew who they wanted in return. Although he's been great since he joined the Dodgers, Fields had been nothing special to that point and was having a terrible season (with excellent K-rate) so it was pretty much a nothing trade. But no reason the Dodgers would do the Astros some weird favor to help the Astros get around the limit.

I wish I had a sub, I've been wanting somebody to do this for a long time. Like the Fields-Alvarez trade, some of these were pretty nothing trades and some of these players weren't remotely a big deal at the time or not the main target of the trade. The deadline deal involving Jose Bautista was a 3-way -- Justin Huber from Mets to Royals, Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger from Pirates to Mets and Bautista and other stuff to the Pirates. A full 4 years later the Pirates sent Bautista to the Jays for PTBNL. The next season, he became the Jose Bautista we know. For the Pirates, Bautista put up -2 WAR.

Donadlson was at best the #2 prospect in the trade to Oakland for Rich Harden and it was 5 years later that he became Donaldson. Zobrist was traded at 25 and spent the next 2.5 years riding the bench in Tampa before things clicked. So yeah, squirreled away in the recent flotilla of players, it's possible one of the 24-yo's is the next Hendricks (or even deGrom) or that 5-6 years (and probably 2 teams) later one of these kids will be the next Bautista.

Of course you'd say much the same about the compensation picks. I don't know where compensation picks and the competitive balance picks and the ... fall exactly but the 2011 "1st" round was a whopping 60 picks. From picks 31-60 there are 6 useful to very good players: JBJ, Chafin, Fulmer, Story, Musgrove, Snell. 6 out of 30, 20%. Under those circumstances, you might as well just hold onto the player rather than piss off the fans ... unless it really is about saving 2 months' salary and maybe a little mini-tanking to improve your draft position.

Man, the Cubs these days. In today's game (the 10th inning not going well), Deichmann has made his debut -- that's the 26-yo we got from Oak in the Chafin deal. Maybe he's the next surprisingly good career. Heuer also pitched. And pitchers named Jewell, Rucker and Rodriguez I'd never heard of. A Fargas not to be confused with the Vargas we trotted out earlier this year. And thank god I've had the sound down cuz Rick Sutcliffe has made an appearance (in the booth not on the mound though it won't be long).

EDIT: Donadlson was the 2nd best player in the trade, Sean Gallagher wasn't really a prospect at that point. And Schwindel with a 2-run HR to being the Cubs within 2!
   3. bookbook Posted: August 07, 2021 at 06:53 AM (#6033360)
I’m not sure this study supports its own conclusions. As you note, only 20% of compensation picks pan out. 20% of deadline deal prospects is consistent with that.

The entire player development system, with more than 4 levels of minor leagues, including -150 players for each team, is designed to funnel in a mass number of talented athletes and winnow down to a few who can consistently play baseball at the highest level.

After the first half of the first round, every prospect is more crapshoot than sure thing. (And, yeah, saving money while creating space for the kids to play has value, too.)
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 07, 2021 at 07:12 PM (#6033406)
What was the article's conclusion? Nothing in the excerpt suggests a conclusion.

But also take note of the minimal level of achievement they apply for "success": the majority of more than one season in the majors and post a positive career WAR. (To be honest, I'm not sure how to parse that first one) I wasn't really thinking about that but my short list was much stricter, the worst player I named is Chafin at 5 WAR. You probably get more than 20% out of picks 31-60 if applying BA's criteria.

For example ,Mike Mahtook was #31 in 2011 and he made it into 291 games, almost 900 PA and is credited with 0.3 WAR ... I think that's a success by the BA criteria. I think we add Brian Goodwin, Kyle Crick and Jace Peterson too. So that's now 10 out of 30 in 2011 by their criteria. But I don't know where in 31-60 comp picks sit and I believe for a rich team like the Cubs, theirs would come at the end of the 2nd round, not the first.

A likely "flaw" in the BA method is that (I assume) they are assessing all deadline deals including the trivial ones. When you flip a LHR for an A-ball flyer or Joc Pederson for a 22-yo 1B seriously struggling at A+, that adds to the denominator but have very little chance of adding to the numerator. Statistically we are mixing two populations -- "big" and "small" deadline deals -- that likely (hopefully) have very different rates of "success." I expect the Cubs to get nothing out of the Joc Pederson deal which is fine; if the Cubs get nothing out of Bryant, not so fine. But then it wouldn't surprise me if the "big" deals had about the same return as the higher comp pick outcome I started with.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: August 07, 2021 at 07:31 PM (#6033407)
It's a chilly, drizzly Sunday here so I might as well kill some time here. Wandered across the 2004 2nd round ... which must be one of the best 2nd rounds evers ... or one of the best sets of picks 42-71. Pedroia, Pence, Gallardo, Kurt Suzuki, Jason Vargas (18 WAR), Seth Smith, Swarzak (5 WAR). Five of those guys were after pick 60. The b-r sum is 15 of 30 players made the majors and those 15 players averaged 10 WAR.

Obviously it can't compare to the 1971 2nd round (Brett and Schmidt back-to-back although little else) but they were picks 29 and 30. ... Just imagine, say, the Dodgers and Rays picking #29 and 30 next year and getting Brett and Schmidt. Still picks 42-71 that year produced a few very good players led by Guidry ... and we learn that Dennis Lamp made it over 15 WAR -- much, much better in his early career than I remember (8 WAR with the Cubs, 6 with the White Sox ... and one outstanding late career relief season with the Red Sox).
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: August 07, 2021 at 08:00 PM (#6033411)
Jeff Bagwell, traded before the article's timeline, did ok for the Astros imo
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: August 07, 2021 at 08:29 PM (#6033415)
Cardinals have often traded prospects for "help" at the deadline, but I'm happy with at least one trade for a prospect, Tyler O'Neil for Marco Gonzales... note I don't think Seattle lost on that deal either.
   8. VCar Posted: August 08, 2021 at 01:58 PM (#6033449)
If we're going before 2001, I'll raise you Smoltz. What's the best prospect of all time acquired at the deadline? Without checking, I assume Smoltz or Bagwell by war.
   9. AstrosOldTimer Posted: August 08, 2021 at 05:43 PM (#6033467)
Bagwell was traded after the deadline, after Andersen cleared waivers.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2021 at 06:05 PM (#6033468)
Bagwell was traded after the deadline,


As was Smoltz.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 08, 2021 at 11:43 PM (#6033495)
Would the Cubs have been better off going for draft compensation for Bryant and Rizzo?
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: August 09, 2021 at 12:26 AM (#6033498)
Bagwell was traded after the deadline, after Andersen cleared waivers.

I'm fairly confident that the article means "midseason to late-season trades."

when I was a teenager, the MLB trade deadline was June 15, for example.

the overall point would seem to be "rebuilding team gives up established player for prospect well into a season - what's the historic track record of those acquisitions?"
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: August 09, 2021 at 12:56 AM (#6033501)
I'm fairly confident that the article means "midseason to late-season trades."


Be that as it may, Astro was responding to VCar's question: What's the best prospect of all time acquired at the trade deadline? That would rule out both Smoltz and Bagwell.

I'm not sure who the single answer to that specific question is, but it would seem two of the best trade deadline hauls were the Rangers for Teixeira (Andrus, Harrison, Feliz and Salty) and the M's for Big Unit (Guillen and Garcia).
   14. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 09, 2021 at 09:07 AM (#6033511)
Walt in #4 hits on a couple of important points:

1) All types of deadline deals are getting thrown in together, but the vast majority of them involve minor pieces for a backup outfielder or bullpen depth or something, and the team dealing away the veteran to the contender is happy to just save the $900K or whatever remaining on the deal. That shouldn't really count the same as trading Scherzer and Turner...

2) I am as guilty of this as any fan, but the definition of success should be much different from what it typically is for fans. It is not a success *only* if you get a 10-year solution at third base in exchange for two months of a veteran, no matter how good that veteran is. I feel like the Jeff Bagwell trade (especially up here in New England) set a standard for "winning" such a trade that if your team doesn't get a future 5-time All-Star in the fire sale you failed as a GM.

As Bill James used to write every year, most of the value in a player is in being reliably average. Teams get in trouble when they are unable to address holes on their team with cheap, average players. If you get a minor-leaguer in a deal who ends up being a solid utility guy for five years in the bigs, that's actually a pretty nice return. A lot of teams wish they had a bench full of reliable, cheap, average players, or a 4th guy in the bullpen who gave them three years of cost-controlled, reliable middle relief. As some people above are saying, you should be pretty happy getting something like that in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft - so if you can get something like that in a trade, where they've already made it through some levels of the minors, another team paid the signing bonus and did the scouting and took the risk, and you got to peel off two months of some veteran's salary...well, that's a very good deal.
   15. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 09, 2021 at 11:59 AM (#6033523)


I'm fairly confident that the article means "midseason to late-season trades."


The excerpt says they only considered July deals that happened before the trade deadline:

Baseball America reviewed every July trade made from 2001-2016 to examine how often a prospect acquired in such a trade went on to play the majority of more than one season in the major leagues and post a positive career WAR, as measured by Baseball-Reference.com. (Note: The 2016 trade deadline was Aug. 1, so trades made on that day are included.)
   16. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 09, 2021 at 12:03 PM (#6033524)

Zack Wheeler, acquired by the Mets in a deadline deal for Carlos Beltran in 2011, is looking like he'll put up a very good career, even if he "only" delivered 10 WAR for the Mets.
   17. JJ1986 Posted: August 09, 2021 at 12:07 PM (#6033526)
Who was the highest-rated prospect at the time they were traded among modern deadline deals? Some of these guys like Bautista (routed to a third-team) and Kluber were not considered much. Brandon Phillips was one guy I thought of. Gleyber also has to be up there.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: August 09, 2021 at 12:25 PM (#6033529)


Brandon Phillips was one guy I thought of.


I looked at that deal as one of the best, but it was a late-June deal, so I'm not sure it qualifies. But if it odes, that's a better haul than the Braves-Rangers, Astros-Mariners deals, as Phillips was arguably only the third-best player acquired in that trade (Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore also came over - Phillips edges Sizemore in WAR, but Sizemore beats him easily in WAA).

   19. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 09, 2021 at 01:35 PM (#6033538)
Scott Kazmir was the #12 BA prospect the year he was traded at the deadline.

Phillips was similarly highly regarded (he was #20 the year before the trade, #7 the year after). Lee was #30 the year after and Sizemore didn't appear on the list until 2 years after the deal, when he was ranked #9.

The Kazmir-Zambrano deal is still the most staggeringly bad deal to me. At the time of the trade, Kazmir was a better pitcher than Zambrano.
   20. chisoxcollector Posted: August 09, 2021 at 02:10 PM (#6033540)
Eloy Jimenez was the #5 prospect on MLB's list, and #9 on BA's list, heading into 2017.

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