The Kendall trade
Now that it’s official, here’s the scoop:
C-R Jason Kendall to Oakland
LHP Arthur Rhodes, LHP Mark Redman to Pittsburgh
Kendall, 30, is a California boy who wanted to get closer to home anyway.
As to the financials… it depends on what you read. Redman has about $8m on his contract for 2005-2006, while Rhodes due about $6m over the same two years. Kendall, supposedly, has about $34m over three years. So it would seem to be
2005: A’s take on ~+3m
2006: A’s take on ~+3m
2007: A’s take on some huge chunk of money ($17m?)
I’ve heard the Pirates are taking on money, and also that they’re only on the hook for a big chunk of 2007. I’ve also read that the A’s actually pay the Pirates for 2005-2006. At some point, the particulars will emerge.
It’s a huge deal for the A’s, and I think it demonstrates again that Beane’s willing to think sideways in a way we haven’t seen in Seattle. Last year, he (as I did) thought Rhodes would rebound and again become a top-flight reliever, and possibly could be used as a closer and then converted into something shiny. He was also part of an attempt by Oakland to corner the market on servicable lefties to (I guess) trade to contenders or… I’m not sure, and this part wasn’t a particularly well-thought-out idea. What’s important to note is that the A’s were stuck with this contract, and were going to pay Rhodes to stink or swim for the next couple of years, when they’re chock full of potential relievers who could do that job for much less.
And Redman… he’s enjoyed some success, and I’ll leave the detailed scouting reports to others, but he just doesn’t get the Ks. At 30, looking at the possibilities to take a rotation slot for the A’s, Beane probably figured Redman wasn’t a good enough bet to enjoy continued success compared to the others and felt he could move him. He was the least valuable of the five guys that took regular turns last year.
At this point, stop for a second. The A’s just traded one of their big starters. What happens now? If Beane doesn’t make any more moves, their rotation will run Hudson-Mulder-Harden-Zito-scrub, where Scrub will actually be pretty good.
In the meantime, Damian Miller signed a three-year, $8.75m deal. Jason Varitek’s asking for $200m/20y last I heard a Boras quote.
Last year’s VORP for these guys:
Jason Kendall, 47.5
Jason Varitek, 46.0
Damian Miller, 16.8
As others have noted in the Miller thread, the bulk of catchers out there are 31 and up and not at all exciting. I’m sure there’s a lot of difference in the skill sets between Blanco and Bako, but in the end, there’s not a lot of performance difference.
Billy Beane, for $3m/year, acquired a 30 year old, top-5 catcher for the next three years without significantly degrading his team.
The Pirates get a starter, a reliever they still might be able to find a home for, and now they’re out of excuses.
As Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield said, “the formula of one player eating up a significant portion of the payroll just doesn’t work. The easiest example and most recent is A-Rod in Texas. When one player makes up a significant portion of payroll, it’s not a formula for long-term success.”
That’s not true, obviously, because Alex earned his money in Texas, and those problems weren’t caused by him. But it’s an easy line to advance. Beyond being wrong, though, it’s just not cool to blame players in situations like this. It’s the team’s fault they offered Kendall so much money, if it turns out he wasn’t worth it. For years now they’ve pointed at Kendall and said “here’s the source of our problems” and that stinks.
The new problem is that now where they had a well-paid (perhaps too well-paid, sure) premier player and an excuse, now they have Arthur Rhodes and Mark Redman, and if they don’t improve, what are they going to point to then? The Pirates are now without a catcher, and they’re probably going to spend what the A’s took on in salary to get someone far inferior to Kendall. What good is that?
As for the Mariners angle, there are two:
The A’s again demonstrated that, given an opportunity anywhere in baseball with a team that will pick up a phone, they’ll try and get themselves in on the deal. Especially in a situation like this, where a team’s determined to get rid of a player or improve in some particular area, the A’s will be there with four different ways to solve the other team’s problem, and being to wear them down until a deal’s made.
Does anyone really believe that the Mariners couldn’t have made this deal, with their huge available cash reserves and array of even-cheaper options to trade to the Pirates? They have no catcher now — wouldn’t they want Olivo? And a left-handed reliever? We’ve got Guardado, for one, on a cheaper deal than Rhodes. A starter? There’s a couple of options, though none with Redman’s pedigree — but what about Moyer and his expiring contract? Or one of our crop of young Tacoma/Seattle starters from last year?
If the team’s pursuing old, expensive upgrades, why not this younger, less-expensive upgrade at a premium position where he wouldn’t be blocking any young, cheap options? Sure, we’re not California, but it’s a heck of a lot faster to fly down there, and you don’t have to connect anywhere.
Tip of the cap to the A’s for this one.