What This Trade Does

Dave · December 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The weird thing about the internet age is that by the time big moves are announced, they’ve been analyzed to death and there’s not much more to say. We got one of the best pitchers in baseball without giving up any real significant pieces of the franchises future. This is amazing, but you know this already.

So, at the risk of moving on from celebration prematurely, I’d like to spend a few minutes and talk about what this trade does to the team and the rest of the off-season.

Lee’s addition is a huge lift to the team’s true talent level, as the M’s have essentially swapped out (for now) one of Doug Fister/Jason Vargas/Carlos Silva for an all-star. They added about 4 to 5 wins to their expected total for 2010, depending on how much you like the collection of 5th starters the M’s currently have. This move, combined with the Figgins signing, gives the Mariners a true talent level of about 84 wins. And that’s with Saunders in left, Carp at first, and Griffey DH’ing.

The Mariners are now contenders. This vaults them into a similar arena of ability with the Angels and ahead of the Rangers and A’s. This team now has a legitimate chance to win the division in 2010, and because they’ve gotten bargains on Figgins and Lee, they still have the resources to go add a couple more pieces to fill out the roster and really give themselves a chance to play in October next year.

So now, the calculations change a bit. 2010 just got more important relative to the future than it was last week. The M’s have now put themselves into a position where the value obtained from upgrading the roster has a far more dramatic effect on the team’s chances of making the playoffs. In terms of the risk/reward balance of transactions, the reward for any move that improves the 2010 team just went up.

I talked about this a bit on FanGraphs last week, but the Mariners have just put themselves in a situation where the marginal value of each additional added win just went way up. The wins that push the team from 84 to 85 wins, 85 to 86, 86 to 87, and so forth have a much higher rate of return. The price the M’s should be willing to pay, both in acquisition costs and in the long-term/short-term trade-off, needs to reflect that. And I think you will see the team be aggressive in landing two more quality position players and perhaps a reliever, reflecting the reality that adding 4 to 5 more wins to this roster would make the M’s the best team in the AL West.

Before this trade, picking up a solid left fielder might not have been such a great idea, as the short term addition of a win or so over what Saunders could be expected to produce wouldn’t be worth the long term cost of not letting the youngster develop. Now, that win is important, and you can justify getting a guy like Luke Scott to take Saunders job. You can justify trading Brandon Morrow while his value is still lower than it could be if you get a significant upgrade at another position. You can justify putting together a huge package to try to convince the Padres to move Adrian Gonzalez (though that is still very unlikely).

This move changes everything. The M’s are contenders.


171 Responses to “What This Trade Does”

  1. The Ancient Mariner on December 16th, 2009 5:04 pm

    lombardie360, you did register that Beane dealt Wallace to Toronto for one of the players they got from Philly, right?

  2. Ian on December 16th, 2009 5:09 pm

    I do like the fact that Angels blogs are calling it Black Monday given the pitching avalanche that ensued. It’s gonna be a fun year.

  3. Leroy Stanton on December 16th, 2009 5:10 pm

    I didn’t buy into Dave’s Luke Scott thinking before Lee came along, but now it makes all kinds of sense. I really think that’s the direction we’ll end up going in left. Not necessarily Scott himself, but a proven bat and most likely left-handed. I just don’t see the M’s going with two rookies in the lineup.

    On another note… I haven’t heard too much about it, but has anyone looked at Holliday’s home/away splits? If you just look at his away numbers, he’s a totally different player. And not one that you’d ever consider giving $15-20MM.

  4. Miles on December 16th, 2009 5:46 pm

    Mr. Snow,
    Prince treats.

  5. joe simpson can hit on December 16th, 2009 5:53 pm

    I had a thought after reading Z’s account of the trade this afternoon, and that is that we owe some thanks to Amaro, who did a favor frankly by trading Lee to us. Obviously he feels comfortable dealing with Jack, but he could have easily traded to Lee to another organization. Especially when you consider that what we gave was not off the charts by any means. He could have done this deal with someone else. Thank God he did it with Seattle.

  6. universalguru on December 16th, 2009 5:56 pm

    A bit of that may have to do with Gillick and Looper’s influence in Philly as well.

  7. Leroy Stanton on December 16th, 2009 5:59 pm

    I had a thought after reading Z’s account of the trade this afternoon, and that is that we owe some thanks to Amaro, who did a favor frankly by trading Lee to us.

    I agree completely. He could have very easily pulled out after he had the agreement with Toronto. He didn’t need us. I’m sure he was tempted, but integrity and his reputation were probably considerations. I was very worried when I heard that Drabek was in and none of our guys were going to Toronto.

  8. lombardie360 on December 16th, 2009 6:10 pm

    @Ancient Mariner

    Yes I know. what Im saying is since Beane wouldnt deal him to us, Jack told the Blue Jays hey get Wallace for me since Billy boy will never let me have him. Get it? (And I in no way mean that to be rude.)

  9. nathaniel dawson on December 16th, 2009 6:14 pm

    Adam LaRoche?

    Definitely a guy to consider. A pretty solid player, wouldn’t cost the M’s a draft pick, certainly would be better than what we have now.

    Not that I expect it to happen, but I like what someone mentioned above about Alex Gordon. Nice buy low candidate. I doubt it’d take very much to get him, either.

    He’s not going to come cheap from K.C. They need all the good, cheap players they can get right now, and he holds quite a bit of promise to break out. He’s the exact kind of player they would want to keep around right now.

  10. The Ancient Mariner on December 16th, 2009 6:22 pm

    what Im saying is since Beane wouldnt deal him to us, Jack told the Blue Jays hey get Wallace for me since Billy boy will never let me have him.

    Ehh, no.

  11. Dave S. on December 16th, 2009 6:43 pm

    If Baker (and Langerhans) are to be believed, the M’s have approached LaRoche.

  12. Dave S. on December 16th, 2009 6:49 pm

    He’s not going to come cheap from K.C. They need all the good, cheap players they can get right now, and he holds quite a bit of promise to break out. He’s the exact kind of player they would want to keep around right now.

    Yeah, I probably underestimated his perceived value to KC. But it seemed like they soured on him quite a bit last year, and between the trade for Fields and Billy Butler’s presence, it seems like they have other priorities on the corners.

    A permanent move to 1B would probably do him a lot of good, since his glove at 3B doesn’t seem up to it. But I’m veering way off topic now, so I’ll stop.

  13. nick.h on December 16th, 2009 8:33 pm

    All this talk about Doumit, I just want to throw this out there and you can take it or leave it. Last week at work one of the Pittsburgh Pirates showed up at work (I saw his union card… pretty cool, lol) and apprently Ryan isn’t a very good catcher, and doesn’t WANT to catch. They’re converting him to a RF.

    In other news: what do we think about D. Lee if the Cubbies pick up part of that contract and he waives the no trade clause (and the Red Sea parts…).

  14. ClaytonMiles on December 16th, 2009 8:43 pm

    Thank you for all the great perspective from Dave and DMZ. I am happy to see all the national exposure you have earned in the last two weeks. I promise I will start donating as soon as I can.
    This really makes me likely to attend more games next season (9 last year). Who knows what move will happen next, but I am sure it will improve the team.
    If some of Jr.’s incentives are based on ticket sales, how much is he likely to benefit from Lee and Figgins – both in $ and wins?

  15. The Ancient Mariner on December 16th, 2009 9:00 pm

    It’s not news that Doumit isn’t a very good catcher. The point is, he could catch at need, which would make him a very useful player to have on the roster.

  16. Seattleken on December 16th, 2009 10:49 pm

    Since the Jays are trying to move Overbay I can see the M’s getting him basically for his 7M contract. He’s be better than Capp with the bat and glove, is left-handed with an .800 OPS. He sucks vs lefties but has a .380+ OB% vs righties as is a nice fit for the new mariners with OB% and plus defense.

    This understanding that the better options of Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder are not at all likely.

    I would rather have Overbay for one year at 7M and than 2 years Branyon or Johnson at 6M a year who are weak with the glove and are extremely fragile.

  17. joser on December 16th, 2009 10:59 pm

    Wang may scare away suitors because of last year’s injury.

    He scared me more when he was healthy. Did you see the first couple of innings of that Fox Saturday game when he gave up 8 runs to Cleveland in the first couple of innings? No thanks.

  18. nick.h on December 16th, 2009 11:17 pm

    If memory serves that was his last, or second to last start, before his DL stint. I saw that too and it was horrifying. But seeing what he did in years before he’s got talent. I still wouldn’t want to have him.

  19. Steve Nelson on December 17th, 2009 7:40 am


    What if during the Lee/Halladay deal there were talks of “Look there is no way Billy Beene will trade me Brett Wallace. Get em for me, well keep talkin, and Ill tell Morrow to go get one of those new licenses or a passport as a starter.”

    Wallace bats Left and we need a 1b which hes supposed to become….I dont know if Im crazy. Not very good at making this stuff up. Im just making my own Jack Z next move hypothesis to see if I can be the one to call it.

    Helpful hint – and I don’t know any other way to say this without being blunt. If you’re going to start hypothesizing, it helps if you start with a bit of base knowledge before throwing out ideas. Otherwise you end up exposing your lack of preparation.

    So, why would you hypothesize that Beane would be unwilling to trade Wallace to the Mariners? Beane is well known to be willing to talk with any team about any player.

  20. msb on December 17th, 2009 7:47 am

    I loved this little throw away note from Geoff Baker: “For nearly a year, Trader Jack had talked with Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos about landing Halladay for the Mariners.”

  21. Carson on December 17th, 2009 7:53 am

    Maybe I shouldn’t be so geeked about stuff like this, but any word on a press conference?

    I do enjoy seeing the new players slip on the uni and hat. This time there is extra intrigue, as I’m curious to see his body language and words after all the stuff in the press. Oh, and that he’s really awesome, too.

    He seemed to really want to stay in Philly, but I’m sure he’ll move past that and fall in love with our little slice of America.

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