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Why Didn't the Twins Make a Trade Already?

Posted by Mike Sixel , 12 July 2019 · 2,040 views

Edit to note: the tables are now fixed, I believe.

Fans, we are a demanding bunch! We want fixes now, and we want them cheap, so our favorite teams can do more fixing. I maybe spend too much time on Twins Daily, and I post a lot. That makes me wrong a lot……or maybe I’m just not all that good at this baseball thing, who knows. One of the main things being discussed right now is that the Twins should add some pitching, and I’ve been wondering just how realistic that is.

What does it cost to get pitching? What kind of pitchers are actually traded before the deadline? When are they traded?

Basically, in this series of blogs, I want to know what seems realistic in terms of trades, because I’d rather be informed when posting than not. Because baseball seems to have changed, I’ll be using data from 2013 on.
First up in the analysis? So, how soon can we realistically expect trades in MLB?

We’ll be looking at trades in June and July to see when players change hands, and the kinds of players that change teams. Given that the August deadline has gone away, we will be ignoring those trades, which admittedly may or may not change how one views the analysis…….

June 1-15

There isn’t much action in the first two weeks of June involving major league players.

[td15][/td]
YearNumber of TradesMLB PitchersMLB HItters Impact Trades
20132110
20141011*
20153321
20162031
20172111
20181011
20192121
Total6116
The MLB hitter and pitcher columns show the number of major league players involved. Impact trades could be either the major league player was good the year of the deal and/or after the deal, or one or more the minor league players is/was. Good is subjective, but I’m going for more than 1 fWAR in any given year as the litmus test.

Not surprisingly, there just aren’t that many trades in the first half of June. Teams aren’t sure if they are in or out of the race, and those that are sure aren’t certain what they really need yet. More importantly, most articles and analyses on the internet indicate that teams wait until later to deal, in hopes of having more leverage (and getting a better deal). This aligns well with options theory, but we’ll have to do more analysis to see if waiting works or not.

*In 2014, Manny Pina was traded. He was not a major league player at the time, so he doesn’t appear in the table above. But, he was pretty good for Milwaukee in 2017 and 2018.

Mark Trumbo was part of a deal in 2015. He put up decent numbers after the trade, then a good season in the next year. Now? Not so much. But, he put up half a fWAR after the deal, and 2.2 in 2016. The other side of that deal? Welington Castillo went to Arizona. He was good that year, and in 2016 and 2017. Luckily for Twins fans, he’s not been as good in Chicago! Dominic Leone also went to AZ. He had one good year, but it wasn’t for them…..

Chris Coghlan was traded in 2016, back to the Cubs. He put up .9 fWAR after the deal, but was hitless in 9 post season at bats. He fell off a cliff after that year. The player traded for him played parts of two seasons, and has bounced around the minors.

2017 saw a name that might be in trade talks again in 2019 move in early June….Sam Dyson. He and cash were dealt for a player that is currently 26 and in AAA. Dyson has been good, but not great, though this year he has put up .5 fWAR in half a season. His traditional numbers are more impressive, probably, than his WAR would show…..Why was he so cheap? He was awful in Texas. Did his current team fix something, or is it the park/league?

Last year? One reason C. J. Cron was available this off season is that Tampa traded for Ji-Man Choi in early June of 2018. They got him for cash and Brad Miller. I bet Milwaukee would like to have that trade back…….

Edwin Encarcion was recently traded for a minor leaguer, but mostly because the Yankees absorbed a good chunk of EE’s salary. The Mariners are all in on the all-important financial flexibility thing right now….

I’m actually surprised that six years in a row there were some impactful major league players traded. Now, not one of those had been consistently good, but it does show that some good players move in early June. Not many of those were pitchers, btw.


June 16-30

YearNumber of TradesMLB PitchersMLB HItters Impact Trades
20135053
20142211
201531*20
20163121
20173040
20182021
20190000
Total18[4166
In 2013, Colin McHugh was traded (not to the Astros) and he became quite good with the Astros. But, it was not an impactful deal for either team involved in the deal. He is an impactful player in the deal, so it counts. Eric Thames was also dealt that year, and put up a couple decent years after that. No one else in those five deals has done much, though Colin Cowgil managed to barely clear the 1 fWAR line in 2014…..so three impactful players were dealt that year!

2014 saw a rare pitcher for pitcher trade. One of them just cleared 1 fWAR the following year, but neither did anything much. Neither did the hitter traded that year. Really, calling 1 year of fWAR impactful seems like maybe too low a bar…….I’d call it almost useful for 1 year, but barely.

In 2015 AZ sent the injured *Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint to Atlanta for a guy. Touki could be a real piece for Atlanta. This was clearly a salary dump situation, where Atlanta basically bought Toussaint for Arroyo’s contract. So far, though, he’s not produced even one half WAR, so maybe not.

Chris Paddack and Fernando Rodney were traded for each other (so maybe pitcher for pitcher trades aren't rare?) in 2016. This looks like a great trade for the Padres for sure. Rodney, of course, has been ok to effective after that but was terrible in Miami. I’m still trying to figure out what Miami was doing…..No other trade that year mattered, unless you still pine for Oswaldo Arcia….

There were no interesting trades in 2017 in the second half of June.

Steve Pearce was quite good last year for Boston. He was traded for an ok AA player. The other trade last year was not all that interesting.

This year? Well….there were zero trades in the second half of June.

So, the second half of June saw one really good player change hands, plus Steve Pearce who was quite good last year for Boston. Other than that, not many players/trades mattered all that much. It’s an odd coincidence that there were six trades that cleared the approximately 1 fWAR barrier in both parts of June, but it’s just a coincidence.

What did we learn?

That depends on what you already knew, I guess……But here’s a summary of what I learned!

Some good players have been traded in June. Most of those involved salary dumps, or odd decisions by poorly run teams (Miami, for example). There just are not many trades in June at all, and most of them amount to nothing much. It’s hard to criticize any team for not making deals before July, given this data. The best players were either picked up in salary dumps, or were near MLB ready minor league players (admittedly, those in the lower minors have not had a chance to do much yet. That said, in a quick glance, none look like big time prospects either).

In other words, I'm not surprised nothing has happened much this year, given what has happened in recent history.

In the next post, we’ll look at the first three weeks of July…..

  • SQUIRREL, luckylager, Blake and 6 others like this



Well then, the BBC code didn't work for the tables....sigh. It did in the preview.

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strumdatjaguar
Jul 13 2019 07:06 AM

The answer to the question is that more players will become available as more teams drop out of contgention and become sellers. As we get closer to July 31, the price for a trade should drop too. But I'm glad to know that early trades don't usually helpo much.

    • bighat likes this

Mike, excellent break out and I look forward to future articles.

 

...that will be $20.

 

Oops, was our deal supposed to be private? :)

 

Seriously, though, good job on an interesting subject.

Why would the price drop later in the deadline if that's when trade happen? The data is not going to show that....
    • jokin, Sconnie, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

Everyone wants the Bank in a trade right now. If willing to overpay, you can get the right person NOW. It changes as the month progresses and the betetr prospects DO get traded, and more people might be available. Salary dumps are the key to getting a good deal (i.e. less payout in prospects). It will be interesting to see what does happen this year as the August dump-the-high-paying salary has now moved to July. You will actually see a few more high-priced guys moved just to get them off the books and to get a low-level prospect in return rather than jsut release the guy in August.

 

Again, the price CAN drop (doesn't always) at the deadline...because you may suddenly have less teams interested in YOUR player (as they found help elsewhere) and the talent available for said player has diminished because you waited too long.

 

Some good players have been traded in June. Most of those involved salary dumps, or odd decisions by poorly run teams (Miami, for example).

 

This!!!

 

In the Marlins' case, they are ripe to be taken in a trade for their outstanding pitching depth on both a salary dump and their often-odd decision-making.

 

The Marlins have been going nowhere this year since the offseason- trading away Realmuto. And they're once again stuck with leftover high salary players from their previous "grand plan" to putting a competitive team on the field.

 

Accepting Wei-Yun Chen in a trade (ala Bronson Arroyo)- and additionally getting two younger Marlins pitchers as "the cost" (Smith, Guerrero, Anderson, Lopez, et al)- in exchange for say, two or three Top 20 prospects- should have been explored by the Twins in a June trade.

 

 

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diehardtwinsfan
Jul 13 2019 05:57 PM

Both sides have a vested interest in letting it play close to the deadline. Sellers are trying to drum up a higher price. Buyers are willing to let the sellers absorb the injury risk (see Scherzer, Max).

 

So yeah, not expecting much this week... yet I'll be checking for it every day.

 

This!!!

 

In the Marlins' case, they are ripe to be taken in a trade for their outstanding pitching depth on both a salary dump and their often-odd decision-making.

 

The Marlins have been going nowhere this year since the offseason- trading away Realmuto. And they're once again stuck with leftover high salary players from their previous "grand plan" to putting a competitive team on the field.

 

Accepting Wei-Yun Chen in a trade (ala Bronson Arroyo)- and additionally getting two younger Marlins pitchers as "the cost" (Smith, Guerrero, Anderson, Lopez, et al)- in exchange for say, two or three Top 20 prospects- should have been explored by the Twins in a June trade.

The Marlins don't have to cut payroll anymore, they only pay 70M this year and have more than 20M leaving the team after the season.Outside of Wei-Yun Chen they are all cheap, they will not need to sacrifice young talent to unload his 1 remaining season.They will be much better off paying him and keeping the talent as they near the end of their rebuild.

 

In all likely hood they aren't competing next season either but they will head into the off season with less than 50M on the books.With a good starting rotation and bullpen, they aren't that far from ending the rebuild.

 

Overall point, they are better off paying Chen for 1 more year than sacrificing young talent that they can use over the next 4 seasons like Caleb Smith. They aren't at the cutting payroll phase anymore.

A few reasons no trades get done early.Many teams still trying to fight for playoff spot, but more of a reason is teams that will be selling want to wait so fans will still show up, but once you tell fans, hey we selling all our talent come watch some minor league baseball they will lose out on some ticket sales, and tv ratings.

 

Also, buying teams will want to wait to see where they are at, and who are they competing with buying wise.Some people think buy early and you don't have to bid against others, but on other hand the later you wait the more you know who else is buying.So for example, right now several teams may be looking or at very least selling teams may be getting feelers, but as buyers dry up and turn into sellers the market opens up to be a buyers market.Also, if you have say 5 top 100 prospects and the other buying teams have 1 you may not have to give up as much to still out bid the other buying teams.  

 

The selling teams can hold out for now too, but as deadline comes closer they will start to see they may not get anything for pending FA and so they will sell for even less than they would right now. 

 

Not saying Twins should not make a deal sooner than later, just saying what is going on in GM heads. 

Right now there are only a few teams clearly in buy or sell mode. With the uncertainty of how the market will play out and there is time and more buyers the cost to acquire tends to be higher. As more teams fall out and become sellers then the market will normalize. The other factor is those who are going for the wildcard may only be marginal buyers and not want to move their prospects or they could be out of it but close enough to not want to sell. Lastly this is the first year of the full cut off being July 31. So we will see if the market heats up a few days earlier to ensure sellers take advantage of their short term assets. Will be fun to watch. Hope we get some good stuff.
Great post, Mike! Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Before the season when MLB announced one hard trade deadline on 7/31 my hope was everyone's timeline would move up a month. Unfortunately that is not happening so far... Maybe it will happen in future seasons.