Food For Thought

Last night the Indians, Reds and Diamondbacks went through with the second blockbuster prospect trade in the last three days, the first being the move that gutted the upper-tier of the Royals’ farm system to deliver them 2/5 of their projected starting rotation.

Here’s how the deal breaks down.

Indians get: RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Matt Albers and RHP Bryan Shaw (each from AZ), and CF Drew Stubbs (from CIN)

Reds get: OF Shin-Soo Choo and UTIL Jason Donald (from CLE)

Diamondbacks get: SS Didi Gregorius (from CIN), and LHP Tony Sipp and 1B Lars Anderson (from CLE)

 

After the deal consummated, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told reporters he is now “highly unlikely” to move OF Justin Upton, per Ken Rosenthal. The reason? Apparently Towers is comfortable now that he brought in his supposed shortstop of the future in Didi Gregorius, although even rudimentary scouting reports dictate he’s nowhere near as projectable as Elvis Andrus, let alone the prospect level of a guy like Jurickson Profar, for instance.

It’s debatable how strong the interest has been in some of the free agents the Rangers have been linked to this offseason, whether it’s been Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke. You have to figure if the Rangers were in enough on Greinke they would have matched the $147 million price tag the Dodgers branded him with, and if Josh Hamilton really was their guy, he already would have been signed by now. With names like James Shields being erased from the list of attainable targets, and with Arizona’s purported unwillingness to move Justin Upton, it’s conceivable to believe the asking price for Josh Hamilton just went up, and that the Mets can now hold out for a larger return on R.A. Dickey.

The less desirable names on the market, the less leverage Texas owns, and the higher the holdout will be for the players they want, or, need.

One thing isn’t debatable: This has been a cold offseason for Rangers’ fans, and that’s stacked on top of the coldest of conclusions to the regular season. There’s some serious frustration that’s been brewing as of late, and the longer nothing tangible gets done, the more frequent and boisterous those frustrations will be heard.

But if the prism we look through in dealing with our favorite baseball team is rational, I don’t think it would have been smart to give Greinke $147.8 million, inasmuch I believe we’d be making the same mistake to commit $25 million-plus average annual value to Hamilton. It cements the franchise into doing virtually nothing else, save a couple minor signings to shore up the leaks at catcher and bullpen. Signing Hamilton does little more than turning us from an 80-or-so win team into an 85-or-so win team.

Additionally, the trade sending Wil Myers and others to Tampa Bay would have done the same thing, only in a different way. Keith Law posited that a comparable hypothetical package to net Shields (and Wade Davis) would have been Jurickson Profar, Cody Buckel and Neil Ramirez. It would have marginally increased our odds of making the postseason this year, and handicapped us in terms of prospects moving forward.

In an era of instant gratification, significant overpays to satisfy the right now is not the formula for sustainable success. To that end, I’m fine passing on Greinke, Hamilton and Shields.

But this leaves us in something of a murky position as the offseason progresses. There’s still a way to get Justin Upton, Nick Swisher and a pitcher like R.A. Dickey, which would put us right on the precipice of postseason contention, but it only makes sense if it’s a fair move both financially and in terms of prospects. Jon Daniels has made it his mission not to overpay in terms of either.

However, if that combination (or something accounting for roughly the same amount of wins) isn’t in the cards, there’s a school of thought that’s been burning in the back of my mind that it might be best simply to dump a few of our assets (whether it’s Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz or Matt Harrison), play the kids in 2013, and build toward a more formidable 2014 squad.

With the remaining resources at our disposal, I don’t think this is the direction we’ll head into, but I don’t think anything isn’t worthy of consideration at this point.

 

Topics: Elvis Andrus, James Shields, Josh Hamilton, Justin Upton, R.A. Dickey, Zack Greinke

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