Chat with MLBTR's Steve Adams: 3/31/20
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Steve Adams
Greetings all! As we continue to lack certainty on the 2020 season, I thought it might be entertaining to start introducing some weekly themes to chats. We can only all shrug our shoulders and say "who knows?" so many times when asked whether there'll be a 2020 season, after all.

So let's take this week to look back at some trades -- successful or disastrous -- and look at the thinking that went into them at the time, review the general reaction to the trade and wonder what might've been if a deal had (or hadn't) come together.

I'll also take ideas for future chat themes, and if this ends up not going over well, we can always scrap the theme and just move to a more conventional back-and-forth. But might as well give something a little new a whirl!
Fun idea -- what was one deal that you thought at the time was going to be a disaster but has turned out to be a steal?
Steve Adams
I remember thinking when the A's traded Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox how brutal it was to give up Addison Russell to get him only to turn around months later and take Marcus Semien back as the headliner. It wasn't so much a knock on Semien as it was thinking that Russell was going to be a star.
Semien seemed like he could be a solid second-division guy at shortstop or probably more likely (at the time) at second base. The A's couldn't have come out much better, though, and dealing Semien set the White Sox back substantially
Cleveland Fan
How incredible is it that the failed Lucroy deal turned out great for Cleveland?
Steve Adams
I'm pretty stunned with the manner in which Lucroy's abilities on both sides of the ball just completely evaporated. I don't think anyone foresaw that.

Hanging onto Mejia allowed the Indians to eventually flip him for Brad Hand/Adam Cimber, and at least right now that looks like a win. I'm still a little surprised that Mejia just hasn't been given a shot in San Diego; at this point I wonder if he'll eventually just be moved for pennies on the dollar
Lt Data
One trade I was reviewing recently in Rick Hahn’s trade history article: the 2017 Frazier/Kahnle/D-Rob deal.  I know some people still believe in Rutherford, but even if he pans out this trade is still a big win for the Yankees, isn’t it?  Killed three birds with one stone, didn’t give up much to regret
Steve Adams
For sure -- even with Kahnle's ugly 2018 season, he alone looks like he's worth that deal right now. The Robertson reunion and adding Frazier only sweetened the deal. Tito Polo isn't even the Sox org anymore -- he became a minor league free agent -- and the Cubs/White Sox swapped Ian Clarkin back and forth multiple times on waivers before the Cubs finally got to keep him.
Rutherford had a .100 ISO and a 98 wRC+ in Double-A last season and seems like he'll probably repeat that level. He's not really a prospect of great consequence in Chicago at this point.
Exactly how did the Jays manage to get rid of Vernon Wells' contract so easily? And for Mike Napoli no less.  That trade was basically DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson 10 years ago .
Steve Adams
I still laugh when I think of that trade because I remember Dave Cameron hosting a "Spontaneous how the hell did the Jays just trade Vernon Wells" chat to discuss how utterly insane it was
That was one of those trades where I just kept waiting and thinking "Well there has to be more to this, let's wait"
And then the teams announced it
I've read in the years since that it was in many ways a knee-jerk, ownership reaction to the big moves the Rangers had made (Adrian Beltre), but it's still unconscionable to think that Arte Moreno not only bailed the Blue Jays out of that deal but gave up Mike Napoli to do it.

And then Napoli landed on the Rangers a few days later anyway, ha.
Will Chris Archer ever be the ace we gave up the farm system for?
Steve Adams
I think that's a misconception -- that he was acquired to be an ace. He was acquired to be a quality, above-average starter being paid like a back-of-the-rotation guy. The Pirates, more than any team, have to find manners in which they can get that type of production at half the market rate (or lower).

I'm not really defending the deal -- it looked like an overpay at the time and a freaking heist now -- but they probably doubted Glasnow's ability to stay healthy and were comfortable moving multiple high-end pieces for 3.5 years of a good pitcher they could actually afford.
Then they forced Archer to start throwing a sinker and made him continue to do so even when it was clearly a terrible pitch for him.
The whole "this is how we do things here" has exacerbated how bad that trade is by leaps and bounds. I'm very curious to see how Archer does with a (hopefully) dejuiced ball and a return to the four-seamer
The trade of Addison Russell to the we give that trade added context with Russell’s domestic violence issues? And the fact he was fairly average while with the team? Who ended up “winning” that deal
Steve Adams
As I touched on earlier ... the A's turned Samardzija into Semien, who has been a vastly better player than Russell ever was. Even without the suspension, Oakland made out great in that scenario. And obviously knowing what we now do about Russell, they're probably all the more glad to have avoided that mess.
Asking for a friend
Who would you say won the Ketel Marte/Walker/Haniger/Segura trade?
Steve Adams
I consider it a deal that benefited both clubs. Haniger showed how good he can be in his first full season, and it looked like a steal for the Mariners until Walker broke out while Haniger simultaneously went down one of the strangest injury sequences in recent memory. No way Seattle could've foreseen that level of bizarre health troubles (just like they probably couldn't have predicted Marte signing SUCH a club-friendly deal right before he broke out)
Lt Data
Can we have a live chat at some point devoted exclusively to trades made by Jerry Dipoto?
Steve Adams
You mean multiple chats?
Chaim Gonna Give it to ya
I always thought Ray Searage had a great reputation for developing pitchers and obviously he's gone but the Pirates apparently didn't use saber metrics or analytics at all, according to Steven Brault. Insanity
Steve Adams
It seems like they at one point had identified a set of qualities that didn't work elsewhere but fit more closely into their two-seamers down-and-in philosophy. I asked Neal Huntington about it years ago, and he gave some context:

But as the league moved into the launch-angle era and hitters' philosophies changed (as did the manner in which data was applied), it seems like the Pirates didn't adapt.
Late stage Loria
Was there ever any behind the scenes news regarding the Loria regimes handling of Paddack and Castillo? It seemed like it was one last hurrah trying to get a decent Marlins team over the hump that they would have given up anything for some short term success.
Steve Adams
Yeah -- there was a definite push to win, and I don't think it's really a coincidence that Loria was selling the franchise not long after. Some immediate wins and a rejuvenated fan base could've made the franchise look more appealing to prospective buyers. Obviously, those deals set the Marlins back immeasurably (in many aspects)
I just can't get over trying to trade Luis Castillo for Colin Rea, having to undo the deal, and then trading him for Dan Straily. I've always been amused at how anxious they seemed to be to get rid of him.
Why did people think Manny Margot was going to be great? Waste of Kimbrel.
Steve Adams
He had plus-plus speed, plus defensive tools and a strong arm. He was a high-floor guy who many felt would be a star if his hit tool and power came around and at least a serviceable regular because of his glove and wheels if not. Unfortunately for the Padres, he was more of the latter in San Diego.

But he wasn't even the real headliner in the deal at the time. That was Javier Guerra ... who has since abandoned his career as a shortstop and converted to relief pitcher. Oops.
Worst Huntington trade for the bucs? Cole or Archer?
Steve Adams
Joe Musgrove is pretty good,cheap and controllable. They could get a decent haul if they moved him. The Archer trade looks worse.

As with Archer, though, I'm curious to see how Musgrove will do if the new Pirates let him scale back the 2-seamer (his worst pitch) and throw more sliders (his best)
Tommy John's #2 client
Do you think the Yu Darvish trade was fair?
Steve Adams
One rather high-end prospect (Willie Calhoun) with some notable concerns (his defense) and a pair of lower-level fliers (AJ Alexy, Brendon Davis) to rent a high-end starting pitcher seemed perfectly reasonable
As a Giants fan....the trade that still haunts most Giants fans is the trade that sent Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser to the Twins for AJ Pierzynski. I don't a former GIants player more loathed in SF is Pierzynski. Thoughts?
Steve Adams
I'm born and raised in the Twin Cities and was still in high school when that trade was made. You probably don't want to hear my thoughts on it, haha.

I will say, at the time, I don't think anyone foresaw just what Nathan could become in a short-relief role, and I'm sure the injury risk associated with Liriano played a role. Plus Pierzynski was a 4.5 WAR catcher with the Twins the year prior to the trade -- everyone on all sides had to be stunned with the way he just tanked in SF
Best David Stearns trade: Yelich deal or Hader deal?
Steve Adams
I want to find a reason to pick Hader, but the Yelich swap is going to go down as maybe the defining moment of his GM career.
That Hader deal is still paying dividends though. Adrian Houser came to the Brewers in that deal and is an intriguing rotation candidate moving forward. Brett Phillips helped them get Moustakas the first time, which surely played into re-signing him for a second stint. And even Domingo Santana had one big year and then was flipped for Ben Gamel, who's a pretty useful bench outfielder himself.
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