How did Andy MacPhail do at the trade deadline?
Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline has passed.
Baseball writers can now sleep with both eyes closed. And with the cell phone on the other side of the room.
The Orioles made two deals on Saturday. None on Sunday.
They shipped 36-year-old reliever Koji Uehara and $2 million to the Texas Rangers for two 25-year-old major leaguers: first baseman Chris Davis and right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter.
And they sent first baseman Derrek Lee, 35, and some potential cash (probably between $500,000 and $1.75 million depending on how many plate appearances Lee ends up with) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Class A first baseman Aaron Baker, 23.
Here’s my take on the moves: I like the Uehara trade. The Lee trade doesn’t really register.
On Uehara: Yes, he was great this year. Yes, he was a good guy and fun to have in the clubhouse. Yes, a $4 million option for 2012 that vests in a dozen more appearances is reasonable.
But here’s the important flip side. Relievers are so hard to predict from year to year. Uehara is 36 and has been delicate since he came to the States. So many fans clamored for Uehara to take over Kevin Gregg’s closer role, but it takes a physical and mental bulldog to handle closer duties for a season.
Gregg doesn’t get rattled and he’s never been on the DL. Koji doesn’t get rattled. And he bought an air-conditioned timeshare on the disabled list.
As good as he has been this year, he has been handled with kid gloves so that he can get through the season. So dealing a guy like that for two younger players who have had success in the majors is a no-brainer.
Davis and Hunter obviously have warts, or they wouldn’t have been traded for an aging set-up man.
Davis strikes out too much, hasn’t hit for a good average and has a long swing. Some wonder if he isn’t the quintessential AAAA guy, a minor-league superstar who can’t make it translate at the big-league level.
Hunter has been criticized for his lack of conditioning, missed a chunk of this season due to injury and may project as a back-of-the rotation guy.
The flipside is maybe Davis will flourish with consistent playing time and flash 30-homer power and a solid glove. Hunter won 13 games last year in a bandbox and started a World Series game, so he already has better credentials than the rest of the current rotation.
The Lee trade is basically a wash. The Orioles peddled the remaining $2.6 million or so of Lee’s salary to the Pirates and will only have to pay if he stays healthy and piles up the plate appearances. The kid they got in return was considered maybe the 5th best first baseman in the Pirates organization by some observers. But he does have good minor-league numbers. Maybe he is a late bloomer. Regardless, Lee had little value on the open market, wasn’t coming back and shouldn’t be taking playing time from Davis. Trading him is fine.
If I have one criticism of Andy MacPhail’s deadline maneuvers is that he didn’t move anyone else. There probably is time to peddle Vladimir Guerrero and Michael Gonzalez, consider both likely will pass through waivers and be eligible for trade in August.
Jeremy Guthrie won’t get through waivers. So he’ll remain an Oriole heading into the offseason. MacPhail said he couldn’t get a worthy package – which had to include young pitching – in return for Guthrie. And since we don’t know for sure, we’ll have to take MacPhail’s word for it (and, through past experience, I’d say it’s trustworthy).
So, given the decision to sign J.J. Hardy to an extension and the lack of true trade chips, I would say MacPhail did a pretty good job this weekend. I know there’s an anti-MacPhail bent out there, so I’m sure plenty will disagree.
(But you have to be realistic. He didn’t have much to work with unless he was prepared to dangle players other teams really covet: Adam Jones, Matt Wieters or Zach Britton. And that’s a topic for another day. For all of you who advocate a trade of Brian Roberts or Nick Markakis, look at the prohibitive salaries before you jump on those faulty wagons).
Daily Think Special: How did Andy MacPhail do at the trade deadline?