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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Trade him, or let him walk?

David Cameron at USSM has a really interesting post today (via Tango's outstanding blog) about what to do with Ichiro Suzuki--trade him for prospects, or let him walk and take the Class-A free agent draft pick compensation.

I've always been in the "trade him before he leaves" camp when it comes to players like this, but Cameron's work indicates that the draft pick compensation may be even greater, or at least is comparable, in value. Rany Jazayerli's draft study certainly indicates that draft picks are far more reliable than I ever imagined them to be, but my impulse until now has always been to go after good prospects in other systems rather than letting someone walk for "nothing." My reasoning was that these players will be closer to The Show than a draft pick, and therefore more likely to actually contribute in the major league level. However, I think the issue I hadn't considered is that, usually, you're not likely to get the outstanding prospect via those deals that you might get in the draft.

Furthermore, it's apparent from his data that the players received in trades aren't particularly more reliable (on average) in their ability to reach and perform at the majors than players taken via a draft. It's just that drafted players take longer to reach the majors than the returns from trades.

If the Reds are dead-set against picking up Adam Dunn's option at the end of the year, which is what John Fay, at least, believes (ref: Fay's on-air conversations with Marty), then the Reds are in the same position with him as the Mariners are with Ichiro. And I'm not sure what the best solution would be, given this new information...perhaps letting Class-A free agents walk is the better alternative, unless a truly outstanding prospect is made available via trade.

Kudos to Cameron for a nice study--I love it when I have to reconsider my views in light of new information.

Interesting tidbit: the Reds are currently in possession of two of the best returns on mid-summer deals for prospects: Aaron Harang (for Jose Guillen) and Brandon Phillips (via Cleveland along with Grady Sizemore, for Bartolo Colon). So clearly those deals can work out too.
Photo by AP/Jeff Chiu


  1. Justin,

    Well, I'd rather keep Dunn, but I doubt that I will get my wish. If I trusted Krivsky's ability to evaluate the club's needs and identify the talent required to meet those needs, I'd say trade Dunn. But since Wayne-O has been GM, we've been more successful in the Rule 4 draft than in the trade market.

    This is a club that needs to get young and isn't likely to be a contender until 2009 at the earliest. If the club is to remain a contender over a long stretch, the farm system will have to be the major source of new talent as talent on the big club reaches arbitration eligibility and free agency. So let Dunn walk and take the draft picks.

  2. Yeah, I'd rather keep him too. We already have a contract option set up to do so, and there are other players that Wayne should be focused on trading in the meantime. We'll need Dunn's bat once Griffey is traded (which, as we've discussed, he should be).

    But if it comes to trading or taking the draft picks, it does look like the draft pick compensation might be the better alternative unless an outstanding prospect presents itself. -j

  3. Justin,

    I know the FO doesn't see it this way, but Dunn is worth more to us in uniform for the next 3-4 seasons than anything we are likely to get in trade and probably anything we get through the draft (unless we start aiming at Boras clients). He doesn't turn 28 until November and, Marty aside, he provides an offensive boost that you won't easily replace. Finally, $13M in this market for Dunn's production is still a bargain.

    As you say, there are plenty of players that should be moved off this team, starting with the guy Narron pinch hit for Hamilton with yesterday (Sheesh!). In fact, the list of who should stay is shorter than the list of who should go.

  4. starting with the guy Narron pinch hit for Hamilton with yesterday (Sheesh!)

    Yeah, what the heck was up with that? Talk about an over-reliance on lefty/righty platooning. And absurdly small sample sizes.

    Ah well, games don't matter now anyway.

    ...'course, that's all the more reason to give Hamilton a chance to swing the bat... -j

  5. I'd like to receive what Larry Anderson and Doyle Alexander fetched. Please.

  6. LOL!

    I'd settle for a Grady Sizemore. That'd be neat. -j

  7. 2 things I wanted to say.

    1. Justin, you keep quiet on the we need to trade Griffey stuff. I waited 11 years to see that man play in person. You let me have a few more. Wayne, if you are listening, which I doubt you are, trade him and you will have one angry person with you. PS, thanks for the email. I hit you back with one.

    2. If we are going to talk about mid summer trades, my favorite has always been Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir as far ones that jumped out at me as a WTF moment.

  8. Yeah, what the heck was up with that?

    Castro was batting 1.000 against Embree - a double in the Clinton administration. Narron obviously went with the "hot hand".

  9. Doug, don't worry, I'm sure the Reds are blissfully unaware of anything and everything I say...and even if they were aware, I'm sure they could care less. (btw, Wayne, if you do care, I'm available for hire--just sayin'). -j

  10. What would they replace Dunn with? Are there any out there with Dunn-line numbers that they can afford? All things considered, the club is better with him than without him.

  11. You won't find any disagreement here. They have the option, and should keep him at least another year.

    But since that seems to be contrary to their current plans, we might as well see what the best alternative is. And, unless some terrific prospect presents himself in a trade, it looks like taking the draft picks is the best option.