Monday, September 28, 2009

The Freddy Sanchez Trade

I consider this year to be a rebuilding year, so I think a trade of a prospect for a complementary player goes counter to what the Giants should be trying to do. A trade such as this is detrimental to a team in a rebuilding stage of development, unless the talent exchange involved is demonstrably in favor of the team relinquishing prospects.

What Sanchez knew about his knee is not big news to me; my opinions on the trade don’t factor in injury at all, as I don’t believe that injury will be too big of a factor in the years relevant to the deal.

I argue that the Sanchez trade can be evaluated as a bad trade without knowing what will happen in the future. Yes, it can look different in a few years, but the thought processes occur at that moment in time, judging the relative probabilities of future results. The crux of my argument is that we could have gotten more for Alderson. Simply put, if the trade value (present value in economics) of the asset dealt is less than the trade value of the asset gained, you can determine that the trade was bad. You factor in the probabilities of future events into the formation of an estimate of value, and you make an assessment.

However, Sabean’s analysis of Giants pitching prospects has been superb; one simply has to look at the careers of Lincecum and Cain compared to the careers of all the other players who were traded. If you look at Alderson’s stats with the Pirates, you can see that his SO/9 has really dropped while his BB/9 has doubled. Perhaps his value has been dropping, and when we look back on the trade, we’ll see that Sabean was ‘selling medium’, rather than high (that would’ve been last offseason) or low (after a potential tanking next year).

Still, all things considered, it’s hard to look at the deal as anything but a bad one. Sanchez is valued at around $8 million dollars (look at fangraphs), so he would be an improvement over what we were putting out there this year. But still, in the context of the trade the intent was for us to pick up the option (this is what I would do now) and gain through his performance next year while being paid that amount. That would mean that Sanchez in performance is worth his market value. Net production in terms of cost expenditure is zero: the Giants could’ve gained such a player (one whose pay is commensurate with his production) in free agency without losing a premium prospect.

So the Giants come out behind unless Sanchez experiences an unexpected spike in production in his last ‘prime year’ as a hitter.

In short, I think the Giants could’ve gotten a lot more out of Alderson, so you can say that the trade was bad for that very fact, as trade value considers probability of future possibilities. Again, I’m not inherently opposed to risk-taking such as this by a GM, but having it occur during a rebuilding year is extremely irritating.

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