Nationals Baseball: Who is the best player ever traded? This young?

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Who is the best player ever traded? This young?

 A question was raised.  Is this unprecedented?  Has a player this good and/or this young ever been traded? 

Well, no, not THIS young, but yes in a sense. It's not typical but great players do get traded.  Usually it's at an older age - Eddie Murray after his age 32 season, Frank Robinson was after his 29 season. Same with Griffey Jr.  Orlando Cepeda during age 28. 

The ages though make those hardly comparable.  The Nats are giving up 4+ seasons of play compared to these guys. 

There's Babe Ruth - sold at age 24 - but the Red Sox had no limit on how long they could keep him which made things worse.  Also he was a great player but mainly as a pitcher. He wouldn't become BABE RUTH until the year after he was traded. 

But I did find three guys

Honus Wagner - originally a Louisville Colonel (it was different times) he was technically traded at age 25 but only technically.  The Colonels were folded and the trade was part of a deal to move players to other teams, in this case the Pirates.  Doesn't really count but I do love a technically right factoid.

Rickey Henderson -  Rickey was traded after his age 25 season from the A's to the Yankees. We was dealt for Tim Birstas (short career as a middling middle reliever), Jay Howell (pretty good closer), Stan Javier (long 3rd/4th OF career), Eric Plunk (good career as a middle reliever - would be traded back to Yanks for Rickey), and the crown Jose Rijo (A's didn't realize what they had, dealt him to Reds where he'd be one of the best starters in baseball for 7 years). It was a pretty good haul for Rickey and it was the core to a good A's team, but not directly.  Guys would mainly be dealt for other guys and not a single one of these guys would be around for the entire 88-90 run.  But I guess this is the ideal? Every player did become a contributing major leaguer. That's huge actually

Miguel Cabrera, on pace for a huge contract, was traded after his age 24 season to the Tigers for Dallas Trahern (at 21 already in AAA as a starter but that would be as far as he could go), Burke Badenhop (decent AA starter who would stick in the majors for a while as a decent middle reliever), Frankie de la Cruz (meh AAA minor league reliever but with STUFF who did make the majors), Mike Rabelo (27 utility player), and the crowns Cameron Maybin (Top 10 prospect who flopped but hung around as a speedy 4th OF), and Andrew Miller (Top 20 starter prospect who just couldn't get his stuff to play at the major league level until being moved into a reliever role - then a better reliever for half a decade).This was supposed to set the Marlins up for a quick turnaround but it didn't work as Miller and Maybin both were big disappointments. Hard to overcome 0 for 2 in Top 20 prospects working out.

There you go - a couple examples.  If the Nats make out like the As did you may not be happy but you get 4 guys who played over a decade in the majors providing value, mainly though through smart trades that would bring in veterans Dave Parker, Bob Welch, and Rickey Henderson himself. The A's ended up with 4 of the Top 5 Yankee prospects, but they also had Canseco, McGwire, Steinbach and Weiss in system.

 If the Nats make out like the Marlins they get more guys but fewer that last a while in the majors and with nothing to show in the end. They got the Tigers Top 3 prospects and 4 out of their best 10, but their own system was dead. The best player in there was either Chris Volstad (a few years of middling starting pitching) or Chris Coghlan. Matt Lindstrom? Robert Andino?  These aren't those A's guys.

What this says is not that you can get value, or that you get nothing. What this says is it matters a lot what is already in place as a big trade can be Step 2 in setting up your great team. But it's not what's going to turn your team around by itself.


TwoGloves said...

Soto & Bell to the Padres. I've seen two packages - one is junk and one is acceptable.
Junk - INF CJ Abrams, OF Robert Hassell III, OF James Wood, RHP Jarlin Susana
Acceptable - INF Jake Cronenworth, OF Robert Hassell III, OF James Wood, INF C.J. Abrams, and LHP MacKenzie Gore.
We'll have to see which one it is.

Chris said...

Apparently Hosmer is part of the deal also.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused about the Hosmer piece, or at least why folks are talking about his approval as a possible sticking point. (As an aside, I am super thrilled that the deal is structured with $ going to SDP though. That's such a reversal from what we were hearing a week ago.)

Hosmer's deal is front loaded, so it's only 3/$39M left.

Why can't we just pass that much cash with Bell and Soto? Even conservatively, Soto is getting $50M over the next two years.

Or is there a rule where you can't pass cash against non-guaranteed contracts, and Soto's Arb3 and Arb4 years don't qualify? I've never heard about that, but maybe the cash is constrained to the ~$10M of prorated 2022 salaries.

Mythra said...

I wish Juan Soto and the Padres all the best. He is clearly a great player, loves the game, and will be a huge boost to Padres fans for as long as they can sign him.

I'm now switching to rooting for the Lerners to sell the team. With luck, to an owner that won't tick off the whole MLBPA with low-ball, 40 year long offers to stars you could build 10 years around. The fact Max chose the Mets and never even considered the Nats after his trade and run with LA tells me there's something rotten in Demark, and Nats Park. Maybe the ownership change will clean it out.

ESPN is saying 6 players for Soto and Bell. This season was already tanked, so if 4 of those 6 play in Nats Park someday, it will be a good trade. I still think Rizzo is one of the best dealmakers, especially when his hands aren't tied by stupid owner-imposed money restrictions.

Mr. T said...

Help, Harper, we need you to evaluate! People in the tweet comments are saying the Nats got fleeced! FLEECED!!! (Love that word.)

Chas R said...

The Padres deal seems good value for Soto. Lots of high floor prospects that could be solid MLB level players. Probably no superstars but probably some All Star level years. Seems a good foundation to build on. New Owners need to spend some $$$ on Free Agents

Robot said...

@Chas R - I'd be a lot more comfortable if this organization had ANY decent track record of developing talent. They don't. Look at the string of "top" prospects who crashed and burned with the Nats, many of whom then went on to be solid players with new teams.

kubla said...

@Mr. T

I think there is no way for it to not look like they got fleeced. The only player in MLB who equals Juan in terms of how cool it would be to have him on your favorite team is Ohtani, and you'd need to get him in a sign-and-trade because he could also walk soon if not extended.

You have to respect the Padres' moxie, making a blockbuster move for the purpose of finishing 6 games back of the Dodgers instead of 12. Adorable.

Anonymous said...

Off topic: Harper, how come you don’t link this blog in your Twitter bio?