Big Trades are Great, but Don’t Forget the Lesser Ones

Prior to the 2009 season, the Chicago Cubs traded infielder Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians for three players that fell into the B- or C-level prospects category. DeRosa was then traded from Cleveland to St. Louis midway through the season when Cleveland fell out of the playoff hunt (for big-league reliever Chris Perez and a PTBNL). Let’s see how those three prospects from the initial trade are doing in the Chicago system.

Jeff Stevens: Stevens is the first player from the trio to have an impact at the MLB level for the Cubs. The right-handed reliever has yet to allow a run in four innings of work. In triple-A, he had a 2.18 ERA (3.03 FIP) with 25 hits allowed in 41.1 innings of work. Stevens could end up as a key arm in the bullpen as the club races for a playoff spot in 2009. ETA: Now

John Gaub: The southpaw began the year in double-A where he allowed 19 hits in 28.2 innings of work with a walk rate of 5.34 BB/9 but a strikeout rate of 12.56 K/9. Gaub, 24, has now allowed one hit in 5.2 triple-A innings, with three walks and four Ks. In his career, left-handers are hitting just .158 against him, so he could have a career as a LOOGY if he cannot sharpen his command and control. ETA: Mid 2010

Chris Archer: This 20-year-old right-hander has moved very slowly through minor league baseball, due mainly to his poor control. This season in low-A, Archer has allowed just 50 hits in 71.2 innings. He does, though, have a walk rate of 5.53 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 10.93 K/9. He has the potential to be a quality starter, but if the control does not improve, he’ll end up as a middle reliever. ETA: Late 2011

In these types of trades, where you go for quantity over quality, you’re basically hoping to hit on one of the three prospects. All three players in this swap, though, have shown improvements since coming over to Chicago from Cleveland. This trade is a perfect (and rare) example of what can happen when a general manager executes a successful trade of a veteran player who has just one year left on his existing contract.

At best, DeRosa will go on the free agent market as a B-level free agent, which will earn the Indians Cardinals one supplemental first round draft pick in the 2010 draft, if DeRosa signs with another club (and St. Louis offers him arbitration). The trio of Stevens, Gaub and Archer is certainly worth much more than that.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


6 Responses to “Big Trades are Great, but Don’t Forget the Lesser Ones”

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  1. Jeff says:

    Marc,

    You forgot to include the fact that if M-rk D-R-s- were on the Cubs this season, he would have provided solid team leadership and played 3b, LF, RF, 2b, and C all at the same time – the team would be 15 games over .500.

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    • Drew says:

      There’s absolutely NO WAY to know what would have happened if St. DeRosa had stayed with the cubs. No way to know at all.

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    • Joe says:

      I think you transposed the numbers. You must have meant to say that the Cubs would be 51 games over .500.

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  2. Marco says:

    Yeah, DeRosa would have made sure that Soriano, Bradley, Soto all hit well. Get out of here…

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    • Al says:

      Like Jeff said, Soriano, Bradley and Soto wouldn’t need to hit well because DeRosa would be playing all their positions, plus third and second, at once.

      He’s making fun of the mythical status Mark DeRosa holds among many Cubs fans.

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      • Joe R says:

        To be fair, I’d long for his usefulness if I had to see the bumbling around of 2/3rds of that roster, too.

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