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More on Trade Valuations

Last night began our journey into the land of trade valuations, looking at how the Eaton-Otsuka for Gonzalez-Young-Sledge deal compared to the Colon for Sizemore-Lee-Phillips deal. If you recall, it was not even a contest, as the Colon deal vastly favored the Indians. I didn’t expect the post to take off the way that it did but a personal thanks to all of the commenters is in order for not only bringing about different trades to look at but also discussing the process itself. Tonight we will talk a bit more about the valuation process itself, based on a few comments in the thread.

The process used to determine lopsidedness involved looking at the win values for the players, on their new teams only, avoiding the usage of career win values as well as wins added to teams other than those who acquired the players in question. So, when the Expos acquired Bartolo Colon in the aforementioned deal, they received +2.3 wins only, since he left for the White Sox the following season. Likewise, the Indians do not get credit for Brandon Phillips‘ play on the Reds, just his -1.1 wins with the Indians. Put together, the value of this trade is the contributions of Lee and Sizemore compared to the +2.3 wins from Colon.

But how do we take into account the ideas of club control and and free agency. A comment was brought up with which I wholeheartedly agree in that the Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz deal cannot be evaluated, straight up, as twenty years of Smoltz vs. a couple seasons of Alexander. The underlying reason being that Smoltz re-upped himself with the Braves a few times, choosing to re-sign with the team as opposed to traveling to greener pastures, pun completely intended. Similarly, the Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen trade is not properly valued by stacking up Bagwell’s entire potentially Hall of Fame career with the one season Andersen spent with the Red Sox.

The solution to this problem would be to include only club controlled years in the valuations. Reverting to the Bagwell example, the deal would be limited to Andersen’s lone season with the Red Sox vs. Bagwell’s club controlled tenure with the Astros. Things get a bit trickier, though, when it is remembered that teams tend to lock up talent early, occasionally buying out a year or two of free agency. Grady Sizemore is a prime example of this, as his current contract lasts through his first year of free agency eligibility. Do we count the entire duration of this contract? Or do we steadfastly stick to the club controlled solution, discounting his final season with the Indians while valuing the Colon deal?

The former makes a bit more sense and I’m very comfortable using that as the criteria from here on out. This way, certain trades don’t look as ridiculous and are more accurately measured. After all, as a free agent, signing with the team that most recently employed you should not be treated any differently than joining another squadron. And when players joined new teams, like Colon with the White Sox, we stopped adding their production into the mix.

I’m extremely interested in finetuning this system even further, so please do not hold back any and all ideas. Hopefully, we can continue our intellectual discourse.