Good morning friends, it’s your old pal BeefLoaf coming off of an interesting appearance on ChiSoxWeekly and a weekend of fun experiences at the ballpark, including what we’ll affectionately call the “Daniel Palka game“. It was tough dragging my substantial self to work on Monday and Tuesday but one thing that kept me interested was the impending Trade Deadline. Tuesday was a flurry of deals across a majority of the teams league, but one specific deal caught my eye.
Probably looks mundane to yous (this is Bridgeport) reading the trade, but to me it struck a chord, WHY DIDN’T THE WHITE SOX MAKE THIS TRADE? According to MLB.com (not the end all be all, but hey this is what we have to work with right now.) Justin Williams and Genesis Cabrera are the 14th and 25th prospects in the Rays system….Roel Ramirez is off of the top 30 prospects, so basically, the Rays used org depth to grab an average CF in MLB. Guess what team has tons of org depth and is desperate for a league average CF, you guessed it, the team that gave Trayce Thompson 130 PA’s and continue to trot out Adam Engel with a career OPS+ of 50, the White Sox!!
Let’s say we believe the White Sox system is a little bit better than the Rays (by all accounts it is a little bit better), so say according to MLB.com the White Sox give up their 15th and 26th prospects to acquire Tommy Pham, which are Gavin Sheets and Spencer Adams…..would you do that? I did an impromptu poll, which basically means I talked to a handful of people and tweeted about this and for the most part, the people were split on this, a group of people were of the “NO BRAINER, you do this all day”…..and another group of people were “HOARD THE PROSPECTS”…….I might not be clear in communicating why our White Sox need to think like the Rays more often….Forget competitive windows (as that was definitely cited as to why NOT to do a deal like this) and Forget NEEDS for the time being (although a specific NEED is what caught my eye in looking at this deal, since our White Sox are desperate for a CF), lets go with a definition.
This trade was about Arbitrage. The Rays do quite a few trades that have you scratching your head as to why they made them, because they might trade for a player that is an obvious redundancy and then have to figure out later how to make use of them. The Rays frequently find trades or free agent acquisitions that have them paying pennies on the dollar for players. THAT. IS. ARBITRAGE. This appears to be the situation here. Per the interwebs, Tommy Pham hasn’t been happy with St Louis management for sometime, potentially even through his breakout season in which was pounding out a 7 WAR year. Chances are, the Cardinals were looking for somewhere to park him for a discount, especially in a lost season and found just a suitor in the Rays. Both the Rays and Cardinals should have good but not great rosters next year and the Cardinals are looking for a reason to offload a malcontent to play either their young talented OF corps OR the old hands that have a lot of money coming their way. Pham despite his talents was a piece that didn’t fit and needed a home….enter the Rays.
I think most of us have gotten used to seeing trades which aren’t like this. Most trades these days are team A trading future value for team B’s current value. Deadline trades are generally of this nature. Those trades are for the most part deemed equal value trades (after adjusting for time value & risk), but a trade like the one the Rays made is something I would consider arbitrage.
I have read that the prospect haul back to the Cards is actually pretty decent and might only make this a small “scalp” for the Rays, but you get the idea. I’d like Rick Hahn and crew to just see excess value out in the marketplace and go get it. It appears the White Sox are too focused on “windows” and “time-lines” to see good deals out in the market place and just execute on them. A smart org grabs excess value when it exists and turns it into something (in this case, there is no reason you can’t do a deal like this and then figure out another home for the player in 1.5 years when you maybe don’t need their services anymore….or sooner). The Rays aren’t competing for a playoff spot in 2018, but with this acquisition, they are better positioned to do so in 2019.
The beauty of rebuilds is that in theory you farm raise 5 WAR players to lead your next team to a playoff run (hopefully Moncada, Eloy, Kopech & someone else), but you also need to be able to find / sign / acquire 2-3 WAR players cheaply that round out the group. Rick Hahn has yet to prove he can do that on a regular basis, the Rays do that every fucking day.