Beginning the assessment…
We get the same warning each time a trade is made that includes a proven player going elsewhere for prospects or unproven young players. We are told to be patient, to wait years before evaluating if there is a clear cut winner or loser in the deal.
There are some trades that don’t appear to need any more time for analysis. The Pirates’ deal with the Yankees (in which the club acquired Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen) in July 2008 can laud Pittsburgh as the winner. The Pirates surely seem to have come out ahead in the Octavio Dotel trade that happened just months ago, too
The Jason Bay trade (July 2008) was one of the biggest that GM Neal Huntington has made in his time here. And after Friday’s developments, we are closer to being able to evaluate the return. I’ll agree that there is still a big unknown looming — as the success or lack thereof of Bryan Morris in the big leagues could make the Pirates definite winners or losers in the trade. However, the other three players the Pirates acquired for their star outfielder all turned out to be flops.
First, let’s take a look at what the Pirates had with Bay as a trading chip in 2008:
- After a down year in 2007, Bay rebounded as he began working with hitting coach Don Long in ’08. At the time he was traded, Bay was hitting .282 with 22 homers, 23 doubles and 64 RBIs in 106 games. He was one of the biggest pieces available at the Deadline.
- Bay had one more year left on his contract before he would be a free agent. He was going to be plenty affordable tpo, as that 2009 salary was $7.5 million.
In return, the Pirates acquired Andy LaRoche and Morris from the Dodgers, and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen from the Red Sox. The results have been as follows:
Moss: In 95 games, he hit .228 with 31 doubles, 13 homers and 66 RBIs. He was removed from the Pirates’ 40-man roster this month after spending the year in Triple-A. Moss has since signed with the Phillies.
LaRoche: In 301 games, he hit .226 with 41 doubles, 19 homers and 92 RBIs. He was the starting third baseman before Pedro Alvarez arrived, but never proved he deserved a chance to be an everyday player. LaRoche was designated for assignment on Friday and is close to becoming a free agent.
Hansen: In 21 relief appearances, he allowed 17 earned runs in 22 innings. Hansen walked 24 and struck out 12. He has been slowly recovering from a nerve injury near his neck and just began pitching again in the Minors last season.
Morris: After a terrible 2009 season that included a suspension, Morris rebounded to have a strong showing in 2010. That put Morris back on the radar as a prospect. He was stellar in eight starts with High-A Bradenton and then made his last 19 appearances in Double-A. If Morris has a strong start next year, it’s not unrealistic to think he could be a potential September call-up.
Again, no team is a winner in every trade it makes, though you particularly want to make sure you get adequate return in the deals where you’re sending off one of your best chips away — and Bay was just that. Again, Morris’ development will go a long way in helping us make a final assessment many years from now. But to this point, the Pirates missed completely on those first three players.
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