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View Full Version : Multi-year contracts = deadline trade value poison



IslandRed
07-30-2009, 09:11 PM
I tagged this thought onto the Freddy Sanchez thread:


I'm not sure why MLB has entered this bizarro phase where even reasonable future obligations are poison to a player's trade value. The flip side of the prospect bubble, I guess.

Just for fun, I checked the contract status of all the guys obtained so far in meaningful in-season deals, omitting the swaps of minor-leaguers and other deals of spare parts with no impact on the pennant race. You have:

* Nate McLouth, signed through 2011 at below-market figures

* Yuniesky Betancourt, signed through 2011, and why the Royals traded for him, no one has any idea whatsoever

And after that, crickets. No other trades so far have involved a player with a meaningful salary obligation beyond this year. They're all either rent-a-players about to go free agent (e.g. Matt Holliday), arbitration-eligible guys who can be non-tendered if the numbers don't work (e.g. George Sherrill), or guys with 2010 options but low-cost buyouts (e.g. Cliff Lee).

It used to be that rent-a-players fetched less in trade. Why give up the best prospects for players who weren't going to stick around? Now, it seems like teams will pay a premium NOT to have that guy under contract beyond the current season.

I don't know if this is the beginning of a return cycle of some kind, where the difficulty of trading multi-year contracts makes teams less willing to offer them, which, in time, would increase the liquidity of the trade market and perhaps thaw out the thick ice that currently exists. Beats me. It just struck me as an interesting dynamic. Unfortunately, it's one that doesn't work in the Reds' favor as they explore deals for Harang, Arroyo and Cordero.

Falls City Beer
07-30-2009, 09:17 PM
I tagged this thought onto the Freddy Sanchez thread:



Just for fun, I checked the contract status of all the guys obtained so far in meaningful in-season deals, omitting the swaps of minor-leaguers and other deals of spare parts with no impact on the pennant race. You have:

* Nate McLouth, signed through 2011 at below-market figures

* Yuniesky Betancourt, signed through 2011, and why the Royals traded for him, no one has any idea whatsoever

And after that, crickets. No other trades so far have involved a player with a meaningful salary obligation beyond this year. They're all either rent-a-players about to go free agent (e.g. Matt Holliday), arbitration-eligible guys who can be non-tendered if the numbers don't work (e.g. George Sherrill), or guys with 2010 options but low-cost buyouts (e.g. Cliff Lee).

It used to be that rent-a-players fetched less in trade. Why give up the best prospects for players who weren't going to stick around? Now, it seems like teams will pay a premium NOT to have that guy under contract beyond the current season.

I don't know if this is the beginning of a return cycle of some kind, where the difficulty of trading multi-year contracts makes teams less willing to offer them, which, in time, would increase the liquidity of the trade market and perhaps thaw out the thick ice that currently exists. Beats me. It just struck me as an interesting dynamic. Unfortunately, it's one that doesn't work in the Reds' favor as they explore deals for Harang, Arroyo and Cordero.

I've employed the phrase for a number of months: trade constipation. Collusion, what have you.

I'll copy something I wrote from another thread that relates to the nature of the market:


The two biggest principals to move at this deadline are Holliday and Lee. Pretty small potatoes. Hard times ahead for teams like the Reds, Brewers, Indians, and even a team like the Twins with very little cash to play with and an irritable trade market. Hunker down and hope for something from the minors to carry the day.

I guess it may in part explain the Reds' expansion in scouting and their recent willingness to draft some large-dollar-figure kids (not Maury fat babies).

Caveat Emperor
07-30-2009, 11:15 PM
Baseball historians will call 2009 "The Year of the Unofficial Salary Cap."

Cyclone792
07-31-2009, 12:05 AM
I don't know if this is the beginning of a return cycle of some kind, where the difficulty of trading multi-year contracts makes teams less willing to offer them, which, in time, would increase the liquidity of the trade market and perhaps thaw out the thick ice that currently exists. Beats me. It just struck me as an interesting dynamic. Unfortunately, it's one that doesn't work in the Reds' favor as they explore deals for Harang, Arroyo and Cordero.

The leaguewide crying poor over the economy may have a bearing here and be playing a partial role, though I still call shenanigans on most of that crying. My educated guess is that combined with a bit of a shift in ideology to avoid acquiring multi-year contracts. It wouldn't surprise me if there are several front offices in MLB unnecessarily freaking out over anticipated revenue streams for the 2010 season, and as a result, they're opting to pass on any type of major contract they'd be on the hook for next season.