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: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.
* 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.