5 returns Amaro should eye if he shops Cliff Lee

5 returns Amaro should eye if he shops Cliff Lee
June 16, 2013, 10:30 am
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On Saturday, we examined the many recent trades of aces that did not work out for the trading team, either because the return didn’t appear sufficient at the time or because the prospects acquired didn’t pan out (see story).

But several trades of aces have worked out for the team that unloaded its prized piece. It’s not as if each and every trade was a failure.

Let’s have a look:

July 27, 2012 – Brewers trade Zack Greinke to Angels for Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena

Segura was the 55th best prospect in baseball heading into last season, according to MLB.com. He wasn’t a sure thing, but in him the Brewers got their shortstop of the future who has power, speed and the ability to hit balls all over the field.

Hellweg, a 6-foot-9 right-handed pitcher, is a project who strikes a lot of batters out but walks way too many.

Pena is already 24 and has limited upside, but has pitched very well at Double A for Milwaukee this season.

Segura was the centerpiece of the deal and his presence makes it worthwhile for Milwaukee regardless of Hellweg and Pena working out. The Brewers got Segura for three months of Greinke.

The Phillies need to get a player like Segura – not one with his skills necessarily, but his readiness for the majors and overall talent – in any trade of Lee.

July 25, 2010 – Diamondbacks trade Dan Haren to Angels for Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Saunders

This trade was actually criticized at the time with the sentiment being the D-backs didn’t get enough for Haren.

Yeah … not the case. Haren quickly broke down in Anaheim as his back issues made it impossible for him to continue to pitch effectively. He’s been a home run machine since leaving the desert.

Meanwhile, Corbin is 9-0 with a 2.28 ERA this season for Arizona at age 23, and Skaggs was MLB.com’s 10th-rated prospect in all of baseball heading into the season.

Saunders gave the Diamondbacks 67 starts with an ERA under 4.00, so all around this was a great trade for Arizona, and one that inspires hope that solid returns can be had for aces. Of course, this one was built entirely around pitching. The Phillies need impact bats more than they need young arms.

Dec. 14, 2007 – Athletics trade Dan Haren and Connor Robertson to Diamondbacks for Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith

An enormous deal, and a rare case featuring quantity and quality. Gonzalez turned into an offensive monster, albeit not in Oakland. He did, however, bring Matt Holliday to the A’s, which in turn brought Oakland another set of prospects (who didn’t work out).

Anderson can’t stay healthy, but is a No. 2 starter when he is. Carter has traveled to various organizations and is finally getting a chance to play every day this season in Houston, where he’s on pace for 33 homers and 221 strikeouts.

The others – Cunningham, Eveland and Smith – have all been bit parts on major-league rosters. Better than not panning out at all.

On the whole, this was a great return for the A’s, and if they didn’t have to worry about finances and were able to keep CarGo, it would look much, much better.

Dec. 9, 2012 – Rays trade James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson to Royals for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard

The precedent for the Phillies acquiring a Jurickson Profar, Oscar Taveras or Xander Bogaerts.

Tampa Bay dealt Shields, a pitcher who is less than an ace but more than a No. 2, for the minor-league player of the year and a consensus top-five overall prospect in Myers. He will likely be in the middle of Tampa’s order with Evan Longoria for 5-7 years.

The Rays also landed righty starter Odorizzi, a 23-year-old former first-round pick who has had excellent strikeout and walk numbers in the minors. Montgomery was formerly a top prospect in Kansas City, but control issues ended that. He still has plenty of upside.

Shields is younger than Lee, but is a lesser pitcher who is under control for 2014 only. After that, the Royals will have to pony up the dough if they want to keep him, which they probably have to based on what they traded. Kind of takes leverage away.

In any event, Lee has way more trade value than Shields did, even with his age and price tag. As we stated last week, any team in baseball would jump at the chance to sign Lee for three years, $62.5 million if given the opportunity tomorrow.

June 27, 2002 – Indians trade Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to Expos for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens

The obvious pinnacle of ace-trades. Teams will forever struggle to find a return as significant as Lee, Phillips and Sizemore, three players at premium positions who didn’t just work out, but turned into superstars.

Cleveland ended up selling Phillips low, and he went on to become the second-greatest second baseman in Reds history.

They got a Cy Young season from Lee in 2008 but dealt him to the Phillies for very little in 2009.

Sizemore was on his way to becoming a perennial All-Star, but injuries have limited him to 104 games the last four seasons.

It’s almost unthinkable that Montreal traded so much to get Colon, but again it’s an example of a team in win-now mode talking itself into mortgaging the future for the here and now. There will be teams that talk themselves into the very same thing this July. It’s Ruben Amaro Jr.’s job to push for the best possible offer and stand his ground if he doesn’t get at least one impact bat close to major-league ready.

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