From the difficult to understand department: In a three-way trade with the Oakland Athletics and Florida Marlins, the Arizona Diamondbacks gave up outfielder Chris Young and acquired infielder Cliff Pennington from the A's and relief pitcher Heath Bell from the Marlins.
As with most trades these days, we have to look the individual talent and salaries involved.
Bell: The Diamondbacks will assume $13 million of the remaining $21 million owed on the final two years of his contract.
Young: Makes $8.5 million in 2013 with $11 million team option in 2013 ($1.5 million buyout).
Pennington: Eligible for arbitration, under control through 2015.
The big winner here is probably the Marlins, just for dumping $13 million worth of Bell. They picked up Class A shortstop Yordy Cabrera from Oakland -- he's a former second-round pick but the 22-year-old hit just .232 with no power, few walks and 32 errors at Stockton, so isn't much more than a throw-in.
The A's add an underrated center fielder in Young, a guy who has averaged 22 home runs per season in his career but with a .239 career average. He's a good enough center fielder that he ranked seventh among National League outfielders in WAR over the past three seasons, despite playing just 101 games in 2012 after suffering shoulder and quariceps injuries. About half that value is defensive, but Young isn't a complete zero on offense since has some power and draws enough walks to push his OBP over .300.
The move gives the A's four outfielders in Young, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp, leading to speculation the A's could trade Crisp. Billy Beane said he plans on keeping Crisp. First, there's nothing wrong with having outfield depth. Plus, one of the four could rotate in as the designated hitter, platooning with Seth Smith. Regardless, it gives the A's four excellent defensive outfielders, the perfect backbone for a fly ball pitching staff in a pitcher's park.
Where this gets confusing is from the Diamondbacks' perspective. The salary exchange of Bell and Pennington for Young is essentially a wash, so this deal is all about talent realignment. Arizona does have outfield depth with Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and leadoff prospect Adam Eaton, who hit .381/.456/.539 for Triple-A Reno (take all Reno stats with a grain of salt).
Pennington and Bell are both coming off terrible years -- Pennington hitting .211 and Bell posting a 5.09 ERA with the Marlins after signing that big free agent contract. Arizona GM Kevin Towers knows Bell from their time together in San Diego and Towers would probably be the first to point out that Bell's slide in 2012 wasn't the result of a decline in velocity. He certainly wasn't helped by the Marlins' defense but his walk rate increased and his strikeout rate was still down from 28 to 30 percent in 2009-2010 to 20 and 21 percent the past two seasons. You can argue that he's a reasonable bounce-back candidate, but that's still ignoring that 1. He's unlikely to ever post his park-influenced San Diego numbers again and 2. he's really just a fungible reliever at this point. So why give up a quality player to get him?
Pennington will compete for the starting shortstop job; his offensive will improve leaving Oakland for Arizona and his defensive metrics were solid in 2012. I could see the trade working out for Arizona, although I'm not sure how it makes the team better. At best, they've taken on all the talent in a deal that is unlikely improve the team.
One final note: Does this mean the team keeps Justin Upton or will they still use Upton as trade bait to upgrade third base or shortstop? Stay tuned.