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Thursday, August 19, 2010
Early returns on two 'challenge' trades

Tommy Rancel on the Diamondbacks' latest find:
It's worth mentioning, I think, that Edwin Jackson's been fantastic with the White Sox: 1.35 ERA in three starts, with 24 strikeouts and five walks.

Unfortunately, because of the future costs associated with each pitcher, this trade works for the White Sox only if Jackson's better than Hudson in the near term and Jackson's performance gets the White Sox into the playoffs. Otherwise it's just an awful, awful deal.

That's one example of a "challenge trade": I'll trade you my [position] guy for your [same position] guy." We don't have many examples, but we've got another fine one this season: shortstop Yunel Escobar for shortstop Alex Gonzalez. When the deal was made, the point (from the Braves' perspective) was supposedly addition by subtraction, as the Braves were reportedly disenchanted by Escobar's attitude as much as his slow start this season, statistically.

Since the trade? In 27 games, Escobar's batted .297/.350/.414, right in line with his career numbers. In 31 games, Gonzalez has batted .250/.317/.411, almost exactly in line with his career numbers. They're both good defensive players. The only real difference between them -- leaving aside attitudes, I mean -- is that Gonzalez is six years older and slightly more expensive.

We'll see what happens. But I suspect that in both cases, we'll wind up figuring the teams getting the younger players did better.