Our analysts discuss this week's surprising trades, potentially surprising trades to come and the value of top prospects.
1. Which trade thus far has surprised you most?
Molly Knight (@molly_knight
), ESPN The Magazine: Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers. But that's because we didn't even know he was on the market until about five minutes before he was traded. It's no secret that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is over Juan Uribe and has been searching for his replacement at third. He's coveted Chase Headley for two years, but the asking price was just too high. This move works a lot better because the Dodgers didn't have to give up top prospect Zach Lee since the Marlins were just looking to unload salary. And I suspect Hanley will rake. From a bizarro standpoint, it would have to be Ichiro to the Yankees -- but I don't think he'll have as much impact down the stretch as HanRam.
Logan Burdine (@Logan_Burdine), Blake Street Bulletin: Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees. It makes sense, but I didn't see it coming. I always assumed that Ichiro would retire with the Mariners. It would have been nice to see him in New York while he was still an above-average player, though.
Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski), ESPN Insider: I'm very surprised about the trade of Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers. In retrospect, it seems obvious given that the Marlins just moved Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit. Ramirez at third hasn't worked out well given that his bat isn't even at 2010 levels, let alone his 2007-2009 superstar numbers. But with two years left on his contract, it wasn't that terrible, and the Marlins still have a lot invested in Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.
2. Gut feeling: Which unlikely player will be moved before July 31?
Knight: Hunter Pence. I know the rumors are already out there, and I don't really get why the Phillies would dump him and not others. Kind of a head-scratcher for me.
Burdine: Hunter Pence. The Phillies seem dead-set on keeping their rotation intact, and they have a lot of money tied up in a few players for the next few seasons. That means Pence's impending offseason arbitration could be a major headache if they want to keep him. He has a lot of value because he is more than a three-month rental.
Szymborski: I think the Cubs will be able to move Alfonso Soriano to a contender and not have to pay his entire contract. We all know that Soriano is drastically overpaid, but his bat has recovered to a .274/.324/.503 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line, and that can help a contender that needs an extra bat. The Cubs will still pay most of it, but Soriano's comeback is worth something. There are just not a lot of bats available at the trade deadline, with most teams in the AL lurking in the wild-card race.
3. True or false: Teams have become too careful about trading top prospects.
Knight: True. And that's not a bad thing. Championship teams usually are built on the backs of homegrown players. Can you imagine if, say, the Angels had traded Mike Trout for a two-month Ryan Dempster-ish rental last year? (No offense to Dempster, but yikes.)
Burdine: True. A player's value is usually never higher than when he is a top prospect. Granted, you can't mortgage your future these days, but it seems like a lot of teams are hesitant to make a move that could put them over the top. Often, the prospect ends up underwhelming anyway. Any time you have a shot to win a championship, you should go for it.
Szymborski: I don't think so. Even with the chance of the prospects being a bust, the cost-controlled years of a young player has an amazing upside in value for a team. On-base percentage, defense, power, etc., can be undervalued at different times in baseball, but the monetary advantage of having young players is built into the collective bargaining agreement. That's unlikely to change any time soon, so even every general manager in baseball knowing about it doesn't reduce the value of those years.