Trade Deadline Grumbling

We’re coming up on this year’s trade deadline in the next few days. We have the usual assortment of presumptive “buyers” (teams likely to make the playoffs hoping to strengthen their lineups for the stretch run) and “sellers” (bottom feeders hoping to pick up prospects to create hope for next year or just looking to unload salary, to be more profitable while still sucking).

There are always pundits posting articles like “Trades We’d Like to See!” I never read them. First, they know no more about what’s going to happen than you or me, and their prognostications are nearly invariably wrong/pure fantasy. Second, I often do not want to see said fantasies actually happen anyway. The Yankees getting another elite player? Why the hell would I, or anyone outside of NY, want to see that?!

There are generally rumors of really excellent players being sent off, although the don’t always happen. Last year the Cubs held a fire sale, sending out almost the entire core of the 2016 WS champs. Partly that’s because they had four big name players approaching free agency simultaneously. They couldn’t sign them all; certainly Bryant wouldn’t have re-upped no matter what. However, both Baez and Rizzo had indicated willingness to stay…and got traded anyway. This year, Contreras probably follows them out the door. Why, exactly, should a Chicagoan remain loyal to the Cubs currently? They did not need to do a full tear down and rebuild, yet it appears to be what’s happening.

The Nationals may not have much choice but to trade Soto. It’s been made clear that he will test free agency. He is a Boras client, and that is Boras’ MO. The Nationals will never get full value for him, but if he walks, they will get only a compensatory draft pick as he will obviously receive a QO after the season. It’s tough for them, but that’s free agency.

Then there’s the Angels. Suddenly rumors are swirling around Shohei Ohtani. He’s been forced to face the distraction and answer obvious questions from reporters with “right now, I’m an Angel.” Let me be clear: if they Angels do trade him, everybody in that front office should be fired. This has been a disappointment of a season for them. Rendon has been hurt…again. They’ve underperformed. They need hitting and pitching…and Ohtani is both. Teams do not improve by getting rid of such a unique player. He is not a free agent until 2024. There is no way they can get comparable value in return for him. Even if they garner a truckload of prospects, such a move is essentially surrendering not just this season but for at least a couple more to come. Let’s also remember how badly they have wasted having Mike Trout on their roster. He’s 30 now. He’s likely to continue to have intermittent back problems for the remainder of his career. It would be criminal to tear down around him for a rebuild. Even if it went perfectly, making him wait until he’s 34 to sniff the playoffs at soonest would be baseball managerial malpractice. Plus, what confidence should anyone have that they would (a) draft well or (b) develop the players drafted well even if they did get a bunch of draft picks/prospects for Ohtani? This is a large market team—like the Cubs, they do not need to do a full tear down. If they trade Ohtani, Angels fans should be livid. If they trade Ohtani, baseball fans in general should demand they trade Trout too.

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