Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Radio determined that the Atlanta Braves were trade deadline losers because they got nothing for Julio Teheran. Everyone being entitled to his/her opinion, I’m not here to do the point/counterpoint thing. But I would note this:
The biggest names seen (by some, if not all) as available at this deadline were Teheran and Chris Sale of the White Sox. Neither was traded. That’s largely because neither is about to become a free agent, which means their employers are in no peril of losing them without compensation. Both the Braves and the Pale Hose would have required an offer beggaring belief to move a No. 1 pitcher on a team-friendly contract. It stands to reason that no such offer was forthcoming.
We’ve guessed before as to what the Braves would have asked had the Red Sox inquired about Teheran – a package starting with shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Mookie Betts. No team, even one strapped for arms, would give up two 23-year-old All-Stars. But that’s the point: Some team would have had to overpay wildly for the Braves even to consider trading Teheran.
Last week Baseball Prospectus staged an exercise in which its writers played general manager for various teams and made offers for Teheran. The “winning” bid came from Texas, which was “offering” four prospects. Let’s note, though, that John Coppolella had said: “I’m not trading Julio for prospects.”
See, the Braves have prospects. What they lack is proven big-league talent. The Rangers would have had to offer big-leaguers Jurickson Profar and/or Nomar Mazara to pique the Braves’ interest, and even that mightn’t have sufficed. (Profar is essentially a middle infielder. The Braves have middle infielders on the way.)
The White Sox were different. They wanted only prospects for Sale. (That’s the difference between having the No. 1 farm system and not.) They were believed to be wanting five if not seven. That’s a lot to give for a guy who works 33 times a year. Last week we discussed why the Braves, who have more prospects than most, wouldn’t have made such a trade. If they wouldn’t, who would?
Now: Were the Braves and White Sox “losers” because they didn’t trade their aces? Even though those aces are under club control at an affordable price through 2019 or longer? If you can’t get what you want for Teheran and Sale, why trade him now? So Jim Bowden can declare you a deadline “winner”? There was no expiration date on Teheran/Sale. Their teams can dangle them in November, or next July. Or those teams can simply decide that, if you trade such a pitcher, you might spend the next 10 years chasing one as good.
There’s such hysteria – the proper word – regarding the trade deadline that it’s hard to separate babble from reality. Regarding Teheran, here’s the reality: He’s the best pitcher in an organization rebuilding around pitching, and he’s 25. Had the Angels offered Mike Trout straight up for Teheran, I’d have taken that. Had the Red Sox offered Bogaerts and Betts, I’d have taken that, too. But those were about the only two offers I’d have considered.
Know who the best starting pitcher (going by WAR) traded at the deadline was? Rich Hill, who went from the A’s to the Dodgers. Hill is 36. He’ll become a free agent at season’s end. A year ago, the Reds traded Johnny Cueto, who helped the Royals win a World Series and now works for the Giants. The Tigers traded David Price, who helped the Blue Jays make the playoffs and now works for the Red Sox.
Those are the big-name starting pitchers a rebuilding team moves in July – the rentals. Teheran and Sale wouldn’t be rentals. Unless you’ve been offered the moon and the stars, it makes more sense to keep them.
Further reading: Phase 1 of the Braves’ rebuild is near its end.
Further still: The Braves trade for Matt Kemp, and I don’t hate it.
Even further: No demerits for the Braves’ landing of Demeritte.