On a Blockbuster Trade

The executives in command of the Athletics and Cubs, by now, need no introduction. In Oakland, we have GM Billy Beane, of Moneyball fame, the architect of some of the most dominant teams of the new millennium. In Chicago, we have President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, famous for building the Red Sox teams that broke an 86-year championship drought, then won two more World Series before he moved on. These are two titans of the game, arguably the most highly regarded executives in the sport.

I find it particularly intriguing that Theo is behind one half of this trade, because it strongly resembles a deal that happened in November 2005:

Red Sox Get:
SP Josh Beckett
3B Mike Lowell
RP Guillermo Mota

Marlins Get:
SS Hanley Ramirez
SP Anibal Sanchez
P Jesus Delgado
P Harvey Garcia

Other than the addition of Mota (a throw-in who never pitched an inning in Boston), this trade basically matches last Friday’s blockbuster, player for player. On the one hand, a contending team acquires two major league veterans who immediately slot in as regulars. On the other, a non-contender acquires a top shortstop prospect, a second very good prospect, and a couple of minor league arms.

You probably know Boston’s side of this story. The 2006 Red Sox weren’t all that great, but the 2007 edition won the World Series with Beckett and Lowell as key contributors. The former turned in one of the greatest pitching performances in postseason history against the Angels, and the latter was named World Series MVP.

You may know a bit about the Marlins’ side of this story, too. Hanley turned into a legitimate superstar, a Rookie of the Year and a top offensive shorstop for five straight years. Sanchez was rather injury-prone in his Miami years, but when healthy, he was very effective as well. Even though Garcia and Delgado contributed basically nothing at the big league level, Ramirez and Sanchez alone were a great return for two players the Marlins couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pay to keep around anyway.

That, truly, was a trade that helped both teams.

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