Andrew Friedman has made some great moves in his tenure with the Rays, but somebody needs to explain to us what is so amazing about a trade that is essentially a salary dump. The following is a made-up quote, but essentially sums up about 20 different blog posts we have read in reference to the trade that sent Akinori Iwamura to the Pirates for Jesse Chavez…
WOW! The Rays somehow were able to get something for nothing. I think I just messed my tighty-whities!
Yes, the Rays would have likely declined Iwamura’s option had they not made the trade. But that was the Rays’ choice. Iwamura was not a free agent. We repeat. Aki was NOT a free agent. In essence, he still had a year left on his contract*. The only difference between Aki’s contract and Pat Burrell’s contract is that the Rays are stuck with Burrell while they could have chosen to get the rid of Aki’s contract for a nominal fee.
If the Rays yesterday somehow traded Troy Percival (a free agent) for a relief pitcher, that would be getting something for nothing. In this case, the Rays did have the option to keep the previously-mentioned “nothing.” Of course, by “nothing” we actually mean a decent second baseman with a reasonable one-year contract.
So why does this type of move not happen more often? Simple. The only time you see a team decline a player option is if the player is not worth that price any longer. The Rays are the only team in baseball cheap enough to not want a player that is worth more than he makes. And yes, Aki is worth more than $4.85 million.
Yes, this was a good move. The Rays essentially got a free relief pitcher, seeing as how he will make less (~$450K) than what the Rays would have paid to buy out Aki’s contract ($550K). And we have long said that the number one item on our wishlist for this off-season is one or two relief pitchers that throw harder than Lil’ Prof (Chavez can reach 97).
But let’s calm done about how the Rays have somehow “reinvented” the game of baseball, when all they really did was dump a $5 million salary for a middle reliever that is not much better than Joe Nelson.
*We have heard many people refer to this move as a “sign-and-trade.” Exactly where was the “sign” part? The Rays and Aki did not agree to an extension before the trade. The 2010 salary is part of Aki’s original contract. Sure it could have been voided, But Aki did not “sign” anything.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune says moving Akinori Iwamura hurts the Rays chemistry and in doing so takes a none-too-subtle shot at Pat Burrell: “If you think [being good in the clubhouse is] not a factor, then you weren’t around Pat Burrell much this summer.” [Tampa Tribune]
- The Rays Party has everything you ever needed to know about Jesse Chavez. [The Rays Party]
- Aki Iwamura is already saying he is open to the idea of signing a long-term deal with the Pirates. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
- Baseball Daily Digest feels that one force pushing the Pirates to trade for Akinori Iwamura is their desire to appeal to Asian players. [Baseball Daily Digest]
- The Hardball Times feels Akinori Iwamura is “clearly overpaid,” and is surprised the Rays were able to get a “fireballing reliever.” [The Hardball Times]
- Beyond the Boxscore seems to think Aki is worth $12.4 million in production, or about $7.5 million more than he will be paid in 2010. [Beyond the Boxscore]
- Sabernomics calls the deal “pretty even” and “mutually beneficial.” [Sabernomics]
- Raise the Jolly Roger is not that thrilled about giving up a decent relief pitcher for a one-year rental. [Raise the Jolly Roger]
- Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke? is warming up to the Akinori Iwamura trade and likes the prospect of now appealing more to international free agents. [Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke?]