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.


  • 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?]




  1. Rayhawk says:

    I think 'ole Andy VS has been hitting the bottle again.

  2. Bradley says:

    Though I'm confused as to whether or not you liked this trade, I would like to point out that Chavez is unlike Nelson in several very important ways: he has options on his contract, he's under team control for five years, and he has the potential to be (or just as equally to not be) a Latino Grant Balfour. Joe Nelson was/is: older, injured, and earning a lot more money.

    • Well, I did say it is a "good trade" for the Rays. And of course I would rather have Chavez than Nelson. But in terms of what he was in 2009 and what he will be in 2010, Chavez' production is not much better than a guy like Nelson. Certainly Chavez has the potential to be better than that, but there is nothing yet to indicate he will be.

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      was it really neccesary to say " Grant Balfour"?
      couldn't you have said "younger", or "similar to"? why on earth go the ethnic route?


      • asiandirtbagfan says:


        • MJ says:

          Who cares? Why not say latino? He is latino. I bet he wouldn't care if he read that. Would anyone care if we signed grant balfour and called him an Aussie Jesse Chavez? I say prob not. I didn't get any racial undertone in that. Move on...

      • Sublime says:

        I agree Dirtbag, not needed, really silly actually.

        But if we throw the ethnicity in front of every player, we could have some interesting ones. let's start referring to Mark Texiera as the Portuguese Carlos Pena. BJ being the Black Shane Victorino. Chavez, the Latino Grant Balfour. Yeah, stupid.

  3. Gus, a casual fan says:

    It is a good trade if you start from the proposition that your team has to trade/not option everybody in the last year of the contracts because the owners are so broke and/or so so tight that a $60M payroll (despite $35M in revenue sharing) looks like Mt. Everest.

    What is CC's status? The season is over now. Why not take care of the greatest player in franchise history (a modest honor) and at least pick up his option.

  4. Don says:

    "Aki is worth more than $4.85 mil"..............
    WHere is he going to play in the Rays line up?....where is he going to hit?
    If HE is worth $4+mil .... Zobrist must be worth $8mil....
    Great move for the Zo to 2nd and young guys to RF!

  5. Sam A says:

    Hopefully this trade will stop the Rays from overpaying for old, injured free agent relievers.

  6. John says:

    I don't see this as a salary dump. This is the proverbial "going in a different direction" move. Sure, Aki is worth 4+mil as a starter. But with the move, the Rays are deciding to go with Benzo at second, who makes a lot less than that. And when you are as tight as the Rays, you can't pay 4 mil for a backup infielder.

    (Oddly, you apparently can pay 1 mil for a 4th/5th OF, despite having several cheaper options on the farm. But that's a whole 'nother topic.)

  7. Rome says:

    Does anyone else think that by the acquisition of Chaves this could make Grant Balfour more expendable? Balfour is a older power arm who hardly ever uses his off-speed pitches. Chaves is a player that pump his fastball, albeit flat, up to 95. Anyone else see this a potential set up to move a player like a Balfour?

  8. Justin says:

    Why would anyone be excited about this trade? Good trade? Who knows?

    We traded a known commodity for an unknown one--who knows what the hell we're going to get with Chavez? After the Joe Nelson experiment, I'm not getting excited about a relief pitcher until I see him at work for more than a month.


Leave a Comment