Seattle Mariners receive SP Cliff Lee (PHI)
At first, these trades seemed odd to me. They went and got Halladay, whom they had coveted for quite a while. I had visions of how tough a rotation that would be throughout the year – Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Happ, and Blanton. And then the other shoe fell and they moved Lee as well. The prospects they received are interesting, but I’m not 100% sure that the return they got for Lee was similar to the package that they gave up to get him initially.
What is there to be said about Roy Halladay, really? He has won 16 games or more each of the last 4 seasons. He won 20 last year. He has posted a sub-3.20 era 4 of the last 5 seasons. He struck out 200 batters the last 2 seasons. He won the 2003 Cy Young Award. He has established himself as one of the most durable, and best pitchers in the majors. While it isn’t a huge upgrade for this year between Lee and Halladay, the fact that they are getting him signed to an extension (sounds like it will be 3 yrs, $60 million at the moment) is critical to this trade being a success for the Phillies. That new extension will take him through the age of 36. So the Phillies are getting some of his best potential years to come, and not signing him to a ridiculously long extension.
Aumont has been working as a reliever exclusively, splitting time between High-A and AA. He posted a respectable line of 3.88 with 16 saves and 59 strikeouts in 51 innings between the two stops. Aumont finished last season as the #3 prospect according to John Sickels, and was generally considered to be a high-end pitching prospect. I think that Aumont would be a lot more interesting as a starting pitcher, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Phillies will convert him back or not.
Juan Ramirez looks like a solid starting pitching prospect. In the California League in 2009, he posted an 8-10 record with a 5.12 era, 111 strikeouts and 53 walks in 153 innings. I am more interested in his 2008 numbers, due to their being accomplished in the Midwest League. His line that year: 6-9, 4.14 era, 113 strikeouts, and 38 walks in 124 innings pitched. John Sickels had him at #4 in the Mariners system at the end of the 2008 season.
Gillies appears to be a very good speedster out in the outfield. He posted a .341/.430/.486 line with 9 homers and 44 steals. While these numbers are a bit inflated due to his playing the full season in the California League (known for its offense numbers), he also posted similar numbers in 2008 in the Northwest League (.313/.439/.427). He doesn’t appear that he has a lot of power, but its possible he could grow into that as he gets older. He will be only 21 when the 2010 season begins.
I think that the Mariners did really well here. They gave up a prospect whose luster had faded (Aumont), and two young prospects who are realistically unlikely to help the Major League team in the next 3 years. They turned those players into another ace for the top of their pitching staff. The combination of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee at the top of their rotation really solidifies the Mariners’ chances to win their division next year. When you add in the fact that the Angels have lost 2 major players on their team (Lackey, Figgins), and replaced them with very little as of yet, I really like the Mariners to win this division as of right now.
The Blue Jays
The Jays really felt like they had to move Halladay, or potentially lose him to free agency for just some draft picks. The return they got, in my opinion, is fair. Not a slam dunk, but fair. Wallace becomes the heir apparent to first base in my opinion, and speculation is already out there that the Jays could move Lyle Overbay. Wallace had a very good year between AA Springfield, AAA Memphis, and AAA Sacramento, posting a .293/.367/.455 line with 20 homers and 63 rbi. He appears to be a solid prospect, and should turn out to be a solid major league starter.
Kyle Drabek ended this season as probably the top pitching prospect in the Phillies organization. He finished 12-3, with a 3.19 era. He finished with 150 strikeouts against 50 walks in 158 innings pitched. He pitched in AA last season, and is likely to start the season in AAA. The Blue Jays realistically, don’t need him to hit the majors for at least another season, with all the excellent starting pitchers that are already at or near the majors (Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, Marc Rzepcynski, Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond, David Purcey, Robert Ray). So it really just increases their depth in pitching.
Travis D’Arnaud is a very young catcher who spent the season at Single-A Lakewood. He posted a .255/.319/.419 line with 13 homers, 71 rbi, and 8 steals. I actually am not too familiar with him, so I went looking for a good profile of him, and found it here. After reading it, it appears he is considered to be a solid defensive catcher who is likely to stick at the position long term. A solid catching prospect overall.
Overall, I think that the Blue Jays did manage to address some specific positional needs in trading Halladay, and while this return isn’t necessarily as high as it would have been had he been moved in July, they did well to get some solid prospects here.
For my hometown A’s, I really like this trade. This makes me believe that the A’s do not believe that Wallace could stick at 3B, where they really needed him. So they turn him into a top-tier outfield prospect. While I would normally be concerned about the fact that they already have a ton of outfielders at or near the major league level (Rajai Davis, Travis Buck, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Sweeney all come to mind), I am inclined to believe that Taylor is better than most, if not all, of these players. The Athletics are always seeming to be short of power hitters, and Taylor definitely fits the bill. He posted a .320/.395/.544 line between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley for the Phillies last year, along with 20 homers and 21 stolen bases. The movement of Wallace also makes Jake Fox (recently acquired from the Cubs) to be the main option at 3B besides the permanently injured (sad, sad I know) Eric Chavez. I am amazed that Billy Beane managed to make his way into this trade, and gave up a solid prospect for a better one in my opinion.
I think that overall, each team did well with this trade. The Mariners appear to be making at least a partial push to win now. The A’s get a power bat that they desperately need. The Blue Jays get 3 solid prospects that will help their team to rebuild their farm system. The Phillies get an even better ace for the top of their pitching staff, and 3 high-end prospects as well. And somehow they got the Phillies to kick in $6 million bucks! It remains to be seen exactly how the prospects involved are going to turn out, and whether or not Halladay can stay healthy for the length of his new extension. But after trying to make sense of this for the past 24 hours, I can safely say that each team has improved themselves in at least some small manner.
CURRENT WINNER: Seattle Mariners
LONG-TERM WINNER: Philadelphia Phillies