Every offseason has the same debate when it comes to rebuilding teams trading players: Do you trade a player in the offseason, or hold out for higher value at the trade deadline?
I’m not sure there’s a correct answer. Most of the trade rumors we all see and evaluate are outdated information. Most of the trades that actually take place hit us by surprise. There’s so much we never hear about.
Therefore, it’s impossible for any of us to say whether a team should trade a player in the offseason, or hold on for more value at the deadline.
I do want to highlight the offseason deals by the Pirates as an argument for how trading in the offseason can allow another way for your organization to build value before the trade deadline.
The Pirates traded Joe Musgrove, Jameson Taillon, and Josh Bell in the span of a month, fueling their building process.
In return, they received:
For Musgrove: OF Hudson Head, RHP David Bednar, LHP Omar Cruz, RHP Drake Fellows, C Endy Rodriguez
For Taillon: RHP Miguel Yajure, RHP Roansy Contreras, OF Canaan Smith-Njigba, SS Maikol Escotto
For Bell: RHP Will Crowe, RHP Eddy Yean
That group of players didn’t feature a single top 100 prospect, and I don’t even know if anyone was on the fringe. Most of the top prospects in these deals were lower-level guys, previously playing in levels that no longer exist.
The Taillon trade is a perfect example of building value through a trade. Right now, would anyone reverse that trade with what Roansy Contreras has done in two starts? Maybe it’s just that he has more strikeouts than most Pirates pitching prospects had over four starts when Taillon was a prospect, but it seems the Pirates have more chance to build value with that trade return than they did with Taillon.
We could do that for each individual trade, and determine if the Pirates would have been better to wait, or make the deal they made.
There’s also the impact of roster spots. Taillon and Musgrove were traded, opening up two rotation spots.
The biggest starters this year have been JT Brubaker and Tyler Anderson. I’m not sure if either would have been guaranteed for a rotation spot. I think Brubaker would have had an inside track and would have pushed through if no trades were made. However, Anderson probably wouldn’t have been added if Musgrove and Taillon were retained. With the way he is pitching, he could add value by the trade deadline.
None of this is meant to fully evaluate these trades, or to say that trading in the offseason is better than trading at the deadline.
I do think that these have turned out so far to be good moves. I also like the aggressive approach of going for more risk, but more reward.
I also think that you could break down these individual trades, and perhaps get conflicting opinions on the best approach, based on the individual move.
The entire point is that there is more than one way to add value before the deadline when determining when to trade a player. We recognize the value that the player could gain. We potentially ignore the value other players can gain with his roster spot, and the value that lower-level prospects can gain once they are in the system.