What's the price of a Grade-A player in his prime with one year left on a contract that his team has no inclination to extend? Seems there's a lot of certainty being expressed about what it would take to land 28-year-old Vernon Wells and his $5.6 million contract, but what have similar deals cost in recent MLB history? I found just two position players in the last three years who fit the bill; I'm sure everyone else could find more. Still, the exercise is interesting. They are:
Texas trades 30-year-old Alfonso Soriano, and his $10 million remaining year, for 29-year-old Brad Wilkerson, 29-year-old Termel Sledge, and 24-year-old Armando Galarraga.
Angel comparables: Wilkerson in 2003-05 was in the same range, value-wise, as Chone Figgins (and tanked in '06 worse than Chone). Sledge was a sub-Robb Quinlan with better athleticism. Galarraga was less promising (on paper) than Steven Shell.
How did it meet each team's needs? Texas was desperate for pitching of all sorts, and got none; otherwise was looking for help in the OF corners, to make room for a good young 2B, and to shed a bit of salary. Washington had a big-ass hole in LF.
Milwaukee trades 29-year-old Richie Sexson, and his $8.7 million last year, along with 26-year-old scrub reliever Shane Nance and slap-hitting 23-year-old AA OF Noochie Varner ... for 29-year-old Junior Spivey, 33-year-old Craig Counsell, 28-year-old Lyle Overbay, 29-year-old catcher Chad Moeller, 25-year-old Chris Capuano, and erratic 24-year-old lefty Jorge de la Rosa.
Angel comparables: First, some Toronto comparables for Sexson's entourage. Nance was basically Jeremy Accardo, and Noochie was vaguely on par with Ryan Klosterman. On the D-Backs' side, Spivey's a sub-Adam Kennedy, Counsell was 8 years older & worse than Maicer Izturis, Overbay was what backers hope Casey Kotchman will soon look like, Moeller was a younger & better-hitting (at the time) Jose Molina, Capuano was a Joe Saunders type,
How did it meet each team's needs? Arizona wanted most of all to dump salary, and it did. It also had presumably become sick of these Mark Grace-type 1Bmen, and wanted an uber-slugger. Didn't work out so good. Milwaukee was in the middle of smartly overhauling a Kansas City-type operation into something more promising; and had pressing need for gap-fillers until their middle-infield kids were ready.
The Sexson trade was extreme, due to the salary-dumping aspect (and the D-Backs' idiocy); the question is whether the Soriano trade was extreme in the opposite direction. If it wasn't, then theoretically it could be possible to land a Wells-type (a group consisting basically of him and Andruw Jones) for something like Figgins, Quinlan and Steve Shell. Yeah, I don't believe it either; if nothing else, each trade is its own precedent. But before you go selling half the farm, and your daughters, for Vernon Wells, it's instructive to look at similar deals through history. If anyone else wanted to take a crack at other trades with the same basic setup (one-year left on an All-Star's contract) over the last five years, I'd be much obliged.