Is Trading In-efficient?

Many teams around the trade deadline will offer a crop of supposed “future stars”, for a Roy Halladay, or a Manny Ramirez, but why?


Lets take a look at the rumored Roy Halladay swap between Toronto and Philadelphia that fell through because Toronto wanted more. The Phillies offered Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown, and two minor prospects, who we will call future replacement level major leaguers. Kyle Drabek was supposed to end up being an ace pitcher, in the top echelon of starting pitchers in baseball, which would give him an expected WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 8, so he would be fourth among all MLB starting pitchers right now if that was his WAR.

Dominic Brown projects as an upper echelon outfielder, so his WAR would be somewhere around 6.02, which among outfielders would make him second in all of baseball, so what is Roy Halladay’s WAR? If it is not somewhere around 14, than this trade would end up hurting Philadelphia according to their player projections. Roy Halladay’s WAR is 7.5, so Kyle Drabek alone should be better than Halladay, no?

Now I can not just assume this will be true without evidence so I am going to look at a trade between the Florida Marlins and the Boston Red Sox, and see if my theory is right. The Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Harvey Garcia and acquired Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, and Guilmero Mota (who they proceeded to trade along with Andy Marte and Kelly Shopach for Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard, but we will not factor that in).  Hanley Ramirez has posted a total of 25.5 WAR for the Florida Marlins, Sanchez has posted a 2.4 WAR, and Garcia has put up a -.1, combined that is 27.8 WAR that Florida got out of the trade. Boston got Mike Lowell, who posted a 13.1 WAR and Beckett a 19.1, added together is 32.2, so Boston got about five wins out of that trade, which helps, but is not going to take away or add a World Series, so its a wash there.

Now lets look at the deal that sent Carlos Delgado to the Mets, they sent Yusmero Petit and Mike Jacobs to Florida. Delgado has posted a combined WAR of  8.1 for the Mets, which has not done that much as they have missed the playoffs the last three seasons. Jacobs since leaving the Mets has posted a WAR of .9, which is awful. So the Mets ended up adding 7.2 wins in that trade.

This shows that maybe trading is not as in-efficient as prospect evaluation is, and I am sure there are many cases that support and do not support my hypothesis, but it appears it was wrong.

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