Yesterday night, in what was perhaps the worst timing the Miami Marlins could have chosen for a blockbuster deadline deal (at least for me and the blog), the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers completed a trade sending Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers in return for minor league starter Jacob Turner, catcher Rob Brantly, and pitcher Brian Flynn. The Marlins and Tigers also agreed to swap competitive balance picks in the upcoming 2013 MLB Draft.
The trade was well-received on both ends around the blogosphere, and rightfully so. The Marlins and Tigers nailed this trade perfectly. Everything about the trade was perfect, from the correct mentality of both teams to the actual trade value involved in the deal. Both the Marlins and Tigers knew their correct place, found the right type of players for the trade, and executed one of the most fair trades I have seen in quite some time. Often times, you are looking for a "winner" and "loser" for a deal like this, but in this one, you have to tip the cap to both sides, because they both got exactly what they wanted in the trade. Let us examine the various well-played aspects of the deal.
The Trade Value
Earlier last week, we discussed the trade values of various players on the team, including Sanchez and Infante. What did we say about each player? With regards to Sanchez, here is what I valued him at as of yesterday morning:
As of the latest ZiPS projections, Sanchez is expected to pitch 76 more innings (12 starts, a total of 197 innings on the season) with a 3.67 ERA and 3.51 FIP. If he pitched to those ERAs, you would be looking at a value of 1.3 to 1.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). That would be worth $6.8 million in the free market, and Sanchez would be paid about $3 million for the rest of the season, yielding a surplus or trade value of $3.8 million.
On the deadline assets article, we put Infante's value at $11.5 million given his 2.5-win player status and his extremely affordable contract. That value has not changed significantly from last week, as ZiPS projects him to be worth 0.9 WAR through the rest of 2012.
Add those two together and you get a total of $15.3 million in surplus or trade value tied up in those two players. How much is Jacob Turner himself worth?Remember this chart that I showed yesterday?
Top 10 hitting prospects $36.5M Top 11-25 hitters $25.1 Top 26-50 hitters $23.4 Top 51-75 hitters $14.2 Top 76-100 hitters $12.5 Top 10 pitching prospects $15.2 Top 11-25 pitchers $15.9 Top 26-50 pitchers $15.9 Top 51-75 pitchers $12.1 Top 76-100 pitchers $9.8 Grade B pitchers (as graded by Sickels)
$7.3 Grade B hitters $5.5 Grade C pitchers 22 or younger $2.1 Grade C pitchers 23 or older $1.5 Grade C hitters 22 or younger $0.7 Grade C hitters 23 or older $0.5
That estimates the value of prospects based on their rankings in Baseball America's Top 100 and in John Sickels's rankings on his SB Nation site Minor League Ball. Going into the season, Turner was ranked 23rd in the Top 100 prospects in Baseball America. A top-25 pitching prospect like Turner is worth $15.2 million in 2009, and that should be inflated in value now with the slightly higher value of a win. That means that Turner himself is likely worth the value of both Sanchez and Infante combined.
Brantly was unranked by John Sickels in his top 20 Tigers prospects list before the season, while Brian Flynn ranked ninth as a C+ pitching prospect. A 22-year old pitching prospect is worth an additional $2.1 million in value, so the Marlins are actually gaining a slight benefit from this deal. In addition, Brantly must have jumped up the ranks since his hot start at Double-A, so the Fish are probably gaining some small value in his increased value.
The lynchpin to the trade must have been the addition of Infante. Note that Infante had more trade value than Sanchez, despite the fact that Sanchez is the better player. Because Infante's contract is so cheap and Sanchez has only two months left until he is a free agent, Infante holds so much surplus value in his 2013 season that his addition made up for three quarters of the value of Turner and the prospects. Because of that addition, the Marlins and Tigers almost nailed the pinpoint trade value of their players in the deal. Kudos to both front offices.
Right Role For the Right Team
Another important aspect of this trade is that both teams knew their roles perfectly well. For the Tigers, they acquired current talent that would be ready immediately to contribute to a playoff run. They were "buyers" looking for help down the stretch, and two months of Anibal Sanchez was not something they would be against; indeed, they really needed about two or three months of help. With Infante, the team filled a hole at second base that had been empty since Placido Polanco left, and in Infante they essentially have a Polanco clone.
For the Marlins, they achieved two important goals. First, the Marlins "sold" on the 2012 season, realizing that they did not have a strong chance for the 2012 playoffs and sacrificing Sanchez to the cause of improving the team for the future. They gave up two months of Sanchez and another year and change of Infante for six years of control of Turner and the two other decent prospects. For a team that is not in contention this season, this is a sound move.
Perhaps more importantly, the Marlins sold on 2012 without selling on 2013. The Fish acquired Turner, who is perhaps a season away from major league ready, and as a result essentially replaced Sanchez's spot in the rotation with Turner in 2013. This is important because the Marlins will need to remain competitive to keep up attendance at the new stadium and continue to build a strong fanbase. Plus, if the Fish do believe they were unlucky in 2012, they can retain most of their core for 2013 and attempt contention with a very similar group next year. By acquiring a starter who is close to the majors and should be ready by 2013, the Marlins kept their hopes of contention and still got something back for resources they did not need in 2012.
The Marlins and Tigers matched this deal in value and in role. There can be no complaints. The Fish get similar value, but leaning towards the future, yet without significantly sacrificing the important 2013 season. This is not a fire sale trade in which the Fish would gain prospects for the distant future. Jacob Turner will be ready soon, and the Marlins will not lose much in picking him up to replace the departed Sanchez. For now, the team will have to make due to with the second base situation (more on that later today), but the price was definitely right to acquire a premium arm like Turner's. For the Marlins and Tigers, this was a win-win deal.