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The Long Half-Life of Trades

November 20, 2011

The title of this piece is beyond obvious. Everyone knows trades can have far sweeping ramifications for a club, and that they can last for a very long time. But while perusing one of the cooler baseball websites there are today (I only wish they were still actively posting), it sort of rehashed that thought process of just how much one trade is tied to subsequent moves. From MLB Trade Trees comes the above chart outlining the Mark Mulder trade.

Pretty simple trade: Mulder went to St. Louis, Daric BartonKiko Calero and Dan Haren came back. Now hopefully you clicked the above link so you can the bigger version and also poke around this great site which looks at what happens after the initial trade. Sometimes it is pretty obvious because one guy is flipped relatively quickly and you can sort out the perceived ultimate return in your head. But here Oakland had a pretty good time with Dan Haren before he himself was traded in a significant deal that netted Brett Anderson, Chris CarterAaron CunninghamDana EvelandCarlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith from Arizona. Of course not all these guys stayed with Oakland, most notably Carlos Gonzalez along with Greg Smith and thrown in there was Huston Street too, were sent to Colorado to get Matt Holliday. Furthermore Aaron Cunningham was sent packing with Scott Hairston to get Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Sogard. Finally, Dana Eveland was sent to Toronto for cash. But it doesn’t end there because of those guys sent to get Holliday when we traded Holliday to the Cardinals we got back Clayton MortensenShane Peterson and Brett Wallace. We flipped Wallace in a deal with Toronto to get Michael Taylor, and Mortensen was sent to Colorado for Ethan Hollingsworth. Just a month or two ago Hollingsworth himself was sent to Kansas City to get Kila Ka’aihue while Kouzmanoff was sent to Colorado for cash.

The final tally is this, had the A’s not traded Mark Mulder on December 18th, 2004 today’s A’s would be without, Brett Anderson, Daric Barton, Chris Carter, Kila Ka’aihue, Shane Peterson, Eric Sogard and Michael Taylor. Now the snarky A’s fan can be all, “so what” – surely the names that passed through some of these deals are far more significant, Carlos Gonzalez, Dan Haren, Matt Holliday, Mark Mulder and Huston Street are some pretty solid ballplayers. But that is how long trades can hold significant sway over how a team is constructed. A good portion of the 2012 A’s will be determined in part by a deal made eight years earlier involving four players, two of whom have since left baseball even.

What is ironic about this whole exercise in looking at the series of events that lead to how our roster is constructed today is that I was thinking about writing about how Shane Peterson left unprotected in the Rule V Draft could mean that ultimately it could end up that we dealt Matt Holliday for whatever Kila Ka’aihue ends up being worth, but then that peeling of the onion reveals so much more. While the Holliday “trade tree” would still end up with potentially Ka’aihue as the lone result (even if Peterson is selected the odds of him staying with the selecting club all season are still very limited, he split time between Midland and Sacramento going a combined .274/.366/.421 with 9 home runs in 105 games with a .344 wOBA in Midland and a .377 wOBA in Sacremento so I’d expect we still will have both Ka’aihue and Peterson) it is amazing to see how much led to the trade with Holliday.

You can of course do this with other A’s too and it is fascinating how quickly the trade trees grow and all the unexpected pieces involved.

A piece very similar to this was cross-posted on Athletics Nation as my regular Sunday column. I encourage all TVPRCRP readers to go there to continue in the discussion and also see a community full of passionate Oakland A’s fans.

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