Revisiting the Roy Oswalt Trade: How does it compare?


At the trade deadline last year the Astros made a decision that would drastically affect the franchise for years to come by trading franchise icon and disgruntled pitcher Roy Oswalt to the Phillies. I’ll admit that when I first found out the package of players that the Astros received for Roy I was disappointed, but now that a reasonable amount of time has passed my feelings on the trade have neutralized. With that being said I decided to compare this trade to 5 other frontline pitching trades to see how the return on the Oswalt trade compares. The trades that I chose to review are as follows:

1.)    The Twins trade of Johan Santana to the Mets

2.)    The Indians trade of C.C. Sabbathia to the Brewers

3.)    The Indians trade of Cliff Lee to the Phillies

4.)    The Blue Jays trade of Roy Halladay to the Phillies

5.)    The Mariners trade of Cliff Lee to the Rangers

All of the trades listed above are former Cy Young winners which I expected to produce a good return on investment, but was somewhat surprised by the results.

1.) Twins receive Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Philip Humber, and Deolis Guerra, and the Mets receive Johan Santana.

Only 1 player involved in this trade, Deolis Guerra is still with the Twins organization.  Gomez played 2 seasons for the Twins before being traded to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy who was later traded to the Orioles along with Brendan Harris and $500,000.00 for pitchers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. Kevin Mulvey made a brief appearance for the Twins in 2009 before being traded for Jon Rauch. Philip Humber was released after the 2009 season. Here is a look at the performances of all the players that were either directly or indirectly involved in the Johan Santana trade.

Carlos Gomez

2008 – .258 avg., 7 HR, 59 RBIs, 2.4 WAR.

2009 – .229 avg., 3 HR, 28 RBIs, 0.6 WAR.

Kevin Mulvey

2009 – Appeared in 2 games, 27.00 ERA

Philip Humber

2008 – 11.2 IP, 4.63 ERA, -0.3 WAR.

2009 – 9 IP, 8.00 ERA, -0.1 WAR.

Deolis Guerra

Has yet to appear in the majors, but is still only 22 years old. His combined ERA in 6 total seasons in the minors is 4.85.

Jon Rauch

2009 – 15.2 IP, 1.72 ERA, 0.7 WAR.

2010 – 57.2 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.2 WAR.

J.J. Hardy

2010 – .268 avg., 6 HR, 38 RBIs, 2.4 WAR.

Recap: The accumulated WAR for this trade 6.9. Prospects still remaining from this trade include Deolis Guerra at age 22. Since Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson were not acquired by the Twins with an outright piece of the Johan trade I did not include them here, but it should be noted that they were acquired by the Twins in a package that included a player who was acquired outright by a piece of the Johan trade.

2.) Indians receive Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, and Michael Brantley, and the Brewers receive C.C. Sabathia

3 of the 4 players included in this trade are still with the Indians organization. The Indians received young talent who so far has not produced anything substantial at the major league level. Matt LaPorta still possesses the most upside out of the 3 remaining players. Bryson has good strikeout numbers as a reliever in the minors, but is an injury risk and is currently on the disabled list. Brantley also possesses upside, but brings little power to the table in the outfield.

Matt LaPorta

2009 – .254 avg., 7 HR, 21 RBIs, 0.5 WAR.

2010 – .221 avg., 12 HR, 41 RBIs, -0.6 WAR.

2011 – .260 avg., 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 0.3 WAR.

Zach Jackson

2009 – 8.2 IP, 9.35 ERA, -0.1 WAR.

Rob Bryson

Has yet to appear in the majors, but is currently 23 years old. He has been sidelined 6-8 weeks to start the 2011 season due to a broken foot. In 4 total seasons in the minors he has a 3.24 ERA.

Michael Brantley

2009 – .313 avg., 0 HR, 11 RBIs, -0.4 WAR.

2010 – .246 avg., 3 HR, 22 RBIs, -0.7 WAR.

2011 – .304 avg., 0 HR, 6 RBIs, 0.3 WAR.

Recap: The accumulated WAR to date for this trade is -0.7, but still has the potential to produce better numbers with 3 of the 4 parts still in the organization.

3.) Indians receive Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald, and the Phillies receive Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco

This trade is a little bit harder to evaluate just what the Indians received for Lee because Ben Francisco was also included in this trade. Carrasco was the highest rated prospect involved in this trade and so far has not lived up to expectations. All of the players involved in this trade are still in the organization, and have a chance to increase the value of the trade, which at about a 1 ½ later does not seem to be very high so far.

Carlos Carrasco

2009 – 22.1 IP, 8.87 ERA, -0.3 WAR.

2010 – 44.2 IP, 3.83 ERA, 0.6 WAR.

2011 – 26 IP, 4.85 ERA, 0.5 WAR.

Jason Knapp

Has yet to appear above A-ball, but is only 20 years old. In 3 minor league seasons he has posted a 3.63 ERA, and has an impressive K/9 ratio of 12.0. He has trouble with injuries in the past.

Lou Marson

2010 – .195 avg., 3 HR, 22 RBIs, 0.4 WAR.

2011 – .400 avg., 0 HR, 2 RBIs, 0.2 WAR.

Jason Donald

2010 – .253 avg., 4 HR, 24 RBIs, -0.2 WAR.

Currently at AAA in the Indians organization.

Recap: Accumulated WAR for this trade is 1.2, but like the Sabathia trade there is also potential for a greater return with all of the players still within the organization.

4.) Blue Jays receive Kyle Drabek, Travis D’Arnaud, and Michael Taylor, and Phillies receive Roy Halladay.

This trade was part of a 3 team trade and was much more complicated than what was stated above, but I was looking at what the team who parted with their ace received, which is why the Cliff Lee to Seattle part was left out of the deal. Michael Taylor was immediately traded to the A’s for a familiar name in Brett Wallace. Brett Wallace was later traded to the Astros for Anthony Gose, therefore Anthony Gose will be mentioned here as what the Blue Jays received indirectly for the Roy Halladay trade.

Kyle Drabek

2010 – 17 IP, 4.76 ERA, 0.2 WAR.

2011 – 18.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 0.3 WAR.

Travis D’Arnaud

Has yet to appear in the majors, but is only 22 years old. He was also the # 36 rated prospect according to Baseball America prior to the beginning of the 2011 season. In 5 minor league seasons he has a .262 avg.

Anthony Gose

Has yet to appear in the majors, but is only 20 years old. In 4 minor league seasons Anthony has a .258 batting average.

Recap: Accumulated WAR of 0.5 for this trade, but with the potential for much more as Drabek has the potential to be a future ace, and both D’Arnaud and Gose are highly regarded prospects.

5.) Mariners receive Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matthew Lawson and the Rangers receive Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.

Even thought the Rangers also received Mark Lowe in this trade, this trade was all about Cliff Lee. The trade was centered on Justin Smoak, and both Smoak and Lueke are currently on Seattle’s 25-man roster. Matthew Lawson was traded to the Indians for Aaron Laffey, therefore Laffey will be included as part of the players indirectly received in the Cliff Lee trade.

Justin Smoak

2010 – .218 avg., 13 HR, 48 RBIs, 0.1 WAR.

2011 – .291 avg., 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 0.3 WAR.

Blake Beavan

22 year old prospect that has yet to see time at the major league level. In 4 seasons in the minors Blake has posted an ERA of 3.59.

Josh Lueke

2011 – 5.1 IP, 15.19 ERA, 0.0 WAR. In 4 seasons in the minors as a reliever he has a 3.19 ERA.

Aaron Laffey

2011 – 7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.1 WAR. In 8 seasons in the minors Laffey posted an ERA of 3.60.

Recap: Accumulated WAR total of 0.4, but none of the players included in this trade have received significant time in the majors so far.

6.) That finally brings us to the Astros trade that netted J.A. Happ, Brett Wallace, and Jonathan Villar for Roy Oswalt and $11 million.

This trade is difficult compared to the others because the Astros also sent $11 million to the Phillies to complete the deal. Roy also had another year and an option remaining on his contract. Since Brett Wallace was indirectly acquired in the Roy Oswalt trade he is also included below.

J.A. Happ

2010 – 72 IP, 3.75 ERA, 1.0 WAR.

2011 – 18.2 IP, 5.79 ERA, 0.1 WAR.

Brett Wallace

2010 – .222 avg., 2 HR, 13 RBIs, 0.0 WAR.

2011 – .278 avg., 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 0.3 WAR.

Jonathan Villar

19 year old prospect. In 4 seasons in the minors Villar has a .267 batting average. Villar was ranked as the 94th best prospect by Baseball America prior to the beginning of the 2011 season.

Recap: Accumulated WAR total of 1.4 with the potential for more as both Wallace and Happ are currently on the big league roster. Villar is also off to a great start to the 2011 season in the minors.

WAR total rankings by trade:

1.)    Twins trade of Santana at 6.9 WAR

2.)    Astros trade of Oswalt at 1.4 WAR

3.)    Indians trade of Lee at 1.2 WAR

4.)    Blue Jays trade of Halladay at 0.5 WAR

5.)    Mariners trade of Lee at 0.4 WAR

6.)    Indians trade of Sabathia at -0.7 WAR

Trades that I think will produce the most major league value:

1.)    Blue Jays trade of Halladay

2.)    Mariners trade of Lee

3.)    Astros trade of Oswalt

4.)    Indians trade of Lee

5.)    Twins trade of Santana

6.)    Indians trade of Sabathia

To sum everything up I realize that most of these trades, especially the Oswalt trade, need more time to fully gauge the true success of the trade. I was however surprised to see that the Astros have already received the 2nd most production at the major league level based solely on WAR projections, even though their trade was made less than a year ago. This largely has to do with the fact that Ed Wade traded for 2 players that were major league ready, and only took the risk on 1 lower level prospect in Villar. Even if Villar never makes it to the majors I wouldn’t be surprised if Wallace and Happ surpass the value of the Twins trade of Santana over the length of their service time in Houston. If Happ and Wallace continue to progress and Villar reaches his full potential then this trade has a chance to rank among the top of this list.