The Final Verdict
When you trade away an All-Star and a franchise cornerstone, you need to get back some real value. It’s hard enough to justify making such a trade to many fans, which is part of the risk of being a GM. But if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it well. Ed Wade missed on this one.
You have to wonder why he traded with his former employer (the Phillies) so frequently, because it’s hard to believe this was the best package he could get. At any rate, from a pure WAR standpoint, the Phillies got 5.4 WAR from Oswalt while the Astros got a combined 0.9 WAR from their trio.
The Phillies also got the benefit of selling high on Happ, as he simply wasn’t the same pitcher after the trade as he had been in Philadelphia. Making a 27-year-old pitcher one of the centerpieces of the return for Oswalt wasn’t a smart move by Wade anyway, as the Astros were about to embark on what was sure to be a lengthy rebuild. They needed someone younger whose prime was at least a few years away.
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I don’t blame Wade for grabbing Wallace. He’d risen quickly through the minors and performed well at all levels, hitting for solid average and power. He continued to hit well whenever he would be sent down to Triple-A, but just could never put it together in the majors. Wallace was the definition of a Four-A player.
The Astros evidently got rid of Villar too quickly, but by the time Jeff Luhnow traded him away, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa had entrenched themselves at the middle infield positions. There was no room for Villar to establish himself by that point, and Sneed is in a position to provide future value to the team. He was solid in limited action in 2019.
Regardless of how that turns out, though, the Phillies won this deal. They got Oswalt’s last good years, and even though they didn’t win a championship with him on their team, it can’t be said it was The Wizard’s fault.
The Astros, meanwhile, only lengthened their rebuild by failing to get any kind of future cornerstone in exchange for Oswalt. This is a trade Wade needed to win, and it simply didn’t happen. The team might have been better off keeping him, letting him grab the franchise wins record, and trading him in the offseason.