The 4 Most Head-Scratching Deals at the Winter Meetings
For every potentially excellent signing or trade, the winter meetings can provide moves that leave fans, media and executives around the game very confused.
While it's easy to see the merit in the Mets inking Bartolo Colon to a two-year deal and the Tigers taking a flier on Joba Chamberlain—as reported by ESPN the Magazine's Buster Olney—other trades, signings and Rule 5 selections have left something to be desired.
No move in December can be properly evaluated until the bats and balls arrive and spring training begins around the sport. Even then, it could take years for some of these deals to merit winners or losers.
Yet in the moment, some head-scratching moves have commenced. As the sport wraps up an exciting and hectic week in Orlando, Florida, here are the moves that been the most puzzling.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Diamondbacks Trade Tyler Skaggs and Adam Eaton for Mark Trumbo
In a vacuum, this move makes sense for the Arizona Diamondbacks. By subtracting from a surplus of young, controllable starting pitching and pair of solid center fielders, the team added power and created a run-producing lineup combo by pairing Paul Goldschmidt with Mark Trumbo.
However, offseason moves can't be viewed in a vacuum.
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers spent resources and trade chips to acquire a less talented version of the player he gave away last offseason.
Over the last three years, Fan Graphs indicates that Trumbo has posted a 112 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus), struck out 24.9 percent of the time and been a negative defensive player—especially in the outfield, his new permanent position in Arizona.
Over that same span, former Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton has posted a 126 wRC+, struck out 21 percent of the time and profiled as almost an equally poor defensive player.
You always would like to see better, but I like the idea of potentially 100-plus RBIs and 30 homers to go with Goldy. It's hard to find the guys that hit 30 to 40 home runs with high on-base as well, but we're excited about the player.
Since 2011, Upton has been the type of player that Towers so desperately wanted to pair with the rising Goldschmidt. If he had held on to his former star, the team could have packaged Tyler Skaggs and Adam Eaton for a starting pitching upgrade—perhaps even as part of a deal for Rays lefty David Price.
Athletics Trade Brett Anderson to Colorado Rockies
Full disclosure: It's hard to criticize any Billy Beane swap. Even if the deal makes little sense on the surface, the Athletics' constant tightrope with revenue, payroll and resources makes every move in Oakland complex.
In the aftermath of signing Scott Kazmir and trading for Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and Craig Gentry, swapping Brett Anderson for a pair of unproven prospects contradicts the notion that Oakland is attempting to win a championship in 2014.
Prior to the winter meetings, Beane and the A's looked to be motoring toward a goal of winning in October and reaching the World Series.
If they weren't, paying $10 million for a closer like Johnson, signing a free-agent starter like Kazmir to a contract in excess of $20 million and swapping prospect Michael Choice for Gentry all would be foolish for the small-market Athletics.
In Anderson, Oakland had a legitimate trade chip. Despite injuries curtailing his development, the 25-year-old lefty profiles as a very effective pitcher in his next stop. Through 450.2 career innings, Anderson sports the look (2.98 SO/BB, 54.9 GB percentage) of a future star, along with a 3.81 ERA to date.
With major starting pitching concerns surrounding the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, Beane could have cashed in Anderson for another piece to help in 2014.
In Drew Pomeranz and prospect Chris Jensen, the team upgraded its future.
It may turn out to be a smart long-term move, but the Athletics, are built for the present for the first time in a long time.
Phillies Sign Roberto Hernandez
After an 89-loss season, the Philadelphia Phillies need help in almost every area. Their starting rotation, once a strength, is now in flux after Roy Halladay's official retirement, and CBSSports.com's Dayn Perry report that there are trade rumors circling around aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
In a move designed to add some depth and volume to Ryne Sandberg's pitching options, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reveals that the Phillies inked former Indians and Rays starter Roberto Hernandez to a free-agent deal.
The artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona pitched to a 4.89 ERA (78 ERA+) for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. Since a dominant 2007 that netted him a fourth-place finish in the American League Cy Young voting, Hernandez has been a well-below-average pitcher.
Of course, this move by Ruben Amaro Jr. is just one of many head-scratching moves over the years by the Phillies executive. Perhaps he was swayed by the six games Hernandez won last year as a member of the Rays' staff.
For a team that needs serious upgrades, allocating funds to one of the worst pitchers in all of baseball is inexcusable.
Rangers Select Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson in Rule 5 Draft
The annual Rule 5 draft, allowing teams to poach unprotected members off 40-man rosters around baseball, is usually a headline-free event.
By selecting NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, the Texas Rangers changed that narrative.
Wilson, the former Colorado Rockies draft pick and current Seattle Seahawks star, was selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft by the Rangers. According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, general manager Jon Daniels told Wilson he has an open invitation to spring training.
We want to be respectful of where he's at right now. I got a chance to talk to him, and he was excited. We wanted to welcome him to the organization and told him, "Don't be insulted if you don't hear from us again until you're done playing because we don't want to get in the way of what you've got going on."
Even if Wilson had some thoughts about playing two sports, this pick is a waste of Texas' time and effort in the Rule 5 process.
Although many fans treat the selections with disdain, stars have emerged from the yearly event. Roberto Clemente, Jose Bautista, Johan Santana, Shane Victorino, R.A. Dickey and Jayson Werth were all former Rule 5 picks.
By selecting Wilson, who is poised to play in the NFL for a long time, the Rangers threw away a chance—albeit small—to find a true diamond in the rough.