Monday, July 27, 2009

Trade Center: MLB

The Deal: The St. Louis Cardinals acquired OF Matt Holliday and cash from the Oakland Athletics for 3B Brett Wallace (AAA), SP Clayton Mortensen (AAA) and OF Shane Peterson (AA).

Athletics: There are three categories primarily used when determining the value of a baseball trade: quantity of prospects, quality of prospects and Major League readiness. To receive a positive return in one or two of the categories usually makes a trade successful for the rebuilding team. The A's return for Matt Holliday got them passing grades in all three categories. Three prospects for a half season rental is a pretty good return. Wallace is by far the best of the three prospects. He is listed as a third baseman, but will be a first baseman/DH in the majors. Though his defense is weak, his bat is his greatest tool. Wallace will hit for a high average, with 30+ home run power. He could very well be Oakland's starting first baseman next season. Mortensen is another quality prospect. He profiles as a middle of the rotation starter, and is a nice addition to the A's impressive pitching depth. He should push for a starting job next season. Peterson doesn't have the prospect pedigree of Wallace or Mortensen, but he has excelled at every level in the minors. At the very least he will be a 4th outfielder, but has shown enough promise and upside to think that he could be an everyday player.

Cardinals: St. Louis needed to add another offensive weapon for their playoff run this season. The Cards are in a tough fight for the N.L. Central (with just about everybody). Acquiring a big bat in the outfield should help set them apart from the Cubs and Brewers. Holliday and Albert Pujols will be a nightmare for opposing pitchers down the stretch. St. Louis did pay a heavy price to add Holliday. Granted Wallace was a blocked prospect, but you probably should have used your best trading chip on something more than a rental. Mortensen and Peterson deplete the Cards depth as well. While I think right now the Cardinals are in the driver's seat for the division, the Cubs and Brewers could make moves to vault them to the top. St. Louis may still need to make another small move for a reliever to really secure themselves the division.

The Winner: The A's won here any way you look at it. They weren't going to resign Matt Holliday in the off season and the Arbitration process is highly risky for small market teams. Getting three quality prospects, including a very talented Wallace is a great return for Oakland's rebuilding effort. The Cardinals grade in this trade can't be determined until after the season. If they go out and win the World Series, then this was a big win for them as well. But if they miss the playoffs or lose in the first round, then I'd have to call this one a loss for St. Louis. Hopefully for the Cards sake they can convince Holliday to sign an extension, otherwise they might regret giving up a talent like Wallace for years to come.

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