The combination of a lackluster free agent class and a lack of available cash have the Mets allegedly focusing on trades to address their needs this offseason. So now seems like a good time to look at the trade record of GM Sandy Alderson. Let’s start off looking at his moves for the Mets and then go back and do a brief overview of his time with the A’s.
According to Baseball-Reference, in nearly two years with the Mets, Alderson has made just seven trades. Here they are in chronological order, with who the Mets gave up listed first:
Michael Antonini for Chin-lung Hu
Eddie Kunz for Allan Dykstra
Francisco Rodriguez and cash for Adrian Rosario and Danny Herrera
Carlos Beltran and cash for Zack Wheeler
Angel Pagan for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres
Omar Quintanilla for future considerations
Pedro Beato for Kelly Shoppach
Obviously getting Wheeler for a two-month rental of Beltran is the one that stands out, although the cash the Mets included in the deal ($4 million) often gets neglected. The Giants gave Wheeler a $3.3 million bonus, so one could view the deal that for two-plus months of Beltran, the Giants allowed the Mets to purchase their 2009 first-round pick at a premium.
The Rodriguez deal was obviously a salary dump but Alderson did a nice job getting two interesting arms, too. Rosario did very well last year in Hi-A before hitting a speed bump in Double-A. Herrera did a fine job in 2011 with the Mets before missing last year with an injured elbow that required Tommy John surgery. According to bWAR, since the deal Rodriguez has amassed 0.7 WAR while Herrera checks in with a 0.4 mark.
On the flip side, the Pagan deal (which I was a fan of when it was made) turned out to be a disaster.
Quintanilla performed quite well on the Mets but was nothing special with the Orioles. He got caught up in a numbers game and on most teams he would have survived but the last thing the 2012 Mets needed was another lefty hitter. Beato had hit a wall in the Mets’ organization and the best thing for everyone was for him to move on. Getting a look at Kelly Shoppach was a nice thing and now the Mets have more information on if it’s in their best interests to bring him along for the 2013 season.
The first two deals of Alderson’s tenure have not had much of an impact one way or the other. Sure, Hu was terrible but he only got 23 PA. Dykstra might end up getting that much PT with the Mets one day, you never know. Regardless, these are ones that shouldn’t elicit much in the way of a response one way or the other. I used to play in a fantasy league where you had to pay a buck to make a trade. If you wanted to dismiss a deal that one of your fellow owners made, you would tell him, “That deal wasn’t worth a dollar.” That sums up these two transactions.
It’s a little harder to evaluate Alderson’s trades as GM with the Athletics. We know that the Rodriguez deal was a salary dump and the Hu transaction was to get a competent backup middle infielder. Unfortunately, that information isn’t so readily apparent, at least not to a Mets fan 15-plus years after the fact.
Alderson was hired sometime in 1983 and left sometime in 1997. He made well over 50 trades in his tenure with the A’s. Like most GMs, the majority of his deals were of the “Billy Mooneyham for Russ McGinnis” type. But there were several blockbuster type deals and I think the nicest thing we can say is that Alderson’s success in these was mixed.
Perhaps the most interesting non-Henderson deal was a three-way trade (which included the Mets) in late 1987 where the A’s traded Alfredo Griffin, Jay Howell, Kevin Tapani and Wally Whitehurst for Bob Welch and Matt Young. You might recall that Welch won the Cy Young Award in 1990 with a 27-win season. Welch was 96-60 with the A’s and it seems like this would be a nice feather in Alderson’s cap.
But Welch was all about run support and in his tenure with the A’s, he had just a 9.3 bWAR, including a 2.7 mark in his Cy Young season of 1990. Tapani meanwhile put up a career 26.6 bWAR, including a 6.6 mark in 1991. The A’s might be happy with what they got in this deal but they clearly gave up the best player.
The biggest success story for Alderson was swapping three guys who never made the majors for Dennis Eckersley and Dan Rohn. Eckersley went on to post 15.3 bWAR for the A’s, won the 1992 AL Cy Young Award and helped revolutionize the closer position. But when he was acquired, Eckersly was a pitcher seemingly on his way out of baseball. Tony LaRussa deserves at least as much credit for this deal as Alderson.
Some other notable deals by Alderson:
Traded Tim Belcher (24.1 bWAR) for Rick Honeycutt (5.0 bWAR)
Traded Dave Leiper and Rob Nelson for Storm Davis (35 wins in ’88-’89)
Traded Rod Beck for a guy who never made the majors
Traded Stan Javier (21.1 bWAR) for Willie Randolph (333 PA, 2.3 bWAR with A’s)
Traded Jose Canseco for Jeff Russell, Ruben Sierra and Bobby Witt
Traded Todd Stottlemyre for Allen Battle, Carl Dale and Jay Witasick
One’s opinion of Alderson hinges greatly on how much credit/blame he gets for the three Rickey Henderson deals. When he re-acquired Henderson in 1989, he gave up Greg Cadaret, Eric Plunk and Luis Polonia. When he dealt him a second time, the A’s received Jose Herrera and Steve Karsay.
No General Manager has a flawless trade record. Alderson rightly receives high marks for the Beltran-Wheeler deal but it’s not like that is just one of many great trades on his resume. It’s my belief that pursuing the trade market is the right avenue for the Mets to pursue this offseason. However, I am less than certain that Alderson will hit a HR on a blockbuster deal.