Trading for an Ace: the deGrom, Syndergaard, Archer Price Tags
Every team, regardless of their current circumstances, benefits when they acquire an elite starting pitcher under long-term, affordable control. That’s why the price is exorbitantly high and justifiably so. A trade like this is normally made in the offseason, Chris Sale being an example that can still be useful for comparison here.
Every trade deadline we hear rumors about aces dominating at the back end of pennant races that could, or should, be available. In today’s baseball, the speculation primarily involves Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Chris Archer. The Mets and Rays need to rebuild and the fastest way to do that successful is to trade an Ace for top flight prospects.
The question is, what should fans of the buyers expect the price to be and what should fans of the teams selling demand their franchises receive in exchange for selling out their now for a brighter later?
At this deadline we have already seen the Indians include their top prospect, Francisco Mejia, for controllable high-leverage relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, while the Dodgers included toolsy, talented outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz for a rental of Manny Machado.
If we look further back at an offseason deal for comparison because it involved an ace, the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox 2016 offseason trade of Chris Sale is a reasonable, though slightly different example.
Sale was an elite pitcher under a team-friendly, multi-year contract, while the prospects were talented, high ceiling players with future all star potential. That is what the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays are likely to be looking for and it’s probably why they won’t be finalize a trade for their aces at this deadline.
The Chicago White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for second baseman Yoan Moncada who was ranked by BaseballAmerica.com as the top prospect in baseball, starting pitcher Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Basabe, and right handed pitcher Victor Diaz. The return for the White Sox was two blue-chip potential All Stars (Moncada and Kopech), a potential full-time major league outfielder (Basabe) and a respectable arm who could develop into a contributor in a major league bullpen. In exchange, the Red Sox received three full seasons of a perennial Cy Young Candidate (Chris Sale) for $38,000,00 Million with a chance to be a little more if he hits incentive escalators based on how he finishes in future Cy Young voting.
Jacob deGrom is arbitration eligible in 2019 and 2020 before becoming a free agent prior to the 2021 season. Sale was better at the time of the trade than deGrom has been now, but it’s quibbling rather than a substantial difference.
The Red Sox received three years of Sale, while a team trading for deGrom at the July trade deadline would have him for a playoff push this season and two full years after. deGrom’s exact monetary figure is an unknown, but it’s likely to be comparable to what Sale was.
Fans should expect to have to offer two potential All Star prospects, a third that has a chance to be a full-time major league player and possibly a fourth prospect that has limited amateur experience at the lower levels of the minors, but some level of upside potential; a lottery ticket of sorts.
The next question is what teams are in a position to meet these kinds of demands?
The answer is, not everyone, but enough.
The other question: is a contender willing to trade players after this season that they are reluctant to include while they make a push to make the playoffs and win the World Series?
That answer is probably yes. Also, there are non-contenders that are dealing with who to sell at this deadline that could focus more of their attention and their assets in the offseason than they can now. That is another reason why these types of deals typically happen in the offseason and not the deadline.
Justin Verlander was traded at the deadline, but that was more of a cost cutting deal than an investment in the future. C.C. Sabathia and Randy Johnson were both traded at the deadline, but they were going to be free agents after the season. That is the type of trade for an ace that happens every deadline, but those aren’t the circumstances we have with deGrom, Syndergaard and Archer.
It’s unlikely we see these aces in new laundry in 2018 but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen or that it won’t. The Red Sox have a narrow window of success and are in the midst of an epic regular season run that could bring their priorities into extreme focus. The National League pennant races are all a toss up of a dozen teams that are loaded with young, up and coming teams and bright futures. Many of them can still win now with one of these aces without completely emptying their farm systems and selling out their long term chances as well.
The Atlanta Braves are a prime example of a franchise with the minor league prospect assets to pay this type of price without jeopardizing their five or 10 year plan as it is currently constituted. The Milwaukee Brewers are another, as are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have already committed to 2018 by acquiring Manny Machado. These types of trades are rare, but it could happen. The conditions are there to allow it to happen if a team is willing to be bold and aggressive.
You can follow Chris Mitchell on Twitter @CJMitch73 and read his Fantasy Sports Content at RotoExperts.com. You can also listen to his Baseball and Prospect Podcasts “A Podcast To Be Named Later” and “The Prospects Podcast” as a member of Bosco Nation on BlogTalkRadio.com.