Some things to think about concerning the RAD trade bustle.
Thing one: the argument that RAD has terrible career numbers in the AL will mean a bust for the Jays if the trade happens.
Yes, RAD does have poopy AL numbers. BUT he wasn’t a knuckle baller then, so it’s an apples to knuckleballs comparison. Furthermore, his last 3 years have been very good: 616 innings pitched, 2.95 ERA.
Thing 2: He’s old.
And that should be a factor to anyone gauging this trade. Some might say that he’s a Knuckleballer so age doesn’t matter, but that’s not true at all. Wakefield and other Knuckleball throwers didn’t throw as hard as RAD (we’re talking a 60mph Wakefield ball to an 80 mph RAD ball). Even RAD said himself that he could not pitch every 4th day if asked too—something that the other lob style knuckleball throwers could. The knuckleball does not erase the potential risk associated with players in RAD age bracket.
Thing 3: Gose, D’arnaud, and other prospects are more valuable long term than RAD short term.
Maybe. Prospects are often over valued because they are projected against known big league commodities without actually having played in the big leagues. Fans tend to hear these comparisons and assume that a great future talent is on the way, or about to be dealt away. Very few prospects play up to their projected potential. Those that do usually don’t hit their stride until they hit arbitration, erasing most of the real cost savings.
Furthermore, Value is a contextual thing. Trading Gose is a logical move in a RAD deal because Gose’s play time would be limited thanks to the signing of Melky Cabrera and Raji Davis. He would see limited impact opportunity. D’arnaud would be more significant loss because of his position and potential bat IF he plays up to his projections. Remember, Travis Snider was an outstanding minor league talent that never quite found his swing in the bigs. D’arnaud at least has a bulk play time opportunity if he makes it to the top and his bat plays. So, if he is what he’s supposed to be, it would sting to lose him. IF.
Other names in the trade mix, such as JPA, Rasmus, Syndergaard… only two of them are known big league talents. JPA has become vastly over hyped thanks his brief pocket of power last year, his age, and the shortage of available, controllable catching in the game at the moment (For goodness sakes, how else could Eli Whitesides be such a hot commodity?). It’s not that JPA is not a good player, it’s just that he’s not yet a great one, and he’s getting billed like he is. Rasmus has been tepid and streaky. He’s talented, but not irreplaceable. And Syndergaard hasn’t pitched a single inning above A ball.
Now consider that winning or getting to the playoffs would validate the trade of any-or all-of these names, both financially and from a franchise building standpoint, and you can better put value into perspective. Get into the playoffs and your brand expands, the payroll expands, the potential for free agents expands.
The 12 player trade, while probably not AA’s intent, may have been his masterstroke as it’s put the Jays back into household conversations. They’ve been the forgotten team in the AL for to long, even with Bautista hitting homers left, right, and center. Now the world’s eyes are on them, and if they do something big while everyone is watching, it could mark a new era.
RAD, while not without risk, could very well help the Jays get closer to 93+ wins they’ll need to take the AL East, and at a reasonable cost. His WAR (and I know not everyone loves this stat but…) last year was over 5. JPA, Gose, D’arnuad, Rasmus combined yield is just over 3. Subtracting Gose, who would no likely play every day anyway, and it’s 2.
Adding Dickey, who should eat 200 innings and project a 2.90 ERA to the rotation, Makes a lot of value sense for the short term push, and represents an ALL-IN stance by the Jays—something fans have wanted for a while.
From a contextual standpoint, the AL hasn’t been this weak in a long time. The Yankees are struggling to find replacements in a limited market, under a limited payroll. I like to joke that it could be “old timers day” at Yankee stadium every day next year. The Orioles still haven’t added enough hitting to their roster to balance out their winning despite the same factors that lead to a negative run differential last year (meaning, it will be very hard for them to repeat what they did last year in the 2013 season since they can’t rely on your bullpen to be perfect every season). The Red Sox are spending money, but most of that money is overspending on second tier talent. The only real move-ahead threat is the Rays, who are flush with great pitching, but lack serious offensive production threats—though they still have the prospects to fix that. The pitching the Jays are assembling (and they already have a great hitting lineup) could be the equalizer.
If RAD’s Knuckler and age hold for the next 2 years, and the Jays play up to the potential they have on paper right now, this team should justify the money and trades spent. But, as it is with anything in this game: once the ball leaves your hand, the rest is out of your control… even if it is a the knuckleball of a CY Young Winner.