Like Neyer, and unlike the Daves Brockington and Cameron, I’m inclined to think that the Wilson/Snell trade is a good one for the Mariners. (In fairness, neither of them knew initially that the Pirates were picking up a lot of the salary):
- I don’t think the Mariners gave up much. As long as I’m vaguely competitive, I’ll give up 3 low-upside pitching prospects with no history of major league success for one high-upside pitcher with a little major league success any day. I also don’t see Clement as having much value — it’s always important to remember the distinction between “should be playing if your only alternative is Jose Vidro” and “good.” He’s 25, has no position, and his 173 ABs in Tacoma in 2008 are his only strong credential (and in the same year he was carved up by a similar sample of major league pitching.) Basically, aside from that he hits in the minors the way he’d have to hit in the majors to be interesting, and that’s not good enough. Cedeno, as Cameron concedes, is replacement level.
- Cameron says that “Adam Everett is a similar player and signed a 1 year, $1 million deal with the Tigers last winter.” But this is highly misleading. I suppose they’re the same “type” of player in broad terms, but Everett hits nothing. Since 2005 he hasn’t had an OPS+ within 15 points of Wilson’s career average. They’re the same kind of player but Wilson is a lot better.
- Relatedly, Cameron says that “the Mariners could still salvage this by moving Wilson before Friday’s deadline for a younger SS with more long term potential.” I don’t think this will happen, but that gets at the heart of the disagreement: I think Cameron is greatly understating how scarce talent is at shortstop. With one or two exceptions for taste, the class of shortstops who are significantly younger and substantially better than Wilson are among the most valuable properties in the game. If you have one, you’re not going to give him away. Put it this way: the Red Sox, an organization with huge resources and first-rate talent evaluation, haven’t had a shortstop nearly as good as Wilson since 2004. It’s a hard position to fill. If you go scavenging, you might get lucky and get a Jason Bartlett — but it strikes me as much more likely that you’ll get a Ronny Cedeno (or Tony Pena Jr. or whatever.)
- This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Pirates “lost” the trade; positive-sum trades may happen less than they should, bit not every trade has a winner and loser per se. I’m not sure about the Pirates’ “trade everybody whether premium prospects are available in return or not” strategy, but now that they’re this far along there’s not much point in going back. It would be a fine trade for the Pirates if they dumped most of the salary; since they didn’t I’m less sure, but Snell and Wilson aren’t going to be part of the next competitive Pirates team, so they don’t have much to lose. But it’s a good trade for the Mariners if they have any chance of being competitive next year, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t.