Four Years Later: The Nathan Eovaldi Trade, Revisited

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Pitcher Nathan Eovaldi #24 of the Miami Marlins throws against the Atanta Braves during the second inning at Marlins Park on September 6, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Pitcher Nathan Eovaldi #24 of the Miami Marlins throws against the Atanta Braves during the second inning at Marlins Park on September 6, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) /
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On December 19th, 2014, the Miami Marlins traded Nathan Eovaldi, Domingo German, and Garrett Jones to the New York Yankees for David Phelps, Martin Prado, and cash.

It’s a well documented fact that trades are better analyzed with a few years between. On an informal poll of Miami Marlins fans on Twitter, 60 percent voted that a trade needs three or more years to be long enough after-the-fact to make a fair determination on the all-important question: “Was that a good trade?”

Exactly one presidential term has passed since the Marlins traded Eovaldi, German, and Jones away for Phelps and Prado (and $6 million cash). This was a trade made under the auspices of former Marlins General Manager Dan Jennings. First, the first order effects. Estimates of dollar value per WAR is predicated on Matt Swartz’ Recent History of Free-Agent Pricing, it that’s tl;dr then:

2015: 1.0 WAR = $8.7 million
2016: 1.0 WAR = $9.6 million
2017: 1.0 WAR = $10.5 million
2018: 1.0 WAR = $11.1 million

Miami Marlins
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 26: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox delivers the pitch during the thirteenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

To The New York Yankees

Nathan Eovaldi

After Eovaldi posted a 13-27 record and a 4.10 ERA for the Miami Marlins over parts of three seasons, he turned around and went 23-11 for the New York Yankees. What’s frequently missed is that his ERA went up to 4.45, his WHIP stayed essentially the same, and his strikeout rate improved only slightly (from 6.44 to 7.03 per nine innings, per the Baseball Cube). He was summarily released by the Yankees following 2016.

After missing a year to clear “foreign bodies” out of his elbow, Eovaldi emerged as a solid starter for the Tampa Bay Rays, and after a trade, the Boston Red Sox. He has since signed a four-year, $68 million deal to remain with Boston.

Eovaldi’s net gain for Yankees: 3.8 WAR
Eovaldi’s cost to the Yankees: $8.9 million
$WAR Value (per the table above): $34.23 million
Net Value: $25.33 million
Second Order Effects: None

Miami Marlins
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 20: Domingo German #65 of the New York Yankees pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Yankee Stadium on July 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Domingo German

German only exceeded his rookie limits in 2018. In exactly 100 innings for the Yankees, he’s struck out 120 batters and held opponents to a 1.340 WHIP, with an 84 ERA+. Although he’s been marked for a 5.22 ERA, his FIP is nearly a run lower, at 4.25. This suggests that he’s a lot better than a 5 ERA pitcher.

German’s net gain for Yankees: 0.1 WAR (and maybe more)
German’s cost to the Yankees: $545,000
$WAR Value (per the table above): $1.11 million
Net Value: $565,000
Second Order Effects: N/A

Miami Marlins
MILWAUKEE, WI – SEPTEMBER 09: Garrett Jones #46 of the Miami Marlins flips the ball to first base to retire Lyle Overbay of the Milwaukee Brewers during the bottom of the sixth inning at Miller Park on September 09, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /

Garrett Jones

After joining the Yankees, Garrett Jones appeared in 57 more major league games, and hit .215/.257/.361 with eight walks and 37 whiffs in 152 plate appearances. He posted a 67 OPS+ and was worth 0.7 Wins Below Replacement level. After hitting .258 for the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB in 2016, he hasn’t appeared in organized baseball.

Jones’ net gain for Yankees: -0.7 WAR
Jones’ cost to the Yankees: $5 million
$WAR Value (per the above table): -$6.09 million
Net Value: -$11.09 million
Second Order Effects: None

Miami Marlins
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 3: David Phelps #35 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Washington Nationals in the seventh inning of the opening day game at Nationals Park on April 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) /

To The Miami Marlins

David Phelps

David Phelps pitched for the Miami Marlins for two and a half seasons, and was 13-18 with a 3.53 FIP and a 1.278 WHIP. He also struck out 242 in 245 2/3 innings, good enough for eighth on Miami’s all-time strikeout-rate leaderboard.

Phelps’ net gain for Marlins: 3.0 WAR
Phelps’ cost to the Marlins: $8.5 million
$WAR Value (per the table above): $26.145 million
Net Value: $17.645 million
Second Order Effects: Pablo Lopez 0.4 WAR ($4.44 million)

Miami Marlins
Miami Marlins /

Martin Prado

Martin Prado’s time with the Miami Marlins has been stained by injury, but when healthy, he’s an above average hitter. Despite being limited to just 91 games over the last two seasons, Prado has a year left on his deal. In 373 Miami Marlins games, he’s slashed .285/.334/.388, with 20 homers and 168 RBI.

Prado’s net gain for Marlins: 7.7 WAR
Prado’s cost to the Marlins: $47 million
$WAR Value (per the table above): $70.53 million
Net Value: $23.53 million
Second Order Effects: N/A

The Simple Solution

Before accounting for second order effects, this deal is clearly a win for the Miami Marlins. 10.7 WAR and $41.175 million net value (and counting) gained versus just 3.2 WAR and $14.805 million net value (and counting) for the Yankees. As you probably know, however, that’s only part of the story.

Second Order Effects

Of course, David Phelps, who we have to consider for this purpose an “asset,” was later flipped by the Miami Marlins to the Seattle Mariners for four players. Phelps is now a free agent, after 11 strikeouts and 41 batters faced for the Mariners.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 07: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins looks back at first base in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park on August 7, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

More from Marlins News

The Miami Marlins got Brayan Hernandez, Brandon Miller, Lukas Schiraldi, and Pablo Lopez. Hernandez is still in low-A ball, Miller is in middle-A, and Schiraldi is at double-A. Consider the jury still out on these three.

Pablo Lopez, meanwhile, is looking like a possible Opening Day rotation starter for the Marlins. In 10 starts for Miami, he was 2-4 with a 4.14 ERA and a solid 1.261 WHIP. Still just 22-years-old, he shows a lot of the intangibles that major leaguers talk about. His 0.4 WAR from 2018 is worth $4.4 million, per the above table. Offset against his salary, which when pro-rated to account for his time in the minors, is well below the major-league minimum of $545,000. His net, in a small sample size is >$3.855 million.

The Miami Marlins Bottom Line

The final tally for this trade, at least at this time, has the needle firmly pointing at the Miami Marlins. The complex answer, is that the Marlins have gained 11.1 WAR, a surplus value of $51.575 million, (including the $6 million in cash), plus the future returns on Prado, Lopez, Hernandez, Miller, and Schiraldi. The Yankees have gained 3.2 WAR, a surplus value of $14.805 million, plus German’s future returns. I think for this trade to break even for the Yankees, German needs to turn into Mariano Rivera. We’ll have to check back in four more years to weigh the third-order effects. In the meantime, we can say that this trade is a Marlins win.

Next. Are the Marlins Expecting Too Much?. dark

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