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
To The New York Yankees
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
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
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
To The Miami Marlins
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)
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.
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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.
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