The grass is always greener, aka, why every trade is an uncertainty until it’s not

Oakland Athletics v Tampa Bay RaysI’m going to use an example of a trade between two otherwise unknown baseball players to prove a point.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Rays traded away reliever Jake McGee to the Colorado Rockies for an outfielder named Corey Dickerson.

I’d never heard of Dickerson but as a Rays fan living in the Tampa Bay area, I had obviously heard of McGee.  He’s a fire-baller whose money pitch, a four-seam fastball, tops (or at least topped before his elbow surgery) out at 100 mph.  That fastball, while impressive, is about the extent of his repertoire.  Having pitched for the Rays for the last six years, McGee finally saw some meaningful appearances over the last two seasons.  Two years ago, he finished with 19 saves and a 1.89 ERA.  Last year, he started the season on the disabled list thanks to that elbow surgery.  Brad Boxberger assumed the role as the team’s closer.

McGee came back in May of last year to pitch effectively but in more of a set-up role.  He never threw for more than an inning which is par for the course for most set up men and closers these days.  He still put up decent numbers, just not comparable to 2014 when he threw that fastball by almost everyone he faced.

All I know about Corey Dickerson is what I read off a stat sheet.  I’ve never seen him take a single at-bat.  In three seasons in Denver, he was a career .300.  He’s also been injury prone and has yet to play a full season.  The way the Rays platoon their players, it’s likely he won’t in 2016 either.

So here’s the rub.

I was driving around town the other day listening to some local sports radio when news of the trade broke.  The local guys, Tampa fans and clearly sensitive to all the players the Rays have let go over the years, questioned the teams motives in moving McGee.  He was a solid bullpen option, they argued.  While he might not be the closer this team needed, moving a guy that can smoke a radar gun is always a gamble.  The Rays have seen closer after closer leave the team to have success elsewhere simply because the team refused to pony up the money.  Fernando Rodney comes to mind.  They questioned why the Rays would sign another outfielder when they already had plenty.  They also pointed to Dickerson hitting well in Coors Field but having a significantly worse batting average away from home.

Corey DickersonThe glass was half empty.  Clearly this was a losing proposition for the Rays, at least from their perspective.

Then I read an article that suggested the Rays got the better end of the deal and how landing McGee made no sense for Colorado.

Okay, I’m confused.  Which one is it?  Did the Rays get hosed, did the Rockies lose out or was this trade a complete wash?  By no means is this a blockbuster deal.  The main guy in the trade is only making five million a year which is peanuts in today’s MLB.

So who got the better end of this deal?  Who are we to believe?  If you ask Colorado, they’ll say they did.  Their media might disagree.  If you ask the Rays, they’ll tell you that McGee served them well but they’re happy to have their new bat in the lineup.

So where does this leave us?

Only time will tell, my friends, which is why trades like these are a total uncertainty.  Heck, most people scoffed when the Cowboys traded away Herschel Walker for a handful of draft picks.  Those draft picks ended up building a dynasty.

In the end, the Dickerson-McGee trade might just be a blip on the radar, just two organizations going about their business.  McGee might not fully recover from that surgery or he might make that save that gets the Rockies into the playoffs.  Dickerson might be a bust or he could become that clutch hitter the Rays so desperately need.  This could be just another barely, noteworthy transaction that neither side, nor member of the media, thinks benefits the home team.

At least that’s something we can all disagree on.

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13 Replies to “The grass is always greener, aka, why every trade is an uncertainty until it’s not”

  1. Any Rockies OF scares me… although each is also intriguing. The Orioles were looking at Colorado’s OF’s, too… but didn’t have the pieces they wanted to move. But the concern is as you mention, the splits. The Rockies players maul the ball at Coors but struggle elsewhere very often… so it leaves that question… how will they handle the Trop? Steve Pearce, by the way, is a great clubhouse guy and crushes the ball in TB. He could end up a bargain for the Rays.

  2. KP…

    I definitely think there’s some truth that as Rays fans, we get so accustomed to see guys moved once their salaries get to high and it stings.

    For example, McGee was scheduled to make five mil. Dickerson will make one-tenth that.

    It also appears obvious that they’ve settled on their closer, Boxberger, so why pay five mil for a set-up man when they can probably find someone else to do it for not nearly that much.

    Bargain basement prices, man. That’s just how the Rays roll. They’re like that old lady in the checkout line at your supermarket with a handful of coupons to cash in.

  3. Push. The party that got screwed was McGee. The guy was surprisingly effective versus righties and now gets traded to a pitcher hostile ballpark. Dickerson can play any outfield position well. A swap that will soon be forgotten.

  4. Though I am not a Rays fan (or any other team from Tampa) they remind me of my Braves. Every time they get a great player to build their team around they trade him away for several other players with “potential” that never pan out. Then you watch the guys they trade away go on to have great careers and win championships with the other team!

  5. Chris

    You’ve always insisted the Rays have a great deal of insight as to their on-field needs .

    Unfortunately, the front office seems to have very little concern for the fans in providing them with a winning on field product. Coming close is now becoming tedious and boring especially when you consider the Rays now play in front of sparse crowd attendance while you have the idiot 620 WDAE analysts always suggesting the franchise remains in good hands. What planet are those buffoons (media analysts) living on ?

    Will USA Today’s Christine Brennan still have her panties in a twist, while trying to claim Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player in history? Another meltdown loss by Williams in the Aussie Open and still Brennan continues to make excuses. Christine Brennan has no idea what she’s talking about, much less writing about when it comes to the sport and that is a fact .

  6. So the Browns will cut ties with Johnny Manziel? Can we say Tim Tebow , but with the distractions booze and skanks strippers ? Another Heisman Trophy winning quarterback with issues, lack of playing ability and dare one say , being completely immature ? Ah well, that’s the NFL for you ! LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

  7. Most likely, Bets.

    Just out of curiosity, who’s the last pitcher to have an under 2.00 ERA pitching in Colorado?

    No such person.

    According to my rather limited research, it looks like Ubaldo Jimenez had the best season in Rockie’s pitching history in 2010 but I’m not sure anyone’s come close to that number.

    That year Ubaldo finished with a 2.88 ERA.

  8. Dan…

    I was about to say that while he Braves might make poor roster decisions, at least they spend money but these days they’re not even doing that.

    They spent under $100 mil last year. All along I thought they were playing with the big boys.

    Far cry from their more dominant days, huh?

  9. Remember, Al, this is still a relatively new regime the Rays have with some jostling at the top with Friedman leaving and Silverman calling the shots.

    Don’t forget last year was their first under new manager Kevin Cash. They weren’t all that competitive but that might change this year.

    Pitching should be healthier and the bats, well, they can’t be much worse.

    I look for them to contend for the AL East this year. You heard it here first. But then again, I’ve been drinking.

  10. Old regime , new regime and it’s still the same old story with the same old anemic excuses from the fans and media alike. Remind me again why the Rays’ fans can actually provide insight on this organization when they’ve been so use to accepting mediocrity as well as the incompetence of front office under Stuart Sternberg ? The owner in recent years has spent more time bit#hing and whining about a stadium than he has dedicated to improving the team .

  11. Sadly, when Ted Turner lost control, the Braves cut payroll and don’t care to spend money to bring in big time players. It’s about money not winning!

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