Why making trades is going to be tricky this offseason

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Why so many are focused on the players who now call themselves free agents, perhaps more attention might be dedicated to trades.

This is, after all, how Chaim Bloom helped build the Rays. Trades, trades and more trades.

So it is with that in mind a warning should be passed along: As wonky as the free agent market might be due to the economics of baseball, trading in Major League Baseball could be just as unpredictable.

The reason for the potential changed way of doing things? After no minor league season, and the unusual landscape in the majors, identifying the true value of players has become more of an inexact science than ever before.

It is a reality Kansas City Royals Dayton Moore articulated when appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast:

“I would say less just because you just didn’t get a chance to watch your players compete over the course of an entire season,” Moore said when asked if organizations had more or less of a handle on their minor-leaguers after having to rely on the alternate sites. “The outside competition. The toughness is required to get through an a minor-league season and an entire major-league season. We’re certainly hopeful. We feel good about our current evaluations. But they’re incomplete. They just are. They aren’t what we’re accustomed to. I do believe the data and all the technology we have today helps us in that process. It’s probably more important to this process than at any other time in the history of the game, certainly since the onset of the technology. I think it kind of validates judgement and puts us more in a comfort level and allows us to compare it to past measurement and data. But again they’re incomplete. Baseball, as we all know, about commitment and a relentless focus on the day to day competition. The entire season. And we simply did not have that opportunity. We’re better than we would have been if we wouldn’t have played, but in the same sense I think it’s incomplete.

“Not only with your own players there is evaluation of the other 29 organizations. And it goes back to having a very secure feeling in the evaluations of your own players. I think the fact we didn’t have an entire season to do that maybe teams are less willing to move a player just because they just don’t know how this player is going to perform in the future. Nobody wants to get burned. Nobody want to give up on a player. Nobody wants to see a player succeeding with somebody else when they could have had the same type of success with you. And don’t confuse that. When you do a deal you want the player that you trade to do very well for the team that he gets traded to. That is ultimately how you evaluate success in this game from this chair. You traded a player that is helpful to another organization. You looked out for that player. That player received either greater opportunity or a chance to be better than he was and also you received a player or players that helped you as well. You want deals to work out for both organizations.”

Interesting enough, the aforementioned inability to watch players play in the usual setting has forced teams to rely on technology more perhaps than anyone anticipated a year ago, although, once again, the ultimate judgments are still going to be at least somewhat reliant on the human beings.

“I think we’re more secured in making those judgments because of the data, because of the information, because of the communication skills of many of the people who are presenting the information to the player,” Moore explained. “The openness of the player to accept the information and the constructive criticism and the desire to get better. I think it gives you a lot more security as an evaluator and as a decision-maker when you have the type of data that leads you to form an opinion of what a player is ultimately going to be able to do. Now, that being said, the player is the one that is going to have to make the adjustment. The player is the one who has to be open to that. They have to be willing to trust the process and realize they may not reap the rewards immediately but the long-term and the lasting affects are going to be really important to the player and the team.

“I think when Andruw Jones hit 50-plus home runs he committed to a work ethic in the offseason that was different than he had done in the past. He was really spread out in his stance to start the season. Not a lot of load with his front side. More spread out. And inward rotation load, if you will. I want to say the first month he might have hit two home runs. Well, he stuck with the process and he went on to hit 50-plus that year. He could have easily abandoned that. Why did he stick with the process? One, he put in all that work in the offseason. He trusted his coaches. He trusted the work that he had put into it and he wasn’t going to abandon that process even though the results weren’t immediate. He stayed with it and he was rewarded with it. The technology, truthfully, helps communicate and get our point across better because he data is showing certain things and it’s reminding a player to stick with it because they can actually see the data and they can begin to understand it.”

When it comes to that 51-season by Jones in 2005, Moore knows what he speaks. The current KC exec was an integral part of a Braves front office that was led by John Schuerholz, who had one of the best reputations in baseball when it came to which players to trade and which players to trade for.

It’s why listening to Moore when it comes to how teams might want to approach doing deals is a worthwhile exercise.

“I think the most important thing is to have a very strong feeling, a secure feeling with the evaluation of your own players, your own talent,” he said. “What your roster projects in the next 3-4 years. But you have to have a really good sense of the evaluation process of your current players. That really puts you in a position to acquire the talent in a trade. The other thing that I think is really, really important in that is you can’t be so consumed with what you’re giving up. You need to focus on the player that you’re acquiring or potentially acquiring and how this player is going to affect your current 26-man roster and how they’re going to blend in that clubhouse and make your team better. I think often times trades don’t materialize because people are focused on what they’re giving up. Focus on what you’re getting in return and how this particular player is going to help you get you to where you’re ultimately going to be, and that’s to win a world championship.”