I’m almost fully recovered from my once a year virus. I’m certain it was contracted from children during Thanksgiving. I have no proof of this but I remain firmly committed to that opinion until it is falsified.
In any event, I was thinking about this MLBTR post regarding the Royals desire to not trade Zack Greinke within their division. I’ve never been able to understand the logic of that decision and it continues to elude me. As far as I can tell, the only reason to not trade within the division is because you’re afraid you’d lose the trade. But if that’s the premise, should you be making the trade with ANY team?
There’s obviously a couple of different scenarios in which you would look to trade a player. The Royals are looking to extract future value by moving an asset (Greinke) that is valuable now. So let’s say that they trade Greinke to the White Sox for Tyler Flowers. In the short term, the Royals will lose a few more games but that shouldn’t matter because they’re likely acknowledging they can’t win in the short term. In the long term (2-3 years), they gain wins and have removed a key future asset from a competitor. So long as you’re receiving value back from a team that is comparable to your asset (and don’t get caught up on the fact that Flowers isn’t comparable; just trying to flesh out the point) why does it matter what team it comes from?
The opposing point side of that swap would be when the Cardinals moved David Carpenter for Pedro Feliz. The Cardinals attempted to leverage an asset with future value for one that could help within the immediate term. The Astros get a piece that may help them in the long run and the Cardinals filled a gap in the short term. (I’m facetious with this example as well but you get where I’m headed).
Things may be more difficult with swaps of MLB players for other MLB players but that should still be an analytical decision to my mind. Let’s say the Royals have the White Sox as a 90 win team next year and the Royals consider themselves a 92 win team. If they swap Grienke for, say, Alexi Ramirez and prospects and the White Sox also have a comparable replacement for Ramirez in the system, that may catapult them ahead in the standings on paper. That is to say if the gains between the acquisition and what they are replacing (Greinke versus #5 pitcher) are greater than the losses between the moved player and their replacement (Alexi Ramirez and some AAA player) to push the White Sox past the Royals in the division, they would balk.
Presumably they’d be less concerned about pushing some non-divisional foe ahead a few more games. This still seems like a case-by-case decision calculus and yet we often find teams make blanket statements regarding players and intradivision trades.
There’s also a fan element to this. Royals fans would likely be more vociferous against a trade (regardless of the returns) if they are forced to watch a formerly beloved player shut them down on a regular basis. The masses are not inspired by careful quantified risk analysis. They are moved by complete games against their teams.
So, I’m curious, are there other reasons not to do an intra-division trade? Is it just too risky that you might ever be improving your opponent too much to make it worth it when that opponent could prevent your entrance to the playoffs?
What if the Cardinals wanted to trade Colby Rasmus or Adam Wainwright to the Cubs? Or the Reds? Is there a return you could accept that would be palatable? You needn’t be specific. Finally, would you require more from an intra-division foe in return than you would from another team?
I’m curious what your thoughts are on intra-division trades.