Preparing for Trade Season with the Leaked Astros Logs

Preparing for Trade Season with the Leaked Astros Logs

In case you missed it yesterday, the Houston Astros suffered something of a security breach, as a bunch of logs from last season's trade deadline were leaked to the internet. Deadspin (who else?) posted them here, and I strongly suggest you read through them. There are some really juicy pieces in there, including a possible deal involving Giancarlo Stanton and another set of conversations involving Jason Castro.

The Astros have denied the authenticity of these reports, but multiple league sources have apparently vouched for them. Assuming they are real, there's a lot to learn from the logs:

The Marlins offered Giancarlo Stanton to the Astros for George Springer and Carlos Correa. Everyone initially freaked out upon hearing that the Astros declined the trade, but I'm not so sure I disagree with the Astros' decision.Stanton is a monster, a generational talent who could park 50+ homers a year in Minute Maid Park, but he's unlikely to sign an extension for what the Astros' could offer him.

And if that's the case, you're only getting 3 years of Stanton during a period where you don't look to be very competitive.I don't see how adding Stanton without also having Springer and (in a year or two) Correa on the roster turns that team into a contender.

The Marlins offered Giancarlo Stanton to the Astros for George Springer and Carlos Correa. Everyone initially freaked out upon hearing that the Astros declined the trade, but I'm not so sure I disagree with the Astros' decision.

Stanton is a monster, a generational talent who could park 50+ homers a year in Minute Maid Park, but he's unlikely to sign an extension for what the Astros' could offer him. And if that's the case, you're only getting 3 years of Stanton during a period where you don't look to be very competitive.

I don't see how adding Stanton without also having Springer and (in a year or two) Correa on the roster turns that team into a contender.

This is something to keep in mind when the Cubs start looking at trading for a big bat or arm this offseason. If the Cubs pursued Stanton, a deal equivalent to the proposed Astros deal looks a lot like Bryant+Baez+a few other good prospects.

If that makes you squirm, it should - it's a very steep price. Even for less-impressive bats, the Cubs will be looking at dealing some very good prospects, and you should always remember the opportunity cost of acquiring a really good, expensive player through trade.

It's really not as simple as "go get Carlos Gonzalez, Theo, I wish to watch him feast on baseballs."

In other respects, though, initiating MLB trade talks does seem easy. As you'll notice if you read the logs, Lunhow makes some hilarious requests in return for Bud Norris. With some teams, though, asking for such a high price did seem to initiate talks about players who were way too valuable for such a deal.

So when you hear things like "Theo/Hoyer request Stroman, Sanchez, and Norris from Blue Jays for Jeff Samardzija", remember that it now appears that that's how a lot of teams talk trade; no one seems to take these too seriously, and nothing could ever be more insane than asking for Lucas Giolito in return for Lucas Harrell.

Also notice the absurdity of requests and the stubbornness of all teams before mid-July or so. Every request from Lunhow is absurd, and he is rebuked constantly. But as July goes on, more names start coming up, more teams get in or get back in the mix, and the party really gets going.

Hell, at one point Marcus Stroman was seriously on the table in a discussion for perennial underachiever Bud Norris.

Remember those rumors that the Cubs and Blue Jays had stopped talking on Samardzija? In light of these emails, that seems like the standard waiting tactic all teams use. I wouldn't count them out at all.

I have to wonder how much the Garza market impacted the Astros' shopping of Bud Norris. The talks for Norris, the clear second option on the market, didn't pick up until Garza had been moved.

If David Price, Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, or any combination of the three is made available this July, I worry about how it affects the Samardzija market. Teams may wait until really late in July before committing to a Samardzija deal in hopes that Price might be moved, or Lester/Masterson gets moved at a much cheaper cost.

The risks of such a waiting period are threefold:

1) injury risk
2) unexpected trades could really throw off the market's valuation of players and cost the Cubs a good deal.
3) teams in talks with the Cubs could fall out of contention, leaving fewer trade partners.

Keep this in mind as trade season goes on: it's easy to get really frustrated with all the deals that seemingly fall apart, but these emails show that there are tons of discussions with a bunch of teams at any given time; plenty are bound to fall through.

Perhaps more importantly (and sorry Tom!), maybe don't get so invested in every rumor you hear. As the leaks show, plenty of these rumors might be born simply of one GM half-jokingly asking the other for some top prospects.

These stupid little text messages between each other might end up being a full day's conversation on Twitter.

That said, I have no intention to heed my own advice from that last bullet. Trade season kicks ass.

@TommyECook

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  • According to the quote I saw, the Astros didn't deny them. They did however say that some had been embellished and/or fabricated. But they have to do damage control somehow. The fact that they've involved the FBI is enough verification of the veracity of the report for me.

  • Disagree with this:

    "a deal equivalent to the proposed Astros deal looks a lot like Bryant + Baez +a few other good prospects."

    On the one hand, yes, Stanton was coming off a bad year. He's having a much better year. Got that. Let's get that argument out of the way.

    However, for starters, this was a whole year ago. That means a whole extra year to control Stanton. The price immediately goes down given there is one less year to control Stanton. At most, those two factors (down year & one less year of control cancel each other out).

    Second, Correa was in low A ball at the time of this proposal. Obviously, as of right now, both Baez and Bryant are in AAA, and arguably would be in the majors if the team was better.

    For some perspective, BA's pre-season top 100 has Correa (A+) as #7, after Baez (#5) and right before Bryant (#8); Springer was (#18).

    Third, hindsight bias. Because Springer is in the majors, there is the tendency to discount the fact that at the time of the trade, he was an unproven prospect. Instead, we see the Springer who is doing it in the majors and project that value and equate it to the value the Astros would have been giving up for Stanton, as if it was a given then that Springer would be doing what he is doing.

    Arguing a true comparable is hard, given that Baez is playing 2+ levels higher than Correa was at the time of the proposal, but their similar prospect rankings. Bryant is at the same level that Springer was, but is ranked 10 spots higher than Springer was, and does have, perhaps, as many questions about his approach.

    Given that information, I'd say Baez + Soler and/or Almora + 1-2 non-top 100 prospects would be a fair equivalent.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    *doesn't have

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    I think Baez+Soler/Almora+1-2 non-top 100 prospects gets you close, but I think you're underplaying both how important it is that Stanton has been healthy and how unprecedented that Correa+Springer+others trade would have been.

    On the first point, everyone was quite worried about Stanton's health. Knee issues are a big deal for a guy his size, and the uncertainty of how Stanton's knee would heal were on everyone's mind. Now, not only have those concerns largely faded away, but Stanton's has improved as a hitter. This isn't just a bounceback, as he's cutting strikeouts, maintaining a high walk rate, and his power hasn't suffered a bit. He's on pace for a no-shit MVP season in most years, and that means his price is going up regardless of how long he's left under control (besides, anyone who acquires him will be extending him, control years aren't as important nowadays).

    On the other side of the deal, you have a former number 1 overall pick who looks like a future monster at the plate and at short, and a kid who was hitting the cover off the ball, and would've been in the majors last season if the Astros hadn't been trying to coerce him into signing a cheap extension. That's a monster package for a guy who, remember, wasn't as valuable as he is now.

    With that in mind, as well as the struggles of all of Baez/Soler/Almora, I don't know how the Marlins justify moving Stanton in a deal that doesn't involve Kris Bryant. Correa is/was every bit the elite prospect Bryant is right now (Remember, rankings take things like proximity to majors into account already), and if you're trading an MVP type you need that sort of elite in return.

  • In reply to Tommy Cook:

    Yeah, I'm not sure most would be so optimistic about a positive prognostication of someone with previous knee injuries. The man just does not have a history of playing a full season. One 150 game season in the majors, and then, majors and minors combined, his high is 129. Nor am I sure what you mean by saying that his strikeouts have been cut back. Over a 162 game season this year, he is on pace for 180 Ks. If that is cutting back, I'd hate to see what he would've projected before this season.

    And as far as the struggles of Baez/Soler/Almora, Baez is having his struggle at the second-highest level, and his season appears to be trending in the right direction. Again, Almora is at the same level as Correa, and the second half of his season seems to be trending in the right direction. Soler only has one struggle: staying on the field.

    If one looks at Stanton in the most optimistic light possible, and at the Cubs prospects with the most pessimistic skepticism possible, sure, I might buy your argument. But I'd have to see Stanton stay healthy all of this year and then repeat it all over again the first half of next season (minus the 90 K's through 81 games).

  • Not participating in the hot stove league, it still looks like the Astros do a better job of tanking than the Cubs, and when one gets into such topics as Astros proposed trades with the Marlins, there doesn't seem to be much point to one "rebuilding team" trading with another. I bet someone can find some e-mail offering to trade Rizzo.

  • No offense, Tommy!
    Great post. I agree we shouldn't hang on these rumors/proposals. I am reporting a lot less these days. I usual try to pass on the ones I think are newsworthy or have substantial legs.

  • I think the trade of Springer and Correa for Stanton is actually pretty fair if you were looking at it prior to the season. It was wise of the Astros to not accept it, but overall it would have been fair. If the Cubs wanted to deal for Stanton: I believe it would cost them prior to the beginning of the season (Bryant, Edwards, and Alcantara) As they were ranked 8, 28, and 100, respectively.

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