Did the Marlins Mess Up Their Trade for Dee Gordon?
This is always a fun game.
I'm going to present to you two players: Player A and Player B.
Last year, Player A hit .289/.326/.378 with a 4.8% walk rate, weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .312, weighted Runs Created (wRC+) of 101, 64 stolen bases and an fWAR of 3.1.
Player B hit .306/.325/.361 with a 2.1% walk rate, wOBA of .304, wRC+ of 92, 49 stolen bases and an fWAR of 2.0.
Player A is obviously the better player, but it's not by a lot. Player B had a higher batting average but lower totals in the other categories. Player A also had a nERD of 0.49, meaning a lineup full of Player A's would score 0.49 runs a game more than a league average player, while Player B's nERD was 0.21.
Yes, Gordon is a better player than Revere but not by leaps and bounds. Perhaps a better comparison is Gordon to Juan Pierre, who had a career slash line of .295/.343/.361, with a walk rate of 5.6%, wOBA of .315, and a wRC+ of 86.
So it was mildly surprising when the Marlins traded four prospects to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Gordon and starter Dan Haren, especially in light of the fact that Haren has said he would retire if he was traded away from L.A.
In return, the Dodgers got highly-regarded starting pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, as well as outfielder Kiké Hernandez, catcher Austin Barnes and middle reliever Chris Hatcher. However, Heaney did not stay with Los Angeles for long, as the Dodgers then turned around and flipped him for Gordon's replacement at second base, the Angels' Howie Kendrick, in a late-night deal on Wednesday.
Heaney is a 23-year-old left-handed starter who can throw in the mid-90s, with an above average slider and change-up that is a work in progress. He struggled in a cup-of-coffee call-up in September but was Miami's top pitching prospect and was rated as a top-30 prospect by all major publications heading into 2014. Last year, between Double-A and Triple-A, he went 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA, striking out 9.4 batters per 9 innings while walking just 2.5.
Frankly, he's a better prospect than Los Angeles should have gotten for Gordon, proving that the hiring of Andrew Friedman to be the team's director of baseball operations was a pretty savvy move.
Gordon is not a bad player. He plays decent defense at second base, steals a lot of bags, and hits for a decent average. But his defense isn't spectacular, his walk-rate is substandard for a lead-off hitter, and he doesn't get extra base hits.
Miami certainly has a ton of young pitching already in the stables and probably can afford to let Heaney go. But his upside is higher than Gordon's, and when you have a trade chip like Heaney, it's surprising the Marlins didn't wait to use it on a player more productive than Gordon.
It's a head-scratching move for Miami and a brilliant one for the Dodgers, who are simply owning the Winter Meetings. In addition to trading for Kendrick, they are also apparently close to a trade for Jimmy Rollins, and reportedly have agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract with free agent starter Brandon McCarthy.
The Dodgers had a disappointing 2014 season. And it seems for all the world they're determined not to let that happen again in 2015.