What the Andrew Bailey Trade Means for Joakim Soria’s Value

Yesterday, the Oakland A’s shipped their All-Star caliber, yet injury prone, closer Andrew Bailey (as well as underachieving outfielder Ryan Sweeney) to the Boston Red Sox for… well… not that spectacular of a return, which is not-so-good news for the Royals. The Red Sox in return sent OF Josh Reddick and two minor leaguers- 3B/1B Miles Head and RHP Raul Alcantara.

Let’s look at what the A’s got, shall we?

Josh Reddick OF – Reddick is a 24 year-old, once-hyped, then cooled-off, then heated-back-up-again prospect in the Red Sox system. He apparently was the key to this trade, as the A’s were ready to deal Bailey to the Rangers (a division foe, mind you) until Boston decided to include him in the deal. Reddick is capable of playing CF, but his tool-set is more of that of a corner OF. In 87 games at the big league level last season, he hit .280/.327/.457 with 7 HR and 28 RBI. I would compare Josh Reddick to another Josh: Josh Willingham. Is he a star? No. But is he a solid, capable player? Yes. So far, at least. He showed up in Boston this past season and handled his business and has given no reason to believe he couldn’t do it again.
Miles Head is a short, stocky 3B/1B, who projects to be a poor(er) man’s Billy Butler. Last season he split time between both of the Red Sox Single-A affiliates, racking up a .299 AVG with 22 HR and 82 RBI. He’s probably a C-level prospect in most scout’s eyes and is more than likely just a name drawn from a hat.
Raul Alcantara could be interesting, being he is only 19 years old and still in Single-A ball. He made 13 starts with a 2.20 ERA, had a K:BB ratio of nearly 4:1, and held opponents to a .208 AVG.

And what did the A’s give up?
A young, controlled All-Star closer and an underachieving OF, in a sense that he could/should be better than his numbers show (which Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, AND Jeff Francouer all were before last season). Bailey will be thrust into closing in Boston after the departure of Papelbon and the possible relocation of Daniel Bard to the rotation. He should do as well as expected, assuming he resumes his pre-injury form. Sweeney may benefit from a change of scenery, just how all of our outfielders did. He’ll be given a shot to play RF in Boston, and should have a good chance to win the job. (Given – his competition includes Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, and according to Ben Cherington… Mike Aviles. Did I just type that?)

So what we saw from this trade is that the value of closers on the trade market is in a valley right now. Will it hit a peak again? We’ll see. Teams are more and more leaning toward the notion that they don’t necessarily need one pitcher to close out every single ballgame within reach. Look at what the Royals had last year. Holland, Crow, Coleman, Wood, and even Collins were all capable of closing the door in the 9th. Now throw Broxton in the mix, and we almost don’t need to have a shut-down closer anymore. So you would think that dealing Soria now could only help the club since we have a number of guys who could step in. But, then again, Soria is coming off the worst season of his career. It was so bad that he was even replaced by Aaron Crow for a short time (although Crow never saw an inning as the closer). Selling Soria now would be a classic case of selling low, wherein which the return would be low. That’s what the A’s did with Andrew Bailey. He was out last season and wasn’t given a chance to rebuild value. But the A’s are in a different place right now than Kansas City is. They are where we were a few years ago; where they’re selling off their biggest and best players (i.e. Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Bailey) for prospect after prospect, after prospect.

Now clearly is not the time to deal Soria, simply because we are not going to get what we want and need (a.k.a. – a top of the rotation pitcher). Maybe we should take a look at what the Rangers have done with Alexi Ogando and what they’re currently doing with Neftali Feliz and instead of dealing Soria for a starter, convert him into one. Afterall, he has thrown a no-hitter in the minors. I know I’m not the first Royals Believer to suggest the move, but look at the upside: he becomes a valuable, durable piece of this team and the rotation for the next handful of years.  He could be exactly what we’ve been looking for, and now we’re actually in the position where the team can afford to take the risk. The downside: he assumes his orignal role as the team’s closer and we probably trade him for an underwhelming package of prospects.

Do I think GMDM will actually ever convert Joakim “the Dream” into a starter? Most likely not. Soria’s been opposed to it ever since it was brought up two years ago and I’m sure he hasn’t changed his mind about it since. But it’s defintely worth a long, long look.

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10 comments

    • royalblueskc

      I agree. But look at what Boston just did in acquiring Bailey and Melancon, and even Bobby Jenks last year. They afforded themselves the opportunity to give Bard a shot at cracking the rotation. They’ve got proven commodities in the bulpen and a shaky, at best, rotation. I think this is a risk worth taking for both teams. To me, a stable starter, if not spectacular, is worth more than a closer not named Mariano Rivera.

  1. The Chadillac

    Moving Soria to the rotation, would be a terrible idea. His stuff is not overpowering, he’s a crafty closer. Subjecting him to an entire lineup 30 times, rather than 3-6 batters 40-50 times, makes no sense. Crow made the move to the bullpen, to get on the roster. His effectiveness will drop as a starter, but will be a solid contributor.

    My question is this, who’s a buy-low candidate for the rotation? Joba Chamberlain. Reuniting him with Gordon, close to home, without the pressure of NY, could make for a great story…he’s coming of Tommy John Surgery, would provide another spark for the fanbase, and would probably be attainable for a big leaguer and a mid-level prospect. The only problem…their rotation is incomplete as well. They actually resigned Freddy Garcia…ugh.

    • royalblueskc

      I don’t think moving Soria to the rotation is the greatest of ideas either. I just believe that, with the current state of the KC bullpen, we are in a position to find out what he has. Kansas City has been struggling to find that one solid, consistent day after day pitcher to head the rotation, and this has opportunity written all over it.

      As far as Joba goes, I’d take a flyer on him, but wouldn’t give up anything substantial in return. So far he’s a busted reliever coming off Tommy John. At this rate, the Yanks might just give him away. As far as him being a starter goes though, especially coming back from TJ surgery, I just don’t see it.

  2. jtuck

    I wouldn’t say that the trade market for closers is necessarily in a valley at the present time. I think “closers” are relatively easy to come by, as proven by the Royals bullpen this last year. But “ace” closers, like Soria and Papelbon and Rivera are different. It’s the difference between David DeJesus and Alex Gordon in LF. One is good, but the other is just better quality. The value of a true closer is EXTREMELY important to playoff caliber teams, which is why you see the Phillies throwing giant amounts of money at Papelbon. Let’s sum it up this way…Anyone can throw a bullpen pitcher out there to close a game out. Their value isn’t as great, because there’s always another bullpen pitcher to use. However, a lock-down closer like Papelbon, Soria, Rivera, etc…is way more valuable to a team because of their ability.

    • royalblueskc

      I definitely believe that a lock-down closer is extremely valuable to playoff caliber teams. I mean look at what Rivera has done for the Yanks and Wilson for the Giants. Both elite. But are the Royals playoff caliber this coming year? In this division anything is possible, especially considering the state of the Twins and White Sox… but I don’t think we’re quite ready to make a post-season run yet. So we could have a season to potentially workout the whole closer situation by developing one of Holland/Crow/Herrera/Coleman, all the while plugging Broxton in as the de facto closer. In turn, Soria would be placed into the rotation. It really only takes one season, if that, to develop a solid to lights-out closer (i.e. Venters-ATL, League-SEA, Santos-CWS, Motte-STL). In the end, having a reliable starter pitch around 200 innings a year is more valuable than a closer pitching between 60-70 innings (at least for 2012). Given, if this were to ever happen, Soria would have to have started the transition by now which clearly has not happened.

  3. The Chadillac

    Having a good starter helps every 5 days and impacts about 33 games per season. Having a lock-down closer, with a good 8th inning guy, shortens the workload for the young staff and effects every game within reach.

    I know where I’ll put my money.

    ..and yes, they Royals are playoff caliber. Very similar to the Rays of ’08.

    Now…if we’ll just start a fight in spring training…we’ll be on to something.

  4. Dont Hassle the Hos

    Hey our year is 2012!!! I believe as long as we have atleast 2 solid starters and a decent bullpen with a solid closer, we should be in business. OUr offense proved they could score some runs last year. Lets hope the Royals jumped on the steroid band wagon so they will be hitting bombs and running faster. would love to see billy butler run faster than a 5 year old on crtuches!!!

    GO ROYALS

  5. Dont Hassle the Hos

    Jtuck- soria was a quality clsoer and solid closer about a year or two ago. Last year proved he isn’t in the same league as rivera or paplebon

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