While working on Monday's post looking at the status of some of the White Sox's top prospects, I got to thinking about about last winter's trade that sent closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospect Matt Davidson.
When the White Sox pulled the trigger on swapping Reed for Davidson, it made a ton of sense. They maximized the value on a talented — albeit flawed — reliever who is about to get expensive to acquire a prospect with some question marks but also enough potential to warrant placement in most Top 100 Prospect rankings.
Fast-forward to present day and you find Reed doing about what one would expect. His ERA+ is slightly down (97 vs. 110 last season), and he's already allowed more home runs (9) than he did all of last season (6), but his K/BB (4.27) is the best of his career.
Seems like the kind of arm the 2014 White Sox could use in their bullpen, right?
Davidson, on the other hand, has been perplexingly bad this season. While the power is still there (18 HRs in 402 plate appearances after hitting 17 in 500 plate appearances a season ago), his numbers are mostly down across the board. A .201/.282/.394 line isn't going to get you called up to the majors even if Conor Gillaspie weren't have a career year.
If you wanted to make the leap and call Davidson a bust (it's too early to do this, but bear with me), one could make the claim that the White Sox got the raw end of the deal. They gave up a quality bullpen arm, someone who might've helped them win a few more games this season, for the second coming of, say, Mike Olt.
Trades, in the eyes of the fan, are often judged in a pretty clear-cut way. There's a winner and a loser. The winner is the team that got the most production out of the player they acquired. The loser often times got less than expected out of their acquisition. Nowadays, you could even go so far as to add up the WAR of each player from the point of the trade onward and declare the side with the higher total the winner.
If you're looking at Reed vs. Davidson that way, putting it in a vacuum, if you will, the White Sox could very well come away as losers. But here's the thing:
The White Sox made the correct decision in making this trade — no matter what happens.
Yes, it's really that simple.
Circumstances often dictate trades. When the White Sox engaged in trade talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter, both teams were in different places. Or I should say, both teams thought they were in different places, with Arizona chasing the playoffs and the White Sox opting for a rebuild/reshuffle/whatever you want to call it.
The White Sox, in previous regimes, played the role of Arizona in deals such as this. They were delusional enough to think they could be competitive and sacrificed future talent for win-now players. That mentality is one of the main reasons they went 63-99 a year ago.
Hahn having the sensibility to give up a player who could help the team in 2014 for a player that might help the team in 2015, 2016, 2017, etc., is the kind of foresight not seen by this organization in a really long time.
If Davidson proves to be a bust, that sucks. It's impossible to hit with every prospect you acquire. But Hahn's thought process in pulling that string was correct, and that will forever make Reed-for-Davidson the right call, regardless of what the two do for the duration of their respective careers.
(Oh, and for what it's worth, if you're doing a straight WAR comparison of the two, for 2014, Davidson leads Reed 0.0 to -0.2).