The list below is a tally of all of the trades made by Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. The ultimate goal of any trade is to improve the team at the Major League level. Therefore, I decided to focus on the wins above replacement (WAR) stats for all players exchanged in the deal. To read about WAR, check out this series of articles at FanGraphs.
As for the trades, the rules for each player:
1. WAR totals are taken only in the time after the player joins his new team. WAR values held prior to the trade on the player’s former team aren’t counted.
2. WAR totals are only counted while a player is under original team control. For example, Eric Hinske’s WAR will be counted for the 2009 season, as he is eligible for free agency after the season. The WAR values will only be calculated through that time, even if Hinske re-signs with the Yankees. Same goes for all players.
3. The cut-off in WAR calculation is free agency or retirement. If a player is traded to another team while still under control (like Adam LaRoche from Boston to Atlanta), that player still gets his WAR values tallied, as the point of this is to compare the return the Pirates got with the player(s) they traded.
I’ll add this big fat disclaimer: while the title of this is “Neil Huntington Trade Grades”, I’m not saying this serves as a final grade for any trade (good or bad). There are way too many factors to consider. For example, all of these trades assume that the teams involved had a replacement level player in their system. When we say that Denny Bautista had a -0.3 WAR in 2008, we assume that the Pirates had a replacement level reliever that Bautista was holding back.
Then there’s also situations like the Nate McLouth trade. The Pirates have little need for McLouth after the deal, with Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Lastings Milledge in the outfield. Meanwhile, Atlanta has little need for Charlie Morton in their rotation, with Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson, and Kenshin Kawakami. This would be a case where each team improved in an area, without losing much production from the major league level.
Bottom line, it’s just something to chew on, possibly serving as a portion of the analysis on a given trade, but it definitely shouldn’t be used as THE analysis on a given trade.