Looking back at the Xavier Nady Trade

It’s funny how a year can change everything in regards to the perception of a deal. A year ago the Jason Bay trade was widely regarded as a success, while the Xavier Nady trade was widely criticized. In both deals the Pirates added a top prospect, getting Andy LaRoche in the Bay trade, and getting Jose Tabata in the Nady trade. Both moves added additional talent, with Ohlendorf, Morris, McCutchen, Moss, Karstens, and Hansen.

Now a year later the Nady trade looks like a huge success, while the Bay trade is considered a disappointment. That’s no surprise, since opinions on trades generally rely on a “what have you done for me lately” viewpoint. A year later the Nady trade has brought us Ross Ohlendorf, who was the best Pirates’ starting pitcher this season, while Nady and Damaso Marte were both injured the majority of the year in 2009.
As you can see in the trade grades, Ohlendorf for Nady and Marte alone is enough to win this deal for the Pirates. That’s not all the Pirates got though. Daniel McCutchen could be the Pirates’ number five starter next season, after impressing at AAA, and then again in his limited time in the majors in September. Jeff Karstens is a serviceable utility pitcher, able to pitch in several bullpen situations, and make the occasional emergency start.
The biggest piece of the trade was the addition of Jose Tabata. Tabata was struggling with the Yankees last year, hitting for a .248/.319/.310 line in AA, and falling out of favor with the organization after being labeled a head case. Much of the criticism over the deal was over the fact that the Pirates took on a failing prospect, unlike the Jason Bay trade, where they received a prospect who not only had minor league success, but was ready for a shot at the majors.
Tabata came to the Pirates and immediately flipped a switch, hitting .348/.402/.562 in Altoona for the remainder of the 2008 season. In 2009 he hit for a .303/.372/.404 line at AA, and followed that up with a .276/.333/.410 line in AAA at the end of the season. The “head-case” label has also been dismissed as merely a slip up in judgement by a young kid. Tabata was considered a prospect on his way out. Now he’s a prospect on his way up, possibly to the majors as early as June 2010.
I wasn’t quick to call the Jason Bay trade a failure yesterday. At the same time I’m not going to call this trade a massive victory just yet. Yes, Ohlendorf had a great 2009 season. McCutchen showed potential to be in the rotation next year. Tabata has been tearing up the minors since joining the Pirates.
What if things start to go wrong though? What if Ohlendorf doesn’t repeat his performance next year? It wouldn’t be the first time a Pirates’ pitcher has a good season, only to follow it up with a stink fest. What if Tabata fails as a prospect? What if McCutchen doesn’t work out in the rotation?
Part of the reason I don’t care about the 2009 results of the Bay trade is because I never cared about the 2009 season. The Pirates weren’t going to compete in 2009. I knew that even before they traded Bay and Nady. I care about the results when all of our building blocks are in the majors, like Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata. From the looks of things, that will start in June 2010.
It would be hypocritical of me to say the Bay trade could still be a victory for the Pirates while dismissing the fact that the Nady trade could do a 180 after this season. You can’t suggest that Andy LaRoche could improve on his 2009 performance without also acknowledging that Ross Ohlendorf could regress.
The Nady trade looks amazing right now. The Pirates have their potential number three hitter in Tabata, and two main pieces to the rotation with Ohlendorf and McCutchen, along with some depth from Karstens. Let’s not forget that this time last year, the Bay trade was deemed a success, and the Nady trade was deemed a failure. Who’s to say that LaRoche won’t put up a great season next year, Ohlendorf won’t regress, and the trades won’t flip-flop again?
In short, I love that Ross Ohlendorf had success in the majors this year. I love that Daniel McCutchen looked good in his six starts in the majors. I love that Jose Tabata has returned to top prospect status. That said, in order for this trade to be branded a major success, these guys are going to have to put up good performances in years that matter, and 2009 wasn’t one of those years. I guess we can only hope these guys keep up the good work.
Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Positional Breakdowns: Third Base

Next Story »

Winter Ball: Venezuelan Winter League

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    6 hours ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    2 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    3 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    4 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    6 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    7 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles