The Oliver Perez Signing in Light of the Kennedy Trade

Al Bello

I was away from my computer most of the weekend and I came back to read the Oliver Perez thread.

Man, am I disappointed in reading a lot of those comments.

Already, people are calling the Kennedy trade an absolute "failure" if we end up releasing Thatcher. But is that actually the case? Obviously, time can change a lot of these things. But first, let's look at what we got for Kennedy.

As pretty much every single poster, ever, on this site has informed me is that we received Thatcher for Kennedy. Got it, a LOOGY. Some of the more-informed posted will also bring up the fact that we received Matt Stites, a reliever with some good upside.

And now, let me present to you in an AZ Snakepit exclusive, we also received a competitive balance pick between the second and third rounds! Apparently, this fact has been lost by all the KT-haters, probably because it's easier to irrationally bash on KT instead of working on your long-term memory. Last year, competitive balance round B were the 69-73 picks of the 2013 draft.

"But Moranall, this isn't a first round draft pick so the pick isn't valuable!" False. First, and probably most importantly, it's another lottery ticket for us. Second, we get more draft money, which is a big gain for the draft (Dave Cameron estimates that draft dollars are worth about 2.5-3X in actual dollars). And of course, this pick obviously has some potential value. Over history, players in this range of draft average roughly 3 fWAR. That is obviously not great. But if we assume that exactly half of these players never make the majors, MLB'ers from this range average roughly 6 fWAR, which is certainly valuable to a team.

And... will Ian Kennedy ever get to 3 WAR again, let alone 6 WAR? It's time to pull a Jim (bWAR time!): last season, Kennedy put up -1.5 bWAR with us and a whopping 0.0 bWAR with SD. Kennedy's FIP didn't change when he switched teams; his BABIP dropped below league average (from league average) and his HR/FB% spiked. Normalizing for both of those are you're still starting at a mid-4 ERA, replacement level pitcher. Are we really going to keep bitching that this was a lost trade?

To summarize, the Diamondbacks traded away a replacement level and received a LOOGY (an exceptionally unvaluable part of the bullpen), a high-upside reliever, and a ~70th position draft pick and it's associated dollars. Not only is there a decent probability that our return exceeds the value (by WAR) of Kennedy going forward, we're also probably going to pay less for our players (Kennedy was $4.6 million last year, $6.1 million this year, and still one year of arbitration left for even more money) unless our draft pick turns into a success, at which part this trade is even more of a success.

Essentially, anyone that is banking on this trade as a "loss" for us, even if we release the oh-so-valuable LOOGY in Thatcher, is making the bold assumption that Kennedy is going to turn back into a good pitcher. It's certainly possible, but it's looking less likely by this point. And for a team in contention like we were, it wasn't worth keeping him around to hopefully find it.

I haven't even gotten to Oliver Perez yet.

Thatcher has 80 IP over the past three seasons; Perez had 53 IP just last year. We've upgraded from essentially left-handed only guy to someone that can pitch full innings. That in itself is a huge win for our bullpen. Thatcher was set to make $2.375 million with us this year while Perez will be $1.75 million this year and $2.5 million next year (Perez's salary + Thatcher buyout of $700k = $2.4 million). So, we're getting more innings from a guy who can pitch more reliable to both RH and LH batters, for almost the same exact price.

Signing Oliver Perez does not make the Ian Kennedy trade bad. It makes us a better team than we were before. I think I've made my point pretty clearly.