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Anatomy of a Bad Trade Proposal: An Imagined Three-Team Cubs, Giants, Marlins Deal Fails the Test

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs Rumors

At the outset here, I have to point out that Joel Sherman is a good baseball writer who regularly presents excellent ideas and breaks significant news.


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I also have to point out that, in concocting trade proposals in this article, Sherman explicitly precedes them with this hedge: “So as the GM Meetings begin in Orlando this week, let’s offer trade scenarios for the Yankees, Mets and Marlins as an exercise to understand needs, goals and possibilities as much as anything else.”

In other words, the trade proposals are at least somewhat about pointing out team needs and how they could meet them, and not entirely about proposing trades that could/should go down.

OK. So, with all that said … my good gravy this is so very bad:

First, I’ll note that, if there’s no money changing hands, that’s actually a perfectly good return for the Marlins on Giancarlo Stanton. So I’ll leave that part alone.


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But focus on the Cubs part of this trade. It’s Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist for Johnny Cueto.

Here’s the anatomy of a bad trade proposal: take a very valuable, cost-controlled, versatile big-league-able power switch-hitting bat, pair him with another versatile switch-hitting veteran (with only $29 million left on his deal), and then trade him for a guy whose contract was perceived as so bad that he wouldn’t even opt out of it when given the chance.

You could *maybe* make the argument that Zobrist for Cueto is a good trade, given the contracts and the relative team needs. But, after his down and injury-filled 2017 season, how much of that Cueto deal (approximately four years and $93 million remaining) would the Giants have to eat for the Cubs to even consider including Ian Happ? $30 million? $40 million?


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Whatever the amount, it’s an amount that renders the Cubs’ perspective on this trade something approaching ridiculous.

Three-team trades are incredibly difficult to pull off, and thus, creating proposals that don’t devolve into nonsense for at least one of the trade partners are similarly difficult. This is usually how it plays out – can’t make it work between two teams, slide in a third team that makes the deal perfectly sensible for the other two teams, but … uh … not so sensible for that third team.


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.