ottoneu Trade Recap: Shipping out the Panda

For the greater good, I try not to recap every fantasy trade I make. First of all, most of you probably don’t care about every trade I make. Second, I really like making trades (seriously, tweet @ottoneu and ask about Chad’s trades, Niv will tell you all about it), and so I would end up writing nothing but trade recap posts.

But once in a while, a trade happens that I think is worthy of a recap. And in my first trade in the new ottoneu FanGraphs Staff League, I believe I have made one of those recap-worthy trades: Pablo Sandoval and Hong-Chih Kuo for Matt Thornton and Paul Goldschmidt.

It’s not often that I am excited about a pre-season trade in which I am giving up the best player. And I think it goes without saying that Sandoval is the best player in this deal. You may have high hopes for Goldschmidt (and I do!) but he is an unproven talent at a deep position, while Sandoval is a young star with a track record at a position that is…less deep.

But, my friends, context is everything. Sandoval as a 3B is more valuable than Goldschmidt as a 1B, no question about it. And I believe that is why Steve Slowinski made the trade. He was going to be starting Mark Trumbo, who I project at 567 points, at 3B, assuming that his 3B eligibility came along. His backup 3B was…well…no one. Sandoval I project at 832 points, representing a huge upgrade for his Hartford Whalers. In the meantime, he had Goldschmidt (790 points) and Eric Hosmer (831 points) splitting time at 1B and Util with Carlos Lee (682 points) among others waiting in the wings. So he sees a 265 point jump at 3B, stays steady at 1B (with Hosmer) and loses 108 points at Util. Solid net gain.

On the other hand, Sandoval was not my 3B – he was my Util. I have Ryan Zimmerman locking down 3B, which means I can swap Sandoval for Goldschmidt directly. His 157 point improvement on offense was just a 42 point loss for my offense. But I have Thornton as a 527 point reliever and Kuo at only 266 points, although I think that estimate is very low, as it assumes only 40 IP, and I think Kuo has huge upside beyond that. Plus, the Whalers have a deeper pen, so Kuo becomes a depth/upside option, and Thornton gets replaced by Grant Balfour, who I project at 398 points BEFORE he was named closer. So in this case, my gain does not cause Slowinski a huge loss.

From my end, there were two more benefits. First, I got younger and deeper at 1B, where I have Mark Teixeira backed up by Justin Morneau. Second, I saved a bunch of money – I traded away $25 in salary ($24 for Panda, $1 for Kuo) and took on $14 ($8 for Thornton, $6 for Goldschmidt) while only loaning away $5, netting me $5 of cap space to use later this year.

The Whalers got the best player, a big boost on offense, and a much needed starting 3B; my She’s Just Not that Shin-Soo Choo (named by the illustrious readers of NotGraphs) squad got an improved pen, an injection of youth, and some cap space. And in the process, neither my hitting nor Slowinski’s pitching had to take much of a hit. A classic win-win.

Of course even in a win-win, someone wins more – but I am not going to touch that one. I’ll leave up to you in the comments.

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Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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