Over the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, the Oakland A's traded pitchers Arthur Rhodes and Mark Redman, and cash, to the Pittsburgh Pirates for catcher Jason Kendall and some other cash. Who got the better deal?
Jason Kendall's widely-criticized $60 million contract runs for three more years and calls for the following salaries:
2005 $10 million
2006 $11 million
2007 $13 million
(There's some deferred money in this, but it's deferred with interest, so the present value of Kendall's deal, assuming the interest rate is reasonable, is just about the same.)
Arthur Rhodes is under contract for two more years:
2005 $3.07 million
2006 $3.07 million
As is Mark Redman:
2005 $4.25 million
2006 $4.95 milion.
By the financial terms of the deal that were disclosed, Oakland pays Pittsburgh "approximately" $1 million in each of 2005 and 2006, and gets $5 million in 2007 toward Kendall's salary in 2007.
So the net cost to Oakland (and savings to Pittsburgh) in the deal is:
2005 $3.7 million
2006 $4 million
2007 $8 million
Redman and Rhodes are pretty valuable chips for Pittsburgh to pick up when you think that this is what they save in addition to losing Kendall. If I ask myself what sort of player the Pirates will be able to add as a free agent for a three-year, $16 million deal, in this market, I come up with something between Omar Vizquel and Troy Percival (well, since both of those were not particularly good deals, I should say someone with a perceived value between Vizquel and Percival). That's a pretty good ballplayer, and it swings the balance of this deal over to the Pirates.
Personally, I'm a huge Jason Kendall fan. I think he's a unique and valuable player, who fits the A's approach to perfection. That being said, while I think both teams will benefit from this deal (because of the type of young talent each team has on hand), I think the Pirates will benefit more than the A's. They have added two experienced, useful pitchers, one of whom (Redman) is still young enough to improve if he can recover his terrific form of 2003. Redman is the sort of player, an average guy with the potential to be much better and a slight track record at exceeding expectations, that teams with a smaller budget need to take chances on. Rhodes, for his part, isn't young anymore but has a tremendous track record of success. If he can recapture his form, it will be a huge boost to the Pirates' bullpen.
The A's get one of the game's few star catchers, but one who will be 31 years old next season, and has shouldered a massive load of catching over the past five years, averaging 143 games behind the plate per season. Still, he's young enough to hold his value and good enough to provide a source of runs from a spot where run-producers are hard to find. Kendall seems to be all the way back from the woes that dogged him following his broken leg, but the A's have given up enough to get him that I don't think the Pirates will regret this deal.