Pi Press: Want Budding Stars? Offer to Trade 'em a Free Agent

Categories: MLB

The wise baseball analyst is always looking to enhance long-term value by trading expensive established players for young, inexpensive stars. The Pio Press' Bob Sansevere has ascertained an innovative way for maximizing value in this scenario: trading players your team doesn't have the rights to.

In his latest piece, the writer outlines his ideal trade scenario:


If I'm the Twins' general manager, here's what I do. (And I'd do it under duress because I'd be working for a cheapskate owner.) I get on the horn with Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and say, "You want Johan Santana, right?"

Epstein likely will say, "Right."

Then I say, "Tell you what. I'll trade you Santana and Carlos Silva and Joe Nathan."

This is where Sansevere's genius comes in. Silva is a free agent. But Epstein won't find that out until after he's accepted the trade! "Ha," we'll say! "Thanks for your young stars, sucker!" It's foolproof, the ultimate money for nothing.

See, perception is reality. Like staking a flag into an island when you don't see anyone else there, claiming rights to trade a free agent is the ultimate economic comparative advantage for a team. Is a free agent wearing a uniform? I didn't think so. That's why they call them "free" agents; they're free to be claimed.

Like Galileo, Sansevere has come under some criticism for this insight, but he is merely ahead of his time. Indeed, his main problem was not going far enough. What if this "trade-theRed-Sox-a-free-agent" strategy had been developed while Alex Rodriguez was still on the market? The Twins could have traded the Sox the future Hall of Famer from right out from under the Yankees.

Shortsighted bloggers should take a lesson from this type of forward-thinking analysis. In future years we may refer to Silva as Opposite Day Curt Flood.

The Sansevere Theorem is a stunning step forward in the science of trade equity. It's the baseball equivalent of John Marshall's legal declaration that Indian tribes west of the Mississippi were nevertheless domestic of and dependent upon the United States -- even though they were as yet unknown to settlers. It takes a bold general manager to simply assert that all free agents are assets your team has a right to. Perhaps the next step is to find a way to claim rights to all potential free agents.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. There is still time to make up for missing out on trading A-Rod. After dealing free agent Silva away to the Sox, the Twins should then flip Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett to the Yankees for Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod would fill the Twins' third base hole and Puckett, being dead, would not take up valuable payroll space. This would please owner Carl Pohlad and free us up to pursue another free agent.

Except we never need to pursue free agents again: just trade them. See the beauty of this?


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