When it comes to evaluating trades, there are three perspectives. But which perspective is the right one to use? In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to value trades and look at the success of James Click’s trades as the GM of the Astros. We’ll analyze two of Click’s trades in particular – the Michael Papierski for Mauricio Dubon trade and the Wilyer Abreu and Emmanuel Valdez for Christian Valdez trade – to see if they made a difference for the Astros. Read on to find out if Click’s trades were successful and how to evaluate trades in general.
When evaluating trades, one perspective is to look at which trade pieces produce the greatest results. The Astros’ Randy Johnson trade is an example. Johnson was phenomenal for half a season, but the pieces surrendered would have been very important in 2004 and 2005, when the Astros were on the cusp of winning it all. Another perspective is to evaluate trades not by the value of the pieces but by whether the trade helps your team. The Justin Verlander trade was the best ever, while the Carlos Gomez trade was the worst ever.
Let’s look at two of James Click’s trades in particular. The Michael Papierski for Mauricio Dubon trade happened on 6/15/22. Papierski got 103 PAs for the Giants and Reds in 2022, hitting OPS .415 for a -0.6 bWAR. He has six years of team control. Dubon played some infield but mostly center field for the Astros. He had a -0.1 bWAR with a .548 OPS in 216 PAs. He has four years of team control. Papierski would not have played for the Astros and probably had no future as an Astro as the third or fourth-best catcher in the Astros’ minor league system. On the other hand, although Dubon was a huge offensive liability, he filled in with admirable defense in the absence of Jake Meyers. Plus, he provided enough depth to allow for the later trade of Jose Siri. It should be noted that Dubon had his worst career-hitting performance in 2022, so there may be a slight upside in the future over his season last year. Grade: C+. The Astros got their never-to-be-more-than 26th man and gave away to someone else their never-to-be-more-than 26th man.
The Wilyer Abreu and Emmanuel Valdez for Christian Valdez trade happened on 8/1/22. Abreu and Valdez are likely future big-leaguers who the Astros traded for a high-profile rental catcher who ended up underperforming in an insignificant backup role. Christian Valdez was victimized, in my opinion, by the Astros’ inexplicable infatuation with Martin Maldonado. He only got 108 PAs, in limited time his bWAR was -0.1, and he only hit OPS .585. His OPS since 2019 has averaged .734. It’s not hard to imagine that minor league prospect Korey Lee could have contributed as much as Vazquez, and the Astros could have kept two of their more promising minor leaguers. Grade D. It’s hard to grade this trade. Recall that Vazquez did have a key World Series RBI and two in the ALCS. The trade turned out to be unnecessary, but that’s easier to see in hindsight.
So what can we conclude from all this? James Click’s trades as GM of the Astros were not always successful, but they did not have an overall negative effect on the team either. The Justin Verlander trade was the best ever, while the Carlos Gomez trade was the worst ever. When evaluating trades, it is important to consider all three perspectives – evaluating trades by which trade pieces produce the greatest results, evaluating a trade by what would reasonably be expected to be the results at the time of the trade, and evaluating trades by whether the trade helps your team.
We hope this blog post has been helpful in understanding how to evaluate trades and the success of James Click’s trades as the GM of the Astros.