December 18, 2012
An Almost Defense of Kevin Towers
When the Diamondbacks traded right-hander Trevor Bauer and change in a three-way trade with the Reds and Indians for Didi Gregorius and other change last week, it raised an interesting question: Dude, seriously?
Bauer, taken with the third pick overall in 2011, was being swapped for an athletic shortstop who, according to BP's Mark Anderson, “may be able to hit only at the bottom of the order, leaving some scouts to project him as a second-division starter and possibly only a utility player.” Acknowledging that Gregorius made a favorable impression in the Arizona Fall League, it's easy to see why some folks are scratching their heads and/or grabbing their pitchforks.
Let's leave those people with their heads and pitchforks, and turn instead to some unpopular trades made by current Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers when he held the same position with the Padres. I've studied these a lot over the years:
There's more in books I've published and sheets I've spread, but this gives a general idea of Towers' track record. Most of the analysis uses Win Shares because that's what we had back in the day and we liked it. The important point is that he did very well with the Padres, although not all of his trades were well-received at the time.
We won't rehash seemingly trivial moves (Andy Sheets and Gus Kennedy for Phil Nevin and Keith Volkman was nothing for nothing, same with Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook for Josh Reynolds, Jason Bay, and Bobby Jones, as well as Brian Sikorski for Mike Adams) that turned out great. Neither shall we concern ourselves with ones that were obvious when made (Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka, and Billy Killian for Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young, and Terrmel Sledge).
Rather, our focus will be on trades that seemed curious to outside observers but which served Towers and the Padres well. Towers never dealt away a talent like Bauer during his stay in San Diego, but he did make his share of unpopular moves. Here are a few of them.