Houston and Toronto kicked this summer’s trading season into high gear by consummating a 10-player deal on July 20. Pitchers David Carpenter, J.A. Happ, and Brandon Lyon became the latest exiles in the Astros’ veterans-for-prospects purge, heading north in exchange for veterans Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, four low-minors prospects, and a player to be named later. R.J. Anderson and Kevin Goldstein wrote about it here.

July 2012: Houston sends David Carpenter, J.A. Happ, and Brandon Lyon to Toronto for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Joseph Musgrove, Carlos Perez, David Rollins, Asher Wojciechowski, and a player to be named.

It’s not terribly uncommon for trades of this size to occur, but it’s rare for teams to include players so far away from the major leagues in such deals. Only one of the four named prospects Houston received had reached advanced Class A (Wojciechowski), and another hadn’t even played in a full-season league yet (Musgrove). Because of the youth of Houston’s haul, it likely won’t be known for a few years which team came out ahead in the swap.

Since 1994, there have been 10 trades involving eight or more players (two of which took three teams to complete). Of those, only one deal comes close to approaching the low-level prospecty goodness of last week’s Astros-Blue Jays swap. 

In July 1997, the Chicago White Sox executed what was known as the “White Flag” trade, shipping Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Roberto Hernandez off to San Francisco in exchange for six youngsters, three of whom (Mike Caruso, Brian Manning, and Ken Vining) had yet to make the leap from advanced Class A to Double-A.

July 1997: San Francisco trades Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, Brian Manning, and Ken Vining to the White Sox for Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Roberto Hernandez.

Having appeared in 11 games for San Francisco earlier in the year, Keith Foulke was added to Chicago’s major-league roster shortly after the trade. Despite not having earned a single plate appearance above the California League, Mike Caruso was installed as the White Sox' everyday shortstop the following year after 13-year incumbent Ozzie Guillen signed a free agent contract with Baltimore over the winter. Foulke and Caruso were joined by reliever Bob Howry in June. 

Lorenzo Barcelo (2000) and Ken Vining (2001) reached the big leagues with Chicago, but neither lasted long or made significant contributions. Outfielder Brian Manning was the only one who failed to make it to the Show.




Wilson Alvarez


Danny Darwin


Roberto Hernandez


Lorenzo Barcelo


Mike Caruso


Keith Foulke


Bob Howry


Brian Manning


Ken Vining





The three pitchers acquired by San Francisco played critical roles down the stretch and helped the Giants win their first division title since 1989. Alvarez and Hernandez departed after the season, but Darwin stuck around for one largely unproductive season before hanging up his spikes at the age of 42. 

By the end of the 1998 season, the value San Francisco received from Chicago was known, even if it wasn’t as easily quantified as it is now with measures like Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP). It took several years beyond that to know the complete value of the players the White Sox received, however.

The average age of the four prospects received by Houston (21.3) is slightly lower than that of the six-pack of players Chicago received from San Francisco in 1997 (21.7), and it isn’t unreasonable to expect that the winner of last week’s deal won’t truly be known for at least five years.

Trades Involving >= 8 Players (since 1990)

December 1994: Houston trades Ken Caminiti, Andujar Cedeno, Sean Fesh, Steve Finley, Roberto Petagine, and Brian Williams to San Diego for Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, Ricky Gutierrez, Pedro Martinez (no, not that one), Phil Plantier, and Craig Shipley.

November 1996: Pittsburgh trades Carlos Garcia, Orlando Merced, and Dan Plesac to Toronto for Brandon Cromer, Mike Halperin, Abraham Nunez, Jose Pett, Jose Silva, and Craig Wilson.

December 1996: Detroit trades Brad Ausmus, Jose Lima, Trever Miller, C.J. Nitkowski, and Daryle Ward to Houston for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, Orlando Miller, and cash considerations.

July 1997: San Francisco trades Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, Brian Manning, and Ken Vining to the White Sox for Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Roberto Hernandez.

November 1999: Detroit trades Frank Catalanotto, Francisco Cordero, Bill Haselman, Gabe Kapler, and Justin Thompson to Texas for Juan Gonzalez, Danny Patterson, and Gregg Zaun.

January 2002: Colorado trades Alex Ochoa to Milwaukee and Ross Gload and Craig House to the Mets; the Mets trade Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch to Milwaukee and Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile, and cash considerations to Colorado; Milwaukee trades Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D’Amico, Mark Sweeney, and cash considerations to the Mets.

July 2002: Montreal trades Donald Levinski, Graeme Lloyd, Mike Mordecai, Carl Pavano, and Justin Wayne to Florida for Cliff Floyd, WIlton Guererro, Claudio Vargas, and cash considerations.

December 2003: Arizona trades Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell, Jorge De La Rosa, Chad Moeller, Lyle Overbay, and Junior Spivey to Milwaukee for Shane Nance, Richie Sexson, and Noochie Varner.

December 2008: Mets trade Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, Endy Chavez, Maikel Cleto, Aaron Heilman, and Jason Vargas to Seattle and Joe Smith to Cleveland; Seattle trades Sean Green, J.J. Putz, and Jeremy Reed to the Mets and Luis Valbuena to Cleveland; Cleveland trades Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle.

July 2012: Houston sends David Carpenter, J.A. Happ, and Brandon Lyon to Toronto for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Joseph Musgrove, Carlos Perez, David Rollins, Asher Wojciechowski, and a player to be named.

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How do you calculate WARP contributed to a team when summing up these trades?

For example, Bob Howry only contributed 3.8 WARP to Chicago, but he was traded to Boston for a package including Frank Francisco, who was then shipped off as part of a package to Texas for Carl Everett, who gave them some solid production for the duration of 2003 season.

There are probably more extreme examples: the Tigers' draft selections of Cam Maybin and Andrew Miller to name a couple.
Just the WARP earned by the player while with the team after being traded.
My biased Jays fan view is that the winner or loser of the trade will mainly depend on Happ's performance.

Isolating Cordero, Francisco and Lyon, the trade was Happ and Carpenter for Perez, Wojo, Musgrove and the PTBNL. If Happ returns to his 2009 form for the Jays over the next 2 seasons and puts up 4-8 WAR (depending on fWAR vs rWAR), then I think they Jays win this trade virtually regardless of how the prospects turn out (that is unless at least 3 of the 4 become above average players, or at least 1 becomes a superstar).

I think you can declare the Jays losers if Happ doesn't perform over the next two years regardless of how the prospects do. Unfortunately, I think this is likely to be the case given Happ's peripherals.
I was thinking that Happ might be a candidate to be non-tendered this offseason and that two years might be too much of an expectation.
I agree with this. I kind of like Happ, but I don't know how well he'll hold up in the AL.
It's interesting to see how relatively irrelevant many trades are in retrospect.
...and how many of them involved Houston!
They're all fun, though. In that first Houston/San Diego trade, a bunch of the guys the Padres traded away wound up back with the team within a year (Plantier was traded back and a couple of others signed as FAs).
The bigger question is how do teams discount future value. The players the Jays gave up are many years away from the majors, while Happ has the potential to contribute now. Factor in the risk inherent in prospects and the uncertainly of the team's situation in a few years, I think the Jays rightly heavily discounted their future production.
Sure, not to mention that the guys they dealt away were middling prospects in their org. I think Kevin mentioned that they all fell in the 15-30 range within the organization. Musgrove is interesting, but the others have relatively limited upside -- they do have youth, however, and things can change.... which is what Houston is banking on.
The Mariners sure got a lot for a Putz.
I was just thinking how that trade looks incredibly lopsided now.