I’ve still got some old trades, most notably the Dan Uggla and Cameron Maybin swaps, to analyze, and I hope to get those up in the next couple of days. But in the interest of getting something remotely current up right now, let’s look at the most recent swap: the Dodgers sending infielder Ryan Theriot (himself acquired just at the last deadline) to St. Louis for swingman Blake Hawksworth.
Let’s get this out of the way: neither Theriot nor Hawksworth are difference-makers. Theriot is a relatively punchless infielder who doesn’t field particularly well–the definition of replacement level. Hawksworth was actually below replacement level this year, as a pitcher with good stuff but little in the way of results.
There are a few different variables at play here.
First is salary. Theriot is due at least $2.6 million next year, well more than he’s worth if he’s going to keep being a replacement level player. Hawksworth will simply make the minimum, so even though Hawksworth was less valuable last year, he carries less of a pricetag. He’s also under contract for longer.
Second is age. At 31, Theriot is unlikely to improve, and could decline from his present level–after all, he declined significantly from 2009 to 2010. However, Hawksworth is just 27 and has time to figure things out.
With the Juan Uribe signing, the Dodgers had no need for Theriot, and the Cardinals had little need for Hawksworth given their always solid bullpen. With Brendan Ryan’s struggles, the Cardinals needed some sort of shortstop stopgap, and a sub-replacement level reliever is a small price to pay. Plus, if Dave Duncan can’t get a pitcher to harness his stuff, who can?
In any case, right now, this deal makes sense for both sides. The only way it gets dramatically slanted is if Hawksworth finds a way to miss bats with his good-on-paper curve/change combo. Given that Duncan couldn’t make it happen, the chances of that happening are slim enough that it’ll be difficult to blame St. Louis even if Hawksworth does dramatically improve.