With the conclusion of the MLB season today, I would like to take a look back at a trade, which many believe to be the best Win-Win deal of the last decade. This trade involved the Boston Red Sox with their cant-miss shortstop prospect dying for a chance at the show, and the Florida Marlins getting rid of a young ace they could not afford to resign. I am of course referring to the deal that took place prior to the 2006 MLB season that sent Hanley Ramirez to Florida along with Anibal Sanchez, and two other prospects for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota.
This trade was in every sense of the world a blockbuster; involving two World Series MVP’s and a superstar shortstop. Prior to the 2006 MLB season, Hanley Ramirez was the future at shortstop for the Red Sox, and Josh Beckett was the Marlins superb young ace. The two teams decided to swap their valuable assets, because the Red Sox could afford Beckett and Lowell and needed a front-line starter, as well as, the Marlins could hold onto Sanchez and Ramirez for very cheap (these are the only four relevant players in the deal, Mota never pitched for Boston, while Garcia and Delgado never contributed to Florida). Just one season after the deal, the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series, with Beckett as their ace, and Lowell was the MVP of the series. Sanchez threw a no-hitter for the Marlins and is now a front-line starter for them, while Ramirez won the rookie of the year in ’06, and is a three time all-star. From all angles the trade seems like a win-win, but was it truly?
Six seasons have been played since the trade, and over the course of that time (based on the individual players’ WAR) Beckett has added almost 25 wins to the Red Sox and Lowell (who retired after 2010) added just over 10 wins. Not surprisingly, 2007 was the most valuable season for both of them, driving the Red Sox to the title, with Beckett posting a 6.5 WAR, and Lowell with a 4.7. The 11.2 wins Beckett and Lowell added that season, is better than any combined season, Ramirez and Sanchez have had with the Marlins since the trade. However, it is somewhat surprising that every season other than 2007, including 2006 when Ramirez and Sanchez were both rookies, they had a higher combined WAR than Beckett and Lowell. So essentially, the Marlins won the deal in each season, other than 2007, but never won a World Series or even made the playoffs with these two players.
Thus, from on the basis of WAR, the deal in the short-term was for sure a win-win for both teams. Though now that Lowell has retired, and Beckett is getting older it seems as the gap that currently is at 6 more wins, with widen in direction of the Marlins, who still have two players from the trade as opposed to one. But, this also means they will be paying one more player than Boston, which is where cost comes into the equation for this deal. Was this trade an economic win-win for both teams?
As a Red Sock, Josh Beckett has made $57 million and is owed 41 million dollars over the next 3 seasons. Lowell made $55 million in his 5 seasons after the deal. Over $112 million is a lot of money to invest over a course of six season for the 35 wins they added, the amount of money they made reiterates the fact that Florida could not have paid to keep either player. Sanchez and Ramirez’ combined services have come at much lower price, with Hanley making $24.6 million over the six seasons, and Sanchez bringing in just over 6 million dollars. Thus, this deal was a win-win when it came to production, but in overall value, the Marlins spent about $90 million less than Boston, for the players they received. However, this was to be expected and part of the reason the deal was made.
The Marlins knew they had a star in Josh Beckett, but they could not afford him. The Red Sox could afford him, and were willing to eat almost $100 million to make this deal, and win a World Series trophy, behind Lowell and Beckett. Also, Ramirez and Sanchez have now moved into where Beckett was when he got traded, (Hanley was due $11 million dollars for his services this season). Which makes it interesting to see if Florida will be able to keep both young studs, they received from Boston, six years ago, or if they will again have to trade away their talent, for more young talent that comes at a much cheaper price.