But this is a somewhat odd trade for me to have made. Around the time I posted this, I began to explore the possibility of parting ways with Chad Billingsley. I actually think he is quite valuable in the 4x4 format and at $28, I do not think he is overpriced for his production, but I received some feedback before and during the season suggesting that most of the other owners would not have paid him that much and that his market value is actually below what I am paying him.With my team falling to last in the standings, he was one of the players I expected to sell before the year was out.
I went through the standings to see who was in a position to compete but struggling with their SP and sent out feeler emails to a few owners, and got a bite. Actually, and this becomes important, I got exactly one bite. Most of the responses I received were tepid at best, ranging from "I'm pretty lukewarm on him" to "Oh no, I hate Billingsley." (To be fair, the latter stemmed from anti-Dodger sentiment more than anything else).
But one owner expressed interest. Over the next couple weeks, talks went slowly and my team bounced around between 12th and 10th. I knew that the other owner was exploring some other deals, including one for Cliff Lee from an owner who I knew was entering full-on sales mode. We started to settle on a deal that would include either Jordan Zimmermann ($5) or Zach Britton ($3) along with a couple prospects. I couldn't get him to bite on sending me Brandon Belt, but names like Archer, Choice, Segura, Machado, and Arodys Vizcaino were tossed around.
And then something odd happened. His team began to drop, falling from the top 5, while my team started to climb. By the beginning of the week, he and I were bouncing between 7th and 8th, and over the next couple days, I climbed as high as 3rd (for about an hour). But we kept talking and settled on a deal that would send him Billingsley and some cash for Zimmermann, Choice ($1) and Archer ($3).
My situation had changed. On Wednesday, I was in 4th when my hand was forced - the owner I was dealing with proposed the trade and gave me until 5:30 p.m. that evening or he was pulling the deal. I could have called his bluff, but I knew he could get Lee (for a higher price) or 1-2 other pitchers, and this deal really would be off the table.
Looking to the future, I think I got good value here. Zimmermann should develop into a solid starter (I think the k-rate will come back as he continues to recover from surgery), I really like what Choice brings to the table, and I think Archer could be a decent contributor - although I kind of hope he ends up in a relief role, where I think he will have more value for me.
From a 2011 perspective, I think it is clear he got more value. In evaluating this, I'll assume no 2011 value from the prospects: Choice is nowhere near the bigs and Archer seems unlikely to contribute this year either. But even so, I don't think the spread is huge. The rest of season ZiPS projection for Billingsley is 166 IP, 8.46 K/9, .6 HR/9, 3.42 ERA, 1.28 WHIP. For Zimmerman, 82 IP (by far the biggest gap), 7.13 K/9, .88 HR/9, 3.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP. Clearly Billingsley is the better pitcher, or projects to be, but Zimmermann is younger and much cheaper. Plus, I have strengthened my farm system to the point that I may be able to make another deal for a SP.
So the conundrum I was left with was whether to take a forward looking trade that would likely leave me needing to make another deal to get back to a solid rotation for 2011 when I was pushing up towards the money.
And this is where the fact that I got absolutely no other interest in Billingsley factors in. If this other owner made his deals and settled into a rotation he liked, I had no market to move Billingsley later in the year. In the end, I decided the value I expect (hope?) to get from Zimmermann would be enough to keep me afloat until I can figure out something else, and that I had to jump at the pure value of this deal before it disappeared.
It is not every day that you see a team in 4th move a front-line starter to a team in 8th for an unproven youngster and prospects, but I think in this case it was the right move for me. As always, would love to know what you think!