If Ruben Amaro doesn’t make any trades on Wednesday, I doubt it’s going to be for a lack of trying.
There have been more than a few people on Twitter who think that if Amaro isn’t able to trade some or all of Cliff Lee, Michael Young, Delmon Young, Jonathan Papelbon, and/or Carlos Ruiz, that he has failed to do his job and should be raked over the coals.
People tend to forget that it takes more than one person to complete a Major League Baseball trade. There are two general managers, two people with competing interests, two people trying to extract as much as they can out of the next guy, at the heart of every deal.
Look, Amaro knows what this team is now. He knows changes need to be made. And you can bet he’s trying to make some of those changes as the deadline approaches this afternoon.
If Ruben Amaro fails to trade any of the many players he is offering up to other teams, it is not necessarily a “Ruben Amaro Failure.”
Take the much-talked about negotiations with the Red Sox for Cliff Lee. Lee is still one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He’s under team control for another two years. And while he is costly, he has been worth the cost ever since he signed his free agent contract before the 2011 season. And because the Phillies are big market team, they can afford him.
There is no urgency for RAJ to trade Lee right now. None. The only way it makes sense is if he can get a team to pick up a large portion of Lee’s future salary and get three top-notch prospects in return.
That was the price presented to the Red Sox, and it was the correct price. Boston general manager Ben Cherington saw that he could make a deal for a quality starting pitcher without having to give up any of his highly-valued top prospects and decided to make a deal with the White Sox instead.
Both general managers did what was best for their ballclubs. The result is that Lee is not going to be traded to Boston. Amaro did not have a partner in Cherington who was willing to give the Phillies what they wanted.
With Michael Young, it appears there are plenty of teams willing to take him off the Phils’ hands. Unfortunately, Young has full no-trade rights and has reportedly refused to be traded to anyone except his former team, the Texas Rangers.
***UPDATE*** Michael Young has apparently added one more team he’d be willing to be traded to…
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) July 31, 2013
Right now, Amaro is not getting cooperation from Young, which could greatly hinder the chances a trade of Young actually gets done.
Jimmy Rollins has also made it impossible for Amaro to trade him. As a 10-and-5 guy (10 years in the Majors and at least five with the same team), Rollins has earned the right to refuse any trade if he so chooses. This week, he said he still has a lot of personal goals that he wants to accomplish with the Phils and has told Amaro he will not accept a trade anywhere.
What can Amaro do? Nothing. Nothing at all.
Now, Amaro has painted himself into a corner in a few instances. The Phils have traditionally been reluctant to agree to no-trade clauses, specifically for the reasons we’re seeing today. However, also consider the Phillies would not have been able to acquire Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay without their partial no-trade clauses, and they wouldn’t have been able to sign Chase Utley to a contract extension after the 2007 without the partial no-trade he has in his contract.
Also, ridiculous contracts handed out to Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Howard have made those players very hard to trade, and that is on Ruben as well. Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson and won’t be signing any more relief pitchers to four-year, $50 million deals.
Although yeah, he probably will.
You might argue that it’s a mistake for Amaro to make Chase Utley unavailable, as he and the team work on a contract extension that may not be the best thing for the Phillies moving forward.
And you could argue that Amaro should have declared himself a “seller” a few weeks ago, even before the Phils’ eight-game losing streak. But also understand that most deals don’t get done until closer to the deadline and that waiting until the last minute is not unusual in this situation.
So whether you are an Amaro fan or not, keep in mind that as you watch what will most likely a quiet trade deadline day for the Phillies today, the lack of action isn’t necessarily a Ruben Amaro Failure. Good general managers don’t give away players for nothing, unless it’s a pure salary dump. The only person to whom that could qualify is Papelbon and frankly, most teams may just not want him.
In order for Amaro to make trades, and get a fair return in the process, the deal has to work for both sides. Amaro needs GMs who are trade partners as well as players who will allow themselves to be traded.
We’ll see just how much cooperation Amaro gets as Wednesday hurtles toward 4pm.