This afternoon the Orioles traded Koji Uehara to the Texas Rangers for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. First, let me say that I LOVE Koji Uehara. He's been a fantastic reliever, and he has awesome sideburns. That said, I love this trade even more. Before today, I thought one of two things would happen with Koji. He stays or he's traded for some crappy 27 year old, organizational player. Teams now value prospects differently than 2-3 years ago and simply don't give up any prospects with decent value for relievers unless you're dealing with Ned Colletti. Unfortunately, the Dodgers are a mess, thus Colletti wasn't available for a fleecing. In 2008, Chad Bradford was a 33 year old reliever-with an additional season of control-who was traded to the Rays for.... nothing. The Rays picked up his salary while the Orioles got a bag of balls. Bradford isn't the strikeout artist like Koji, but he had excellent control and put up great numbers. And unlike Koji, there weren't as many health questions surrounding Chad at the time. Hell, teams don't trade for old relievers much at all because, well, they're OLD (unless they're part of a larger trade in order to balance out the value of players being exchanged). Today, the Orioles managed to get more than a bag of balls or an organizational player for Koji. Frankly, if the O's could have traded Koji for Davis or Hunter ALONE, this would have been a good trade. The fact that they got both makes it a great trade. Should the Orioles traded for prospects? Of course. Should Minka Kelly be dating me instead of Derek Jeter. Of course, but neither is realistic.
So what did the Orioles receive? There is a decent chance that Davis is a AAAA player. He has terrific AAA numbers, with the normal caveats that apply to PCL numbers, and could end up as a decent regular 1B. I haven't ran his MLEs yet, but I'm curious to see them. In the big leagues, he put a 1 fWAR season in 2008 over 80 games before tanking thereafter. His defense is average at best at 1B, but he could be an early version of Casey Kotchman bat wise. He's nothing to get terribly excited for, but he could be a competent player who's under control for several seasons. Tommy Hunter is the much better piece of this trade.
Hunter is a good back of the rotation guy who is under control through 2014. He sports a decidedly average ERA+ of 104 over 266 innings. I guess you could say who cares about a back of the rotation guy, but the O's really don't have much back there right now. Jake Arrieta is kind of scuffling while 3E1N isn't consistent enough to fill that spot. That leaves guys like Weak Sauce or Mitch Atkins. I much rather have Hunter than any of these guys.
Overall, are Davis and Hunter 20 years olds on the cusp of greatness? Of course not. Andy did the next best thing by getting guys in mid their 20s for a reliever who would only provide 1 maybe 2 wins next season. I suspect Hunter and Davis will provide much more than 1-2 wins the next several seasons. We won't have them for six seasons like a prospect trade but the Orioles did next best thing by getting guys with several seasons of control. And if Hunter continues his current performance, unlike Koji, he will have trade value to land prospects. Just because Andy couldn't land prospects doesn't mean the trade shouldn't have been done or isn't worth doing. I'm not saying I'm getting off the Fire Andy ship, but he made a great trade today, and he deserves credit for that.