Sunday, March 06, 2011

Revisiting the Beckett - Ramirez Trade

On November 24, 2005, the Red Sox and Marlins completed a blockbuster trade that sent Josh Becket, Guillermo Mota and Mike Lowell to the Boston Red Sox in return for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey Garcia and Jesus Delgado. In the first year of the deal, 2006, Beckett was a disappointment. He won 16 games but posted an ERA of 5.01. Ramirez, meanwhile, stole 51 bases for the Marlins and hit .292 en route to a Rookie of the Year Award. Lowell went on to have some good years for the Red Sox and Anibal Sanchez has shown flashes of brilliance including a no-hitter. A lot of time has passed under the bridge since then and it seems like a good time to catch up on that deal.

Both Beckett and Ramirez exploded in 2007. Ramirez hit .332 and finished with a 145 OPS+. Josh Beckett came in second in Cy Young voting and won 20 games. Oh yeah, the Red Sox won the World Series. Both are coming off of disappointing 2010 seasons and both are hoping to get back to dominance in 2011. Beckett will be 31 in May and Ramirez is 27. Lowell has retired and Sanchez is thought to be an anchor in the Marlins' rotation. Let's do some math (Heaven help us!) and see how this deal has shaken out over the years.

What Boston Got:

  • Josh Beckett: Total WAR with Red Sox: 13.1. Total Cost: $44.4 million.
  • Mike Lowell: Total WAR with Red Sox: 12.6. Total Cost: $55.5 million.
  • Guillermo Mota: Never played for the Red Sox. He was traded two months after the initial deal with several players to Cleveland for Coco Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske. The Red Sox got three years from Crisp who earned 5.3 WAR for the cost of $11.7 million. Bard and Riske didn't play long for the Red Sox and didn't add any value. While difficult to break down the value the Red Sox received from Mota because several players were involved, let's, for the sake of ease, give Boston Crisp's full values straight up for Mota.

Red Sox Totals: 31 WAR at $111.6 million.

What the Marlins got:

  • Hanley Ramirez: Total WAR with Florida: 29. Total Cost: $13.7 million
  • Anibal Sanchez: Total WAR with Florida: 7.6. Total Cost: $2.4 million
  • Jesus Delgado: Pitched two innings for the Marlins and provided no value. The Marlins waived him in 2009.
  • Harvey Garcia: Also pitched only two major league innings with no value. Also waived in 2009.

Marlins Totals: 36.5 WAR at $16.1 million.

It's easy to see that the Marlins got more value from this deal at a heck of a lot less money than what the Red Sox received in Beckett, Lowell and Crisp. If we give the players their future value projections and assume they stay with their current teams, the list breaks down like this:

  • Josh Beckett: 19.5 projected WAR to the end of his career.
  • Mike Lowell: Retired.
  • Hanley Ramirez: 40.1 projected WAR to the end of his career.
  • Anibal Sanchez: 13.6 projected WAR to the end of his career.

Those numbers look obviously in the Marlins favor too. Many times trades for prospects are a crap shoot. But in this case, the Marlins made out like bandits. The trade looks pretty negative from the Red Sox perspective, but they won a world championship in 2007. And they have a shot at one or two more before Beckett is done. Beckett pitched brilliantly in the 2007 post season. All in all, it's hard to think that the Red Sox have any regrets. It's not like they traded Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson or anything.

WAR totals from
Projections from Baseball Prospectus.


Peter said...


This is what drives me batty about viewing things only through the SABR lens. I think the only question that matters is, "Do the Red Sox win the World Series with Ramirez instead of Beckett and Lowell?" I think the answer to that question is no they don't. Beckett and Lowell were two huge cogs of that team and while Ramirez is an amazing talent so were Lowell and Beckett on that team both on the field and off. Glad I discovered your blog!

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Thanks, Peter. I agree. Life is about the Yin and the Yang and there are always more angles than most people see. Welcome aboard.