My Favorite Offseason Trades

» 17 April 2011 » In npb »

Forward: I’ve had this one in “draft” status since November. If I actually finish it, it’ll be a new record for the post I took the longest amount of time to complete.

When I started drafting this post, it was about one trade: Yomiuri sending Wirfin Obispo to Nippon Ham for Hideki Sunaga and Toshimasa Konta. Then another trade worth writing about took place, but we’ll get to that later. First Obispo.

Graded on pure upside, the Obispo deal is a nice win for Nippon Ham. Obispo had a rough 2010, struggling with reduced velocity, but he’s still not really a finished product and worth taking a chance on. Assuming he’s not injured, he still has a good arm, and he showed in 2009 that he can contribute at the ichi-gun level. Yomiuri’s return offers much more limited upside. Sunaga a rather unpolished lefty reliever, who hasn’t been able to stick at ichi-gun, while Konta is a fifth outfielder/pinch runner type.

I didn’t quite get what Yomiuri saw in this trade until spring training, when I saw both Sunaga and Konta play in exhibition games. Sunaga seemed rough but may have some potential as a lefty specialist. Konta’s skills as a defensive replacement and pinch runner will come in handy for a team featuring aging outfielders Yoshinobu Takahashi and Alex Ramirez. Additionally, the Giants are stacked with foreign pitchers it was going to be difficult to find roster time for Obi-chan. So I like this deal for both sides, but the early returns favor the Giants. Obispo gave up five runs in one inning in his Nippon Ham debut, while Konta has already appeared in five games for the Giants.

So that was my favorite trade of the offseason, until Orix heisted Hayato Terahara (and Kazuya Takamiya) from Yokohama for Shogo Yamamoto and Go Kida. Unlike the Obispo-Sunaga/Konta deal, I still haven’t seen the logic in the Yokohama side on this one. I recall reading that the official word was that the BayStars weren’t happy with their lefty rotation options. That’s reasonable enough, but Yamamoto seems like a poor return for Terahara. Maybe Terahara plus another player could have pried Kenji Ohtonari away from Softbank, for example. In fairness to Yokohama though, we don’t have the luxury of knowing who was available on the trade market and what the asking prices were. And there is always some injury risk to Terahara, but if he’s healthy, he offers significantly more value than Yamamoto, regardless of which arm he throws with.

Through the first week of the season, Orix has the better of the Terahara-Yamamoto deal. Yamamoto has already made two starts for Yokohama, but has given up eight earned runs in 11 innings pitcher. Meanwhile, Terahara threw a shutout against Softbank on the second day of the season.

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