Yes, fans live in their own world. One that cannot be compared to the prime example of real life. A homer wants to see their team win every year and there is nothing wrong with that. No reason to blame somebody for wanting their favorite team to have the best players and prospects for the best finish in a given season. There are no issues with any of that. But please, stop thinking the best ways to upgrade your favorite team involve getting top impact players for a handful of spare parts. This is the common way most sports fans go wrong. In baseball, the average fan envisions what their team looks like at its best. The core position players, then the top starting pitchers, relievers and depth on the bench. So far, it seems harmless... right?
What happens here is the fan is subliminally stating, "These players are all off limits". So the fan then zeroes in on a position or two that need to be upgraded. Once again, the thoughts are not about what the other teams needs are. They are on the player(s) that the fan would like to see their favorite team acquire. In the "perfect" fan's mind, the new player would be brought in to add to what is already in the major leagues. And to what is at the top of the farm. Generally, the only players this fan is offering in return is an extra player, a player that is down on the depth chart, or somebody they are overrating just to get him off the team.
Making a fair trade in baseball is like a pendulum. Or a seesaw. The proposing team has a need- one that is usually meant with an unfair demand. Perhaps the team with the unfair demand backs off of it or maybe the proposing team asks for more back to balance it out. In the end, teams- unlike fans- are looking to balance what one team acquires with what the other team is looking for. Of course, it gets more complicated when teams are simply looking to shed a contract. And with the research done in regards to younger minor league players, the fantasy is created that EVERY team has the next big star in waiting.
The common denominator is that ALL teams have access to the same information. And most importantly, they have competent front office personnel that have the interest of their organization (their employer) at the top of their priorities when discussing a potential trade. What I will try to do here is make an example of two teams who hypothetically (or maybe realistically) could make a trade this off season. I promise, by the time I am done, fans of neither team would be interested in making a deal like this happen.
The New York Mets could potentially be in a tough situation with their top starting pitcher Matt Harvey. They have three more seasons of control of him and his services, but the Mets understand that Harvey will pursue free agency with the opportunity to get himself a huge contract. Yes, the Mets can put this to rest by simply signing Harvey to that type of deal now, but odds are that is not expected to happen any time soon. And the closer Harvey gets to free agency, the less of a chance him and his agent Scott Boras remain open minded about not exploring the open market. It would not be good business to do otherwise.
The Mets are should not be in a hurry to make a deal this off season involving Harvey. General Manager Sandy Alderson has every right to not listen to any offers involving Harvey. He also has the right to set his price to have a further discussion with another team. Lets say the Boston Red Sox and President Dave Dombrowski and/ or GM Mike Hazen inquire about Harvey to the Mets. And the Mets respond by saying they want CF Mookie Betts AND Xander Bogaerts! Obviously, this is too much of a return for the Red Sox to give up. Harvey to the Red Sox had the seesaw with the Mets in the air; Betts and Bogaerts to the Mets has the Red Sox feeling like the short light weighted kid in middle school.
The Red Sox could counter offer ask for OF Michael Conforto from the Mets. Harvey and Conforto for Betts and Bogaerts does not necessarily even things out, it probably moves the seesaw back in the Red Sox favor. However, there are Red Sox fans who would not like to see Betts or Bogaerts moved in any deal, making it hard for them to understand a fair trade. The Red Sox can throw in LHP Henry Owens to give the Mets a little depth they lost by dealing Harvey. And the Mets can trade SS Amed Rosario to Boston to give them a SS they will see in the big leagues at a young age, similar to Bogaerts. Owens being put in the deal switched the deal to being in the Mets favor and Rosario being included gave the edge to Boston. Perhaps the inclusion of RHP Junichi Tazawa makes the Mets feel better. And the Red Sox take SS Ruben Tejada back as a stop gap until Rosario arrives.
Of course that was a lot of moving parts. In other words, the Mets would be trading Harvey, Conforto, Rosario and Tejada to Boston for Betts, Bogaerts, Owens and Tazawa. If you are the Red Sox, there is no way you would want to move two young emerging All Star like players from your lineup. If you are the Mets, trading Harvey AND Conforto in the same deal would be like the Mets trading Dwight Gooden and Lenny Dykstra after the 1986 World Series. I look at the trade like this: Harvey > Bogaerts, Betts > Conforto, Rosario > Owens, Tazawa > Tejada.
Harvey is not going anywhere unless the Mets get a big return that impacts their team immediately. Mainly, they need a CF and a SS and giving up Harvey is worth both in a deal right now. Betts and Bogaerts would not be available in any trade unless the Red Sox were getting their ace for the next several years. Almost 18 years to the day, the Red Sox made a trade for Pedro Martinez. Of course, he was coming off his first Cy Young season with the Montreal Expos the year before. Maybe the Red Sox should wait to see if Harvey wins the Cy Young in 2016 for the Mets? If he does, the price of Betts and Bogaerts may not be enough to get a feal done.
The Red Sox get a soon to be 27 year old pitcher right about to enter his prime. Harvey was 13-8, 2.71 with 188 Ks in 189 1/3 innings for the Mets last season with a 2-0, 3.04 record in 4 postseason starts adding another 27 Ks to his 26 2/3 IP. Overall, that is 215 Ks in 216 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He will be better than that next season. Plus, they add Conforto- the Mets first round draft pick in 2014 (number 10 overall), In addition to hitting his 9 regular season HRs to go with his 3 in the postseason, he managed to hit another 12 HR and hit for a .297 average in A and AA, which by the way, was his first full season in professional baseball. Overall, he hit about .280 at three different levels, with 21 HR, 80 RBI, 38 2B and just 90 strikeouts in 147 total games. Rosario debuted in AA last season at age 19 and is expected to grow into his adult body by putting on a little weight. His projected skills are very good: he profiles as an excellent defender at SS and is expected to hit for average with very good speed. Over time, he has the tools to develop more power, but right now he is best suited as a single double hitter. Tejada becomes the final piece of this trade, if not the least highlighted. I give Tejada credit- after two dismal seasons, he seemed to put it together last season on both sides of the ball. His defense was as good as what was expected when the Mets let Jose Reyes walk after the 2011 season. Offensively, he was a tough out. The fact that he was the starting SS in the NLDS against the Dodgers showed you everything you needed to know about his progress.
While the Red Sox would be getting the best player in this trade, the Mets would clearly be netting the two next best players by far. Bogaerts does play a premium position, and his .320, 7, 81 season with 84 RS and 196 hits make it difficult for a team to consider trading him. Betts (.291, 18, 77, 42 2B, 92 RS) coming over in the same deal makes it necessary to send Conforto the other way. Owens was a combined 7-12 in 32 starts for AAA Pawtucket and Boston last season but has with him the advantage of being a first round draft pick (2011). With the Red Sox adding Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, the team can afford to part with Tazawa (2-7, 4.14, 61 games in 2015). He adds to what should be a rebuild Mets bullpen behind closer Jeurys Familia.
In my honest opinion, I think both teams would be parting with quite a bit in this deal. I can see Red Sox fans not wanting to deal both Bogaerts and Betts and Mets fans going crazy over the thought of Harvey and Conforto being included in the same trade. Though a deal like this would be considered fair, it is extremely uncommon for a trade like this to ever be worked out. Both teams are vested in their younger players and though the positive may outweigh the negative, the balance of the deal changes dramatically if any of the major players in this trade get hurt. If this does not do it for you as a fair and balanced trade, what does? Going back to what I stated in the beginning, it may have to do with what your allegiance happens to be.