Yesterday, Nick Swisher was traded to the Chicago White Sox for three minor leaguers in what I would call a “litmus-test trade”.  What is a “litmus-test trade”?  It’s a trade where an organization gets a player in exchange for young pitching prospects.  Young pitching prospects are usually the biggest chips in the trading game, and a trade like this tells other teams what the market should be for making trades with their established players.  Without going any further, I am going to analyze three trades this off season that are responsible for driving the asking price for teams right through the ceiling.

Marlins trade Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin +4 (three of which who are pitchers).

It was no surprise that the Tigers pulled this trade off, because they are a “now” team, and they had the talent to do it.  But, they dealt two super prospects and two other pitchers who project to be sure major leaguers, as well.  I consider it an even trade, because it could mean a championship in Detroit, while Maybin and Miller will strive under no pressure in Miami.  Two big trade targets are off the market, now.  Let’s see what that does to the others still on the market…

A’s trade Dan Haren (and a throw in minor leaguer) for six prospects from the Diamondbacks.

This is what the market dictates, so why not ask for six prospects?  Really, four are considered prospects (number one, three, seven, and eight according to Baseball America), but that is still a lot because Haren is not an ace.  The A’s, just like the Marlins, get a young stud outfielder and a young strikeout-per-inning southpaw in the mix of players.  Haren had a career year in a great pitchers park, but he hasn’t proved it over enough time.  He really is a solid number 2 starter.  But, the influence from the Willis-Cabrera trade made his asking price pretty high.

A’s trade Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox for three prospects

This maybe one of the worst trades Ken Williams has made (outside of Carlos Lee for a just-released Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino, even though that helped them get a ring), and it’s not a knock on Swisher.  The problem is that the production that the Pale Hose needed should have come out of free agency.  They needed a center fielder, and they needed some offense.  They should have overpaid to bring Aaron Rowand back, instead.  They decided to really pay more and give up their best pitching prospects (who were actually their two top prospects, period).  I like Swisher, but I don’t trade young arms for a guy who hits .250, never had more than 100 r.b.i.’s, or strikes out 100+ times a year.  Last time I checked, that’s exactly what Chicago didn’t need.

So the price is going up higher.  What does that mean for Johan Santana?  At these rates, Minnesota has to trade him for 8 top prospects, seriously.  All these baseball pundits have Santana “on the move”, but he’s not going anywhere, yet.  They also say that the asking price may be discounted because the lucky team that gets Santana has to resign him.  I really don’t think Minnesota cares.  It’s not their money and in the small market, that’s the way you have to think.  It’s the cost of doing business in baseball, in 2008.

Laredo Slider is a senior writer for, and is really pissed that the asking price for Victor Zambrano was Scott Kazmir.  WTF?!?!?

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