Important to remember MLB Trades People, Not Stocks

The Mariners have traded for Teoscar Hernandez, and are rumored to be involved in some other trades as well. With that in mind, there are some important things to remember when seeing players move around. In a sense, you can liken the trading and movement of players to the stock market.

In fact, there are similarities between MLB player trades and trading on the stock market:

  • A Lot of money can be involved
  • It is important to have a diverse portfolio
  • Trading takes research
  • There are numerous statistics to support such research
  • There are no guarantees that current statistics predict future outcomes

Of course, people trading stocks often trade only a portion of their company’s shares which is impossible because MLB trading involves PEOPLE!

It’s important for fans, and in our case, Mariners fans, to remember that there is more to it in these trades

I imagine that a traded player might take time to adjust to new colleagues, different coaches, fans, a new city, and so on. He might have felt at home on his last team and preferred to stay. All MLB players, of course, know that trading is part of their lives. A traded player may bring a wife and children who also need to adjust to new circumstances.

Alternatively, some players’ wives and kids may live apart and a trade sends them even farther away from their family. Every traded player is leaving friends behind. Might some players reveal their talents more completely in the second season of a trade, rather than in the first?

Players’ Performance Can Decline

I examined a few players’ performances since we often hear of players having a strong season on one team and then struggling on their new team, especially if traded in the summer before the deadline. The Padres’ Juan Soto is one player who did not immediately replicate the star performance he had on the Nationals.

In the first two-thirds of 2022 (101 Games), he had 21 home runs, 46 RBIs, a 13.8 percent strikeout rate, and a WAR of 2.8. In the last one-third of the season with the Padres (52 Games), he had 6 home runs, 16 RBIs, the same percentage of strikeouts, and a WAR of 1.1.

Players’ Performance Can Improve

I thought I would see a dip in players’ statistics across the board when traded, but I noticed that some players improved their performance on their new team. The Mariners’ Eugenio Suarez moved from the Reds to the Mariners during Spring Training, so he played a full year with his new team. He had the same number (31) of home runs, eight more RBIs, and his WAR improved from .01 to 4.1. Jesse Winker, Suarez’s partner in the Reds/Mariners’ trade, did have a dip in his performance.

On November 16th, Mariners’ fans found out that the team was adding Teoscar Hernández to the roster (welcome!) but that two pitchers are going to Toronto. I am not as familiar with Adam Macko but felt sad that Erik Swanson is leaving. Baseball people trading would be difficult for me.

Our expectations about trading people must be flexible. Some players benefit immediately from a trade, but many may need some time to settle in. Mariners fans should keep this in mind as we watch players come and go in Seattle.

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