From SABR President Vince Gennaro at Diamond Dollars on July 27, 2012:
What determines which prospect gets included in trade packages for mid-season deals? A common misconception is that it is directly related to the quality of the impact player being acquired. In reality, there are many other factors that go into the decision to include a specific prospect in a trade, including needs of the trade partner, their rating of the prospect, the amount of salary of the acquired player, and the length of time the acquired player is under team control. An interesting historical example of the value of an extra year of control is Cliff Lee. He was traded twice near the trade deadline in successive years, as his contract was moving toward expiration. He was traded from Cleveland to Philadelphia in July of 2009, and traded again from Seattle to Texas in July of 2010, as he inched closer to his free agency at the end of the 2010 season. (Note: Cliff Lee was traded a third time in this one-year window, following the 2009 offseason, from Philadelphia to Seattle. I left this trade out of the comparison to create more of an apple-to-apples, mid-season trade match up)
For the first half of the 2009 season in Cleveland, Lee turned in a solid performance as it would have been unreasonable to expect him to sustain his Cy Young Award winning level of 2008. With an expected 40 to 45 regular season starts remaining until his free agency, the Indians traded him to Philadelphia, acquiring the #2 (Carrasco), 3 (Marson), 4 (Donald) and 10 (Knapp) top ranked prospects (according to Baseball America) in the Phillies system. When Lee was traded 345 days later from Seattle to Texas, with an expected 15 regular season starts remaining before free agency, the Mariners acquired the #2 (Smoak), and 17 (Beaven) rated prospects in the Rangers system, plus two unranked minor leaguers—Josh Lueke, who was pitching in Low A and infielder Matt Lawson in AA ball. (Mark Lowe was also sent to the Rangers along with Lee in this deal)
Read the full article here: http://vincegennaro.mlblogs.com/2012/07/27/the-value-of-an-extra-year-of-control-at-the-trade-deadline/
Originally published: July 27, 2012. Last Updated: July 27, 2012.