The Max Scherzer Trade Revisited

Thirteen months ago, the New York Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers in a three-way trade. Instead of talk about the Yankees or Tigers, most initial reactions focused on answering what the Arizona Diamondbacks were thinking. After all, trading Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth for Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson appeared to be a loss on paper. It’s too early to close the book on the trade, but the Diamondbacks’ return looks a lot better with a season under its belt.

Surprisingly, the Diamondbacks received the most WAR of any trade participant in 2010. Kennedy found his prospect magic and delivered 194 innings with a 4.33 FIP. Jackson, despite a poor ERA, chipped in 21 starts with strong peripherals (4.24 FIP). He ultimately found himself on his way to the Chicago White Sox for Daniel Hudson. Jackson and Hudson matched each other in WAR after the trade – two wins apiece – and thus left the D-Backs with 6.2 wins, which was more than Granderson (who had a five-plus win season) produced or the Tigers’ return. Of course, trade analysis is not that simple.

The most common complaint revolved around Scherzer’s service time and cost. He remains cheaper and further away from free agency than Jackson. Given their contract statuses, Scherzer represented the better choice if they were considered equal in talent and performance expectations. No one outside of the Arizona organization knows just how that comparative analysis looked, but the combustibility concerns that surrounded Scherzer may have tipped the scales in Jackson’s favor.

Scherzer has since changed his mechanics and produced at a ridiculously high level from that point on. Whether he would have received the same adjustments within the Arizona system is up to anyone’s guess. My inclination is to think he would not have made similar adjustments, otherwise that tinkering would have occurred at some point during his developmental process. If that is the case and Scherzer would’ve busted – and really nobody knows the probability of either event – then one can argue the Diamondbacks are actually better off now with Hudson and Kennedy than they would be with Scherzer in tow, particularly since Hudson and Kennedy are cheaper and further away from free agency than Scherzer.

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Dave Dombrowski
13 years ago

Scherzer did not “receive” the adjustments, it was reported that he saw a flaw in his mechanics watching tape himself and then made the adjustments on his own. I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t watch tape if he were in Arizona.

the fume
13 years ago

100% correct. Scherzer did not drastically change his mechanics…..they were a bit off at the beginning of the season and he corrected them.

That’s not to say the Tigers didn’t treat him different than the D’Backs would have with pitch selection or small adjustments or use of the breaking pitch, but there was no ‘aha!’ moment or anything.