Mark Shapiro, the new President of the Blue Jays, comes to Toronto with the reputation of being relatively poor at drafting but much better with trades and player development. Here is a quick look at a few of of the trades Shapiro engineered during his tenure as Cleveland’s GM from 2001-2010. Note that there were several other deals since then, while Shapiro was President (whimper – Yan Gomes – whimper) but for the purposes of this article, I will focus on the deals made while Mark was GM.
2010 – Westbrook for Kluber
In July, 2010, Cleveland traded veteran pitcher Jake Westbrook to St. Louis as part of a three-way deal that resulted in the Indians getting prospect Corey Kluber. Westbrook went on to a 4-4 record and a 3.48 ERA with the Cardinals. Kluber won the AL Cy Young award in 2014 and continues to be a true ace for Cleveland. Advantage – Cleveland.
2009 – The DeRosa Dipsy Doodle
In December, 2008 the Indians traded prospects Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer, and John Gaub to the Cubs for Mark DeRosa. DeRosa was coming off a career season, with a WAR of 4.2 and plus defense. Stevens and Gaub had limited careers, but Archer is now the mainstay of the Tampa Bay rotation. Advantage – Cubs.
In June, 2009 the Indians traded DeRosa (who was in his final contract year) for Chris Perez and Jess Todd. Todd had a short and uneventful major league career, but Perez went on to become the Indian’s closer from 2010-2013, recording 124 saves with a 3.33 ERA. Advantage – Cleveland.
2008 – The Sabathia deal
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In July, 2008C.C. Sabathia
was the reigning AL Cy Young winner. But he was due to become a free agent at the end of the year, and it was clear that Cleveland would not have the resources to re-sign him. So Cleveland traded him to the contending Milwaukee Brewers as a trade deadline rental for a package that includedMatt LaPorta
and a player to be named later. LaPorta was expected to be the gem of the deal, as he was having an exceptional power season at Double-A. But he never quite reached his potantial, playing parts of four seasons for Cleveland with a career wRC+ of 90. Jackson has a short and uneventful career, and Bryson never made it to the majors. For the final player in the deal, Shapiro was given to the end of the year to choose between two players. The first wasTaylor Green
, then the reigning Brewers minor league player of the year. But instead, Shapiro took a relatively unknown outfielder namedMichael Brantley
. Brantley has gone on to be a mainstay in the Cleveland outfield, breaking out with a 6.1 WAR in 2014.
Advantage – Cleveland.
2008 – Blake for Santana
Again in July 2008, Shapiro traded Casey Blake to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two prospects: Jon Meloan and Carlos Santana. Blake played third for the Dodgers until 2011, including a career 2009 when he put up a 4.6 WAR. Meloan pitched parts of three years in the majors, but Santana went on to become the Indians’ starting catcher (and later, after the arrival of Yan Gomes, first baseman and DH). He remains an important part of the Cleveland offense. Advantage – Cleveland.
2002-2009 – the Cliff Lee deals
In June 2002, the Expos traded Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Lee Stevens, and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland Indians for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew. Colon was coming off several ~4 WAR seasons, and was pitching to a 2.55 ERA for Cleveland. He pitched one year for the Expos before moving on to the White Sox, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics and Mets, with whom he is currently pitching in the 2015 World Series. As good as Colon has been, however, this deal is a clear win for Cleveland. Lee pitched well for the Indians, culminating in a Cy Young in 2008. Grady Sizemore was a three-time all-star, a two-time gold glove winner and a Silver Slugger in 2008. Phillips won four gold gloves and earned three all-star berths, though not with Cleveland. Advantage – Cleveland.
On July 29th, 2009, Lee was the reigning AL Cy Young winner. But his contract was almost up, with only an expensive $8 million option for 2010 remaining, and (as with Sabathia) the Indians knew that they would be unable to resign him. The Indians accordingly traded Lee plus outfielder Ben Francisco to the Philadelphia Phillies for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, and Jason Knapp. Lee went on five brilliant but expensive seasons with the Mariners, Rangers and Phillies. Carrasco is currently the Indians’ “second ace”. His 2.66 xFIP for 2014-15 is the best in the AL (and third in all baseball) over that period. Considering the cost of the Lee 2011 extension, I give Advantage – Cleveland.
The bottom line? Shapiro seems to have an eye for identifying good young talent, and for developing it to the major league level. Both skills could be hugely valuable to the Jays – and it is very possible that he will continue to have input in those decisions. Welcome to Toronto, Mr. Shaipro!