Analyzing the CC Trade Nearly 3 Years Later

I recently wrote a guest post for TradeToad which is a website that covers all trades in professional sports. I wrote a post on the trade of CC to the Brewers in 2008 in exchange for Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson. You can find the post on TradeToad here, or just read it below.

Following their ALCS run in 2007, the Indians fell apart in 2008. They were on their way to another rebuilding year and were looking to acquire prospects through trades.

The obvious player to trade was CC Sabathia, who was the Cy Young award winner in 2007. He was sure to bring in offers from teams that included many talented prospects. The Brewers were the team that eventually gave the Indians the best offer, as they included four prospects for CC.

The Brewers received CC Sabathia and sent first baseman Matt LaPorta, outfielder Michael Brantley, pitcher Zach Jackson, and pitcher Rob Bryson to the Indians. The trade was beneficial to the Brewers in the short term, but in the long term the Indians benefited the most.

The Brewers made this trade to help them reach the playoffs, and the addition of CC achieved that goal. The only problem was that they were eliminated in the first round and CC left at seasons end to join the Evil Empire in the Bronx. It was essentially the Brewers giving up four prospects for three months of CC. They have not been to the playoffs since.

The Indians have not reached the playoffs either, but they are utilizing the players that they received in the trade. Besides Rob Bryson, the players acquired have seen time in the majors.

Matt LaPorta was the most known player in the deal, as he was a first round pick in the 2007 draft. He played on the 2008 Olympic team and quickly rose through the minors. He reached the majors in 2009 and has not played up to his potential thus far. With the Indians he has a career average of .231 with 19 home runs and 63 RBI’s.

LaPorta was the Indians opening day starter at first base this season, but catcher Carlos Santana will also see time at first base this year. LaPorta must prove himself on offense before he will be an everyday starter.

Michael Brantley was not as hyped as LaPorta, but the team expects great things out of him in the near future. He started this season in center field, but the return of Grady Sizemore will see Brantley moving to left field.

He has yet to play in a full season for the Tribe, but 2011 should see him achieve that goal. In his short career with the team he has hit .266 with 35 RBI’s. He also has 14 stolen bases. Once he matures into his leadoff role, he should become one of the Indians top hitters.

The other two players acquired were both pitchers, Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson. Jackson pitched in 12 games for the Indians in 2008-2009 and started 10 of those games. He did not impress the front office and was dealt to the Blue Jays after the ’09 season. He is currently in the Rangers organization.
According to the Indians Prospect Insider, Bryson is the #27 overall prospect in the Indians farm system entering 2011. He spent 2010 in AA Akron and will likely open 2011 there as well.

Looking at where the Indians and Brewers are now, the trade was obviously a poor choice for the Brewers. They did reach the playoffs in 2008, but CC left and so did four of their top prospects. The Indians knew that CC was likely to leave the team anyway, so it was a great trade on their part.

Trade Grades:
Brewers C-
Indians A-

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Tags: CC Sabathia CC Sabathia Traded To Brewers

  • craig

    Seriously? Obviously a poor a choice for the Brewers?

    I, as a Brewer fan, and Mark Attanasio would clearly disagree.

    It wasn’t ideal for the Brewers, but for a playoff-starved fanbase that was in the process of drawing 3M fans in 2008, I’d say they do it over 10 times out of 10.

    Try to have a little perspective.

  • Chad

    I think that this is an incomplete assessment since the brewers also received two draft picks out of the trade when Sabathia signed with the Yankees. In 2009 the Brewers selected OF Kentrail Davis and OF Maxwell Walla with their compensation picks. Davis is currently rated as the Brewers #5 prospect, while Walla, although still young, has been a bust. This is just something to consider – I’m surprised you didn’t write about this in your article as it has been writted by numerous media sources; albeit correctly, unlike yours.

    • Steve Kubitza

      This is from an Indians perspective and how it affected their team.

  • Nic

    I disagree.
    First of all, the brewers made the playoffs for the first time in something like 26 years solely because of that trade. They have consequently drawn 3 million fans annually since then. Thats the same number of fans as the red sox – to watch a losing team. From a business standpoint, it was a huge win for the brewers.

    From a baseball standpoint, a fair analysis must include the players the brewer drafted with their compensation picks. Further, none of the players listed would be on the major league roster, with the possible exception of Brantley, if they had remained with the brewers organization. The trade was the right thing to do at the time, which is how you must analyze the decision.

    Further, I agree with Craig. Not a soul in Milwaukee would undo that trade if they had the chance.

  • Conrad

    A- for the Indians really? You mention LaPort really hasn’t proved anything. He was a senior pick out of college 4 years ago, so by age 26-27 he should be better than he is and be an everyday starter.

    Brantley seems like he will be the best piece in the deal if he keeps improving. Bryson will probably never sniff the big leagues and Jackson was gone.

    So you gave up a Cy Young winner, forgoing the 2 picks you would have recieved for his type A status and all you have is a potentially solid everyday player in Brantley and a underachieving (to date) LaPorta. Ask yourself, was this return better than the 2 picks (in the the top 50) would would have received if CC just left via free agency? I say no, especially considering Antonetti and Shaprio’s ability to identify good players to draft. Trade is a B for the Brewers because they mad ethe playoffs and got the picks. Trade is a C- (could go up if LaPorta meets expectations) for Cleveland.

  • Jeff

    Was this written by a high school sports fan?

    “Obviously a poor choice for the Brewers”?

    They went to the playoffs and rebuilt the fan base that year. Furthermore, it is arguable that the Draft Pick compensation recv’d from Sabathia is better than the players they gave up.

    How do you like that?

    If the Indians had kept CC, they might have more to show for it right now. Instead, LaPorta and Brantly *might* be future MLB Starters. Hardly worthy of an “A” rating.

    • Steve Kubitza

      How do I like it? The Indians are currently 9-4 and LaPorta and Brantley are both starters. I don’t see how they might be future starters when they are currently starters.

  • lovesthegame

    No way did this benefit the Indians more! The Brewers knew all along that they were not likely going to be able to keep CC, it was not a trade that came with the expectation of long term life, it was a rental meant to get them in the playoffs, which it did. CC did historically well in his span in Milwaukee, he even did enough to garner some Cy Young votes for 1/2 a season of work. And for a team that had not been to the playoffs in 26 years, making it was a big deal-not to mention they made it by one game. And they got draft picks.
    Just because the Indians got 4 players and several years of control in no way equates or tops the value the Brewers got. In fact, the thought was they got their next slugger in LaPorta, and Brantley has yet to show how successful he will be. Really, the performance thus far from the players sent to CLE have been completely underwhelming. No one in MIL regrets that deal. At best this is a deal that works out for both teams. But just because Brantley and LaPorta are staring, does not mean they are making a monumental impact on their team. If anything, we have yet to see really if this pays off for CLE. Thus far, considering the level of player they gave away, it seems more like a bust.

  • Jeff


    (and i feel bad for Indians fans, their team is horrible right now)

    They need everything to go right (Sizemore 100% healthy and re-signed or traded for the right young players, Carmona rebounding, Chinsenhall developing, Santana becoming an All-Star etc), just to be worth talking about.

  • Derek

    Couldn’t disagree with your post more.

    Added onto all the previous points raised by previous posters(Comp picks, fan base, etc) LaPorta was/would be still a blocked prospect for the Brewers.

    LaPorta is not/was not unseating Prince at 1B, nor Hart/Braun in the corners.

    When you take into the LaPorta blocked aspect, one can almost say that it broke down as CC-Brantly on the Brewers end since Jackson was a non-factor for Cleveland as well.

    • Steve Kubitza

      The Indians are currently 9-4 and first in the Central without Sizemore.

  • Dennis Bishop

    Horrible article…. sorry author, but it’s true. My feelings are in line with the other posters above, all of whom seem to have a better handle on Major League Baseball than you do. In addition to all the great points brought up previously, I think it’s important to also note that the Brewers had planned ahead for this move. They drafted LaPorta knowing that there was a good chance he was going to end up as a future trade chip.

  • Charlie

    I agree with everyone above … poorly analyzed. If Cleveland kept CC and took the comp picks would they be in better off? Maybe, maybe not. It was definitely not a ‘great’ trade for the Indians. I understand that you are an Indian fan … but this post is far from reality.

    • Steve Kubitza

      CC was going to leave anyway, and in return they received their starting first baseman and center/left fielder.

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