Judging Mark Shapiro's GM Tenure: High-Profile Trades

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Background: With the Indians struggling and unable to reach a deal with ace Sabathia on a long-term deal, Shapiro struck early in order to get the prospect he wanted (LaPorta) and not get stuck holding the bag on Sabathia. In hindsight, Shapiro probably pulled the plug on the ’08 Indians a little too soon, but by far the biggest mistake in this deal was insisting on LaPorta, a player who scouts initially fawned over for his right-handed power; he hasn’t amounted to much in Cleveland, despite ample chances.

People love to blast this deal, but the emergence of Brantley as a legitimate everyday outfielder has softened the blow of losing ace Sabathia, who admittedly was brilliant in his half-season with the Brewers. But Sabathia didn’t stay with Milwaukee, instead taking a huge deal in the offseason from the New York Yankees, and all the Brewers had to show for this was a wild card showing. It should also be noted that Bryson is only 24 and put up good numbers for Akron’s bullpen. Getting a player like Brantley for a half-season of Sabathia is actually a better return than many teams get for pitchers in similar situations, but the failure of LaPorta looms over this deal.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Sabathia, half season with MIL: 4.7 WAR

Jackson, 2 years with CLE: -0.7 WAR
LaPorta, 4 years with CLE: -1.4 WAR
Brantley, 4 years with CLE: 3.1 WAR


Background: The Indians continued their mini-fire sale in the summer of 2008 by dealing Blake to the surging Dodgers. Blake was in the middle of a decent season, but once again Shapiro was able to spin a complementary player in Blake into a core player in Santana. It’s worth pointing out that the Indians paid the majority of Blake’s remaining salary in exchange for a better prospect (Santana), and their willingness to spend has paid dividends so far.

Blake performed well for LA in 2008 (as well as 2009 and 2010 after he was re-signed), but the Indians have definitely received a player they can build around in Santana. Meloan was a throw-in, and did pitch in a couple of games for the Indians in 2008 before he was traded to the Rays in a minor-league deal.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Blake, 4 years with LAD (re-signed December 2008): 8.6 WAR

Santana, 3 years with CLE (signed extension through 2017): 8.4 WAR



Background: Despite a $90 million dollar payroll, the Indians were underperforming in 2009 and Shapiro decided to maximize his return on his biggest trade chip, and dealt Lee a year and a half before free agency. At the time, all of the players received by Cleveland were highly ranked prospects, but the prize here was Knapp, a hard-throwing righty who was only 19. But the best-laid plans would not come to pass, as Knapp barely pitched in the Tribe’s system due to shoulder injuries.

Despite still being young, the Indians decided to cut their losses and Knapp was released late in the 2012 season, and will probably not pitch again. Donald and Marson have shown they can be serviceable backups, but not much more. Carrasco has shown flashes of brilliance, and is the Indians’ last hope for an impact player in this deal, however he is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. (Per the rules of my research, only Lee’s 2010 season with Philadelphia was included in the analysis, as he was traded to Seattle that offseason, even though he did re-sign with the Phillies after the 2010 season.)

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Lee, half season with PHI: 1.0 WAR
Fransisco, 3 years with PHI: -0.5 WAR

Marson, 4 years with CLE: 0.8 WAR
Donald, 3 years with CLE: 1.1 WAR
Carrasco, 3 years with CLE: 0.3 WAR
Knapp: never reached Majors


Background: If the Cliff Lee trade rocked the Indians and their fanbase in 2009, then the trade of Victor Martinez was a backstabbing dagger that somehow found the heart. Martinez was the heart and soul of the 2005-2009 Indians, not to mention he was one of their best producers.

In his defense, Shapiro definitely sold high here. Masterson has emerged as a potential front-end starter, and that alone was worth trading a 30-year old, somewhat injury-prone catcher who was blocking the Indians’ best prospect anyways. Hagadone has shown promise as an impact bullpen guy in short stints with the big-league club (although his future with the club is cloudy after a somewhat messy handling of an injury), and Price spent 2012 at triple-A and may be a bullpen option in 2013. As far as returns on trades, Shapiro got fair value here. But it was a bitter pill for Tribe fans to see their beloved captain in the same uniform of the team that had vanquished the Indians in the playoffs just two seasons earlier.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Martinez, 2 years with BOS: 4.5 WAR

Masterson, 4 years with CLE: 3.5 WAR
Hagadone, 2 years with CLE: -0.4 WAR


How would you grade Mark Shapiro's handling of high-profile trades during his tenure as GM?

  • C (48%, 10 Votes)
  • B (33%, 7 Votes)
  • D (14%, 3 Votes)
  • F (5%, 1 Votes)
  • A (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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