In all the uproar over the Hall of Fame voting results, an already low-profile trade completely flew under the radar last week as Cleveland traded Jeanmar Gomez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfield prospect Quincy Latimore. It was hardly a blockbuster deal and there’s a good chance fans will never see Latimore’s name written into the Tribe’s lineup, but this was a good deal for the Indians for one simple reason: They turned nothing into something.
Gomez had already been designated for assignment the week before, which had two major implications. First, it means Gomez’ tenure with the Tribe was effectively over. It seemed unlikely that Gomez would make the team in 2013 anyway after he went 5-8 with a 5.96 ERA in 20 outings for Cleveland—he was probably no better than the ninth-best starting pitcher in the organization—but his removal from the 40-man roster made that all but official. In other words, the Indians weren’t giving up much in trading him.
Second, it meant Cleveland had no leverage in trade negotiations. All 29 other MLB teams knew that the Indians had 10 days to either trade him or expose him to be taken from them outright, either by putting him on waivers or releasing him. It’s unlikely that many teams were interested enough in Gomez to give up anything for him, so the Pirates probably could have just waited the Tribe out and then simply claimed or signed Gomez. Yet the Indians still managed to get something out of it.
That “something” isn’t much. Latimore will be 24 years old next month and has never played above Double-A, where he owns a decent but unremarkable .245/.308/.422 batting line after two seasons. Pirates Prospects writes that Latimore has “some of the best power in the system,” but he is plagued by inconsistency and “his strike zone judgment has always held him back.” At his age he’ll need to turn things around pretty quickly if he wants to be considered a legitimate prospect. But he’s still far more valuable to the Indians than Gomez was at the time of the trade.
To be fair, Gomez is 24 years old and pitched well in 2011, so it’s not as though the Pirates didn’t get anything out of it. But Chris Antonetti turned a player who didn’t have much to offer the team and who was as good as gone anyway into a young outfielder who has a nonzero chance of helping the big-league team someday. And that ain’t nothin’.