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On Trading Magglio Ordonez


Look, I like Jon Paul Morosi (apart from him spelling his first name wrong), I do. So when he broached the subject of the Tigers trading away Magglio Ordonez, I did give it some thought. About 1.5 seconds worth of it. I assumed, like most silly ideas that have no real shot of happening, that it would go away. But two days later, the idea has been picked up by a few different outlets so now I guess I should address it.

Morosi’s idea isn’t without merit. Ordonez has been a disappointment this season and because his age and injury history have cost him a step or two defensively, he isn’t great with the glove. It would seem ideal to use him primarily as the DH, but that isn’t going to happen in Detroit. As Morosi points out, the Tigers need to find ways to keep both Alex Avila and Victor Martinez in the lineup at the same time, and that means Maggs has to be an outfielder.

I think it’s far too easy to say “well, just trade him” as if that’s all it takes. In this video game world, far too many fans are under the delusion that just because a player is underperforming or no longer useful to your team, that another club will happily make a deal to help fix your problems. That’s just not the way it works. If you want to trade a player like Ordonez (or Brandon Inge), a few things have to happen. First, you have to find a team that actually values the player that you no longer value. That’s very tricky.

Think about it; if he was hitting .310, would you be talking about trading him? Of course not. But he’s not so you are. The problem is that if he was hitting .310, his trade value would be much higher than it is. Now we get to the second part: the money.

Maggs is making $10 million this season and there are very few clubs in a position to add significantly to their payroll. That means that if you do find a club that values Ordonez more highly than you do, that club also has to be able to take on the salary. If they can’t (and they probably can’t), now you need to eat part of (or even most of) Ordonez’s salary just to make the deal happen. There is a trade-off there, of course, by doing so you likely increase the return on the trade, but you are still dealing away Ordonez and paying the other club to take him.

Oh but that is not all. Ordonez (like Inge – and really this column works for both) has full no-trade rights thanks to their 10-and-5 status (10 seasons in the majors, the last five with the same club) which means they can veto any deal. That means a lot to the veteran guys and it shouldn’t be dismissed in your minds. You you really think that a guy like Ordonez, who has never won a World Series, will be happy to walk away from a first place club so he can go DH in Seattle? I don’t see that as likely.

There will be a lot of clamoring by fans that want Andy Dirks and Brennan Boesch to play full-time. Yes, the outfield defense will be improved with Dirks in the lineup, but the Tigers are probably stuck with Magglio in rightfield anyway. In his two games since coming off the DL, Ordonez has gotten to a couple of balls I didn’t think he’d get to in the outfield and he has twice shown an accurate (and still strong enough) throwing arm. At the plate, he has stung at least three balls that were snagged by infielders, shots that easily could have been hits, but he has just a single to show for his efforts.

But watching him move around in right and watching him during those at bats, I think he’s healthy for the first time this year. And a healthy Maggs makes the Tigers a much better team overall. Not just better, but much better.

I just don’t think the Tigers want to trade him. And they’d have to really want to trade him to make it happen, because doing so would be very difficult.

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