Well this is fascinating. Hackers broke into the Houston Astros' internal communications database and released to the web 10 months' worth of notes about trade talks between the Astros and other MLB teams.
It's an insider's look at how MLB trade discussions work — and really, it's not all that different than what you see in your average fantasy baseball league, except someone's assistant is keeping track of every conversation, perfect for second-guessing months down the road. There are high demands, less-than-thrilling counter offers and plenty of would-be scenarios that never actually take place.
The Astros, of course, are in the middle of a big rebuilding plan, which has both been criticized by ex-players and earned them the cover of Sports Illustrated as future World Series champs. Their database security, however, isn't going to make the cover of Wired anytime soon.
The docs were leaked in two parts to a site called Anonbin — one part deals with last season's trade deadline, and another is offseason trade talks. Deadspin brought these to light, and they've actually translated the docs into a much-easier to read trade-talk timeline. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan confirmed that these documents are the real deal, and the Astros later said as much too.
The most interesting part of the leaked notes is the trades that never happened, mostly because it's unusual that we hear about rejected trade offers. Here are a few highlights:
• The Astros say they scoffed at an offer in November for Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. The Marlins wanted hot-shot rookie George Springer and top prospect Carlos Correa, according to the Astros. The Marlins denied this Monday after the docs went public. But the Astros notes make it sound as if Miami wasn't especially keen on trading Stanton and just threw out an ask-high offer. At least we (maybe) knew what the Marlins were looking for in return for Stanton. Their price has to be higher today, considering Stanton's stellar season.
• Last July before the trade deadline, the Astros wanted a few teams' top prospect for pitcher Bud Norris, including Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox and Gregory Polanco of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Astros also wanted Dylan Bundy, the once top pitching prospect for the Baltimore Orioles, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Norris eventually went to Baltimore, but the return was much less — outfielder L.J. Hoes, pitcher Josh Hader and a draft pick.
• The A's offered pitcher Brett Anderson (who eventually went to Colorado) to the Astros for Delino Deshields Jr., Brad Peacock and Max Stassi. Oddly enough, the A's were the ones who traded Peacock and Strassi to the Astros in early 2013. Oh, Billy Beane.
• The Rangers inquired about Astros rookie slugger Jon Singleton before trading for Prince Fielder.
• The Dodgers indicated to the Astros that if they were to trade one of their four outfielders, it would be Carl Crawford.
• The Yankees wanted to trade Ichiro Suzuki to the Astros and were willing to pay two-thirds of his $6.5 million salary.
• Lots of teams were interested in catcher Jason Castro, and might still be. The Chicago White Sox, for one, were trying to get Castro in what became the three-way Mark Trumbo deal with the Angels and D-backs. Instead, the White Sox landed Adam Eaton.
• There are a number of notes about pitcher Lucas Harrell. At one point the Astros wanted the Washington Nationals' 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. The Nats didn't even respond. What makes this funny is the Astros DFA'd Harrell in April, then traded him for cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Here's the moral of Astros' talks: Always ask high. Never know when a team has soured on a player and you might be able to snake him cheap.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 30, 2014
There will be others lessons to be learned here. Certainly, some people will criticize the Astros for their use of technology (computers, bad!) Some players will be very interested to find out how much (or not so much) their teams value them. And, of course, there are going to be plenty of jokes. Twitter was full of cracks about other teams' leaked trade notes:
Leaked Diamondbacks files just jpegs of bathroom stall walls covered in grit gang tags and phone numbers to call if you want to get punched.— Bryan Murphy (@Every6thDay) June 30, 2014
New leaked documents from the Oakland front office are just a bunch of photos of Billy Beane flipping everyone off.— Ted Berg (@OGTedBerg) June 30, 2014
Phillies' trade talks are secreted within Social Security direct deposit notifications.— dianagram (@dianagram) June 30, 2014
This probably isn't the start of some Wikileaks-like breach of baseball systems league-wide. But you can bet a good number of MLB teams are double-checking any password-protected internal notes they've got sitting around on a server somewhere.
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