Trade Debate: Bell for Gregg

An interesting trade went down in the FB365 League last week. Two teams swapped closers Heath Bell and Kevin Gregg straight up. This caught the attention of not only myself, but other league members.

Here’s the explanation from Dave, who traded Bell for Gregg:

Challenge trade. I acquired Gregg. My reasons.

(1) A non-insignificant chance of Heath Bell getting traded midseason, possibly where he’ll be used in a setup role. The Padres’ NIL (next in line) is already owned in this league. So I would lose a significant source of saves.

(2) You could say the same for Kevin Gregg I suppose, but:

a – He is less of a PC (Proven Closer, trademark), so has less trade value to his current team
b – His contract is less of problem infringement upon his current team ($2 million versus $4 million)
c – His future replacement at closer is unknown (Frasor? meh) and certainly available for me to pursue if that moment arrives.

(3) Kevin Gregg has added a new pitch this year (cutter) and significantly changed his mix of pitches. He’s also throwing the splitter more often and has some sort of mystery pitch. Unless baseball info solutions (by way of fangraphs) has no idea what they’re talking about here, I’m willing to believe (or at least gamble) that Gregg’s improved K and BB rates are legitimate. So I’m betting that he can maintain the majority of those gains, whereas the market in general is probably less bullish. So for me that creates a perceived buying opportunity.

The deal is obviously not without risk. Gregg’s H/9 will come up, and I’m a little nervous about him pitching in the AL East. But those are the risks I’m willing to take in an effort to secure a closer for the entire season, who I think has legitimately increased his value.

On the other end, Mark, from FB Hot Stove, seemed happy to give up Gregg to acquire Bell:

When in doubt I will always roll the dice. It’s more fun that way. There’s definitely some doubt in this trade with Bell’s potential to be a set up man, but I don’t think the Padres will trade him unless they get a great offer. I don’t think a team will have a great offer for the Padres unless they need a closer (Phillies).

Now that’s on the assumption that he will be traded. The Padres are in first place right now. Do I expect them to make the playoffs? No, but I think they can stay in the race and that will impact the availability of Gonzalez and Bell. If Bell becomes a closer somewhere else he loses some value without Petco, but I think that’s the current value of Gregg. This is the same Kevin Gregg that wasn’t good enough to stop a walking machine of a pitcher in Marmol last year from taking his job.

Both of these arguments are legit. Gregg seems to have made a major adjustment this season and comes without trade whispers, for now. Bell is one of the best closers in the game, but the Padres were rumored to be shopping him this offseason. Funny how things have changed a little. The Padres are playing well while Toronto seems to have a big time trade chip in Gregg, who is only signed for 2010.

We’ll see how this plays out come July.