According to a number of reports, the Giants traded Russ Ortiz yesterday due in part to his 2003 salary. Said Brain Sabean:
"It was brutal. I really had a hard time getting on the phone with him. You draft him, see him develop under your eyes. If it weren't for Russ we wouldn't have gotten to the World Series...Anybody who's followed the transactions of our club lately, we're trying to improve our club and stay within the parameters of our payroll. People know we're committed to action. We're going to do something, and we also had a player people were interested in.''
Well, why trade Ortiz then? He was arguably the Giants best starter last year and he would have been third in the rotation as far as payroll:
Jason Schmidt, $5.75 M (plus $8.5 M in 2004, $8.8 M in 2005, $10 M option/$300K buyout 2006), 2.1 SNWAR
Kirk Rueter, $4.75M, 2.9 SNWAR
Russ Ortiz, $4.4 M (ESPN says $4.6 M) plus option ($5.7 M option/$300K buyout for 2004), 3.0 SNWAR (just behind top 30 pitchers)
Livan Hernandez, $3.5 M plus option ($6.0M), 0.7 SNWAR
Ryan Jensen, ? (made $209 K in 2002), 0.5 SNWAR
Kurt Ainsworth, ? (made $200 k in 2002), 0.3 SNWAR
Robb Nenn, $8.6 M (plus $9 M for 2004), 15.0 ARP (23rd in MLB but second behind
Felix Rodriguez, $3.0M (plus two option years, $5M team/$3 M player), -0.7 ARP
Jason Christiansen, $2.2M (plus $2.3 M for 2004, $3.25 M option/$300K buyout for 2005), -0.2 ARP
Tim Worrell, $2 M, 9.3 ARP
Jay Witasick, ? (made $1.2 M in 2002), 16.1 ARP (20th in MLB)
Schmidt and Hernandez look like far better candidates from the Giants' point of view, but maybe there was no interest for those two. Did the Giants even try to trade them? I heard no rumors about it. It seemed like the Ortiz deal came out of the blue as well. Maybe I just wasn't keeping up enough with the Giants.
However, if payroll is a concern, why not trade some of the overpriced bullpen staff (read Robb Nen) instead of a starter?
Lastly, if the Giants chose to trade Ortiz because of his salary and because they felt that 2002 was a career year, one that he was unlikely to replicate, then why not foist him off to another club and get someone worthwhile in return. Moss barely figured in the Braves plans even though they were losing potentially two-fifths of their rotation. He obviously was not well thought of in Atlanta. Maybe the Braves were mistaken. After all, Randall Simon was a bit better than the Braves surmised. I would tend to doubt Leo Mazzone and Bobby Cox's fallibility when it comes to pitchers.
Even with the contract concerns, this was a very bad trade for the Giants.