11-11-2010: Why you won’t see a Matsuzaka-Fukudome trade


Yesterday, people were astir with a rumor started by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. He said that a deal was in the works to send Kosuke Fukudome to Boston (plus others) in exchange for Daisuke Matsuzaka in a swap of underwhelming Japanese players. Both players have disappointed in their Major League stints, and alienated the home crowds to some extent; maybe a change of scenery is what they need? The logic appears sound. But a closer look shows there is no way this deal would go down.

First, Daisuke. Disappointing? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Bad contract? Two more years at $10M/year (you have to forget about the $51M, it’s a sunk cost regardless). That’s not great, but hey, lots of mediocre starters get paid that amount. Say what you like, but Matsuzaka has been a serviceable starter for us, going 46-27 with a 4.18 ERA over four seasons (Josh Beckett is 71-40 with a 4.29 ERA over 5 years with us). With the exception of an injured 2009, he’s made at least 25 starts and gone over 150 IP every year. He’s struck out 8.3 K/9 and generated 10.2 WAR according to FanGraphs. We expect him to do something similar in 2011 and 2012, which in the final analysis is pretty valuable. Lots of teams would like to have him. But he’s also got that pesky no-trade clause, and there’s been no indication that he would welcome a move to Chicago. The West Coast seems like a much more natural landing spot for Dice-K, who’s indicated a desire to be closer to Japan.

Now let’s look closer at Fukudome. He is a 34-year old outfielder with a career .259/.368/.410 line in three seasons for the Cubbies. He walks a lot, has average power (.151 ISO), and plays a good right field (+5.7 UZR/150). He’s got some defensive limitations in centerfield (-14.2 UZR/150), where his bat would fit better, and there’s the whole adjustment to the tougher AL East (my calculations have him as a .239/.333/.374 hitter in Fenway). That pretty much makes him a fringy player at best in our division, and likely a fourth outfielder on our team, since he bats lefty and isn’t even a platoon candidate with J.D. Drew. We already have one of those on our team; his name is Darnell McDonald. An additional problem is that Fukudome is owed $13.5M in 2011, after which his contract is up. So tell me again, why would we want to trade anything for him, let alone our 5th starter (as frustrating as he is)?

The only way this deal makes sense is if the rebuilding Cubs send over a very good prospect as the centerpiece of a trade, not Fukudome. And that would be stupid, like this rumor.

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3 Responses to 11-11-2010: Why you won’t see a Matsuzaka-Fukudome trade

  1. bliss says:

    Over the past two season Daisuke Matsuzaka has a FanGraphs WAR of 3.1 while Kosuke Fukudome has a WAR of 4.1. Of Matsuzaka’s 10.2 WAR reported in this piece, 7.1 WAR came more than two seasons ago.

    The Red Sox probably don’t have a great need for Fukudome’s skill set (or the Cubs for Matsuzaka’s skill set), but Fukudome and Matsuzaka have similar trade values.

    • redsoxtalk says:

      Bliss, while the numbers you quote are accurate, you can not look at Matsuzaka’s injured 2009 and say that his 2011 projection will follow those numbers. That’s just not a fair assessment of his value. If Fukudome had been injured and missed 75% of his playing time in 2009, you could easily turn the argument around.

      What you should do is look at what he does when healthy. If you want to limit it to two seasons, we’re talking 5.8 fWAR and 6.3 rWAR versus KF’s 4.1 WAR. So sabermetrics also agrees that this is not a fair trade.

      In short, their trade values are just NOT the same.

  2. Pat says:

    I completely understand why people hope we trade Daisuke, but his contract is at least fair, if not a value.

    I feel like with regression from the starters, better outfield defense, and some decent setup men for Paps and Bard, our run prevention could be top five in the AL.

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