Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Don't Want A Player To Be Named Later!?!?

Ever seen across the ESPN bottom line the following, "Cubs trade Rich Hill to the Marlins for a player to be named later"

If your a Cubs fan your probably screaming at the television saying, "Did we even get anything back for him!?" And if your a Marlins fan then your saying, "Sweet! we got Rich Hill and didn't even give up anyone to get him!"

This year when the Padres traded Jack Cust to the A's for a player to be named later and Cust immediately made an impact with 7 homeruns in his first 10 games, I wondered, who did the A's give up to get this guy?

I thought of all kinds of crazy theories like: 1)the Padres just wanted to rid themselves of Cust, so agreed to give him away before actually agreeing on who they get back. 2) The Padres wanted to see him perform but didn't want to waste the at-bats, so A's agreed to give him the at-bats, and would either return him or give them a player who performed the same as Cust. This obviously got me worried that my A's would have to give away some good player for Cust.

So, being the solutions oriented guy that I am, got down to the bottom of this. The details are pretty complicated, as are all MLB transaction rules, but I'll try to make it as clear and straightfoward as possible.

The most important thing to know is that while one team receives the one player (the Jack Cust) the other team does receive one player later, specifically within 6 months. Now, what goes down is that, and I'll use the Jack Cust example, the Pads agree to give Cust away, and the A's give a list of players to the Padres of which they will choose one within six months to keep.

Over these six months the Padres will intensely scout the "listed" players, and eventually choose one to keep.

The six month rule comes from a 1987 trade between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs, in which the Tigers gave the Cubs a player, I do not know his name, in exchange for a player to be named later. The two teams could never agree on the player to be named later, and so after the season, the Cubs simply gave the Tiger's player back. The MLB considered this unacceptable and put in the 6 month rule.

Unfortunately there have not been too many exciting "player to be named later deals" as they are usually side add-ons where premier players are not swapped. However, there was a pretty big one back in 2002 between the A's (of course) and the Tigers. The A's gave Carlos Pena (don't worry, he didn't hit 46 home runs that year) and Franklyn German, and a player to be named later for Jeff Weaver. The Tigers decided between several prospects until a couple of months later they chose Jeremy Bonderman. This appeared huge a year ago, until in 2007 Bonderman fell apart in the second half, although hopes are still pretty high on the young pitcher.

Well now you know everything there is to know about the player to be named later rule. Hopefully you won't flip out at your television next time you see this type of deal.



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