State Of The Trade: Volquez For Hamilton

It is a useful exercise to take a look back at trades that were made, to help evaluate exactly how they are going for both teams. With the news of Edinson Volquez receiving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, now seems like a good time to evaluate the deal that sent Volquez and Danny Herrera from Texas to Cincinnati in exchange for Josh Hamilton.

As Tim pointed out earlier this afternoon, the suspension itself does very little to impact Volquez's value to the Reds. His 50-game suspension begins tomorrow, with Volquez on the DL. He had Tommy John Surgery on August 3, 2009, so even the most optimistic projections wouldn't have had him back before the 50 games is up.

As to who is ahead in this deal, it is hard to say. Both Hamilton and Volquez have had one fantastic season with their post-trade teams. Hamilton posted a .304/.371/.530 line with Texas in 2008 during his age-27 season. Volquez, during that same season, put up a 17-6, 3.21 ERA line in his age-24 season.

By Baseball Prospectus' Wins Above Replacement Player, Volquez was worth 5.3 WARP in 2008, Hamilton checking in at 5.5. As per's WAR, Volquez was slightly ahead, 4.3 to 4.1. Both had injury-marred 2009 seasons, and have posted roughly equivalent value for their two teams so far.

Moving forward, Hamilton is off to a rough start in 2010, at .222/.333/.390 through his first 48 plate appearances. Volquez, of course, won't be able to help Cincinnati until later this season if at all.

With his litany of injuries, it is hard to count on Hamilton to recapture his 2007 form. Volquez is coming back from Tommy John surgery, a fairly common occurrence. Volquez is also significantly younger; Hamilton turns 29 on May 21, Volquez turns just 27 on July 3.  However, projecting pitchers is almost always harder than projecting hitters.

This challenge trade seems too close to call right now, but Volquez seems likelier to regain elite player status. More money, however, is due to Hamilton. He earns $3.25MM in 2010, as he was arbitration-eligible this past offseason, while Volquez makes just $445K (and the Reds won't need to pay him for the next 50 games, or roughly a third of that salary).

In the meantime? Danny Herrera keeps on keeping on, following a 3.06 ERA in 61 2/3 innings in 2009 with a strong start in 2010. Just 25, Herrera may be the difference-maker in this deal after all.

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