On this date three years ago, the Reds traded Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for Edinson Volquez (and relief pitcher Danny Herrera).
Both players had breakout seasons in 2008. Hamilton hit .304 with 32 home runs, a .371 OBP and .385 Weighted On-Base Average. (Think OPS, but better. A .335 wOBA is average). Volquez was 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA (3.60 FIP).
After the 2008 season, the trade was hailed as a rare instance in which a trade benefited both teams. In fact, if we use a metric that allows the comparison of pitchers and position players (Wins Above Replacement via Fangraphs.com), Volquez was slightly more valuable (4.2 WAR) in 2008 than Hamilton (3.8 WAR).
Moving forward, both players were derailed by injuries in 2009. Hamilton was disabled multiple times and played only 89 games, hitting .268 with 10 home runs. Volquez was shut down after just nine starts with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
But in 2010, Hamilton’s performance distanced itself from that of Volquez. In addition to being sidelined until the second-half following surgery, Volquez was also suspended 50 games for using a performance enhancing drug. He would make just 12 starts, going 4-3, with a 4.31 ERA (4.00 FIP).
Meanwhile Hamilton led the American League with a .359 average, hit 32 home runs and posted an incredible .447 wOBA. Hamilton was named the AL MVP.
In three seasons, Hamilton has posted a 13.1 total WAR which has been worth $55.2 million to the Rangers in terms of production on the field (each Win in WAR is worth ~$4M). Volquez has been worth $23.6 million (5.4 WAR) over the last three seasons. (Herrera has been worth ~$2.6M).
A trade that seemed to start out so well for both teams has taken a turn for the worse for the Reds. While there is still time for Volquez to rebound, this trade has been a clear win for the Rangers.
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