The New England Patriots recently traded away one of their more talented players, Richard Seymor to the struggling Oakland Raiders for a first round pick in 2011. Jason Lisk provides an interesting review of the trade at Pro Football Reference. The summary though, is this. If we assume that the Patriots sign their 2011 pick to a 5 year contract, they have made their team more competitive through 2016 and only sacrificed a small loss in performance at defensive end for the rest of the year. The Patriots have two talented DE in Warren and Green who will miss having Seymor around, but not in a way that is likely to impact the outcome of any football games.
This trade has to be the model for the Pittsburgh Pirates after they become competitive. There have been far too many columns in local papers over the last month that say that the test of ownership will be “whether the Pirates resign their players when they’re playing well.” This statement is far too generic. The Pirates should only keep talent when it is the best cost/benefit solution at a position. To remain competitive (once we achieve competitiveness in the first place of course) the Pirates must constantly be open to accepting deals that will help the team in the long run without cripling it in the short term. The best example I can give of this Richard Seymor like trade is the Nate McLouth trade. If the Pirates were competing, I would still expect that trade to be made. McCutchen was ready in the minors and the Braves were offering more then they should.
This philosophy won’t be popular with the unenlightened fans, but these trades have to be part of the Pirates long-term future, especially if Baseball’s economics remain as they are.