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Steve Phillips offered Wright to Blue Jays for Cruz Jr in 2002


Crazysilver03

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Yesterday, Keith Law confirmed an interesting old trade rumor, noting that he was in the room in 2002 when Steve Phillips offered J.P. Ricciardi a straight up swap of David Wright for Jose Cruz Jr, which Ricciardi then declined. Given how their careers have gone since, the obvious reaction is that this was a massive blunder by the Blue Jays. However, they didn’t have any way of knowing the future, so they were left to make decisions based on the information available at the time. So, let’s go back in time and look at the proposal as it would have been viewed at the time.
During the 2002 season, Wright was a 19-year-old in the low-A South Atlantic League, a year removed from being a supplemental first round pick. He hit .266/.367/.401 in the pitcher-friendly league, but the combination of little power and a lot of strikeouts were concerns. There were reasons for optimism and pessimism, which isn’t particularly surprising for a teenager that was several years from the majors, but Wright was a prospect, even if not an elite one.

First, I think it is a poor decision not to get anything for a player you know is going to walk at the end of the year.

Second, I don't understand how a GM (Phillips) could value a 3 month rental of a player the same value as a player you just selected in the supplemental round in the previous draft.

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Second, I don't understand how a GM (Phillips) could value a 3 month rental of a player the same value as a player you just selected in the supplemental round in the previous draft.

It wasn't a 3 month rental, it was a 15 month rental. Cruz was non-tendered at the end of 2002, not due for free agency until 2003. Cruz was perpetually butting heads with Jays management and needed to go. I think this would have been a good move for Phillips. A player who was at the time, an above average major leaguer, straight up for a player who was a year removed from being a supplemental first-round draft pick and had yet to show that he was significantly better than that? I don't see how that can be a terrible trade. Jose Cruz Jr. was much more of a sure thing than Wright at the time and anytime you can get an above average major leaguer for a #75 prospect, that is a move you have to make. Jose Cruz was spinning his wheels at the time, but he was only 28 and coming off a season where he hit 34 home runs. Look at BA's list of top prospects at the end of 2002. Some of the guys around Wright's spot ended up with productive Major League careers but many others did not.

Yes, Wright ended up having a great career but that doesn't make Steve Phillips a poor GM for offering this trade. There are many other decisions Phillips made that showed what a poor GM than this one. Any time you want to trade a prospect for an established major leaguer there is a risk that the prospect will break out, but it was not any more foreseeable that Wright became an All-Star than say, Kurt Ainsworth.

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