Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Revisiting The 2009 Scott Rolen Trade


On July 31st, 2009, the Toronto Blue Jays were five games under .500 and 13 games back of the division lead. Playoff hopes were fading quickly, and Scott Rolen had asked to be traded for "personal reasons". Rolen soon got his wish as he was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds for a package of Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart. The Reds were expecting to get an All-Star caliber third baseman for at least the next two years, while the Blue Jays were trying to speed up their lengthy rebuilding process that had not seen them make the playoffs since 1993.

Reds Side

The fourth place Reds had many problems as a team, but one of the worst was their situation at third base. In 2009, Reds' third baseman combined for a unspectacular 13 home runs and a .666 OPS while committing 20 errors at the hot corner. With no playoff hopes for 2009, the Reds were forced to focus on the next year and hope Scott Rolen would be the answer for their struggles at third base. Rolen was just that as he was even better than the year before, mashing his way to a .285/.358/.497 triple slash line and placing 14th in the National League MVP voting. The Reds compiled 91 wins and captured the NL Central crown before getting no hit and swept out of the first round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Rolen could not follow up on his spectacular 2010 season, posting a combined .696 OPS his next two years in Cincinnati prior to opting for retirement last offseason.


Blue Jays Side

Based on the return for Rolen, we can assume that the Blue Jays' mindset in this deal was to invest in the future. Former third round pick, Zach Stewart posted a 1.89 ERA over 105 innings in 2009 and quickly became one of the Blue Jays' top prospects. Stewart was eventually traded after just 16.2 big league innings and is now pitching for the White Sox Triple-A Affiliate. Josh Roenicke was also a top prospect in the Jays' organization, but a 6.46 ERA in his 36.2 big league innings led to him being outrighted and soon claimed by the Colorado Rockies. While both prospects that the Jays brought back in the deal didn't pan out the way they expected, the Jays still ended up getting the best piece in the four player swap.
Dusty Baker couldn't have been more precise during his comments about the deal back in 2009, stating "It could be a good move for Edwin, too, sometimes a change of scenery is good for you."
Encarnacion has enjoyed the change of scenery, finally breaking out in 2012. Encarnacion has absolutely mashed on his way to a combined .923 OPS and a .270 Isolated Slugging Percentage the last two seasons.


With Rolen retired, and Stewart and Roenicke out of the Blue Jays organization, Encarnacion stands as the lone player in the deal on the team he was originally traded to. The Blue Jays made sure it would stay like that on July 12th, 2012, giving Encarnacion a three-year, $27 million extension with a $10 million club option that has turned out to be a steal for the Blue Jays. The contract extension has kept one of the most feared 3-4 tandems of Bautista and Encarnacion together and helped solidify Toronto's offense as one of the finest in all of baseball. If Encarnacion can continue this production, this could very well be the trade that keeps on giving.

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