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The little trade that could


Oct 24, 2002
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Credit: MLB.com

03/20/2003 1:51 pm ET
The little trade that could

By: John Schlegel

The relative quiet of Spring Training 2003 wasn't exactly rattled to its core by Wednesday's trade between the Yankees and Padres, but at least it was something. And it's something that will help both clubs in completely different ways.
For the Padres, bringing in Rondell White might help for this year on the field. More important, it definitely helps for next year in the financial books as the Padres prepare to open PETCO Park.

For the Yankees, bringing in Bubba Trammell is one of those fine-tuning deals that a team of the Yankees' caliber can make, filling a specific need with a specific player -- right-handed power bat, corner outfielder, DH. That's Bubba right there. Throw in a former No. 1 pick in lefty Mark Phillips, and the Yankees did OK by this deal.

The Padres have a two-fold goal with this deal: 1.) Get somebody who can not only give Ryan Klesko some protection, but also can provide strong defense in the outfield; 2.) Remove the commitment of about $5 million to Trammell for next year.

The first goal represents defensive improvement in the outfield, but it's hard to see it making a big difference in the standings. The Padres still very likely have a rough season ahead of them even if White is poised for the best year of his career. They still don't have slugger Phil Nevin for the year, and they're still without closer Trevor Hoffman for at least a few months of it. The positive for White is that at least he'll play every day, health permitting, and he didn't have that guarantee in New York after the arrival of Hideki Matsui.

The second goal for the Padres is a sound one. The Padres take on a little more salary this year, but that should be covered by insurance on Nevin's contract. By chipping away at 2004 salary commitments, the Padres hope to acquire an impact player or two next offseason to make the team they field for their first year at PETCO Park a contending one. They could make another similar move, perhaps with starter Kevin Jarvis, before too long.

All in all, it wasn't a bad little swap of outfielders -- one that if made a few years ago, before White's spate of injury problems, might have been hailed as the steal of the new century. But Trammell actually has outperformed White over the last couple of years, earning the multiyear deal the Padres rid themselves of with this deal.

We shouldn't ignore the third player in the deal, the lefty Phillips. When he was drafted by the Padres in 2000, they thought they might have a gem in the making, a big kid who dominated in high school. But he's at least three years away still, and his progress has been limited early in his pro career.

If Phillips pans out, we'll look back on this trade as a win for the Yankees. For now, it's pretty much of a wash, with the Padres taking the future financial gain.

Hey, it broke the silence, at least. We'll have to see if it's only the first note of a chorus.

John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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