This past weekend we saw two of the Baltimore Orioles’ division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox, consumate a trade. However this wasn’t any normal trade per se, it involved manager John Farrell who is now the skipper in Boston and has been signed to a contract extension. Farrell, Boston’s former pitching coach, was in effect released from his contract in Toronto in exchange for infielder Mike Aviles (who was sent to Toronto). Major league rules don’t allow for a player to be traded for a manager, so reliever David Carpenter was also sent to Boston. Technically Toronto traded a relief pitcher for an infielder; in true reality they traded a coach for an infielder.
Obviously the league frowns upon coaches being involved in trades because they have a rule against it. However I would submit that the rule is merely a token in effect given that it’s not really air tight. The flip side is that what exactly can be done to prevent it? If a team fires a coach, he’s still under contract so in theory he can’t go to another team and he receives his full salary from the original franchise. However Toronto didn’t fire Farrell, they released him from his contract. So he was free to go anywhere. We saw a similar scenario last year when Ozzie Guillen was “traded” to the Miami Marlins from the ChiSox. We’ve also seen it happen in the NFL when John Gruden went from the Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
My personal stance is that I’m against this practice. And unlike many other opinions I have, I can’t really personify why I’m against it. I suppose I feel that trades should involve players only. The more idealistic group of readers will say “why?” And again short of saying that trades should be players only, I can’t really tell you why I feel that way. Again, the league is obviously against the practice because there’s a rule against it. However there’s also a loophole, which is why what Toronto and Boston are doing is legal.
According to an article by Scott Lauber in yesterday’s Boston Globe, Farrell approached the Blue Jays a couple of weeks ago and stated that if Boston came calling he wanted the opportunity to go there. I don’t have anything against Farrell per se, and I recognize that there is a sentimental attachment to the Red Sox and the city of Boston for him. However I do question what that says about him; I’m also big on honoring your commitments. The other side of that is while Toronto got a player in Aviles that will be able to help them immediately, they in effect just helped to bail out a division rival. Had I been the GM in Toronto and I knew that someone in my division wanted my manager, I’d probably stick it to them. In fact, that doesn’t stop just with the manager. I’m not big on making trades in my own division as it is with players. While any trade that you make should be helping you, the other guy isn’t making the trade on his end just for his health. The last thing I want to do is help one of my division rivals improve his team.
The potential ripple effect on the Orioles is that there’s speculation that Toronto might be interested in third base coach DeMarlo Hale as their new manager. No calls have been made to my knowledge as of yet, however it’s just speculation. Hale was Boston’s third base coach from 2006 – 2011 before joining the Orioles in 2012. I suppose that part or being successful in baseball is having your coaches picked as managers of other teams. Hale interviewed for the Boston job last week, but obviously did not have the position offered to him.