The Big Trade — waiting for clarity

"The player to be named component is a very important part of the value equation for us ... I know it's hard to get your arms around it when you see that PTBNL in there, but that's an advantage for us that we negotiated, to give us a little more time ... we'd probably have gone in a different direction if that player wasn't included."

If you came here looking for info on Sabathia and LaPorta — see below.

Ryan reported heavy trade talks on Friday night.

Andrew said farewell to C.C. on Sunday morning.

Ryan linked to reports of an imminent deal Sunday afternoon.

I wrote up the basic deal a few hours later.

Ryan summarized the reasons for the deal late last night.

Our buddy The Diatriber posted a nice intro to LaPorta last night.

Despite that little flurry of content, however ... we still don't know quite what to make of this deal, because we don't have all the details.  As of this moment, the Brewers have concluded their press conference and Shapiro is speaking live on TV right now, including the quote above.  We can talk about Sabathia and LaPorta, but we can't really assess this deal until all the players are known.

The talks initially were reported as involving our getting three prospects — one impact guy, one potential impact guy, and another solid prospect from the lower levels, akin to Phillips, Lee and Sizemore from the Colon deal.  It quickly became apparent that that second "potential impact guy" was two much to ask.

The deal then became one major prospect and two other good prospects — and that's where it remained.  But a confusing twist emerged when a fourth player was added to the deal — Triple-A pitcher Zach Jackson — and the insertion of those letters "PTBNL" in place of an actual.

While potentially useful, Jackson is not a prospect, and there is every indication that he is the fourth guy — the throw-in — rather than one of the main three guys who are key to the deal.  And in contrast, the PTBNL, almost always a throw-in, in this case apparently is a significant prospect — reportedly a choice of three prospects that includes 3B/2B Taylor Green, the Brewers' minor league player of the year last season.  So from what we understand ...

THE DEAL IS NOT:

1. Impact prospect OF Matt LaPorta
2. Lower-level prospect RHP Rob Bryson
3. Scrub minor leaguer LHP Zach Jackson
4. Throw-in PTBNL

THE DEAL IS:

1. Impact prospect OF Matt LaPorta
2. Quality prospect PTBNL (such as 3B/2B Green)
3. Lower-level prospect RHP Rob Bryson
4. Throw-in LHP Zach Jackson

LaPorta is comparable to Phillips (as a 2002 prospect).  The PTBNL, as we understand it, may not be at the level of Cliff Lee (2002) but is still a significant talent to add.  Bryson likewise is not quite comparable to Sizemore (2002) but isn't too far off.  Jackson isn't Lee Stevens at all, but the needs were different — at that time, the Expos needed us to take Stevens' contract; at this time, we need another warm body — any warm body — to throw the ball at the plate in Buffalo and possibly Cleveland.

As for the PTBNL, aside from Green, the most commonly cited name is CF Michael Brantley — a potential leadoff hitter who may not have enough pop to make his patience and contact-hitting work in the majors — and RF Lorenzo Cain — a five-tools guy who skipped Double-A but has yet to put up impressive numbers at any level.  None of these names can be reported officially, and the only name that has been reported consistently as being on the Indians' pick list is Green.

As Shapiro acknowledged, this is hard to get a handle on — it is, in a sense, a tremendously clumsy bit of PR, adding insult to Indians fans' injury on already bruising day.  But give Shapiro credit for consistency — ever since the Colon deal, he's always been willing to take a PR black-eye when he thinks he can get better value for the team.  A few voices within the industry are saying they think the Indians could have done better — and that may well be the case.  But it's hard to really make a judgment on that until the Indians pick that second guy, and according to Shapiro, they have a ful two months (the end of the minor league season) to do that.

We'll have more on Bryson and Jackson later today.

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