Baseball Transaction Trees

Baseball’s Winter Meetings often provide fans with lots of trade news and free agent signings. As a Red Sox fan, one of the unfortunate signings was the Cubs picking up Jon Lester. For my friends back in Philly, Jimmy Rollins is headed to Los Angeles. But then for Boston, at the time of writing it appears a deal may be imminent for Arizona’s Wade Miley in exchange for Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa.

The reason I mention all those names is that they reminded me of a series of graphics from last month that looked at the longest transaction trees for each team. Put simply, how far back can one guy being traded for another guy being signed as compensation for another guy leaving get you back in history. The following graphic tracks a different Red Sox trade, of Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman in 2014 back to the signing of Ken Ryan in 1986.

The transaction tree for Ranaudo and Workman
The transaction tree for Ranaudo and Workman

But what reminded me more specifically was the note that followed the above graphic that had Allen Webster as the longest trade-only tree for Boston. That starts because of the Hanley Ramirez signing in 2000—who returned to Boston only a few weeks in a free agent signing. Similarly, Jimmy Rollins was the longest transaction tree for the Phillies since his signing back in 1996. But that will now change once the players in exchange for Rollins are made clear.

Credit for the piece goes to Ben Lindbergh.