Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Logistics of a Trade

The L.A. Times' Bill Shaikin has what is essentially the no-brainer CW on the Teixeira trade: If the Angels win the pennant, it's a success, if they don't, it's a failure. I can't say I disagree with that, nor can I disagree with the Angels making the move. We're all gonna die some day. Go for it when it makes sense, right?

But that doesn't interest me too much, nor do most post-trade breakdowns, really, because there usually isn't a lot of mystery, intrigue, or uncertainty in the aftermath of most of them. The climax, if you will, of any trade story is when the GMs actually pull the trigger. After that I'd prefer to simply watch the games to see what happens as opposed to talk about what may or may not happen.

One thing that does interest me about trades, and about which I really have no clue, are the micro-level logistics involved with getting player A to team B and vice-versa.

The Braves were at home and the Angels were visiting the Red Sox when the deal went down, so out of the gate, the teams have to fly Teixeira to Boston and Kotchman to Atlanta. That's easy. For Teixeira, he need only pack as though he were going on a road trip -- albeit a quick, short notice one -- and Kotchman, already on a road trip, need only grab his stuff from the hotel. It's like, three phone calls max.

But how do each of these guys get, say, the junk they need from their in-season homes to their new cities? I'm guessing the teams send flunkies who interface with either a wife or the player themselves by phone to determine what stays and what goes, but how does this work exactly? It would make more sense for Atlanta people to handle Teixeria's stuff, but he's the Angels' property now. What if he has ten times more junk that needs to move than Kotchman? Shouldn't the Angels pay for that? And how are living quarters arranged for in each players' new cities? Do they go to the same kind of corporate mid-term housing that consultants stay in for that two-month project in Fort Worth, or do the new teams put them up in a suite at the Ritz? Does this change at all depending on the stature of the player?

I'm sure there is some simple and obvious protocol for this, and I suppose it's all governed by the CBA on some level. I just don't know what actually happens, and I'm curious. The last time I recall ever reading anything about it was when Bouton described his trade to the Astros in Ball Four. My guess is that a lot has changed since then.

I know a lot of people affiliated with teams lurk around here. Any of you want to drop me an email or a comment about how this works? If you feel like being effusive, I'll even give you a guest post about it. I realize that this all may be fairly unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but ShysterBall readers are curious about the workings of the universe, and inquiring minds want to know.

UPDATE: For those who didn't see it in the comments, here's an article from Sunday's Washington Post in which players talk about how trades disrupt their lives and offers a few glimpses into the questions raised above. (thanks to Kevin)


Utpal said...

Thanks for posting this! This was the first thought that ran through my head after reading about the trade as well...

The Common Man said...

Good questions, Shyster. I used to work for one of the minor league affiliate and know that, when new players came to town, the team put them up at a local no-tell hotel for a 3-5 days (or longer if it was the end of the season) so that the player could get some living quarters arranged. My guess is that that's what happens at the MLB level too, just on a much grander scale. As for how the stuff gets from one place to another, you've got me. Most of the minor leaguers I met arrived with two big suitcases and a duffle bag.

Anonymous said...

One of the many trade articles mentioned that Tex's family would be staying at Boros's guest house for the duration. No need to find a place when you'll just be moving to NY soon anyway.

What non-Boros clients do is anyone's guess.

Kevin said...

This provides a little insight:

dlf said...

The CBA has rather ancient language about trades: "... the Player shall report promptly to the assignee Club within 72 hours from teh date he receives written notice from the Club of such assignment, if the Player is then not more than 1,600 miles by most direct available railroad route from the assignee Club, plus an additional 24 hours for each additional 800 miles." Are there even railroad routes available to many of the ML cities these days?

x said...

dlf, that is pretty funny.

Real CBA language is as follows:

"all traveling expenses, including first-class jet air fare and meals en route, of the Player as may be necessary to enable him to report to the assignee Club. The Club shall also reimburse the Player for all travel expenses, including first-class jet air fare and meals en route, for the Player’s wife for one assignment during the championship season."

"If a Player’s contract is assigned by a Major League Club to another Major League Club during the championship season, the assignee Club shall pay the Player, for all moving and other expenses resulting from such assignment, the sum of $850 if the distance between the home ballparks of the assignor and assignee Clubs is 1,000 air miles or less; the sum of $1,150 if the distance between the home ballparks of the assignor and assignee Clubs is greater than 1,000 but less than 2,000 air miles; and the sum of $1,450 if the distance between the home ballparks of the assignor and assignee Clubs is equal to or
greater than 2,000 air miles.
This allowance will be paid to the Player automatically at the time of
the assignment. This advance payment will be credited against the reimbursement for reasonable and actual moving expenses should the Player elect to
claim such expenses..."

"A Player may elect, within two years after the date of the assignment of his contract, regardless of when his contract is assigned or whether the assignment is between Major League Clubs or a Major League Club and a Minor League club, to be reimbursed for (1) the reasonable and actual moving expenses of the Player and his immediate family resulting therefrom, including first-class jet air transportation for the Player and his immediate family; provided that, if the Player relocates more than one year from the date of the assignment, the Player must relocate in the assignee Club’s home city and the Player must still be playing for the assignee Club at the time he incurs such expenses and (2) all rental payments for living quarters in the city from which he is transferred (and/or spring training location, if applicable),for which he is legally obligated after the date of assignment and for which he is not otherwise reimbursed. Such rental payments shall not include any period beyond the end of a season or prior to the start of spring training. The Club paying reimbursement for rent shall have use and/or the right to rent such living quarters for the period covered by the rental reimbursement."