The Trade

By
Updated: August 27, 2019

On the date of 07/07/2024 and the Alleghenies were barely a 500 team. That was not what was envisioned by GM Abcarian when he started his plan in 2023.  During that time, he had either signed or traded for these players: António Carbezola, John Exley, Ieyoshi Ishikawa, Angel Cortéz, Matthew Ferrell, Tony Velázquez, Gunner MacGruder, Herb Martin, Nata Nakamura, Raúl Rey, Jun’ichi Yoshino and Onji Yokoyama.  With all those acquisitions the payroll went from 82.4 million to 169 million and so did the expectations of appearing in the playoffs.  Well the way things were going it wasn’t going to happen, so the team decided to put their long-time ace Tatsui Kouno up for trade.  The main reasons for doing this was not performance, but that he had an expiring salary and the team wasn’t sure if it could sign him.  This decision is the decision that has changed the franchise.  That evening GM RJ from the Crystal Lake Sandgnats called and asked if the Alleghenies were serious about trading him and GM Abcarian said yes, it was the beginning of an unfortunate slow fire sale.

The negotiations started with RJ saying he really could use Kouno for his championship push, but the Alleghenies would have to include some money.  The problem with that is that WV was barely above water since the team was under-performing, but GM Abcarian figured that in the long run without the extension WV was saving money.  While the exact negotiations have been lost forever, the deal has been said to have progressed fast.  RJ insisted that CL needed about half of the remaining salary paid this year (3 million dollars) and then things started falling in place.  The Alleghenies had acquired a CF from Aurora a couple years ago, but he wasn’t staying healthy, so the team knew they needed a CF replacement.   With knowing that the first player the team insisted on was a young CF from Ottawa, IL, Pedro Flores.  GM Abcarian knew that Flores had a cup of coffee earlier in the year and didn’t do well and was hoping that RJ was a little down on him. The next thing GM Abcarian wanted was a 1st round pick for his ace as he was rebuilding, and RJ happily obliged with the adding of the pick.  With the assumption that Crystal Lake was going to be a late pick in the round, GM Abcarian asked for 1 more minor leaguer.  RJ gave GM Abcarian a choice between 2 players (the not picked one is forgotten) and the chosen guy was C Moe Merkle.  After the teams agreed on Merkle, the deal was made.  West Virginia would send Tatsui Kouno and 3 million dollars to Crystal Lake for Moe Merkel, Pedro Flores and Crystal Lake #1 pick 2025 (we will get to this in a minute).

Wondering what happened directly after the trade?  As soon as the trade happened the Alleghenies could not lose and finished the 2nd half 33 games over .500.  In doing so the Alleghenies ended up with 99 wins and wining a wild-card spot.  Yes, you read that right, a trade that was made for rebuilding purposes only and cost the team thier ace, returning only future value, helped fuel the Alleghenies and they really haven’t looked back since.  Meanwhile, the next question is what happened to Crystal Lake?  They went on to win the Championship that season.  Did this trade help?  On paper not much, Kouno went 6-6 the rest of the way with a 4.19 ERA and in the playoffs was 0-2 with a 10.64 ERA.  Also noted, right after trade, Kouno signed a 6/125.65-million-dollar extension with Crystal Lake, that didn’t go as planned either.  While he did get 30 wins over the next 2 seasons, he was gone in 2027.

So, who did the Alleghenies chose in the next draft with the acquired pick??  Overall the pick turned out to be the 25th pick in the draft and the team picked Javier Drake.  While Javier officially hasn’t done a think in PEBA, he is one of the highest rated prospects around.  Pedro Flores is one of the top center fielders in the league and has played in 529(522 starts) games for the Alleghenies while having a 16.7 WAR since.  Moe Merkel took a little longer to get to the majors, but since 2027 he has had most of the starts at catcher.  While he might not be a top tier catcher, for an add-in he is a very capable starting catcher with a very nice bat.

RJ was contacted to see if he wanted to say anything about this article and this is what he said, “I’ve been looking for a center fielder for 5 years.  Oh yeah I traded him to WV.  It’s my worst trade since I’ve been GM.” After that there was a click.  We can only assume it was the phone hanging up.

“This trade at the time worried me, but it has turned out to be my best trade ever.  Not only for the talent I got, but the trajectory in put the Alleghenies on.  I do wish Kouno had done much better for Crystal Lake, but they did win a Championship.  Kouno is a solid clubhouse presence, so I have no doubt he helped that team win.  I hope one day I can win the championship with these guys and it come full circle,” GM Abcarian was quoted.

So, who do you think won the trade?  Does a championship supersede anything else?  Does getting great prospects for a guy who flopped make it a win besides the championship?  Well I guess that all depends on your values.  This reporter thinks it was worth it for both sides.