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Four years later, who is winning the Mat Latos trade?

Four years after the Padres and Reds' blockbuster deal, all five of the pieces involved are established Major League players who have moved on to yet another team.

Mat Latos pitching against the Padres in June 2014.
Mat Latos pitching against the Padres in June 2014.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Four years ago this month, the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds announced a blockbuster trade, involving a young ace and several high end prospects. Given the recent resurgence of some of the players involved, the terms of this trade are surprising to revisit after the 2015 season.

To the Reds went Mat Latos, the 24-year old ace who had earned a 3.06 FIP and 8.2 fWAR over 62 starts in his first two full seasons. He had the pedigree of being a multi-year Top 100 Prospect and, with that 8.2 fWAR, was among the 20 most valuable pitchers of 2010-2011. In return for Latos, the Padres received Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez, and Brad Boxberger.

Alonso was a four-time Top 100 first base prospect from Cuba and a former first-round pick, but found himself blocked by Joey Votto in Cincinnati. In only 127 plate appearances, Alonso had produced 0.3 fWAR and retained all six years of team control after 2011. A catcher, Grandal was also a Top 100 prospect and had yet to reach the Major Leagues. He was the 12th-overall pick in 2010, and had climbed to AAA with a .901 OPS across three levels in 2011, his first full professional season.

Volquez was an established Major League starter who receded to the back-end of the Reds' rotation after a breakout, All-Star campaign in his 2008 rookie season. He was only due for a modest raise in arbitration over his $1.625 million salary from 2011, and he had two years of team control remaining. Boxberger was a Top 10 organizational prospect for Cincinnati and the 43rd-overall pick in 2009. He was a hard-throwing relief prospect with command problems who struck out everyone. In 2011, he struck out 43.9 percent of AA batters, and 31.9 percent of those at AAA.

How have they all done after four years? Here, we'll use FanGraphs' free agent and surplus value calculations on top of their fWAR model.

Years of Control FWAR (2012 - FA) FA Value (M) Salary (M) Surplus Value (M)
Brad Boxberger 6 0.7 $5.60 $1.00 $4.60
Edinson Volquez 2 2.6 $16.90 $7.90 $9.00
Yasmani Grandal 6 6.2 $45.30 $1.50 $43.80
Yonder Alonso 6 3.5 $26.00 $4.70 $21.30
--
Mat Latos 4 11.1 $80.90 $21.50 $59.40
Padres 13 $93.80 $15.10 $78.70
Reds 11.1 $80.90 $21.50 $59.40

When evaluating this trade, it is tempting to immediately disregard any value generated by these players following their trades to another team (like Latos or Grandal in 2015). However, I choose to presume that the Reds and Padres didn't trade for these players with the goal of moving them again.

The judgement of this trade probably should not be affected by later decisions, but rather on its own merit (regardless of where these players ended up during their team controlled time). The Padres have a sizable lead by this measure ($78.7 million versus $59.4 million), and with Latos having no remaining team control, it will likely stay that way.

However, there are a few other considerations that complicate matters - the first of which being the Reds seeing the $59.4 million of value from one roster spot, as opposed to over four. Cincinnati had the flexibility to work with three other positions in a way that San Diego did not. Additionally, the Reds knew they were paying for current wins with future wins - and with most of Latos' value coming up front and Grandal and Boxberger seeing success in years three and four, they accomplished that goal. Like when evaluating the time value of money, there should probably be a depreciation assigned to each future win for however many years in the future it occurs.

Unfortunately, there's not really an easy way to calculate either factor without guessing at the value of each. To do that, we need the free agent dollars per win interest rate, and to know what the value of the replacements would have otherwise been at each position occupied by a player in this deal.

What might be similarly interesting is to look at how much actualized value each team saw from these players. All five of the players have either been traded or released since the deal occurred - might these later decisions have squandered the "victory" the Padres appeared to clinch? Additionally, let's look at the transactional "family tree" of this move, and see what remnants remain in each organization.

Years of Control FWAR (2012 - FA) FA Value (M) Salary (M) Surplus Value (M)
Brad Boxberger 6 -0.2 -$1.50 $0.00 -$1.50
Edinson Volquez 2 2.5 $16.30 $6.86 $9.44
Yasmani Grandal 6 4 $27.00 $1.00 $26.00
Yonder Alonso 6 3.5 $26.00 $4.70 $21.30
--
Mat Latos 4 9.6 $68.90 $12.10 $56.80
Padres 9.8 $67.80 $12.56 $55.24
Reds 9.6 $68.90 $12.10 $56.80

The inclusion of Yasmani Grandal in the Matt Kemp trade hurts San Diego, as the $18.2 million value of his 2015 season was removed from the calculation. Combine that with missing the emergence of Brad Boxberger as a late-inning reliever, and the total value is basically even. It should be noted that since Edinson Volquez hit free agency after the 2013 season, his resurgent 2014-2015 seasons are not included.

However, the above chart ignores the obvious - what each of the players returned in trade. The below chart is a detailed listing of this trade's transactional "family tree" - or the resulting moves involving these players, following the branches to each organization's present day composition.

Reds Traded To Along With Returning
Mat Latos Marlins - Anthony Desclafani
Chad Wallach

Padres Traded To Along With Returning
Edinson Volquez Released - -
Yasmani Grandal Dodgers Zach Eflin Matt Kemp
Tom Wieland Tim Federowicz
$32 Million
Yonder Alonso Athletics Mark Rzepczynski Drew Pomeranz
Jose Torres
Jabari Blash
Brad Boxberger Rays Logan Forsythe Jesse Hahn
Matt Andriese Alex Torres
Matt Lollis
Maxx Tissenbaum
Jesse Hahn Athletics R.J. Alvarez Derek Norris
Seth Streich
Alex Torres Mets - Cory Mazzoni
Brad Wieck

The above transactions are messy, involving multiple players, minor League players without direct performance values, and remaining years of team control to this day. Value cannot cleanly be assigned to each of the five players we're concerned about. Here is yet another breakdown of all of the actualized value by both of the Padres and Reds, for which a player involved in the Mat Latos trade is at least partially responsible.

The acquisition of six seasons of Anthony Desclafani for one season of Mat Latos looks like it will be a bargain for the Reds. Latos earned 1.5 fWAR in 2015 between the Marlins, Dodgers, and Angels for $9.4 million and hit free agency, while Desclafani emerged as an above-average (3.2 fWAR) starting pitcher making the league minimum amount.

On the Padres' side, the Matt Kemp trade appears falsely equitable to this point, because the Dodgers picked up all but $3.25 million of his 2015 salary. The Padres' commitment increases considerably to $18.25 million for each of the next three seasons, having only produced 0.4 fWAR in 2015. Relative to Grandal's value, the Kemp trade continues to look like a mistake.

A very interesting chain of trades resulted out of Brad Boxberger, who was moved with Logan Forsythe and several minor league arms to the Rays in 2013. While Forsythe emerged as a 4.1 fWAR player and Boxberger ascended to the closer role in 2015, both pieces of the return had already been moved by San Diego. Jesse Hahn was a popular breakout candidate before the season, and was a part of the trade that brought Derek Norris to the Padres. Alex Torres performed roughly at replacement level in 2014, and was moved to the Mets for two pitching prospects.

After four years, the Padres' side of this trade has accumulated about $19.3 million in FanGraphs' surplus value over the Reds' return of Mat Latos. There should be considerations for roster flexibility and the depreciation of future wins, but the remaining team control of the involved players makes this initial decision look good for the Padres.

However, trading or releasing all of the players may have hampered the team's ability to reap all of that value. Resulting trades have brought significant pieces to both teams, but regardless of the quality of future decisions, the Padres currently have the upper hand in this transaction.

. . .

Spencer Bingol is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SpencerBingol.