For those having difficulty understanding why the Indians would give up Coco Crisp -- who is just 26 and posted a better OPS last season than Johnny Damon (.810 to .805) -- to get Andy Marte, consider the following:
1. Crisp has close to three years of major league service time. Marte has about half of one season. Crisp, therefore, is eligible to become a free agent after the 2009 season. Marte, if he were to play a half season in Cleveland this year and then start at third base beginning in 2007, wouldn't become a free agent until after the 2011 season.
Between now and 2009, when he hits the open market, Crisp projects to make about $20 million, an estimate based on what he'd likely pocket in arbitration. Between now and 2009, Marte figures to make no more than $5 million, and most of that would be in 2009.
Therefore, by parting with Crisp, the Indians hypothetically saved about $15 million over the next four seasons while obtaining what most people in baseball consider a player capable of hitting 20-25 homers while playing a steady third base.
2. Crisp, who hit 16 homers last year and 15 the year before, is an above-average power hitter for a center fielder but average or below average for a left fielder. Therefore, Crisp's value, with 23-year-old Grady Sizemore entrenched in center field for years to come, was greater to a team in need of a center fielder than it was to the Indians, who loved Crisp but love Sizemore more.
3. Prospects like Marte -- corner infielders embraced by scouts and statistical wonks alike -- aren't in great supply. He's a cornerstone player at a position where the Indians lack organizational depth.
If the Indians waited another year to deal Crisp, he still figured to command a hefty return, especially since next winter's free agent class isn't bursting with center field luminaries. However, come next year, Marte wouldn't have figured to be available.