Once upon a time Andy Marte was considered an elite prospect.
While in the Braves’ farm system he ranked among Baseball America‘s top 50 prospects in four years, including top-15 spots in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
After hitting .275/.372/.506 with 20 homers and 64 walks in 109 games at Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2005 the Braves traded him to the Red Sox for Edgar Renteria and then a month later the Red Sox traded him to the Indians for Coco Crisp.
At the time there was speculation about whether a top prospect being traded twice in the span of six weeks should raise a red flag about his future, but it was tough to argue with Marte’s production in the minors while being very young for each level of competition.
Five years later Marte has hit just .218 with a .277 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage in 924 plate appearances as a big leaguer, never playing well enough to get even 250 at-bats in a season from the Indians. Among all the first basemen, third basemen, designated hitters, and corner outfielders with at least 900 plate appearances during that time Marte has the lowest OPS in baseball at .635.
And today the Indians decided they’d seen enough, dropping Marte from the 40-man roster and giving him the option to become a free agent or accept an assignment back to Triple-A. At age 27 he’s young enough to get another chance somewhere, but since 2006 or so there’s really nothing in Marte’s track record to suggest he’s capable of being more than a role player (and even that might be a stretch).
Right now Marte qualifies as one of the biggest prospect busts of the 2000s.
Last week as the Manny Machado trade drama was playing out, I and a lot of other people suspected as early as Monday and into Tuesday morning that the Orioles already had a deal in place for Machado and that they were just keeping it under wraps in order to get through the All-Star break (a) without any awkwardness; and (b) with the Orioles still having an All-Star representative. It would be Wednesday morning before the Orioles would make it official.
Turns out we were wrong. Machado was actually traded before Monday morning. Basically anyway, with the Orioles going so far as to pull him out of last Sunday’s game early because of it. And, of course, they lied about it. From Bob Nightengale of USA Today who spoke with Machado following his debut weekend with the Dodgers:
It was a week ago Sunday when Machado homered for the 24th time this season, the Orioles playing the final game of the first half against the Texas Rangers, when he was removed after the fourth inning after a 26-minute rain delay.
The Orioles told reporters after the game it was simply for precaution, making sure Machado didn’t get hurt playing on a wet field.
They may have fibbed to everyone else, but they told Machado the truth.
“That’s when they had told me I had been traded,’’ Machado said. “They said they pretty much had a deal done. They just wanted to wait until after the break to get all of the medical stuff done.
That didn’t stop all of the usual rumor-mongering reporters from tweeting stuff about this or that team “being in the race” or “taking the lead” or three or four teams in the “debry” or “sweepstakes” as it entered “the home stretch.” A bunch of track announcers calling a race that wasn’t even being run.
In the final analysis this is all benign. Teams lie about stuff all the time and a day or two in either direction made no difference to anyone involved. Still, it says a lot about how the trade rumor business works.