Marc Normandin over at Beyond the Box Score analyzes the Reds/Nats trade from yesterday, and like most folks, thinks the Nationals ripped off Cincy.
It has been pointed out that particularly lopsided trades usually come about because one team decides that they need -- not just want, but must have -- something, and give up too much from a position of perceived strength in order to fill that need.
John Hart is a classic example of a g.m. doing that...with the Indians, he decided that Cleveland had to have a reliable lefty arm in the bullpen, and they had a surplus of outfielders who could hit, so he traded Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon. With Texas, Pudge Rodriguez was leaving, Hart felt the Rangers had to have a veteran catcher, and they had lots of options at 1B/DH, so he traded Travis Hafner for Einar Diaz.
Similarly, a couple of years ago, Allard Baird (or Dan Glass, perhaps) decided the Royals had to get a third baseman and a catching prospect for Carlos Beltran...so rather than maximize Beltran's value, they ended up getting Mark Teahen, John Buck, and Mike Wood for one of the best centerfielders in the game.
Seattle, in 1997, got tired of seeing their bullpen blowing games, and made two of those types of trades...sending Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to Boston for Heathcliff Slocumb, and sending Jose Cruz Jr. (at the time, regarded as one of the top prospects in the game) to Toronto for Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric.
And this is a classic example...the Reds find themselves, surprisingly, in a pennant race, decide they need a stronger bullpen and have offense to spare, and end up making one of the worst trades in memory. They weren't concerned about maximizing value...they were concerned about how they could do something -- anything -- to shore up their bullpen for the second half of the season.
One other interesting notion that Normandin brings up, vis-a-vis this deal...he suggests that the Nationals could be looking to move Kearns elsewhere at the trade deadline. I'd like to see the Rangers target Kearns...he's young, good plate discipline, very good defensively in right field, and if you add him, that allows you to move Kevin Mench for pitching help. I'd rather have Kearns for the next couple of years than Mench...