It was, I thought, going to be a simple task. Take each player on the 40-man roster or recently allowed to become a free agent, and follow every transaction up until it takes me to the amateur draft, a waiver claim, or a free agent, and down until the A's waive, release, or trade a player away for cash considerations. I figured there would be a few interesting results. For example, we know Drew Pomeranz is a product of the Brett Anderson trade, who is a product of the Dan Haren trade, who is a product of the Mark Mulder trade, who was drafted in 1998.
I probably should have stopped when Grantland's Ben Lindbergh, tracing back just the oldest origin story of each MLB team, had this to say about Billy Beane's trade history:
I'm saying I should have seen this coming:
That's the web of free agent signings, trades and compensatory draft picks over the last 21 years for just 10 players on the 40-man, two new free agents, and three minor league players. The principle for the chart was that a player was considered to be the "child" of a "parent" player if the child was either acquired by a trade for the parent, or if the child was drafted as a result of gaining a compensation draft pick earned by losing the parent to free agency.
Today, we begin our tour of this leviathan with Mark Mulder's lineage.
Here is a stripped down version of the big chart with just the parts that Mark Mulder interacts with.
A blown-up version of this tree can be downloaded here: link
There is no denying that a big part of the reason the Athletics continue to compete in 2014 is that Mark Mulder was traded in the 2004 offseason for Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton. In the 2007 offseason, Haren, with Connor Robertson, turned into six players that all played for the Oakland Athletics: Aaron Cunningham, Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, Brett Anderson, and Chris Carter.
Of the six, Eveland is the only one whose lineage has terminated. Chris Carter lives on in Fernando Rodriguez. Brett Anderson survives through Drew Pomeranz and Double-A minor league starter Chris Jensen. Aaron Cunningham continues through Eric Sogard.
Miguel Tejada lives on
And then there's Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith, with Huston Street, for Matt Holliday. When we throw in Street, we get to go back to one of our fan favorites, Miguel Tejada, because Street was selected in the draft with a pick gained as compensation for Tejada's free agency at the end of 2003. Tejada was signed on July 17, 1993, making his signing the oldest part of the Athletics trade tree with survivors.
The Holliday deal turned out to be bad because it turned out Carlos Gonzalez was quite good in the ensuing years, and the return for Matt Holliday at the next trade deadline ended up hurting the team to the tune of -2.1 bWAR from Michael Taylor, Clayton Mortensen, and Kila Ka'aihue. The two survivors of the Matt Holliday trade are Shane Peterson and minor league starting pitcher Jake Sanchez, who the White Sox took a flyer on from independent ball in 2014. You can't win them all, I suppose.
A challenge until next time
Here's a Thanksgiving challenge for you. Without looking it up, can you trace back how the Athletics came to acquire Billy Burns? The answer, next time, when I will also focus on some other branches of this behemoth of a trade tree.