Friday, 21 October 2011

Tradeables-- The American League edition

Alright, so I think we all know by now that AA doesn't really want to make a big splash on the free agent market (though I did read yesterday/today in multiple spots that the Jays are still considered to be a favorite for Yu Darvish, look here and here), and that it looks like there will be a trade or two during the offseason for the Jays. As such, let's just explore which teams have some expendable pieces, most notably at starting pitcher, 2B (if needed) and relief, though a 1B/DH upgrade doesn't sound terrible to me if they can find a taker for Lind/Edwin.  We'll divide this in to two parts (parts 1 and 2, for those of you idiots out there).  Starting with the AL:

Tampa Bay
Umm, if AA and Andrew Friedman made a trade, would the world just explode?  I dunno if these intra-division trades even happen, but we can dream.  Obviously, Tampa is stacked with pitching and are poor.  James Shields could certainly be shopped, and Toronto has the prospects, assuming that's what Tampa would want.  Eric Thames would be an upgrade over Sam Fuld for a 4th infielder, and Adam Lind/Edwin Encarnacion could replace Casey Kotchmann at first for Tampa, and TB could use catching too.  Clearly, that's not going to be enough, but I'm sure any of those three could be sent away as a package for a starter of Shields' caliber.  Shields has team options for a pretty good price (3yrs, 28MM), so it would be hefty. Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann could also be had I'm sure.

Assuming Tony Lacava doesn't get the GM job, the Jays might actually be able to find a fleecejob with a guy like Jeremy Guthrie.  He's pretty underrated, and has lost 17 games twice in the last three years [sidenote: HE MUST BE TERRIBLE!], and he's probably going to be making like $7.5MM in arbitration this offseason, so he could probably be had for not much.  Having said that, he's in his last year before free agency, so maybe we could find a better target.

Boston/New York
Meh, those guys are in their own little world.  Obviously they're not trading Pedroia or Cano, and I don't think I'm all that interested in anybody else, nor do I feel overly confident that they'll trade within the division.  They have the most overpayed, underperforming rotation pieces ever, and the cheap guys probably wouldn't ever get moved anyway.  We're not taking A-Rod or Lackey, but... I mean, the post is called "Tradeables" so I'm sure something could happen in theory.  Let's just move on, neither of these teams are buying what we're selling.

Chicago AL
Chicago is in such dogshit shape right now.  They just aren't very good, and they're not good with a high payroll.  Guys like Adam Dunn and Alex Rios are getting paid way too much to not be played, they're getting old, and they have the worst farm system in baseball.  They were also struggling in terms of finances towards the end of this season, so they will more than likely try and trade some of their more expensive pieces for prospects, with the intent of rebuilding.  I doubt Rios or Dunn are going anywhere, but there are some pieces that could be moved.  Between John Danks and Gavin Floyd, there will likely be a rotation-based trade at some point this offseason, especially if Mark Buerhle resigns, though they might not feel good about moving both, despite what they should actually be doing.

If they really wanna tear this team apart, I can see Carlos Quentin, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd all being moved, not to mention any number of the relievers they have out back (Frasor, Ohman, Crain).  If anybody would take on the contracts of Dunn, Rios, or Peavy, I'm sure Chicago would take a bag of carrots in return, but I can't see it.  Alexei Ramirez is signed for a few more years and might fetch a useful package of prospects, but I don't think Toronto is overly interested in another shortstop.

 Part of the reason that Chicago has such a shitty farm system is because a lot of their top prospects came up to the majors either this past season, or the one before (Lillibridge, Viciedo, De Aza, Beckham, Humber, Sale).  Now they just need to get some playing time for them by getting rid of all the guys blocking them.

Again, the Jays have the prospects if they want to go after one of Quentin, Danks or Floyd, and they have the cash to help out if that's what the Sox want too, so if the Jays want any of it bad enough, they could get something done.  Kenny Williams is a goddamn terrible GM too, so that always helps.

The Tigers actually have a lot of money coming off of their books this offseason, so I'd expect them to be trying to improve an already above-average team if they make any trades.  They're definitely not giving up any starting pitchers, and are actually looking to upgrade in pretty much all the same spots as the Jays are.

The Ubaldo Jimenez trade at last year's trade deadline leads me to believe that the Indians think they're pretty close to contending.  If that's the case, I'm not sure they'll be doing much trading for what we're giving up either.  If they were moving pieces, it wouldn't likely be during the offseason.  Fausto Carmona, despite not being all that good, will likely have his options exercised ($7MM for 2012, 9MM and 12MM for '13 and '14 respectively).  He could be moved mid-year if they're out of it.  Ubaldo Jimenez seems broken, but is still really cheap.  He is at his lowest trade value at the moment, but if he turns it around by midyear, he could be worth plenty, especially considering all the prospects they gave up for him.

What a fucking mess.  If Morneau can stay healthy for a while, he could maybe be moved, but that won't be until at least midseason.  Nishioka could become expendable, but that's only because they don't think he's good enough to be an everyday 2B.  I'd be shocked if any of the Twins starting pitchers weren't available, but none of them are particularly good, so it wouldn't be much going the other way.  Pavano is pricey at 1/8.5MM, Liriano just had a terrible year, and Blackburn and Slowey wouldn't be worth getting, since they'd only take away innings from the young guys.  Scott Baker actually had a decent year this year, and at $6.5MM (9.25MM option for next year), doesn't seem like a terrible choice.  Having struck out 8.2/9, and only walking 2.1/9 this year, I don't think he'd be a bad fit for a team that was ready to contend, but I don't think Toronto gives up much for 1-maybe-2 years of control.

Kansas City
I think KC is ready-ish to contend (though they might need one more year), and certainly won't be in the market of giving up starting pitching.  Having said that, they've got Billy Butler at 1B, and Eric Hosmer is already pretty good.  They've got a ton of prospects all over the board, and a bunch more guys who just got in to the league.  Similar to how Tampa Bay always seems to have places to deal from, KC should too.  If the Royals think Butler is expendable once hotshots start coming up, especially at his pricetag, the Jays could be interested, but right now, it's not like money is at all a concern for KC ($39MM payroll last season, shouldn't be much bigger this year, but they've had big draft bonuses).  Butler does have a team friendly contract, so he'd fetch a lot in a trade, but I really feel like KC would be looking for a MLB-ready starter, or at least someone like Drew Hutchison or Nestor Molina, plus more.  Butler's defense is pretty bad, hence the reason he DH'ed all but 11 games this year, so that might drop his value a bit, but it's not like KC has another DH behind him ready to go, so they don't need to trade him, and I don't think AA is planning on moving any of his MLB-ready pitching, especially for a DH, which he'd only need if he could move one of Lind/Encarnacion for a starter.

I think we all know that Oakland loves to stockpile pitching, and I also think we know that they're dirty fuckity poor, so maybe a starter or two could be available.  I doubt Brett Anderson or Trevor Cahill are touchable, but guys like Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez, or Brandon Mccarthy could be available, not that any of them are overly impressive.  Braden is set to make $3.35MM in arbitration, but that's after missing most of last season, so that's red flag city.  Gonzalez is about to hit arbitration as well, and would look to make about $3.6MM.  Mccarthy is due a raise in arbitration to ~$2.6MM after a really strong season this year, but he was outrighted by Texas in 2010 and opted to become a free agent, that might be a red flag too.  If Billy Beene wants to cut costs, that might be the way to go.

Oakland has all three of their starting outfielders from 2010 hitting free agency this winter, plus their primary DH in Hideki Matsui, so any trade would probably see MLB-ready outfield offense and/or prospects for any of the guys mentioned above.  With all the financial uncertainty plaguing this team right now (not to mention Texas' success looking sustainable for at least a couple more years), they might just want to give up for a season or two and unload everything until they can find a new stadium to play in. Even if they don't do that, they're going to want cash or inexpensive players who are still early in their careers, which the Jays have plenty of.  I'd have to think that Eric Thames, Adam Loewen, Rajai Davis, Moises Sierra, Adam Lind, David Cooper and Darin Mastroianni are all available in a trade, especially if it were for starting pitching.  Thames is from Oakland!

AA has said that he was going to look to free agency to sign any bullpen help that he needs, but maybe a guy like Brian Fuentes or Grant Balfour could be had in a trade for relatively little, since their contracts are pretty big for relievers.  Much like the Rays and Andrew Friedman, a major trade between AA and Billy Beane could explode the universe.

Let's pretend that the Angels would be okay with trading with AA again after the whole Vernon Wells fiasco of last offseason--  Tony Reagins did resign after the season after all.  Anaheim currently has $102MM in guaranteed contracts for 2012, which doesn't include arbitration raises and minimum salaries, so I'm sure that they'd like to trim some fat.  The problem is, all the fat is with Vernon Wells/Torii Hunter/Bobby Abreu and the other outfielders that are blocking some hotshot prospects.  I don't think they're really going to want to move any of their starting pitching, as it is quite good (Haren, Weaver and Santana all had really good seasons and are relatively cheap in comparison to the value they present), plus they're probably losing Joel Piniero to free agency, so they're not at a position of extreme depth in that regard.

The Angels do have a bit of depth on the infield, however.  Mark Trumbo looks like he stole the everyday 1B job away from Kendrys Morales after a strong rookie season, and Morales hasn't played in a year and a half after breaking his leg jumping on homeplate.  I could definitely see Morales getting moved, and not for much due to missed time.  There's also a bit of a logjam in the middle infield, with Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo taking up 3 positions, and getting more and more expensive each year.  Kendrick would obviously be the main target, and would probably cost one of the good pitching prospects, but I'm not sure they'll want to move him.  The Jays wanted Aybar when the Angels were customers for Roy Halladay 2 years ago, and while he's naturally a shortstop, I don't think a move to an easier position would be too difficult for him.

I'm fairly certain that whatever new GM is coming in will be smart enough to realize that Bobby Abreu, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter should all be very available in a trade if anyone were to take them.  Wells remains untradeable, despite being traded last offseason.  Hunter and Abreu are still at least kind of productive, and both are free agents after the upcoming season, so either could be a DH if Lind or EE get moved anywhere.  Obviously there would be some major cash-eating done by the Angels (Hunter makes $18MM this season, Abreu makes $9MM), which would actually be pretty deliciously ironic if you ask me, considering the Jays gave the Angels $5MM in cash to assist with the Vernon Wells deal.  I honestly don't see a deal like that happening, but David Ortiz was rumored to be interested in Toronto; if Toronto was interested in that as well, maybe Abreu could DH if the Ortiz thing fell through.

I don't really think a trade for starting pitching can happen here.  Texas just has a bunch of #2-3 guys making up the whole rotation, and they're probably going to lose their best pitching in CJ Wilson to free agency this offseason, so I can't really see anything going on there.

I'm sure 1B wouldn't be a huge problem to find a deal, as they seem to have more guys than positions: Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba, and Mitch Moreland are all kind of battling for 3 positions now that Adrian Beltre jettisoned Young to the DH/1B role.  Ian Kinsler probably has a 0 chance of moving, but he has 2 years (1 year plus an option that is a virtual lock to be exercised) left on his contract, so if Texas wanted to get crazy and move Kinsler, the return would be huge.  I'm talking 2 of Alvarez/Hutchison/Molina and probably more.  That's an extreme scenario that probably has about 0 chance of happening, because I don't really see anybody who could take over for Kinsler at 2B.

I was pretty close to posting this before realizing that I forgot about the Mariners.  Too bad, because I probably would have been the only one to notice.  Felix isn't going anywhere, and nothing else is at all interesting, save for maybe Michael Pineda.  That cost would be huge, but maybe worth it.  I bet it would take something like one of Nestor Molina/Hutch/Syndergaard, one of Carlos Perez or Travis d'Arnaud, and probably another one of the high rated A-/A+ prospects like Justin Nicolino or Michael Crouse.  That, or there's always cash/taking Chone Figgins away, but the Jays have the prospects and the cash to make something happen if Pineda ever became available.

Seattle could also try to move Brandon League or David Aardsma... I don't think any of the other relief arms are at all interesting.

So there you have it.  The AL looks pretty well set in terms of tradeables; most teams aren't willing to deal their starters unless their names are John Lackey or AJ Burnett.  There are always a few surprises out there, but the real teams I'd be looking at in the AL are CWS and OAK.  CLE and MIN could jump in there as well if they decide that they're not going to contend, but I think most GM's know that you need a solid rotation to contend in the AL, and that you can never have enough starting pitching.

NL edition should be along anytime between tomorrow and Monday.

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