Unconventional Wisdom: Eight trades that make sense
So what's left? A lot of left fielders. It's a bat-heavy market, which is a partial explanation for
Here are eight trade targets, six of them hitters, who will be changing locations or are strongly rumored to do so before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Bedard's failure to be the Mariners' second ace behind
The state of Bedard's shoulder is a confounding factor. He's been on the DL with "soreness," hasn't pitched in two weeks and isn't expected to pitch until at least Tuesday, with even that in doubt. Any team acquiring him is assuming considerable risk, as opposed to, say, trading for
Ponson and Rasner are replacement-level talents, five-inning starters who have allowed five runs per nine innings and who can be expected to be closer to 6 RA/9 going forward. Even if the Yankees get
Can the Yankees get Bedard? Assuming the Mariners aren't looking for the package they traded away six months ago, yes. With Bedard not eligible for free agency until after 2009, the Yankees could better justify including an
What a difference a few months makes. Bay, who played through a knee injury last year that helped ruin his numbers, has returned to form in 2008. He is one of the best hitters in the league, with a .288/.388/.529 line that puts him fourth in the league in
The Pirates don't have to deal him -- he's signed to a great contract that pays him $7.5 million in 2009 -- but their need to focus on long-term rebuilding makes them likely to do so.
Bay's bat would help any contender, and his favorable contract means he's not just a rental, although that value will show up in his price. Bay's defensive performance has slipped dramatically since 2006, a decline that shows up in both his BP numbers and zone-based ones. He cannot move to right field, and a team trading for him would be well-served to have a strong defensive outfield in place. Contenders in the worst shape in left field include the Braves, Mets and Diamondbacks, the latter reduced to playing
With the Diamondbacks in more need of a lefty bat and having
If they do, it would have quite an impact.
If you look at Beltre's career without the 2004 season, he appears to be one of the most consistent players in the game. That year, in which he hit 47 homers for the Dodgers before signing a $65 million contract, skews the perception of him. Add in that he has played his entire career in two great pitchers' parks and that his defense is legitimately great, and you have a player who has become a bit undervalued. Given where the market has gone, the $19 million or so left on his deal through 2009 isn't a daunting commitment.
The leaguewide depth at third base is impressive, but one contender has spent the year trying to patch a gaping hole there. The Twins have used seven players at the hot corner, and only the empty .300 average of
Beltre would add value on both sides of the ball, one of the few trade-deadline targets who can make that claim. His .272 EqA would make him one of the better hitters in the Twins lineup, at least a 15-run upgrade over Buscher for the rest of the season. His glove would save at least five runs over the last 70 games. That's a 20-25 run gain by trading for Beltre.
For the Twins, the best part is that they might be able to get him for just a willingness to assume the contract obligation. The Twins have a raft of pitching prospects in the minors to go with their homegrown major-league rotation. Two second-tier ones and, effectively, $19 million would probably be enough to get Beltre. It is unlike the Twins to make that kind of trade, but they can certainly afford it -- every team can afford that kind of investment -- and it's a move that would go right to their win column. That Beltre is such a good defensive player, the kind of player the Twins have always wanted around, could be the deciding factor.
The Twins can't count on an anomalous performance with runners in scoring position to continue. To win the AL Central, they have to improve the roster.
Trading for Beltre and swapping out
On a per at-bat basis, Bradley has been the best hitter in the AL this year, leading the circuit with a .345 EqA. Making just 19 appearances in the field has no doubt helped him stay in the lineup, so the list of teams to which he could be dealt is fairly short.
Would Rangers GM
Daniels has to know that this is a peak for Bradley, and that he's not a player to get invested in over the long term, and that his team, while a pleasant surprise, is not likely to make a postseason push. Dealing Bradley at the height of his value fits with the Rangers' organizational needs.
The news that
It's not easy to calculate the gain that the Tigers would get by adding Bradley, because his playing time would come from a number of sources, and it's not easy to peg Bradley's expected level. We can say that adding a high-OBP switch-hitter would have value for a team that is SLG-heavy and a bit right-handed, adding a few runs on the margins. A 15-20 run boost is a reasonable expectation.
The Tigers' top-heavy farm system, depleted by the winter's moves, is a barrier to a deal, although Daniels would be well served to add quantity in a Bradley deal, especially pitchers, rather than a top-tier prospect that is unlikely to be offered.
The subject of more trade rumors than that Colombia bill, Dunn remains a Red just a few short months from free agency. His perceived value isn't great --
The Diamondbacks have a number of reasons to pursue Dunn. He's a free agent at the season, so they won't have a commitment that blocks Eric Byrnes' contract.
Oh, yeah, and their offense has been awful, and they desperately need Dunn's bat. His low-contact approach doesn't make him the best fit, as they could use a .315/.360/.470 guy who hits doubles, but his .388 OBP from the left side would be a godsend for a team reaching base at a .323 clip. Inserting Dunn into this lineup would add 20 runs to the team total, re-establish the D'backs as the team to beat in the NL West and help assure that the division winner finishes above .500.
Sure, why not? If Beane can deal
Duchscherer will simply not be better than he was in the first half, when he benefited from some exceptional defense behind him to post an ERA below 2.00.
An effective reliever before becoming a starter this season, Duchscherer is likely to see some performance degradation as he passes innings markers he hasn't approached since he was a prospect back in 2003. He would be in line for a massive raise in arbitration, and will be a free agent after 2009. All things considered, there are more reasons to deal him than to keep him.
Because he doesn't have a high strikeout rate, the best fits for Duchscherer are contenders with strong defenses and weak rotations. The Braves, third in the majors in Defensive Efficiency, have supported
As mentioned above, the Braves have three top prospects and some depth behind that. The A's have been trading for quantity; if that trend continues, the Braves could work something out. If the A's shift gears and focus on Hanson or Schafer -- I can't see Heyward being dealt -- that will make things harder. The Braves are in a very tough spot, likely to lose
Unlike a number of the players above, Holliday's perceived value is extremely high, as he's coming off a near-MVP season and a homer in the All-Star Game. Holliday is a complete player who hits for average and power and plays solid defense in left field, good enough that he routinely plays right in the Midsummer Classic. The Rockies are looking for a monster package for Holliday, who won't reach free agency until after 2009.
Just about every contender can use a player of Holliday's caliber. The ones with the greatest needs are probably the teams covered above, the Braves and Diamondbacks, along with the two New York squads. Getting Holliday will require at least one top-tier prospect, however; for the Braves that means Schafer or Heyward; for the Mets,
Any of these teams would gain three wins with Holliday replacing their left fielder, or in some cases, their right fielder. Holliday's home/road splits have drawn some attention, but those are a poor way to evaluate a player. It's information, just potentially misleading. Holliday would be a productive hitter anywhere, and his defense would be worth five to 10 runs over many of the players he'd be replacing. That's both a good reason to trade for him and a good reason for the Rockies to ask for the moon. Unless the Mets elect to move Fernando Martinez, or the Cardinals put
Roberts was strongly rumored to become a Cub for most of the off-season. The Orioles refused to move him, and seem unlikely to do so now, as they have him under contract through next year. That's shortsighted, because a staggering number of contenders could use a leadoff or No. 2 hitter.
Foremost among them is the White Sox, who have gotten a reasonable .344 OBP from their leadoff hitters but just .302 from the No. 2 spot. While
Roberts isn't just an upgrade -- he's one of the top 10 players in the AL, with a .294 EqA and plus defense at second base. A team with the power core the White Sox have needs high OBPs batting in front of it, so while the numbers say that Roberts would add 15-20 runs as compared to Ramirez, plus a few on defense, the real-world results would be a little better than that.
The White Sox have a terrible farm system, which would make it hard for them to pry Roberts away from a reluctant Orioles team. Still, he may be the one player on the market who makes enough of a difference to them to pursue. Three years ago a lack of OBP atop the lineup nearly killed them in August and September; they're being chased by teams good enough that they should try to avoid a similar problem this year.