The GM's Office: Trade Deadline

GM awards for best trades, signings 

February, 7, 2014
Feb 7
Billy Beane and Brian CashmanGetty Images, AP PhotoBilly Beane and Brian Cashman enjoyed very fruitful offseasons.
I'm all packed with spring training just days away. So before I depart I thought it was time to give my offseason awards and hand out some hardware to the general managers for their offseason work.

BEST OFFSEASON -- BIG-MARKET GM: Brian Cashman | New York Yankees

It was the most expensive free-agent spending spree in baseball history when the Yankees committed a combined $438 million for 22 years of contracts to Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. The Yankees quickly rebuilt their outfield, catching and starting pitching with All-Star caliber players and imported the best overall talent of any team in baseball this offseason. They also get credit for walking away from Robinson Cano by refusing to acquiesce to 10 years and approximately $240 million for a player in his 30s.

Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers:

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Five August trades I'd like to see 

August, 7, 2013

Even though the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, trades still can happen in August. A player must be passed through waivers first, and if no one claims him he can be traded to any team. Or if a player is claimed, the team that made the claim has a chance to broker a deal with the player's current team. Alternatively, the current team can simply pull the player back off waivers if a deal can't be made.

For some contending teams, it's their last shot at adding an impact player for the pennant race. For selling teams, it represents an opportunity to clear some payroll and a roster spot as they look ahead to the offseason. Here are five trades I'd like to see in August.

Philadelphia Phillies trade 3B Michael Young to the New York Yankees in exchange for minor leaguer Dante Bichette Jr.

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Cliff LeeAP Photo/Matt SlocumNow it's just a waiting game for Cliff Lee as to whether he will be traded by Wednesday.
With the clock ticking down to the major league trade deadline, there has been some activity the past two days, and we're bound to see some more between now and 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.

So I decided to handicap the odds of these players being traded and which teams they’d best fit based on what I’m hearing from around the front offices. You can bet any movement that happens will somehow involve one of these guys.

Starting pitchers

Jake Peavy | RHP | Chicago White Sox | Odds: 75 percent
The White Sox have been demanding prospect packages far beyond what the Texas Rangers gave up to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza. Although the White Sox should get slightly more than the Cubs got for impending free agent Garza -- because the acquiring club would be getting an additional year of control of Peavy in 2014 -- their asking price still must come down if they want to move him.

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20 hitters who could be traded 

June, 26, 2013

Parity has really put a damper on baseball’s trade market.

Several contending teams are looking to add bats, but the problem is that there are so many buyers and so few sellers. The law of supply and demand is skewed. In my opinion there are just eight teams in baseball that should be sellers at the trade deadline, and two of those eight still are within 10 games of the playoffs.

For example, the Minnesota Twins are just seven games out of the AL Central lead and six games out of a wild-card berth. Likewise, the Seattle Mariners are just 9 1/2 back in the wild-card standings.

Thus, the market for quality bats will be limited. Non-contenders such as the Miami Marlins, Houston Astros and New York Mets, who could be trade partners, have very little proven offense to exchange. Several of these contenders might have to try and solve their offensive issues through the farm system, including the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants.

Regardless, based on the current standings there still are a number of good hitters who could be moved from non-contending teams by the July 31 trade deadline. Here are 20 of them, broken down by position.

First basemen

Paul Konerko | 1B | Age: 37
Contract status: $13.5M per year through 2013

Konerko is a free agent at the end of the year and general manager Rick Hahn already is talking about moving Dayan Viciedo to first base. He’d like to get to the postseason one more time and going to another team gives him the best chance of accomplishing that. The Baltimore Orioles or Rays could use him as a DH, while the Pittsburgh Pirates could use him at first base.
Chance traded: 60 percent

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Paul Konerko, Jesse Crain, Alexei RamirezBrian Kersey/Getty ImagesThe White Sox should begin rebuilding and trade Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez and Jesse Crain.

With the addition of an extra wild-card team, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for GMs to decide whether their teams are contenders, so I’ve decided to do it for them.

Wednesday I examined three teams on the edge of contention, and explained why the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians should reload for 2013. Today we look at a trio of clubs who should use the July 31 trade deadline to rebuild instead of chasing postseason aspirations that in all likelihood won’t become reality.

The following three teams are in "rebuild" mode because they do not possess a strong enough core of players to allow them to compete this year even if they add a couple of complementary parts. For each club I have outlined their trade deadline strategy, trade chips and targets, as well as their dream deal.

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Felix HernandezOtto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesLed by Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners have the pitching to contend for a wild-card berth.

After another win in the Bronx last night, the Seattle Mariners are just a game below .500 and in second place in the AL West. This club was built on pitching and defense, and it's strong in both areas. However, with an offense that ranks 14th in the AL in runs, there are some issues.

The good news for the Mariners is that they have one of the deepest farm systems in the majors and can fix some of those problems from within via promotions and by trading some of that depth. When I look around the American League, I don't see any team that is going to run away with a wild-card berth. And while I don't think the Mariners can catch the Rangers in the AL West, I expect them to compete for a playoff spot all summer. They just need to make a few key adjustments.

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How to fix the L.A. teams 

May, 8, 2013
No, it isn’t a very happy time in Southern California.

SoCal fans just watched as the Lakers and Clippers got bounced out of the NBA playoffs in the first round, while the Dodgers and Angels have looked like they might not even make the playoffs.

Coming into 2013, both Los Angeles baseball teams boasted the largest payrolls in their respective divisions, hoping big offseason spending meant getting to the postseason. And on paper, their rosters are good enough to make the playoffs. However, both teams have been beset by injury and ineffectiveness, and as a result, postseason appearances are hardly assured. However, it’s not too late for the L.A. teams to save their seasons, although both clubs will have to make some major adjustments between now and the July 31 trade deadline.

Here’s why both the Angels and Dodgers are struggling and how they can turn their seasons around:

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Matt CainAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesMatt Cain has developed into the Giants' No. 1 starter, but they were lucky to draft him.

On Monday we discussed the five moves that helped get the Detroit Tigers to the World Series and established that to get this far, you not only need good, shrewd decisions, but also a little luck.

For the San Francisco Giants, their drafts have had a direct impact on developing a core of players most responsible for their success. Here are the five crucial moves that helped the Giants reach the World Series:

1. Drafting Matt Cain

The Giants drafted Matt Cain in the first round of the 2002 draft with the 25th pick overall. This was the stocked draft in which the Pittsburgh Pirates whiffed by taking Bryan Bullington with the first overall pick, and it included several other All-Star players such as Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels and Prince Fielder.

The Giants have done a great job taking pitchers in the first round; they selected both Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner with the 10th overall pick in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The Cain pick stands out because he came a little later in the first round and he has become the Giants' ace, and a pitcher who is now 4-2 lifetime in the postseason with an ERA of 1.83 in five different series. The Giants also have him signed to what amounts to an eight-year, $139.75 million contract from 2010 to 2017 with a club option for 2018. They’ve got a big-game pitcher thanks to a big-time draft decision.

2. Drafting Buster Posey

By hitting .336/.408/.549 with 39 doubles, 24 home runs and 103 RBIs, Posey won the NL batting title and I expect him to be named the NL Most Valuable Player in November. The Giants’ scouting department selected him fifth overall in the 2008 draft. The Giants were fortunate that Tim Beckham, Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer and Brian Matusz were all picked before them, so they had the opportunity to take Posey. (It helped that some of those clubs were scared off by Posey's bonus demands, but kudos to the Giants for taking -- and paying -- the guy they wanted.)

Posey does a tremendous job of calling a game, framing pitches and maintaining consistent solid contact with his pitcher. Giants pitchers rarely shake him off because of their trust in him. It is remarkable that Posey will have already played in two World Series in the first three years of his major league career, all while hitting cleanup and shouldering the catching duties, which can by physically and mentally onerous. He’s a Hall of Famer in the making at an early age.

3. Acquiring Marco Scutaro

He was just named the NLCS MVP after going 14-for-28 and getting on base an incredible 16 times in the seven-game series. Giants GM Brian Sabean acquired Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies on July 27, costing only minor league infielder Charlie Culberson.

Scutaro is an above-average defensive second baseman and has brought stability and experience to the middle of the diamond. His leadership helped develop his double play partner, Brandon Crawford, who was much more consistent defensively after Scutaro arrived. There are many baseball clichés that best describe Scutaro, such as “dirt bag," “gamer," and “winner." He’s the ideal No. 2 hitter in the lineup because he can hit-and-run, bunt, move runners and take pitches. And he very rarely strikes out.

4. Drafting Sergio Romo

Romo was the Giants’ 28th-round pick of the 2005 draft, and although it’s taken time for him to develop into a closer, his nasty slider and incredible spirit and heart have always made him a special player. Romo was 4-2 this year with a 1.79 ERA, .087 WHIP and 14 saves. He’s symbolic of the many successful late-round picks that the Giants scouting staff has made over the years and another example of how hard-core scouting can be a difference maker.

5. Acquiring Hunter Pence

Sabean has made it routine the past few years to acquire a significant outfield bat either in the offseason or during the season to help the Giants improve their offense and defense. Last year he acquired Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets and then this past offseason he traded for both Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. On July 31 he traded Nate Schierholtz and prospects Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin to the Philadelphia Phillies for Pence.

On the year, Pence hit .253/.319/.425 with 24 doubles, 24 home runs and 104 RBIs. Though his playing style is somewhat awkward, Pence has brought outfield stability to the Giants. This was critical, especially because no less than a month later Cabrera -- the All-Star Game MVP -- tested positive for PEDs and his year with the Giants was finished.

Pence’s pregame pep talks compare to those of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, with the same bizarre glares that put fear in you if you don’t know him. Pence is all heart and just wants to help the players stay loose and motivated. He’s not a true “impact” player, but he’s a solid player who drove in 45 runs in just 59 games to finish the season, helping the Giants hold off the Dodgers in the NL West.
ChooJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesChoo would have solidified the Pirates' lineup with his speed, proven bat and solid glove.

It was one of the busiest July 31 non-waiver trade deadlines in recent memory, but what about a handful of trades that did not happen but should have? These were deals that made a lot of sense, even perhaps got discussed between teams, yet never materialized. They could be the one deal that makes the difference between the postseason and sitting at home this fall.

Here are five trades that should have happened but didn't. But who knows? They might still have a chance of happening in August or the offseason.

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Grading the trade deadline 

August, 1, 2012
Zack GreinkeJeff Golden/Getty ImagesBy acquiring right-hander Zack Greinke, the Angels are poised for a postseason run.
Now that baseball’s July 31 trade deadline has come and gone, it’s time to assess the aftermath. The flurry of activity up until the very end underscores just how many teams still feel they are in the hunt for postseason play, as well as some very shrewd moves (and non-moves) by both contenders and rebuilders.

Note: Teams that made no notable moves did not receive grades.

Los Angeles Angels

Notable additions: RHP Zack Greinke
Notable losses: RHP John Hellweg, RHP Ariel Pena, IF Jean Segura

Analysis: The Angels clearly won the trade deadline with the acquisition of former American League Cy Young Award winner Greinke. Segura was expendable because of the long-term deals shelled out to Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar. The Angels now have the best top four starters in the American League.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Notable additions: 3B Hanley Ramirez, OF Shane Victorino, LHP Randy Choate, RHP Brandon League
Notable losses: RHPs Ethan Martin, Nathan Eovaldi, Josh Lindblom

Analysis: The acquisition of Ramirez was a steal for the Dodgers, especially considering they will control him for two more years. Ramirez, 28, should benefit from the change of scenery and help protect Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the lineup. Victorino gives the Dodgers a table setter and a stolen base threat while improving their defense in left field. League and Choate improve their sixth- and seventh-inning relief corps.

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Cliff LeeMatthew Emmons/US PresswireCould Cliff Lee be wearing a Texas Rangers uniform again very soon?

For the first time in his career as a general manager, Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro finds himself a seller as baseball’s July 31 trade deadline looms.

At present, his team simply isn’t good enough to get back into the postseason race, either for the division crown or even one of the two wild-card berths. Simply put, he should sell ... liberally.

That means Shane Victorino, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence and Juan Pierre.

Amaro’s wheeling and dealing over the years to acquire talent such as Roy Halladay and Pence has cost the Phillies’ farm system depth. Certainly it has seen its share of attrition, but the trades have depleted much of the currency with which Amaro has been accustomed to trading. In effect, by dealing Lee and Pence, he is essentially trying to reverse what he has done.

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HeadleyAndy Hayt/Getty ImagesThe Dodgers area looking to upgrade at third base and Headley could be one of their targets.

Conventional wisdom approaching this year’s July 31 trade deadline said there would be more buyers than sellers. While that has indeed turned out to be the case, a couple of factors have complicated many possible trade scenarios.

First, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement no longer affords draft-pick compensation for players acquired in an in-season trade who are also free agents at season’s end. Thus, a team acquiring Zack Greinke this year will receive no compensatory draft picks if they are unable to retain him after the season.

It was supposed to be a seller’s market, but buyers have been reluctant to forfeit their futures knowing they might have absolutely nothing to show for it. In other words, teams have to recalibrate their expectations of what they can get back for a rental player.

Secondly, one would have thought the establishment of a second wild-card berth in both leagues would motivate some teams on the lip of the postseason to drive the market. However,
these same teams have been leery of trading for a “rental” player because of the architecture of the wild-card series; it’s only one game. To mortgage the future for one nine-inning elimination game just doesn’t make sense for teams that are realistically only contending for a wild-card berth.

Therefore, the teams most likely to make a trade for a top-tier “rental” player are clubs that believe they can win the division. A one-game wild card playoff combined with no draft-pick compensation forces a club to realize that renting on Park Place for a couple of months might not be worth the long-term cost.

Buzz around the league

• The Philadelphia Phillies are prepared to offer Cole Hamels a Matt Cain-type deal, but if that doesn’t work, general manager Ruben Amaro is prepared to trade him. The most likely landing places are the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.

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ColeHoward Smith/US PresswireThe Phillies might think about dealing Cole Hamels this summer if they can't extend him.

Both the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are unaccustomed to approaching the July 31 trade deadline as “sellers.” And yet, that’s perhaps their best course of action.

Despite extremely slow starts, the two teams still have enough collective talent to contend for at least wild-card berths this season. A couple of winning streaks and the Red Sox or Phillies could find themselves back in the thick of a division race. And their places in the standings might determine whether the sell or buy. Understandably, the allure of going on a late-season run can motivate a team’s front office to acquire players rather than trade them for prospects. If they’re deep in the hunt, these two proud teams will jump in.

But if they’re on the fringe, both organizations have to take a hard look at where their teams are and the direction in which they are heading. They might consider being sellers instead and use the opportunity to retool their teams for the long-term rather than considering the short-term and trying to win the World Series this year. Such an effort could come at the expense of long-term improvement over the next several years.

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How waiver trades work 

August, 1, 2011
The July 31 trade deadline has come and gone, but teams can still make trades. Of course, August trades are a little more complicated because they involve the waiver process. Here's an quick explanation of what teams need to go through in order to trade a player in August, as well as a breakdown of how I would handle the August waiver period as a GM.

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The Boston Red Sox have acquired left-handed starter Erik Bedard and reliever Josh Fields in a three-way deal involving the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox traded catcher Tim Federowicz and right-handed pitchers Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife to the Dodgers, who completed the deal by trading center fielder Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang to the Red Sox. Boston then sent Robinson and Chiang to the Mariners.

By acquiring the left-handed Bedard, the Red Sox get the pitcher they wanted for the back end of the rotation without giving up much. Bedard, 32, was 4-7 with an ERA of 3.45 and a WHIP of 1.172 in 16 games started with 87 strikeouts and 77 hits in 91⅓ innings pitched. In his 16 starts for the Mariners this year, only three times did he give up more than three earned runs in a start. Bedard will pitch at 88-92 mph with a solid curveball and effective changeup. He is a health risk, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure of pitching at Fenway Park. He certainly gives the Red Sox much-needed rotation depth, and for what they gave up (very little), Bedard is worth the gamble.

The Mariners get a solid center-field prospect in Robinson, who has the ability to steal bases and is a plus defender. Robinson has surprising power and is a quality line-drive hitter. He is prone to strikeouts, but has tremendous makeup. Chiang, 23, was hitting .338/.399 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 76 RBIs at Double-A Portland of the Eastern League. His swing is a little long but he makes sweet-spot contact when he gets a pitch he can handle.

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