Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Five unexpected trade candidates
By Jim Bowden
The Padres say they won't move Chase Headley before the deadline, but that could change.
While the Matt Garza trade that went down on Monday night created a buzz throughout the industry, it was far from a surprise. In fact, everyone knew Garza was going to be dealt, it was just a matter of where.
The Padres have told me that they’re not trading Headley or signing him to an extension before July 31. Perhaps they think there will be more of a market at the winter meetings, or that the price will come down considerably after his subpar season.
I think the best trade value is almost always at the deadline because that is when teams get desperate, and with so many teams needing a third baseman, the Padres could be better off striking now.
Just think, the Angels and Dodgers are getting nothing at the hot corner; the Yankees would love a replacement for Alex Rodriguez; the Pirates could put Headley at third, move Pedro Alvarez to first and Garrett Jones to right field; the Reds could use the switch-hitting bat at third and move Todd Frazier to left.
Furthermore, it's not as if Headley is going to settle for a below-market deal with the Padres this winter. If the club isn't convinced Headley will re-sign, now could be the time to deal.
The Giants have publicly stated they are not trading Pence, and it’s not that I don’t believe them, it’s just that it makes too much sense to deal him.
Let's look at the facts: The Giants are well below .500 and not playing like a playoff team. Pence is a free agent at the end of the season and the Giants haven’t even made him an offer since the season started. Pence wants to stay in San Francisco, but both sides at this point have resigned themselves to negotiate after the season.
As thin as the Giants' farm system is right now, it only makes sense to trade Pence for a prospect bat, arm or both. They can always re-sign him over the winter, giving them the best of both worlds. The trade market for corner outfielders is surprisingly thin beyond Alex Rios and Raul Ibanez, and with teams like the Rangers and Pirates in desperate need of help, there has to be a significant deal available for the Giants.
The Blue Jays haven't lived up to preseason expectations and are the only AL East team that isn't in playoff contention. If the Jays want to aggressively reload for 2014 and beyond, they could start with Bautista.
The 32-year-old is still one of the best power hitters in the league and is signed for $14 million per season through 2015 with a team option at the team price for 2016 -- a very reasonably amount for a player of his caliber. With his ability and cost certainty, he could fetch Toronto an impressive return.
The perfect fits in my opinion are the Rangers and Pirates, two teams with very strong farm systems that need a middle-of-the-order bat who can play an outfield corner. Bautista fits both molds, and could even DH for the Rangers down the road. (And as I noted elsewhere, Texas could be in the market for a Nelson Cruz replacement.)
Iwakuma, 32, is a top-of-the-rotation starter who has a 2.99 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, and I think there are a lot of execs who would prefer him to Garza.
The Mariners love the idea of Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez and top prospect Taijuan Walker fronting their staff next season, and I don't blame them, but considering his age, and the fact that he is signed for $6.5 million next year with a $7 million team option for 2015, he has a ton of trade value. The Mariners could desperately use a power bat, and they'd have to think long and hard about moving Iwakuma if someone dangled a promising young position prospect.
I doubt this will happen, but teams like the Orioles, Indians, Rangers and Rockies sure could use a pitcher like Iwakuma, and have prospects to deal.
The Royals insist they are still in the pennant race despite being buried in third place, five games under .500. However, GM Dayton Moore knows deep down that they have a more realistic shot at contending next year.
Santana, who will be a free agent this winter, has a 3.18 ERA in 19 starts, and it's doubtful Kansas City will commit to a long-term deal for him. If the Royals think they can exceed the value of the compensatory draft pick they could receive if he leaves as a free agent, they have to move him. (And remember, they only get that draft pick if they make him a qualifying offer, something they might not be willing to do.)
With Garza off the market Santana could be the next best starting pitcher available, which only increases his value.