Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Five August trades I'd like to see
By Jim Bowden
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.
The Phillies have begun to turn the page at third base by playing prospect Cody Asche every day. Young has told general manager Ruben Amaro he would accept trades to the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Yankees. Of those three teams, the Yankees will be first in waiver order, as trades made in August must begin with the player first clearing waivers.
Young would be able to help the Yankees as a possible third baseman, first baseman or DH and they desperately need anyone who can hit for a decent average, which Young can still do.
Of Young’s $16 million salary, the Rangers already have paid $10 million, while the Phillies will have paid approximately $4 million (depending on what date in August the trade takes place), leaving the Yankees with approximately $2 million to pay. For Young, the Phillies could garner a C-level prospect such as Bichette Jr., the son of former big leaguer Dante Bichette.
Bichette, 20, is batting just .209/.290/.321 with 12 doubles and 9 home runs for low Class A Charleston. Bichette is repeating his second year in the league after hitting just .248/.322/.331 last season. He was the Yankees’ first-round pick (No. 51 overall) in the 2011 draft, but his bat has as many questions as answers at this point, so he might not ever make it to the majors. However, he’s probably fair value for Young at this point. Bichette can play third but might end up in left field.
The Rangers should claim any bat that goes through waivers, especially after Nelson Cruz announced he would accept his Biogenesis suspension.
Morales would have to get past the Baltimore Orioles for the Rangers to claim him, but a deal for Martinez would make sense. Morales could become the team’s full-time DH and give them a power bat to replace Cruz. If Lance Berkman comes back from his hip injury, he could play first base and allow Mitch Moreland to move to a corner outfield spot.
In Martinez, 23, the Mariners would have yet another pitching prospect or potential trade piece they could deal for a young outfield bat in this offseason. Martinez is 9-7 this year with a 2.87 ERA in high Class A.
It is highly unlikely Rios would get through waivers and make it all the way to the Pirates, who own the majors’ best record. Ideally, this was a deal that should have been made at the July 31 deadline. Several teams question if Rios is worth his $12.5 million annual salary, but look at what players such as Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino got last winter as free agents, and it probably is fair market value.
However, if by some miracle Rios did reach the Pirates, a deal would help both teams. The Pirates would be able to hold onto top outfield prospects Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell. However, dealing from a strong and deep farm system, Pittsburgh could include two quality midlevel prospects in Garcia and Ramirez. Garcia, 20, is hitting .264/.304/.448 with 14 home runs in high Class A and the 18-year-old Ramirez is batting .320/.389/.455 with 3 homers and 19 stolen bases for short-season Class A Jamestown.
The Cardinals decided against re-signing Lohse last winter, opting to give the opportunity to their young pitching studs, including NL Rookie of the Year candidate Shelby Miller. However, with injuries to Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia, and questions about whether some of their young pitchers will hold up in September and October, a deal to reacquire Lohse makes sense.
He has two years left on his contract with an average annual value of just $11 million. This would give them protection if Carpenter doesn’t come back and gives them the best chance of getting to the World Series this year.
Rodriguez, 23, is hitting .263 at Double-A. He's got the quick-twitch muscles and energy, but he needs to slow his game down and improve his baseball intellect and instincts. Cooney, 22, has pitched well in Double-A this year, striking out 88 hitters in 83 innings with just 15 walks. When he learns to avoid the middle of the plate, he too could be part of the Brewers' starting rotation. Kelly, 19, was a second-round pick in 2012 and has hit a combined .251 with four homers across two levels of Class A. He is athletic, has a strong arm at third and a good line-drive stroke. He should develop requisite corner infield power as his body matures.
As soon as Willingham can show his knee is healthy enough to regain his 20-25 home run power, he should be put on waivers. The Rangers could get the opportunity to claim him, although it wouldn’t surprise me if the Mariners block them because he’s signed through next season at a paltry $7 million and could help the Mariners’ lineup this year, too.
However, if the Rangers somehow get him, dealing Garcia would make sense for both teams. Garcia doesn't offer a ton of upside, but he has blazing speed and can play second, third and short. The Twins don't have a long-term solution at shortstop, so he could be a fit there or settle into a utility role.
It wouldn't make sense for the Rangers to grab Willingham and Morales, but the former is sound backup plan if a deal for Morales can't be reached. As a bonus, Willingham is signed for 2014, so he's not just a rental.