December 13, 2012
The Lineup Card
11 Potential Trades
1. Gordon Beckham for Ramon Hernandez and Eric Young Jr.
Colorado looks like a good trade partner to me. Ramon Hernandez is in the last year of a two-year pact. The Rockies may wish to keep him around to continue to tutor young backstop Wilin Rosario, or they may be willing to move him to get a former first-round pick who once showed signs of being a very good big-leaguer. Hernandez could once again serve in a tutor capacity in the South Side of Chicago working with Tyler Flowers. It's also possible he could step into a time-share or starting role if Flowers struggles.
In addition to Hernandez, Eric Young Jr. could be added to the mix. Young Jr.'s defensive versatility would be a welcome addition to the White Sox bench, and his speed would make him a prime pinch-running candidate late in games for some of the less fleet-of-foot players in their lineup. Is this deal likely to happen? No, it isn't, but it was fun to think about. —Josh Shepardson
2. Joel Hanrahan for Rick Porcello
Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan would be a good fit for the Tigers after converting 76 of 84 save opportunities over the past two seasons. The Pirates have a replacement closer in Jason Grilli after re-signing the veteran right-hander to a two-year, $6.75-million contract this week. The Pirates need a starter to join a rotation that includes A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald. Rick Porcello would be a great fit as a 23-year-old who would be under their control for two seasons. Porcello was demoted to long relief in the postseason this year, but his 3.86 FIP was nearly three-quarters of a run better than his 4.59 ERA. Of course, it would be easier for the Tigers to deal Porcello if they could re-sign free agent Anibal Sanchez, but he appears to have priced himself out of Detroit's range. Regardless, the Tigers could find someone on the market at a reasonable cost to pitch behind the big three of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister. Hanrahan-for-Porcello is a trade that makes so much sense, and it would be a heckuva lot more interesting than that Oliver-for-Cabrera swap. —John Perrotto
3. Tom Wilhelmsen for Avisail Garcia
Tom Wilhelmsen is 29 and struck out nearly 10 batters per 9 IP last year and plays for a team that will not win the AL West next year. (Note: said that about the A's last winter.) Plus, the Mariners have a few younger guys who rack up the K's (although with higher walk rates) in Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor. The Tigers signed Torii Hunter and have Austin Jackson and some combination of Andy Dirks and Quintin Berry (yeah, I know) to hold down the other two outfield spots and should be OK for this year. Let's be honest, the Tigers are playing for the short term. It's the classic "your present for my future" trade. —Russell A. Carleton
4. Three-way swap: Josh Reddick for Jed Lowrie for prospects
Signing Ichiro would be a failure to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's gift to powerful left-handers, and Reddick would be more valuable at Yankee Stadium than he would be in Oakland—a poor home run park for lefties. The Athletics also have a surplus in the outfield and needs elsewhere, especially shortstop if they pass on Drew. The problem is that the Yankees are a near-impossible team to trade with for a contender, as they have few cost-controlled assets. Getting the Orioles involved and having J.J. Hardy sent westward would let Manny Machado play his proper position, but the money would be a tougher balance and Baltimore would still have a hole. Lowrie is cheaper, and the Astros are always in the market for prospects, which is pretty much all the Yankees could offer.
This is hardly ideal timing for Houston, which would have received an exquisite haul last trade deadline had he not been injured. But they have shown with Wilton Lopez that they are still looking to deal arbitration-eligible types, and Lowrie fits that with a raise coming off a modest $1.15 million 2012 salary, though they might desire one of the prospects from the Yankees to even things if they worry about whether they're getting an every-day player after the latest injury.
If the Yankees do sign Ichiro, this could still get done with just Reddick and Lowrie as the basis for a two-team deal since the Astros do need outfield help and want to keep getting younger. —Zachary Levine
5. Anthony Gose and Prospects for Jonny Venters and Randall Delgado
At just 22 years old, Gose has a lot of future value to a franchise, but the Blue Jays clearly want to compete for the AL East crown now while the Yankees and Red Sox appear vulnerable. Therefore, I propose the Jays flip Gose plus prospects to Atlanta in exchange for reliever Jonny Venters and starter Randall Delgado. In Venters, the Jays get potentially one of the most dominating lefty relievers in baseball. Delgado would likely be next in line to start for Toronto this year and could develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 starter down the line. For Atlanta, Gose will compete with the Braves’ in-house options for the left-field job this year, and if his plate discipline improves, could be a valuable starting outfielder for many years. To even out the deal, Toronto should send a couple mid-tier prospects to the Braves, nobody too major though. —Paul Singman
6. Kendrys Morales and Hank Conger for Jeremy Hellickson and James Loney
The Rays would receive a significant upgrade at first base and a young catcher with some upside. Morales isn’t much, but he’s very clearly better than Loney. After missing 2011, he posted a modest comeback campaign in 2012, and his plus power resurfaced as the season progressed. Morales also shouldn’t see too big of a raise in his final go at arbitration, so the dollars and cents make… sense. Conger would balance out giving up Hellickson; he’s a 24-year-old catcher with moderate offensive upside that could step in immediately. He’s struggled in spurts in the majors, and a deal would depend mostly on Tampa’s pro scouting reports on him, but the tools are there for him to become a solid-average regular at a premium position.
This deal works for both sides. Both teams upgrade at positions of need. The money makes sense for both sides. It’s time for Mr. Dipoto to start texting Mr. Friedman, or vice-versa. —Hudson Belinsky
7. Brett Anderson for Chase Headley
In Headley, the A’s get a massive upgrade over their current third base situation (Josh Donaldson is currently listed on the depth charts). He is a middle-of-the-lineup hitter who has proven he can succeed despite playing in an oppressive home park. He was no doubt better on the road during his 2012 breakout with a 937 OPS compared to 812 at home, but an 812 mark in Oakland would’ve registered as the second-best behind Yoenis Cespedes among full-time A’s from last year. Additionally, he’s locked in for the next two years. The risk would be that his 31 home runs are such an outlier to what he has done in his career that it may have been a fluky career-year. A Headley-Cespedes-Josh Reddick heart of the lineup packs some legitimate punch, especially since Cespedes and Reddick proved last year that their home park can’t tame their power.
From San Diego’s side, they get a headline starter with remarkably affordable options through 2015. Yes, their ballpark can turn just about anyone into a capable starter, but there are still 81 games on the road. They had the seventh-best home ERA and seventh-worst road ERA last year. Guys like Jason Marquis and Eric Stults aren’t in the long-term plans for the Padres. It is hard to trade your best hitter, but they’re selling at peak value, and prospects Jedd Gyorko and Rymer Liriano should be ready soon to pair with Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal in the middle of their lineup. A rotation of Anderson, Cory Luebke, Andrew Cashner, Casey Kelly, and Robbie Erlin by 2014 gives the Padres an incredible quintet that can also be trusted on the road. —Paul Sporer
8. Mike Olt and Martin Perez for Jeff Samardzija
At 27 years old, Samardzija has cleared the hurdle of the injury nexus yet is still figuring out how to maximize his skills on the mound, and his learning curve is evident in the stat line that he posted over the final three months of the season: a 2.58 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 95:22 in 87 innings. The Rangers would get three years of service from the right-hander, who is eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time.
Olt may have been promoted a bit prematurely, skipping Triple-A en route to a major-league stint that mostly involved spitting sunflower seeds from the bench, and the Rangers have $51 million committed to Adrian Beltre to man the hot corner for the next three years. Olt has the defensive chops to stick at third and the potent bat to play on either corner of the diamond, and his acquisition would put an end to the pipe dream of Josh Vitters figuring out the concept of plate discipline. Perez has been a favorite of prospect hounds for years, but his projection has far outweighed his performance, with bloated ERAs, modest strikeout totals, and below-average walk rates covering his climb up the ladder.
The deal would satisfy the Rangers immediate need for high-end innings, allowing them to deal from organizational depth to meet their short-term needs. The Cubbies pick up a potential cornerstone bat for the lineup and an arm with a vaulted ceiling, but both players have some work to do before their upside can be realized, and the Cubs have the time to allow them to develop before the competitive window opens on Chicago's north side. —Doug Thorburn
9. R.A. Dickey for Dayan Viciedo and Charlie Shirek
10. [Your Farm System Here] for Giancarlo Stanton
*Until they can con another new ballpark out of Southern Florida taxpayers and coax more unsuspecting free agents to bite on their big contract offers that, oddly, contain no no-trade clauses and pay the major-league minimum the first season.
What, to pick a team at random, would the Red Sox give up for Stanton? How about their top six prospects, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Blake Swihart, and Garin Cecchini? Throw in Wally the Green Monster while you’re at it. Is that too much? Maybe that’s too much. Take out Wally the Green Monster.
The Red Sox would destroy their system in the process, but they’d get an amazing hitter who is still younger than some of the prospects they traded. The Marlins would diversify their assets and reduce their risk, with the goal of parlaying Stanton’s desirability into more total talent than Stanton alone.
Maybe that isn’t enough. Maybe it is too much. Who says no? Who says yes? Who said what? Who knows? I don’t. —Matthew Kory
11. Tim Lincecum to the Royals for Too Many Prospects
The Giants, meanwhile, spent the better part of five years trying to lock Lincecum down. It didn’t happen, it’s not going to happen, and for Sabean’s sake, thank goodness it didn’t happen. Lincecum’s excellent October gives him an out, an opportunity to get something before Lincecum walks away and an opportunity to get out of a $22 million contract burden for 2013. Unlike the Royals, the Giants—world champions, pitcher's park, great Chinese food—shouldn’t have as much trouble convincing free agents to come pitch for them. —Sam Miller