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It’s that time again, when Prospectus staffers assume the role of general managers for the sake of entertainment (and embarrassment). This time around, 10 writers made their best pitches to secure the services of Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. Here are the actors and their characters:

Alex Anthopoulos (Blue Jays) – George Bissell
A.J. Preller (Padres) – Mike Gianella
Sandy Alderson (Mets) – Patrick Dubuque
Jon Daniels (Rangers) – Russell Carleton (and special assistant Kate Morrison)
Terry Ryan (Twins) – Jonathan Judge
Mark Antonetti (Indians) – Wilson Karaman
Jack Zduriencik (Mariners) – Doug Thorburn
Jed Hoyer (Cubs) – Jeff Long
Jeff Luhnow (Astros) – Matt Trueblood
John Mozeliak (Cardinals) – Ben Carsley

Additionally, R.J. Anderson is playing Doug Melvin, while Tommy Rancel of ESPN.com serves as Melvin’s top assistant.

We enter these talks knowing we don’t have to trade Gomez in the next two weeks. He isn’t a free agent until after next season, and he’ll have appeal this winter due to his reasonable 2016 salary ($9 million) and the high likelihood that he would reject a qualifying offer. Even so, we’re inclined to make a trade at the deadline for three reasons: 1) we know we can’t afford Gomez after next season; 2) we know we won’t be competitive enough to justify keeping him until next deadline; and 3) we believe the shortage of quality bats will entice a contender to overpay; at minimum, we intend to test that belief.

The catch here is that we have to be cognizant about the makeup of our return. The owner hates the idea of a long-term rebuild. He doesn’t believe in making fans suffer for the sake of a master plan that offers no guarantees of success. We can’t complain—every winter he adds another $10 million to the budget in order for us to grab a worthwhile free agent or trade target in the name of making a playoff push—but his preference for ready or near-ready prospects will influence our final decision.

Because I’m moving to a different position after the season, our assistant GM will be heavily involved in making the call. He’s set to take over as GM provided he doesn’t do something dumb in the next three months—like propose to the owner that we should trade half our roster for complex-league players—so it’s only fair for him to have a hand on the wheel until the transition occurs.

Now, to the talks.

***

From: Terry Ryan
To: Doug Melvin
July 17, 4:35 p.m.

Dear Doug,

You texted me the other day and asked whether I would ever trade Miguel Sano. We enjoy reading what other people say about him, but we’re concerned he won’t be able to stick at the hot corner, and while he will hit some marvelous home runs, we wonder if he’ll make consistent contact against big-league pitching. His ceiling is high, but we ask ourselves about his floor (and his build), and whether he has more than a few high-production years in him, even if he does figure it all out.

Moreover, while our farm system is the envy of the league, over the next few years we are shaping up to have a divide between stars and scrubs. Even the young stars will be scrubbing to figure out the big leagues (provided they can stay healthy). Plus, to our great surprise, we got off to a hot start this year and had 50 wins at the break. At least one Wild Card will probably come from the AL Central and it might as well be us. I doubt we can do that without reinforcements around the lineup. Plus, we could use a few more fans in the seats and a big-time trade could spark interest.

So Doug, the answer to your question is “yes,” but only for a package that will help me this year, next year, and the year after that, and at a below-market price. This year, my corner outfield spots are terrible, and we have the worst shortstop in baseball. Our pitching has been adequate, but it could be better, particularly if I could get some more strikeouts. You and I both know the Brewers are going nowhere soon, that you’re short on young impact bats, and that you can fill all these spots with organizational guys while you aim for two years of top draft picks. I want a comprehensive upgrade of my team that will smooth the transition between the present and the future.

So, in exchange for Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra, Jean Segura, Mike Fiers, and Will Smith, I offer you Miguel Sano and Lewis Thorpe. The price may seem steep, but you’d be offering me the present, and I’m offering you the future.

From: Doug Melvin
To: Terry Ryan
July 17, 4:55 p.m.

Hi Terry,

No J.J. Hardy? I kid, I kid—it’s been that kind of year. Honestly, we have some problems with your proposal. You’re asking us to trade almost all our worthwhile trade chits in exchange for two prospects with serious question marks.

You confessed to having concerns about Sano’s position. Well, your team has the DH if he outgrows defending; we don’t. Besides, while we’re not opposed to fielding a well-below-average third baseman—hence Aramis Ramirez—we are opposed to taking on Thorpe as the only other piece. He’s a talented young arm, no doubt, but he’s also another nine, 10 months away from completing Tommy John surgery rehab. That’s too much risk coming our way. We’d feel better if you focused on Gomez and one or two others, added a player or two on your side, and/or subbed out Thorpe for Jose Berrios.

Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in. Otherwise, I’m confident the market will beat your offer.

***

From: Jon Daniels
To: Doug Melvin
July 18, 4:23 a.m.

Doug,

I feel a little weird even sending you this proposal. We’re not really well-matched as trade partners. Gomez would make anyone proud to have, and we probably do need to upgrade in center field because Leonys Martin decided that he no longer wanted to hit, and, well … we put Delino DeShields Jr. out there a lot as well. But, at this point, we’re holding pretty steady at less than a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs. Should I really be doing this?

Then again, guys with five-win potential don’t grow on trees and Gomez would be around next year. And if it doesn’t work out next year, I can cash out on him at the trade deadline and get something back on my investment then.

We’ll send you DeShields, who is 22 and already an MLB center fielder. He’s basically a make-weight for Gomez, but he’s fast and maybe that turns into a nice one-win guy to have around. It’s hard to find a reasonable center fielder nowadays.

But the meat in the sandwich is going to be Nomar Mazara. He’s much more Ryan Braun than Carlos Gomez, but he’s got the tools that pop and it looks like he’s starting to put it all together on the farm this year. My problem is that he’s stuck in the outfield behind my commitments to Shin-Soo Choo and Josh Hamilton, plus Joey Gallo‘s not going to be playing third with Adrian Beltre around, plus Martin (if he ever gets it together) and hopefully, by the end of this conversation, Gomez. For you, Mazara puts Braun back in left and, in a year or so, provides some impact potential.

But in 2017, when Beltre is gone through free agency (and perhaps Gallo shifts to third), Choo and Hamilton are both two years older, but still expensive, and Gomez would be gone in free agency, I wouldn’t have Mazara around to be a nice cost-controlled piece. It seems like a bad tactical move to make just to load up for 2016.

Okay, I’m going to hit send on this, but thankfully Gmail installed that new “undo send” feature. It’s possible that you’ll never see this e-mail.

Sincerely,
Jon Daniels

From: Doug Melvin
To: Jon Daniels
July 18, 6:55 a.m.

Jon,

First off, get some sleep.

Second, we like this deal a lot. Mazara might be the best corner-outfield prospect in the minors. Additionally, DeShields is easy to sell to our fans and owner, based on his lineage and success so far (compare his numbers to Gomez’s—actually, don’t). We want to take a few more calls before committing, but please don’t complete anything until you circle back to us or vice versa.

***

From: Jack Zduriencik
To: Doug Melvin
July 18, 11:55 a.m.

Dougie M,

How’s my old club doing? You’ve already assembled an impressive corps of talent, but cornerstones like Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun aren’t getting any younger, and with only one and a half more seasons of control on Carlos Gomez I would imagine you’d like to turn that short shelf-life into long-term assets to shore up some of the softer spots on the roster. We’re teeming with major league–ready talent that is concentrated in a few positions, and I think our mutual needs can be solved by a simple swap.

So here’s the pitch for Gomez: James Paxton, Chris Taylor, and Dustin Ackley. The centerpiece is obviously Paxton, an MLB-ready southpaw with another four and a half years of control to balance out your right-handed rotation, not to mention the over-the-top delivery (and resulting downhill plane) that makes your coaching staff smile. Are the 14 years of combined control worth 18 months of Gomez?

Cheers,
Jackie Z

From: Doug Melvin
To: Jack Zduriencik
July 18, 12:02 p.m.

Jack,

I say this as your friend and former colleague: next time just say “I pass.”

***

From: Jeff Luhnow
To: Doug Melvin
July 18 4:44 p.m.

Hi Doug,

I don’t want to say too much via email, so if you need to talk to me more about this, don’t hesitate to call. I just want to ensure that we make you a formal proposal, as I’ve heard we’re moving toward the final-offer stage of this process.

We really like Carlos Gomez. He’s aggressive early in the count, he has power, he plays terrific defense. To get him, we can offer you Jake Marisnick, Brett Phillips, Vincent Velasquez, and Josh Hader.

Please delete this email after reading.

-JL

From: Doug Melvin
To: Jeff Luhnow
July 18, 7:45 p.m.

Jeff,

This is a decent little package. We like the arms and Phillips. (Marisnick is a glove-only extra outfielder to us, but we’re not expecting Carlos Correa, either.) We just think this deal is missing a centerpiece talent. As a result, this isn’t the best offer we’ve received; not even the best we’ve received from the AL West, actually. Let me know if you’re willing to swap out a player or restructure the deal in some other way. Thanks.

Oh, and can you please stop spamming me? This week alone I’ve gotten three emails from you about a Nigerian prince.

***

From: Alex Anthopoulos
To: Doug Melvin
July 18, 11:45 p.m.

Hey Doug,

Remember how we haven’t made the playoffs since 1993? Well, believe me; our fans haven’t. I’m going to level with you: I’m under serious pressure to make a trade right now. However, given the astronomical prospect haul we’ve been asked to part with for pitchers like Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels (you know Ruben lol) I would be a lot more comfortable investing beyond a three-month rental. I know you’re looking toward the future. Frankly, I don’t see how (given his contract status) Carlos Gomez is really a big part of it anymore.

Therefore, I’m prepared to offer Jeff Hoffman, Anthony Alford, and Miguel Castro for Gomez and The Fresh Prince of Milwaukee.

Let’s face it, if it weren’t for Tommy John surgery (from which he’s fully recovered), Hoffman would have been the no. 1 overall pick last year. He’s a polished college pitcher with an electric arsenal, the future ace you can sell to your fans.

There isn’t a better lottery ticket out there right now than Alford. The Packers fans are going to love this guy, a former football player who possesses that ultra-rare power/speed combination. Did I mention he’s hitting .350 in High-A right now? You don’t need me to pump his tires anymore because Keith Law is doing a fine job of that for me. Seriously, did you see how high he ranked him? Alford won’t replace Gomez right now, but he will in a few years. Plus you get Castro! This is an easy deal to sell to your fans as a commitment to the long-term future of franchise.

I know what you’re thinking. You want Marcus Stroman. Before you hit reply, let me cut you off. The only thing more popular than the Maple Leafs with our fan base right now is Stro. Between you and me, he’s coming back to pitch out of the bullpen in September. He’s the future of our rotation, especially with Hoffman gone. If we don’t win a title and I’ve traded Stro away, I’m about as cooked as that bratwurst you sent me over the winter. Let me know what you think.

– Alex

P.S. You’re welcome for Adam Lind, by the way.

P.P.S. That was a Will Smith joke up there.

From: Doug Melvin
To: Alex Anthopoulos
July 19, 12:42 a.m.

Double A,

If you know what I’m thinking, then you know I’m thinking this is a fine offer. Rancel saw Castro during the spring, and didn’t really know the kid before then, but called me after his inning and said we should ask for him in future talks. Funny how that works. We also think Hoffman and Alford are nice pieces, though we don’t buy the idea that Hoffman is a “future ace” or that Alford’s football background will appeal to our fans; our fans are loyal as it is, after all.

Truthfully, this is one of the best offers we’ve received. We’re not ready to commit—you can understand us wanting to comb the market, I’m sure—but please don’t make a deal until we talk again.

***

From: A.J. Preller
To: Doug Melvin
July 19, 3:55 a.m.

Hi Doug,

Hope everything is well. Let’s cut right to the chase. A lot of other GMs are going to look at your team, determine that you need to do a full-blown tear down, and offer you some long-term future chips that may or may not help you in 2018 or beyond. I think the Padres are in the unique position to make you an offer that will address both of our teams’ current needs and not leave you waiting for a future that may never come, while offering you some long-term chips as well.

I am offering Wil Myers, Rymer Liriano, Jose Rondon, and Zech Lemond for Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. It’s obvious to anyone with eyes that we need a center fielder and a shortstop who can play defense. Giving up Myers hurts, but I’m not going to waste your time and low-ball you on one of the best all-around players in the game. I know you’ve been shopping Segura, and while I can’t fill that hole in the short term, Rondon will eventually be able to slot in there for you at some point in 2016. Liriano’s another guy who could play for your team right now, and while it’s tempting to believe that Gerardo Parra is the answer to all of your hopes and dreams, your youth movement isn’t going to begin with him. Despite his poor numbers at Lake Elsinore, I’m not giving up on Lemond’s long term potential by any means, but I know that moving Gomez isn’t going to be easy, and I want to put this deal over the top.

-A.J.

From: Doug Melvin
To: A.J. Preller
July 19, 9:15 a.m.

Hi A.J.,

I’m surprised you’re contacting me about Gomez. I figured you might reach out about moving James Shields or one of your veterans instead. Anyway, we have some concerns about the offer. The prospects are just fine, not the sexiest bunch, and we’re lukewarm on Myers. A guy gets traded once, okay, maybe that team just didn’t evaluate him well; twice, maybe they just didn’t click with his personality; but potentially three times in three years? He’s probably not worth the trouble. Factor in his wrist issues, and we’re not willing to make him a trade with him as the centerpiece. Sorry.

***

From: Chris Antonetti
To: Doug Melvin
July 19, 1:33 p.m.

Doug,

How’s the weather over there, eh? I’ll be the first to admit that things haven’t gone exactly according to plan for us this year, but do they ever in Cleveland? Our native gooses aren’t cooked yet, though, and we think we’re at a nice place on the win curve to get aggressive in upgrading our lineup. Our starting center fielder has given us less than zero to date this season, so that’s where we’re starting. How’s about a package of Clint Frazier, Tyler Naquin, Erik Gonzalez, and Luis Lugo for Carloses Gomez and Belonis?

You get yourself:

  • a dynamic center fielder and franchise face of the future in Frazier

  • a center fielder for the present who’s going to be a solid major-league player for you anytime you’re ready in Naquin

  • a near-MLB-ready shortstop with three 6’s in the toolbox and enough offense to cut it in Gonzalez and

  • an electric left arm to dream on in Lugo.

We take an expensive player on the dark side of his prime off your hands.

Warmest regards,
Chris

From: Doug Melvin
To: Chris Antonetti
July 19, 2:30 p.m.

Hi Chris,

We don’t consider Gomez expensive. Frankly, we think he’s underpaid compared to his production. That said, we don’t think this is the right package for us. We have concerns about Frazier’s rawness and Naquin’s bat, and the rest of the deal isn’t enough to atone for those worries.

Here’s a deal I would do: You see what Gomez just did to Jordy Mercer? I’ll bet you a steak dinner at the GM meetings the Rays, Cubs, and/or Mets try low-balling me for him in the next few hours. What do you say?

***

From: Jed Hoyer
To: Doug Melvin
July 19, 2:50 p.m.

Hey Doug,

I know everyone thinks we should be in on pitching right now, but I’m not sold on that idea. The pitching that’s out there is going to be awfully expensive, and I really like our chances to land one of the big arms this offseason in free agency, so I’m looking to bolster my offense with the hopes of a wild card run this year, and the goal of a division win next season once we’ve got another premier arm in the stable. Here’s what I’m thinking: Javier Baez, Carson Sands, Jeimer Candelario, and Dexter Fowler for Carlos Gomez and Miguel Diaz.

Baez is a premier prospect who, with some coaching, could still become one of the best power hitters in baseball. Sands is a solid prospect, a guy with a high floor who should easily crack your rotation by the time you’re competing again. Candelario is a ways off, but profiles as a true third baseman with a good stick and decent enough hands to play the hot corner. Dexter Fowler … well, you won’t have to find someone to play center this September.

From: Doug Melvin
To: Jed Hoyer
July 19, 3:30 p.m.

Good grief. Did Theo put you up to this, Jed? That Hardy offer was a long time ago, and it doesn’t even look bad these days. He has to let that go at some point.

On the off chance this is a serious offer, it just doesn’t work for us. You say Baez needs some coaching; why haven’t y’all provided that coaching? The rest of the package is trifling to us: a rental outfielder who costs twice what Gomez does and a pair of prospects who maybe turn into a middle-of-the-rotation starter and second-division third baseman? Not going to work.

Thanks for the steak dinner though.

***

From: Sandy Alderson
To: Doug Melvin
July 19, 3:40 p.m.

Douglas,

It seems our entire 2015 free-agent class has been a disaster, so ownership has told me I can go get someone. Like, say, Carlos Gomez.

I just can’t offer you salary relief. I don’t have to tell you how tough times are for us small market clubs. I know what you’re going to ask for, so let’s get it out of the way: I also can’t give you any of the starters. I wish I could. But these injuries! It looks like they’ll be back in a week, but it’s always months instead. It’s mystifying. I can’t even offer you Jon Niese to eat some cheap innings.

So I have to offer you a bunch of young guys. First off, I’ll give you Brandon Nimmo, who’s going to be a real solid corner outfielder for you really soon. And it hurts, but I’ll trade you Amed Rosario; the kid is going to be a star someday, but there’s no room for him here after I finally finish this Tulowitzki trade. Finally, I’ll give you Michael Fulmer, who looks like a starter and has even started pitching like one; I know you guys can use a couple of those.

Sincerely,
Sandy

From: Doug Melvin
To: Jed Hoyer, Sandy Alderson
July 19, 5:27 p.m.

You two should get on the phone and put a three-way proposal together that would send Fowler and Segura to New York, Gomez and an arm to Chicago, and a combination of your prospects my way. That makes more sense on paper than either of your offers alone.

Oh, and Sandy: I can help you pay Fowler if it’ll make one of those arms or Michael Conforto available.

***

From: Doug Melvin
To: John Mozeliak
July 20, 11:04 a.m.

Hey Doug,

I know what you’re thinking: “I’m not trading Carlos Gomez within the division.” I get it. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even ask. Here’s the thing, though. We match up pretty perfectly in terms of what you need to rebuild and what I can provide. And Gomez matches up perfectly with what my team needs. So before you move on to the next offer, take a look at the four-for-one deal I can send your way:

Stephen Piscotty: a good, MLB-ready outfielder who can play for you ASAP. I know he’s right-handed, but I’m telling you he’s better than Khris Davis right now.

Marco Gonzales or Alex Reyes: You can pick, Doug. The safe starter who can come in and play for you right away, or the high-upside arm who could front your rotation in a few years. I’ll give you one, but not both.

Jack Flaherty or Magneuris Sierra: Another high-upside arm for you to potentially choose. I can understand not wanting to put this many eggs in the pitching basket, though, so I’ll also offer Sierra. I dare someone else to dangle this much upside in front of you. If you like Luke Weaver or Charlie Tilson more, we can talk about them.

Patrick Wisdom: More of a pot-sweetener than anything else, but he’s playing well in Double-A and could grow into a starter if it all clicks. I know you guys need some more potential bats in the upper minors.

Let me know what you’re thinking. I’m giving you the chance to rebuild quickly or totally retool your farm system here, all for a player you probably can’t sign long-term anyway, if you can stomach seeing him in red and white.

From: Doug Melvin
To: John Mozeliak
July 20, 1:14 p.m.

John

We’re starting our meeting with ownership in an hour to talk everything through. We think we’ve gotten enough good offers to accept one before tomorrow night. Will let you know when we do.

Thanks.

***

Summary of Melvin’s explanation at said meeting

We gathered 10 offers and identified three that we considered worthwhile: 1) the Rangers’ (DeShields and Mazara for Gomez alone); 2) the Blue Jays’ (Alford, Hoffman, and Castro for Gomez and Smith); and 3) the Cardinals’ (Piscotty, Reyes or Gonzales, Flaherty or Sierra, and Wisdom for Gomez alone). We then identified the pros and cons of each package.

Our scouts love Mazara’s offensive game—his power potential, his feel for the barrel, and so on—and believe he could develop into a middle-of-the-order force. Unfortunately, they aren’t as sold on his defensive profile, which could limit him to left field at an early age. While there’s no denying DeShields as a Rule 5 success story, our scouts couldn’t forget about the reasons he was exposed in the first place, namely his largely disinterested approach to life in the minors. We’d have to be sure that Craig Counsell and our coaching staff could motivate him on a consistent basis. Given the risk involved with both parties, we ranked this the third-best deal.

The Blue Jays’ trio came in second due to proximity concerns. Hoffman is a former collegiate arm, but his workload will need to be monitored as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery. Additionally, while Castro has reached the majors, we’d like to try him as a starting pitcher. Considering that he won’t turn 21 until December, we could be talking about a developmental race against the expiration of his options. Then there’s Alford, a potential leadoff hitter. This is his first successful season, and while we don’t doubt his potential, or that of the others, we felt the developmental time required in each case made this a no-no.

As a result, we focused on the Cardinals’ offer. To address the two constants first: We think Piscotty can be a solid corner outfielder. That he’s in the majors already is a plus for us, since he can plug into the outfield right away, albeit not into Gomez’s vacated center-field spot. Wisdom, for his part, is more of a throw-in. We aren’t counting on him developing into anything special, but his raw strength and passable glove could result in a career as a bench player in the near future.

Picking between Gonzales and Reyes was essentially deciding between ceiling and floor. We’ve liked Gonzales since the draft—we thought he could be a quick-moving Jason Vargas clone—but in this instance we decided to go with Reyes. We know there’s more risk with Reyes—he is younger with worse command and some arm trouble—but the upside is a front-of-the-rotation monster. Gonzales’ safeness should lend itself to a lengthy career as a no. 3 or 4 starter, but that’s not the difference-maker this franchise needs. With Piscotty and perhaps Wisdom holding over our owner and fans, we felt we could gamble on the power arm.

Flaherty versus Sierra would appear to be a similar battle between upside and certainty, but this time we opted for the so-called safe route. The reasons went beyond that simplistic summation. We felt both were about even as prospects, leaving the call to things like organizational complexion and, yes, gut feel. Having added so many high-beta positional prospects over the past year-plus, we decided we could use another talented arm. Flaherty doesn’t have front-of-the-rotation upside like Reyes does, but he has an advanced feel and arsenal. Factor in his athleticism and size, and we think there’s a good chance he bolts up prospect lists over the next year or two. Granted, the same could be true for Sierra; we just have a little more confidence in Flaherty.

Passing on the Rangers’ and Blue Jays’ offers could prove stupid, and seeing Gomez in a division rival’s colors will hurt for the next year-plus (or more, given the real chance the Cardinals sign him to an extension). Nonetheless, we felt these four players represented the market’s best combination of proximity and upside, hitting and pitching. Now comes the fun part.

***

From: Doug Melvin
To: John Mozeliak
July 21, 1:59 a.m.

John,

We have a deal: Gomez for Piscotty, Reyes, Flaherty, and Wisdom.

We’ll start the process on our side. Please keep this hush until we can talk to the players. (We will, too.)

Thx much.