Notes column this week.Trade Talk
Despite a monster trade that seemed to come together and get executed in a 24-hour span, the winter meetings were definitely disappointing as far as the ratio of gossip and speculation to actual news. As a result, there are still plenty of star pitchers and quality regulars in play in trade talks. Let's run through a few of the names.
Johan Santana (Twins)
- Rotoworld's new favorite player. Santana has set site records for most blurbs in a day (28 on Dec. 4), most blurbs in a year and most consecutive days with at least one blurb on the site (11/22-12/8). We probably would have set a traffic record last week anyway -- the winter meetings have traditionally been our busiest time of the year, as football and the other sports are generating plenty of hits, too -- but thanks in no small part to Santana (the front offices of the Twins, Red Sox and Yankees deserve plenty of credit as well) we received about twice as many page views as we did a year ago.
While nothing ended up happening with Boston or any other team last week, the consensus is that Santana will be traded. The Twins can talk about reopening negotiations, but if they didn't present their absolute best offer before making Santana available for all the world to bid on, they're crazy. The Red Sox probably won't budge from including more than one of the big three (Clay Buchholz
, Jacoby Ellsbury
or Jon Lester
), but there is some room for flexibility there. It helps that the Twins seem particularly high on Lester, the one of the three the Red Sox are the most willing to give up. The Red Sox seem to still be the favorites here. However, it's no better than a 50/50 proposition now after looking more like 80/20 for a time last week.
No one seems to buy the New York Daily News report that the Yankees turned down the chance to get Santana for Phil Hughes
, Melky Cabrera
, a decent arm in Jeff Marquis and a lesser infield prospect in Mitch Hilligoss
. If the Twins decide that it's the Hughes-Cabrera package they want over everything else that's been offered, it'll likely be back out on the table for them. The Mets are running third in this race with no major league-ready pitching stud to offer. Mike Pelfrey
's stock has tumbled, and Kevin Mulvey
isn't going to be a No. 1 or a No. 2. Deolis Guerra
is the Mets' best pitching prospect, though he had some shoulder trouble last season and his name hasn't come up often. If the Mets were willing to give up both Carlos Gomez
and Fernando Martinez
, plus two from the Pelfrey-Mulvey-Guerra group, it really should be plenty to buy one year of Santana. More likely, the Mets will insist on keeping one of the two outfielders, leaving them without enough to tempt the Twins.
Unless something happens this week, odds are that talks will linger into January, increasing the chances that a surprise contender will emerge. It's more likely to be the Angels than the Dodgers or Mariners. I'm guessing the matter won't be settled until after New Year's Day.
Erik Bedard (Orioles) -
More affordable than Santana when it comes to salary, if not in terms of the prospects it'd take to acquire him, Bedard has about a dozen suitors. Unfortunately, the Orioles seem to have taken three of the better ones out of the mix, as owner Peter Angelos doesn't want his top pitcher moved within the division. It's a silly way of thinking, in my opinion -- Baltimore has no chance of overtaking the Red Sox or Yankees in the next couple of years, and taking away a large chunk of young talent from one of those teams could prove very beneficial by the time 2010 or 2011 rolls around -- but that's simply the new Oriole Way. Regardless of whether they have Bedard, the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays will still make Camden Yards their playground.
The other top bidders for Bedard appear to be the Mariners, Dodgers and Reds. The Mets have already been shot down at least once. Other candidates to be in the mix include the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Angels, Indians, Phillies and Cubs. It appears that Cincinnati is willing to part with Homer Bailey
and a hitter not named Jay Bruce
. Joey Votto
is the logical candidate, though Josh Hamilton
and Edwin Encarnacion
are also possibilities. That doesn't necessarily top a Dodgers package including either Matt Kemp
or Clayton Kershaw
, but it is very good. The Mariners would have to give up Adam Jones
, Brandon Morrow
and maybe Wladimir Balentien
. There's also been talk of George Sherrill
, but he's a lot more valuable to a contending Mariners team than he would be to Baltimore's rebuilding effort. It looks like something will get done with one of the three teams. My guess would be Seattle.Dan Haren & Joe Blanton (Athletics) -
The Diamondbacks keep getting mentioned in connection with Haren, while things remain quiet on the Blanton front. A's GM Billy Beane has said the price for the two would be similar, but the truth is that Haren will be supremely expensive. Blanton is the better bet of the two to go, perhaps to the Mets or Dodgers. Blanton for Carlos Gomez
would give the A's the center fielder they desire. Ideally, they could acquire Kemp for him instead, but that's unlikely to happen. Blanton to Milwaukee for Chris Capuano
and Dave Bush
would also make sense. The Brewers need quality more than quantity when it comes to starting pitching, and it would allow them to save a little money.
Miguel Tejada (Orioles)
- Even though his contract is pretty affordable at $13 million per season through 2009, Tejada just isn't being valued as a top property by other teams in trade talks. Most teams see him as a third baseman, not a shortstop, and they say that his power production is on the decline. Tejada did deliver 10 homers in August, so it's not like he was completely impotent last season. Still, the perception of Camden Yards as a bandbox isn't helping things, and Tejada hit just a third of his 18 homers on the road last year. Tejada remains more likely than Brian Roberts
to be traded, even though he might not net quite as much in return as the second baseman. There still might be something brewing with the Astros, who have Chris Burke
, Adam Everett
, Luke Scott
and some young pitching to part with. They're one of the few teams that would use him at short. The Giants and Angels appear to be out of the bidding. What'd be fascinating would be to see him go back to Oakland, perhaps for Blanton and Bobby Crosby
Brandon Inge (Tigers)
- Is it worth trading for Inge, who is owed $19.1 million over three seasons, when Pedro Feliz
could surely be had for less? The two are similar players. Both are tremendously underrated defensive third baseman -- Feliz is probably the best in the game right now, while Inge has more range than anyone else at the position -- with reputations as all or nothing hitters. Feliz delivers the "nothing" part of the equation more frequently. His career high in OBP is .305, and he's at .288 lifetime. Inge has been at .330, .313 and .312 the last three years. He was probably an above average regular in 2005 and 2006, when he hit 27 homers, but he lost much of his power and finished with a 688 OPS last season. I'd take Inge going forward, but he'd still only be worth acquiring if the Tigers picked up some of his contract. The Phillies and Dodgers have reportedly signaled to GM Dave Dombrowski that they're not interested. The Giants might be if they lose Feliz.