I first heard the Astros might consider trading Brad Lidge a few days ago, when Dayn Perry tossed it out there. Perry mentioned that Lidge could go to Atlanta, and here’s what I said:
"Could the Braves somehow emerge with the best closer on the market? One who no one even knew was on the market? I wouldn’t put it past Schuerholz. I can’t see Houston doing the deal for anything less than catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia or shortstop Elvis Andrus."
I still feel that the Braves are the frontrunner. Lidge doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2008 season, so it’s not like the Astros would make this deal to snag whatever they could get before Lidge departs for the big bucks. Whatever team gets Lidge gets him for three solid years and will pay a below-market salary for it.
Given that, it makes sense that the Astros would look to improve their team now and not in two years. So Saltalamacchia and Andrus might not be the right kind of players for this deal. Major League ready lefty starter Chuck James might be a start in a Lidge deal. Anthony Lerew would also fit the bill. The dealbreaker, though, might be Marcus Giles. Giles will be a free agent after 2007, and the Astros can’t expect to run Craig Biggio out there forever.
John Lopez wrote about trading Lidge in an article for the Houston Chronicle yesterday. Lopez’s logic against the Orioles and Reds makes sense. Those teams are not a top-flight closer away from competing. But Lopez also dimisses the Boston Red Sox simply because Manny wouldn’t fit with Houston.
I think the Red Sox could become major players for Lidge, but Ramirez doesn’t have to be involved. Even outside of Andy Marte, the club has enough young talent to at least get a meeting with Astros GM Tim Purpura. Pitchers Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, and Craig Hansen can be contributers in 2006 and beyond, and Boston would love a rock-solid alternative to Keith Foulke.
Lopez goes on to write that the Phillies look like the only legitimate possibility for a deal. Obviously I disagree with that. It doesn’t make sense for the Phils to leave a gaping hole in their offense in order to craft a Yankee-like bullpen.
What other teams have a strong need at closer and the talent to swing a deal for Lidge?
Scanning the Closer Watch, I don’t see any. The Orioles and Reds remain dark horses, but the Red Sox and Braves seem to be the best fits.
What do you think?