White Sox Interested In Blalock?

In today’s Chicago Tribune, Phil Rogers lays out some options for the White Sox to further bolster their club.  According to Rogers:

"The most transparent scenarios are a starter and Joe Crede to Texas for a package fronted by left-handed-hitting third baseman Hank Blalock (signed for a highly reasonable $13.7 million for the next three years with a $6.2 million option in 2009); a starter and Juan Uribe to Baltimore for Miguel Tejada—not that likely—or a starter to Baltimore for a package of young talent in a deal that makes Tejada happier about staying put.

When Williams trades one of his starters, then judge how the return stacks up against Young, not the starter traded.

Young for Blalock?

Williams’ cell phone ought to be shipped to Cooperstown if he can pull that one off."

While Garland has more of a future ahead of him, Contreras may be easier to trade.  The Cuban is 34 years old, a number in which I don’t have full confidence.  His contract demands won’t be as prohibitive as Garland’s.  Garland is a more verified 26 years of age, so he’ll want a deal twice as long as Contreras’s.  Garland is a year younger than Barry Zito, and may be a comparable pitcher despite Zito’s track record and reputation.  If a 28 year-old injury prone A.J. Burnett is worth five years and $55MM, doesn’t that make Zito and Garland worth even more?

I imagine Zito and Garland could each land six-year deals through free agency.  Their agents will probably start the negotiations at seven years.  Garland could get 6/66 and Zito 6/72.  Any team trading for one of these starters will probably want some sort of contract agreement in place before doing so.  After all, the purpose of acquiring Garland or Zito is mainly to gain an exclusive chance to negotiate before the pitcher hits free agency.

Phil Rogers’s Texas Rangers scenario is a good one, given that GM Jon Daniels at least entertained offering Burnett a huge contract.  The Rangers sorely lack starting pitching depth, and Hank Blalock is very expendable.  Would Jon Garland and his sinker be a good fit pitching the next six years in Texas?  Not really.  Despite a big reduction in his overall home run rate this year, he was still right at league average in that department.  His rate was higher at home, of course, and it would remain high at Ameriquest.

The average groundball to flyball ratio in the American League was 1.59 in 2005.  Garland’s 1.82 mark isn’t anything special despite his sinker.  Garland’s main asset is that he’s durable, making at least 32 starts in each of the last four seasons.  He’s never had the pressure of being anything close to the ace of a staff, and he’s had exactly one above average season.  For Daniels to swap his best trading chip in Blalock for essentially six expensive years of Garland is certainly a risky proposition. 

I can’t agree with Phil Rogers when he says Kenny Williams’s cell phone should go to Cooperstown for a Garland-Blalock trade.  While Blalock is young and powerful, he’s obviously been greatly aided by playing in Ameriquest.  He’d have that same crutch in U.S. Cellular, but is that an improvement over Joe CredeCrede was worth one more win than Blalock in 2005, something I hope Kenny Williams is aware of.

A better swap for the Sox might be Jose Contreras for Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell.  Burrell is 29 and probably has a few good seasons left in him.  He knows how to draw walks, and could hit 40 HR with U.S. Cellular as a home park.  Scott Podsednik would look a lot better coming off the bench than starting at a power position.  Burrell has $36.5MM left on his contract over the next three years, so the Phils might have to send over $10MM to make the deal work.  A swap involving Garland and Carl Crawford could also make sense, if the D-Rays think they can compete in 2007.

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