Hatteberg Insurance For A Dunn Trade?

There hasn’t been a whole lot of activity on the trade rumor front in recent days, but I’ll keep digging.  In the event that there are just no rumors to report, I’ll step slightly outside of the rumor realm to talk about contracts, analyze teams, and whatever else suits my baseball fancy.  I hope you continue to engage in discussion here and check out the site daily.

Anywho, Buster Olney had a thought this morning in his blog that definitely had not occurred to me:

"The first thing I thought of when I saw the Reds had signed Scott Hatteberg was that now Cincinnati has protection in the event they decide to move Adam Dunn in a deal for pitching."

In reference to Hatteberg’s role, new Reds GM Wayne Krivsky remarked, "The playing time will take care of itself."

One can certainly question whether Hatteberg could serve as even a league average regular first baseman in Dunn’s absence.  He hit .256/.334/.343 last year in 464 ABs.  There’s a chance Hatteberg returns to the .780 OPS level, but that’s still well below the .843 mark posted by the average NL first baseman in 2005.

The Reds led the National League with 222 HRs in 2005 but had a league-worst 5.15 ERA.  The need for pitching is manifest.  In an Orange County Register article this morning, Randy Youngman mentioned that the Reds are rumored to be interested in free agent Jeff Weaver.  However, the Angels are the only known team with an offer currently on the table.

As far as free agent starting pitching goes, the options are grim outside of Weaver.  Some possible retreads for the Reds:  Pedro Astacio, Kevin Brown, Jose Lima, and Jamey Wright.  Only a year removed from 130 solid innings for the Yanks, I still think Brown is worth a look.  But he’s neither reliable nor a long-term solution.  That brings us to the idea of trading Dunn for starting pitching.

Dunn becomes a free agent after the 2007 season, so the Reds shouldn’t be in any big hurry.  It’s well known that the Astros hope to lure him to his hometown, as Houston has already gone to great lengths to "butter him up."  The Reds have not discussed a multi-year deal with Dunn. 

Dunn was worth 6.9 wins last year despite playing with a broken hand.  He was the fourth-best left fielder in baseball last year according to WARP, above Hideki Matsui and Manny Ramirez.  Ranked as a first baseman, Dunn probably should be grouped with Carlos Delgado and Richie Sexson.  A brief comparison would indicate that Dunn is due for a four-year, $52MM contract.  However, he’s at least five years younger than any of the aforementioned players. 

Assuming the Reds are looking for affordable starting pitching with potential, which teams have the need for power and could part with a starter?

I’d say the Braves might make a play, given that they could part with Jorge Sosa and Chuck James to add Dunn.  But the club seems content with LaRoche/Langerhans/Johnson manning the 1B/LF spots, and that’s worth a shot.

Would the Twins deal from their strength and send Scott Baker to the Reds?  Doesn’t seem like their style.  Dunn would probably be out of their price range, though he’d be a huge upgrade over Shannon Stewart.

The Orioles could consider shipping off Erik Bedard or Daniel Cabrera to add Dunn, but they’re not exactly pitching-rich right now.  Such a trade would create a new problem for the O’s.

Jake Westbrook is expendable, but the Indians would have to include Adam Miller or Jeremy Sowers as well.  This could be a trade that could help both teams, in my mind.

The Jays could give up Gustavo Chacin, but the Reds would likely ask for Dustin McGowan in any deal.  Top pitching prospects of this nature are rarely traded, though it would fit Ricciardi’s "win now" plan.

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