June 2007

More Of Gagne’s List Revealed

We keep learning bits and pieces of Eric Gagne‘s 12-team allowable trade list; it’d be nice if someone would just leak the entire thing.  The latest:

Gagne can be traded to the Yankees, Mets, Angels, and nine other clubs without his consent.

If Gagne is to be traded to the Tigers, Indians, Phillies, Red Sox, or thirteen other unknown clubs, he must consent.  That means additional concessions on the part of the acquiring team.

Rob Bradford’s recent post added the Red Sox to the latter list.  While Gagne nonetheless seems keen to the idea of pitching in Boston, he sounds a little wary of being demoted to a set-up role.  He and Jon Papelbon would be a lights-out late inning combination, either way.  The Red Sox were in on Gagne this offseason, and he’s proven his health with the Rangers recently. 

T.R. Sullivan mentioned yesterday that the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees are the top suitors for Gagne.  He seems a near-lock to be dealt in July. 

Rosenthal’s Latest: Dunn, Morris, Buehrle

Ken Rosenthal’s got a new Full Count video over at FOXSports; have a look.  Trade rumors:

  • The Padres went with the Barrett/Bradley acquisitions in part because the price on Adam Dunn was just too high.  Wayne Krivsky could get more teams involved if he exercises Dunn’s 2008 option and tries to trade him in the offseason, a la Gary Sheffield.  However, unlike Sheff, Dunn has full no-trade protection until June 15th if the option is picked up.  Then on June 15th it switches to a ten-team consent list of Dunn’s choosing.  The bottom line: the time to trade him is now.
  • The Giants are listening to offers for Matt Morris, but might prefer to just keep him.  He sets an example for younger pitchers and his contract isn’t terrible.  I think this would be a mistake on the part of Brian Sabean.  Morris’s performance this year just seems unsustainable given his 4.5 K/9.  While I recently mentioned Jason Jennings as the best available starter after Buehrle, Jennings’ health issues could push Morris to #2.
  • Rosenthal also mentioned that should he reach free agency, Mark Buehrle is no lock to sign with the Cardinals.  The Cards aren’t apt to pay full price, and Buehrle isn’t necessarily desperate to pitch close to home.

Red Sox Interested In Chad Qualls

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle appeared on XM Radio’s Baseball Beat yesterday, and reported that the Red Sox are interested in Astros reliever Chad Qualls.

Qualls, who will turn 29 this year, has a 4.50 ERA through 40 innings.  His strikeout rate is way up, but so are the hits and home runs.  He was worked pretty hard last year with 81 appearances.  Qualls is a long way from free agency.  A few items of note: he dealt with shoulder tendinitis this spring, and has a likely two-game suspension coming for throwing a ball into the stands.

No-Trade Clause Holds Up Buehrle Extension

According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox are currently unwilling to include a no-trade clause in Mark Buehrle‘s contract extension.  It’s not enough that the Sox would get Buehrle well below market value at four years and $54MM.  Buster Olney, by the way, wonders whether the players’ union would give Buehrle a call for signing a deal like that.

Buehrle broke into the Majors in 2000, so 10-5 no-trade rights wouldn’t kick in until 2010.  The two parties might find a middle ground in a partial no-trade clause.  Paul Konerko, for example, was able to list six teams to which he can’t be traded without consent.  My guess is that Buehrle gets something similar.

Gonzales says that if a deal can’t be reached by this weekend, Buehrle will return to the trading block.  If Buehrle does sign, Jason Jennings may become the best available starter. 

Stark’s Latest: Tejada, Buehrle, Morris

Jayson Stark posted a new column for ESPN yesterday; let’s take a glance at the trade rumors therein.

  • Miguel Tejada‘s out until August, so that obviously means he won’t be traded this season.  Right?  Wrong – Stark and an AL exec think $30MM or so due to Tejada for the remaining 2.3 seasons on his contract would allow him to pass through waivers.  Miggy could be a hot topic for the August 31st trade deadline.  You may recall that last August Andruw Jones was placed on waivers, claimed, and pulled back.  Andruw called the affair "rude."  Here is a refresher on the waiver trade rules, in case you want to get a head start.
  • Steve Trachsel is the Oriole Stark expects to be traded at the July deadline.  They should move fast, as Trachsel’s stock is plummetting as expected.
  • Stark says Kenny Williams was asking for a ton for Mark Buehrle before extension talks picked up: two of each team’s best three prospects.  Makes sense; ask for that, and then settle for one Grade A prospect if you can get it.  Should Buehrle end up back on the trading block, the White Sox may have to break down and grant that 72 hour negotiating window for an extension.  Stark’s source makes a great point – if Buehrle signs with the Cardinals this offseason, the draft picks going to the team he departs will be the 38th pick and a second-rounder.  Not that thrilling.  But still, the smart money is on a contract extension with the White Sox for Buehrle.
  • Matt Morris is officially on the market, as he should be.  He’s over his head with a 3.39 ERA, but remains a solid, veteran innings eater with over 70 innings of playoff experience.  Morris will make another $5MM this year, $9.5MM in ’08, and $2MM signing bonus due at the end of his contract.  He’s also got a $9MM club option for ’09 with a $1MM buyout attached.  Giants GM Brian Sabean has always been a buyer at the trade deadline, acquiring players like Jason Schmidt, Kenny Lofton, Sidney Ponson, and Randy Winn.  Getting a decent prospect for Morris will be a new situation for Sabean.

Padres Acquire Milton Bradley

According to Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres have acquired Milton Bradley from the A’s for 26 year-old reliever Andrew Brown.  Krasovic says Bradley would play left field for the Padres if healthy.  The Padres got Brown from the Indians in the Josh Barfield deal.  Oddly, the Indians got Brown from the Dodgers before that for Milton Bradley.  Brown throws in the mid-90s, even touching 99 at times.  He could make a useful reliever for Oakland. 

Bradley and Michael Barrett look like a couple of low-risk, decent reward acquisitions for Kevin Towers.  He’s really a smart GM.  He’s definitely added some fire to the clubhouse with these trades.  And don’t forget Paul DePodesta, who definitely had a hand in this.

Ken Rosenthal believes the Bradley acquisition takes the Padres off the market for big-name sluggers like Adam Dunn and Jermaine Dye.  Dye might be untradeable anyway, because he’s not healthy right now.  Bad timing on that for the White Sox.

There was quite an embroilment this week in the Oakland Tribune over the A’s DFA of Bradley.  Columnist Dave Del Grande started the tiff by claiming that the A’s cut Bradley because he’s black.  Billy Beane was not amused.

Gagne/Otsuka Suitors

Teams are lining up to pluck away the top two members of the Rangers’ bullpen, and Jon Daniels is in "listening mode."

MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan has the scoop: the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees are the top suitors for Eric Gagne.  The Mets, Braves, Phillies, Tigers, and Brewers are focused on Akinori Otsuka.  And the Tribe likes both relievers. 

Benefits of Gagne: he can be unhittable and he’ll give you two good draft picks after the season.  Plus he seems to be finally healthy.  The Indians, despite their interest, are not on Gagne’s list of 12 teams he can be dealt to without his consent.    

The benefit of Otsuka is that you have him through 2009.  That’s why the Rangers are more likely to hang on to him.  Conversely, a team like the Mets would prefer him because he’s not a rental.

Let’s Talk Astros Fire Sale

A reader pointed out to me that the Astros are out of contention, and can’t possibly think they’re just a player or two away.  I hadn’t noticed how far back Houston has already fallen.  Every simulation I can find gives the Astros less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs.

The big three – Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, and Roy Oswalt – those guys are obviously staying put.  That’s about $40 mil on the books for ’08 right there.

Next we get to Woody Williams, who is unfortunately signed through 2008.  Williams and his 4.67 K/9 won’t help any American League team.  With a 5.58 ERA, durability questions, and a home run problem, Williams has very little trade value.  And he’s making $6.25MM in ’08, at which point he will be 41.  Yikes.

Then there’s Jason Jennings, earning $5.5MM this year.  The Rockies clearly got the better end of that trade, but it was a "win now" move by Tim Purpura.  Jennings needs to prove his health over the next couple of weeks, and then he’ll become the Astros’ best trading chip.  He’s dealt with shoulder and elbow tendinitis this year, but Jennings is a bulldog.  Could Purpura pry away an Andy LaRoche for him?  Maybe not, as Ned Colletti wouldn’t want to get burned by an injury again so quickly.  Not sure what the Phillies would spare, and the Astros don’t really have a spot for Mariner right field prospect Wladimir Balentien.  But this is a situation to monitor.

Perhaps Jennings could be packaged with Brad Lidge and sent to the Phillies for one truly good prospect.  Lidge is recovering from an oblique issue, but was on a nice run prior to that.  Despite his struggles over the last couple of years, Lidge’s skills will put him in high demand.  He’s got the name value that Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls don’t, and he should be the one to go.  I could rattle off ten teams that could use a guy like Lidge.

Morgan Ensberg is expendable; his bat has been anemic this year.  Maybe a fresh start and regular playing time would help him return to his 25 HR days.  He’s controlled through 2008.  The Twins, Phillies, and Giants seem like options, and Ensberg shouldn’t cost much.

Brad Ausmus will be a free agent after this year; his .335 OBP isn’t terrible for a catcher.  I’d suggest the Cubs but I think they really want to try Rob Bowen.

Mike Lamb is a free agent after the season, and he’s quietly hit pretty well for the past couple of years.  Again, the Twins or Phillies could snag him.  It’d be a very Twins-esque move.  The Yankees could jump in and get him for first base; he’d be better than Shea Hillenbrand.

Mark Loretta is hitting .322 and would be a nice versatile guy to bring along to the playoffs.  Maybe the Braves would have a look if Yunel Escobar tails off in July and Kelly Johnson doesn’t recover.

Dan Wheeler could turn out to be a nice buy low; he’s had a a run of success prior to this year and his peripherals still aren’t bad.  Plus he’s controlled through ’08.  Trever Miller‘s been awful as the lefty specialist, but maybe a new team could fix his control problem and get something out of him.   

Jason Lane is another good low-risk type acquisition.  He’s trying to recover his stroke in Triple A currently. The White Sox should go after him.

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Forgotten Trade Candidates

Amidst all the Buehrle/Jacque rumors floating around this week, we’ve neglected to write about the many other players who could be traded in July.  Let’s give a little press to three forgotten players who could be on the move.

Kyle Lohse, SP, CIN – I was pretty high on Lohse after April, thinking he was about to go all Bronson Arroyo on the NL.  Good Bronson, that is.  But Lohse followed up his first four starts by going 2-10 with a 6.27 ERA and 4.4 K/9.  And that actually included a shutout against the Pirates.  It’s hard to see how Lohse can help a pennant contender this year, but as a Boras client and impending free agent earning $4.2MM, Wayne Krivsky should dump him off somewhere.  OK, so now that I think about it, he’s more of a DFA candidate than a trade candidate.

Joe Kennedy, SP, OAK – Billy Beane might be able to move the 28 year-old southpaw and free agent-to-be for something useful.  Kennedy makes only $2.8MM and has an ERA under 4.  That might not last with his microscopic strikeout rate though.  With Esteban Loaiza on the shelf and Rich Harden questionable, Beane might have to hold off and take the draft picks for Kennedy.  But given Kennedy’s strong groundball tendencies and the Phillies’ lousy starting pitching, maybe they could match up.

Jose Guillen, RF, SEA – Guillen is earning $4MM this year with a $9MM club option for ’08.  The Mariners are just 2.5 games out of the wild card, and their rotation could use a boost.  Guillen has posted a subpar line for a right fielder – .257/.330/.412.  I’m not sure how much trade value he has, but the Mariners already have a superior player ready to go at Triple A in Adam Jones.  Guillen is on pace for about 20 homers and 90 RBIs, so maybe some GM would bite on that.  Teams looking for an outfielder with some pop could include the Royals, Twins, Mets, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Padres.

Contreras Would Waive No-Trade Clause

According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, a Mark Buehrle contract extension would likely result in a trade of Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez, or Jon Garland.  That’s probably the order of likelihood, too.   

Contreras is owed about $4.9MM this year, $10MM in 2008, and another $10MM in 2009.  Despite the decline in his strikeout rate, that’s a decent price.  He’d make a fine pickup for the Mets this year and would be paired again with countryman Orlando Hernandez.  It’s difficult to gauge the Mets’ level of interest right now though.

Contreras really wants to stay with the White Sox, though he would waive his no-trade clause if the team wanted to trade him.  I imagine his agent or the Players’ Union might have something to say there, because the player almost always gets something for waiving his NTC.