The Jake Westbrook Market

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2008, Indians righty Jake Westbrook is finally healthy again.  It'd be reasonable for the last-place Tribe to move the veteran, so let's take a closer look.

Contract

Westbrook signed a three-year, $33MM extension in April of 2007, and he has $4.54MM in base salary remaining.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Westbrook also gets a $2MM lump sum and a pro-rated $1MM salary increase if traded.  If dealt today, Westbrook would be owed about $6.95MM.  This is clearly a major impediment to a deal.  As far as draft pick compensation, forget about it – Westbrook is nowhere close to Type B status.

Performance

Westbrook, 33 in September, has a 4.67 ERA, 5.3 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 113.6 innings this year.  His 52.2% groundball rate ranks sixth in the American League among those with 80 innings, according to FanGraphs.  Interestingly, Westbrook's teammates Justin Masterson and Fausto Carmona are among the five hurlers ranked ahead of him.  The Indians rank 25th in baseball in defensive efficiency according to Baseball Prospectus, so any potential trade partner will probably be good for Westbrook. 

Asking Price/Availability

The Indians "would trade Westbrook in a minute for a mid-level prospect if the Mets would pick up most of what's left on his contract this season," wrote John Harper of the New York Daily News.  Indians writers have presented a different view.  On July 4th, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the Indians "are sending out messages that they don't simply intend to dump Westbrook's salary," and will have to be compelled to move him.  In June, Pluto's colleague Paul Hoynes wrote that Westbrook is "one of the least likely to be moved" on the team.  Hoynes said the Indians have a good relationship with Westbrook and may try to re-sign him after the season.  The fact that Westbrook had significant trade incentives built into his contract shows his inclination to stay put. 

Interested Teams

  • Mets: Harper says Mets officials are divided on whether to acquire Westbrook.  Indeed, reports over the last month have conflicted over the team's level of interest.
  • Dodgers: They've inquired, reports Yahoo's Tim Brown.  You may recall the Casey Blake trade of two years ago, where the Indians paid the freight and were able to acquire Carlos Santana as a result.
  • Padres: They've discussed him, reports Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse.  The Padres are known to be prioritizing starting pitching.
  • Yankees: The idea of a reunion has been broached by beat writers in a more speculative sense.  However, GM Brian Cashman told Peter Botte of the New York Daily News yesterday that "Cliff Lee was a special case" and Sergio Mitre would be in most teams' rotations.
  • We haven't seen the Tigers, Twins, Angels, Phillies, Cardinals, or Rockies linked to Westbrook, but those contenders may be looking for pitching.


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12 Comments on "The Jake Westbrook Market"


5 years 7 days ago

Notice how the Indians “would trade Westbrook in a minute” quote is from a NY writer. I don’t see the Tribe moving Jake as they don’t have enough proven guys to put in the rotation in 2011. I could see them working on a 2-3 year deal this winter to keep him as the veteran presence in the pitching staff.

bjsguess
5 years 7 days ago

Why not trade him and then resign him in the off-season? If he really likes the Tribe and the Indians are willing to pay him FA money (which they will have to even if they keep him) at least you get salary relief in 2010 and possibly some talent in return.The fact is Westbrook means nothing to the Indians for 2010. His presence or performance won’t make a bit of difference on the 2010 season.

bjsguess
5 years 7 days ago

So, if my math is right, acquiring Westbrook today will be roughly equivalent to the pro-rated contract of a pitcher who earns $15m/year? And you don’t receive draft compensation. And he is posting an ERA that makes him a 4/5 type starter. And the tribe want talent in return.

Prediction – if any of this is true Westbrook will not be traded. That’s a seriously steep price for a seriously mediocre pitcher.

Spirit of '69
5 years 7 days ago

If the Mets aren’t going to go after Oswalt or Haren then the guy they really should go after is Ted Lilly, he’s the best for them for a number of reasons. He keeps his team in the game, he battles, he’s been in a pennant race and the post-season and he’s played in New York. I’d prefer they get creative and go after Oswalt because he’s the player who would have the biggest positive impact, but if the buzz is true that they won’t spend the money, or get creative, then get serious about Lilly. He’d be a positive influence and a dependable starter.

Triteon
5 years 7 days ago

The Cards can use good pitching, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t target a lefty first. Garcia is the only southpaw starter we have right now. That said, the price seems reasonable for Westbrook.

pdoubleu
5 years 7 days ago

I agree that the price sounds reasonable if we’re talking about a mid level prospect with the destination team taking on the remainder of the contract, but if the Indians truly need to be “compelled to move him”, I think it would be foolish for any team to overpay for a guy with an ERA+ of 85.

theshow3131
5 years 7 days ago

If Westbrook goes to the National League I could see him as a very good #2 starter. I mean the players in the AL on the whole are just better, and just like when the Indians traded CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, the were both even more dominant in the NL

AL=varsity
NL=JV

bjsguess
5 years 7 days ago

A number 2 of a contending team? There is a big difference between AL and NL but I don’t think the difference is enough to move him into the #2 spot unless you are talking about a pitching starved team.

And even then, that’s no compliment to Westbrook. It’s an indictment of that teams current rotation.

Spirit of '69
5 years 7 days ago

Tell that to the ’08 Rays, the ’06 Tigers and the ’03 Yankees. You’re just proof this is a great country, you can say anything you want no matter how stupid.

PujolsHollidayWestbrook
5 years 7 days ago

I would love to see the Redbirds taking a nice chance on Westbrook. I would send Daryl Jones for him. He is a ground ball specialist and paired with Dave Duncan I think he could be a nice addition.

sportsnut969
5 years 7 days ago

Well here is the problem when you figure in the cash 7 mil going with Westbrook to cover the Bump, Bonus’s and Contract monies a team would have to include top prospects in return due to the cash involved.

From what I read if Westbrook was trade to the Mets, Rangers or Dodgers where Cleveland would have to pay all remaining cash owed to Westbrook he is what I have heard from my friend a GM with another team.

Westbrook + 7 Mil = at least 1 top 5 prospect / 1 top 10 prosepct and 1 top 20 prospect.

He pointed out the Blake deal as example – Blake plus 2.5 mil for Carlos Santana.

Now it is for this reason I don’t see Westbrook being traded at all unless the team receiving him for those type of prospects are trading for Westbrook with the thought of extending him before he reaches free agency.

So now we all now why the Indians are fielding offers for Carmona because it is much cheaper to deal Carmona and not have to include much cash and still get back a few good prospects and just resign Westbrook and save 3 mil at the same time.

Lanidrac
5 years 6 days ago

But what would the Indians ask for if the receiving team only wanted the Indians to eat about half the remaining salary like the Cardinals could do?