It’s time for another MLBTR mailbag. Thanks, as always, for your questions. If we couldn’t get to yours, you can try again in our weekly chats which run on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons of in next week’s mailbag.
With apologies for the delay in getting this edition published, here are this week’s questions and answers:
Jurickson Profar seems like a guy the Cards should target. Any ideas on what it would take to pry him from the Rangers? — Aaron B.
I don’t see Profar as a realistic trade piece right now for any team. There’s just too much uncertainty as to whether he’ll ever really be able to play in the field again. He’s yet to put his questionable shoulder to the test in game action. And from the Rangers’ point of view, he’s still just 22 and has that top prospect pedigree. Selling this low on a former No. 1 overall prospect doesn’t seem like a realistic course of action for the team. I think Texas will and should continue to try to get Profar back to full speed, then weigh its options once that’s (hopefully) come to pass.
If the Nationals don’t work out a trade for Papelbon by end of the winter meetings, how fast after the meetings will it take them to release him? — Chris M.
The dugout brawl was stunning, needless to say. But it always struck me as odd to say that the team would suddenly be looking to dump Papelbon for whatever it could get (or cut him loose otherwise). His actions were obviously unacceptable, but probably aren’t entirely unforgivable, and the Nats have a good bit invested in him. I’d still expect the club to explore its options, but there are indications that there could be room for reconciliation.
What value does Mitch Moreland have this offseason as a potential trade chip? With a seemingly endless supply of young pitching, are the Rays a good match to be trade partners with the Rangers this offseason? — Geoffrey S.
We’ve got Moreland projected at $5.6MM, which isn’t exactly cheap, and this is his final year of arbitration control. So I’d be surprised to see the Rays dropping any kind of well-regarded, controllable arm for the rights to roster him for a single season.
That’s not to say Moreland doesn’t have value after slashing .278/.330/.482 and hitting 23 bombs in 515 plate appearances last year. Given the volume of left-handed power available to Texas, a trade seems plausible. But it’s more likely that he’d bring back something like a higher-priced, short-term reliever than any kind of exciting future piece.
Do you believe it is more realistic to see the Red Sox sign a top free agent like David Price, or Zack Greinke, or trading for a pitcher like Chris Sale or Sonny Gray? — Matthew W.
I fully expect Dave Dombrowski to search the trade market high and low for a deal he likes, but Sale and Gray are two of the most valuable pitching trade assets in the game. Getting those kinds of arms would require a massive haul, probably including one or more names that Boston fans don’t want to hear (e.g. Betts, Bogaerts, Moncada). So, while I’m not personally predicting that they’ll add either Price or Greinke, I find that more plausible than a trade for controllable aces like Sale and Gray (or, if you prefer, Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole).
How do you see the Phillies front office approaching the rebuild? With a fan base that expects a winner on the field do you see them being big players in next years free agent market? Do they take their time and build from within or do they spend big money next year with an eye on contention for 2017? — Thomas C.
Well, that’s a good question, and it’s one that will be covered in my upcoming Offseason Outlook post on the Phils, which will be on the site before long. I feel like the organization has already committed itself to the pain of rebuilding and set the fans up for it. (Hence the very public comments before the season, from the outgoing front office regime.) Now that they are this far along, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to risk a premature build-up. Taking a bit more time to turn things over is sort of the price they have to pay for trying to hold on and compete for an additional season or two.
All that being said, Philadelphia is very well suited to a high-powered turnaround. There’s talent in the organization, and some of it is at or near the big leagues. And the money will be there, especially with very little owed after this year. I expect Andy MacPhail and Matt Klentak will continue to look for ways to put the organization’s draft/international bonus position and deep pockets to work to stash talent this year. That could include signing short-term free agents who will keep things palatable on the field while turning into trade chips, “buying” prospects by taking on bad contracts in trade, and generally staying creative and flexible.
There’s a best-case scenario where it could make sense sooner rather than later to add younger free agents on more than just short-term contracts, but I think it’d be somewhat risky to do that this winter. But if a great opportunity strikes, then it’s still worth considering so long as the commitment is contained.