Archive for 2012 Trade Deadline

Three Post-Waiver Trade Targets: Pitchers

Dave Cameron already covered the best and most obvious candidate in Cliff Lee here. Here are three more pitchers who could get moved as a post-waiver deal:

Brandon McCarthy

McCarthy could potentially pass through waivers due to the shoulder injury he suffered back on June 24. Although he’s already in the middle of a rehab assignment, he was crushed (six runs in 3.2 innings) in his first start. As such, he could potentially slip through waivers.

Although it would seem odd for the A’s to deal a pitcher of McCarthy’s caliber — 2.54 ERA, 3.39 FIP and coming off a similar season last year — they have much bigger needs than starting pitching right now. Oakland starting pitchers notched a 3.60 ERA and 3.26 FIP with McCarthy out.

Instead, the Athletics have major needs on the left side of the infield. Brandon Inge (.221/.278/.398, 82 wRC+) has somewhat stabilized the position, giving them at least some pop and a good glove. But shortstop remains a disaster, with Brandon Hicks‘s .183/.246/.417 in 65 PA the best hitting performance the club has seen at the position this season. Cliff Pennington and Eric Sogard own wRC+ marks of 51 and 42 respectively.

McCarthy’s is eligible for free agency after the season. He is clearly good enough to help the A’s win in 2012, but if the A’s can fetch a reasonable shortstop for him, the upgrade could be bigger than the upgrade he presents over Bartolo Colon or A.J. Griffin or recent callup Dan Straily. The shortstop market was so rough prior to the waiver deadline, though, so there just might not be a match out there.

Josh Beckett

Beckett, due $31.5 million over the next two seasons and having his next start skipped to boot, should have no trouble clearing waivers. He’s having his usual even-year bad season (at least in terms of results), posting a 4.54 ERA. His strikeout rate is a career low 6.81 per nine innings and injuries have limited him to just 18 starts. Still, he has a FIP- of 82 and showed as recently as last season he can still put up elite results with his solid peripherals, notching a 68 ERA- to go with an 84 FIP-.

The Rangers were among the teams to show interest in Beckett prior to the trading deadline and could remain on the Rangers’ radar should he clear waivers, although the Ryan Dempster . However, despite classic media-driven issues such as those surrounding a round of golf in May, Beckett likely hasn’t done enough to force himself out — the Red Sox likely aren’t willing to take a discounted price just to get rid of him.

Randy Wolf

The Brewers would love to get rid of Randy Wolf not only because of the price tag — he has just over $3 million remaining on this year’s deal as well as a $1.5 million buyout of next year’s option — but also because the Brewers may want the opportunity to give their younger players some chances in the major leagues. The Brewers are trying to see what they have in players like Michael Fiers, Marco Estrada, Mark Rogers and also minor leaguers like Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg. Once Shaun Marcum returns from his injury, there will only be two spots for those youngsters (after Yovani Gallardo, Marcum and Wolf).

Wolf has been horrible this season, with a 5.45 ERA and 4.78 FIP. His 2.10 K/BB is actually slightly better than last season, when he notched a 98 ERA-, but the home run issues have returned, as Wolf is allowing 1.36 HR/9. The upside is minimal, but ZiPS projects a 4.29 ERA the rest of the way, which could be an improvement on a few fifth starters for contending teams. Jayson Stark said the Brewers would trade Randy Wolf “for nothing if you take the money,” so the risk for an acquiring team would be minimal. A team with a fly ball friendly park might be able to make it work for a tiny cost.

An Unreasonably Early Preview of the 2013 Phillies

With the trades Tuesday of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino to the Giants and Dodgers, respectively, two-thirds of the Phillies’ opening-day outfield is now plying its trade in California. For a team that found itself in last place at the deadline, the move wasn’t a particularly surprising one. However, the Phillies aren’t a typical sort of last-place team. They entered the season with the majors’ second-highest payroll, at about $175 million. Moreover, they’ll enter 2013 with a little under $130 million committed to just seven players: Cliff Lee ($25 million), Cole Hamels ($24 million), Roy Halladay ($20 million), Ryan Howard ($20 million), Chase Utley ($15 million), Jonathan Papelbon ($13 million), and Jimmy Rollins ($11 million).

With the absence of Pence and Victorino, manager Charlie Manuel was compelled on Tuesday night to deploy a lineup against the Nationals that included Juan Pierre (in left), John Mayberry (in center), and Laynce Nix (in right) — with Domonic Brown making an appearance as a pinch-hitter. The arrangement worked this once, with the aforementioned triumvirate going 6-for-14 with a walk (in a game started by Stephen Strasburg, no less) and the Phillies beating the East-leading Washingtonians by a score of 8-0 (box). That said, none from Pierre or Mayberry or Nix is likely the answer over the course of a full season — especially if the question is, “Who are some starting outfielders on your World Series-winning club?”

And yet, a World Series-winning club is still what it appears as though the Phillies intend to be in 2013. With the exception of the aforementioned deadline trades of Pence and Victorino, the moves made by general manager Ruben Amaro over the last couple years have been decidedly of the “win now” variety. The retention of Cliff Lee (whose name was invoked in trade rumors) at the deadline and the decision to sign Cole Hamels to a six-year, $144 million contract extension both suggest that Amaro has not abandoned the idea of a playoff-contending Phillies squad in 2013.

Because I’m curious (and because that maybe means at least one other person on the internet is, too), I’d like to consider here, in a very basic way, if the Phillies are in a position to contend for the playoffs in 2013 — and, if they’re not at the moment, how they might put themselves in such a position.

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The Plummeting Stock of Lars Anderson

The Indians acquired Lars Anderson from the Red Sox on Tuesday, sending knuckleballing prospect Steven Wright — not to be confused with this guy — to Boston. Anderson was once considered one of the top prospects in the game, but struggled in major league cups of coffee (or shots of espresso given how short his major league stints were in 2011-12) and was never viewed as a viable long-term solution at first base or designated hitter.

From 2008-10, however, he was the talk of the rumor mill. His name popped up in practically every Red Sox trade rumor. Last offseason, the Athletics were interested in him as part of the Andrew Bailey package. In July 2011, the Athletics were close to acquiring him in exchange for Rich Harden.

In 2009, Anderson was frequently discussed as part of a potential prospect package for Roy Halladay. The year before that he was mentioned as a key part of a rumor surrounding then-Padres starter Jake Peavy.

As recently as two years ago, Anderson was viewed as a key part of potential returns on all-stars and award winners. Since then, his stock has fallen to the point that he only netted the Red Sox a risky Double-A knuckleballer.

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Pirates Take Calculated Risk In Acquiring Sanchez

The Pittsburgh Pirates have built up a pretty good farm system under Neal Huntington’s watch. Our own Marc Hulet ranked them ninth before the season, and over at ESPN, Keith Law ranked them eighth. They have also simulteanously been upgrading their Major League core, and have morphed into a contender this season. To do this at the same time, you have to get a little bit lucky, and you have to be a little bit creative and you can’t be squeamish about taking risks. They showed the latter two elements in trades both yesterday — when they acquired Travis Snider — and today by making two deals that essentially swap out Casey McGehee for Gaby Sanchez.

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Reds Beef Up Strong Bullpen With Broxton

The Cincinnati Reds acquired right-handed relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor-league pitchers Donnie Joseph (LHP) and J.C. Sulbaran (RHP). Broxton signed a one-year deal with the Royals for $5.6 million and has been the Royals closer. He will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Joseph has pitched in relief for the Reds’ Double-A and Triple-A teams this season. Subaran has been a starter for the Reds’ Double-A squad.

The Reds’ acquisition of Broxton was a bit surprising, given the strength of Cincinnati’s bullpen this season. As we profiled last week, Aroldis Chapman has been lights out as the Reds’ closer, posting record-breaking strikeout numbers with his 100 mph fastball and his nasty slider. But Chapman’s not the only Reds reliever having a strong season. Overall, the bullpen has posted a 10.23 K/9, a .79 HR/9, and a .216 batting average against. Walks have been a bit of a problem, particularly for right-handed relievers Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo. Broxton somewhat adds to that problem.

The burly right-hander was having a nice season for the Royals, but is no longer the dominant closer he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2007 to 2009. Broxton’s strikeout numbers — which used to rival what Chapman is doing this year — have steadily declined; his K/9 this season is at 6.31, the lowest of his career. Broxton has gotten his walk rate under control — now at 3.53/9 — after a disastrous season of walks with the Dodgers in 2011. He’s also been much stingier with home runs this season, but that may very well change as he moves from the spacious Kauffman Stadium to the launching pad at Great American Ballpark.

USA Today is reporting that the Reds will use Broxton in the 8th inning to set-up Chapman in the 9th. But a mix-and-match scenario with left-hander Sean Marshall makes more sense. Marshall’s been effective against all batters this season with a 5.75 K/BB and a 2.39 FIP in 38 innings pitched. On the other hand, Marshall hasn’t yielded a home run to a left-handed batter all season and posts a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate against left-handed batters.

The Reds added to a strength by trading for Broxton. Cincinnati’s bullpen has performed well so far this season, but also been one of the least used ‘pens at only 273.1 innings to date. Manager Dusty Baker will have more flexibility in the later innings to use Broxton against right-handed batters and Sean Marshall  against lefties. That will free up Arredondo, Ondrusek, Alfredo Simon and Sam LeClure for middle relief.

Overall, the Broxton trade may not have been a necessary one for the division-leading Reds, but it makes them stronger down the stretch.

Rangers Swoop In On Ryan Dempster

With Ryan Dempster unwilling to go to Atlanta and the Dodgers unwilling to pay up, the door opened on this trading deadline afternoon for the Rangers to swoop in and grab one of the season’s most surprising starting pitchers. Texas will send right-hander Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva to the Cubs to complete the deal.

For the Rangers, dealing with injuries to Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis as well as the ineffectiveness of Roy Oswalt and Scott Feldman, starting pitching suddenly became a need. The Rangers are six games clear of a Wild Card and a near-lock to make the playoffs, but the Athletics and Angels are within 3.5 and 4.0 games respectively, and with the Angels nabbing Zack Greinke a division title is by on means locked up. The Rangers sensed a need for starting depth and pounced.

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Giants Upgrade Their Outfield With Hunter Pence

The San Francisco Giants today acquired Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catching prospect Tommy Joseph, and right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin, who’s still in Single-A. The Giants will be responsible for the remainder of Pence’s $10.4 million salary for this season. Update: The Giants will receive cash from the Phillies to cover some portion of the $3.3 million remaining on Pence’s salary this season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Next season will be Pence’s last year of arbitration-eligibility after which he will become a free agent.

Pence is a right fielder and will replace the Gregor Blanco-Nate Schierholtz platoon that’s patrolled right field at AT&T Park this season. Pence will upgrade the Giants on offense but could be a liability on defense, particularly in the tricky corners of the right-field wall and Triples Alley at AT&T.

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A Haphazard Estimate re Victorino, Dodger Left Fielder

As both managing editor Dave Cameron and large swaths of the internet have noted, outfielder Shane Victorino has been traded by the Phillies to the Dodgers. Despite the fact that he’s probably a superior defender to Matt Kemp, it’s unlikely that Victorino will push the incumbent Kemp to left field. (This is what’s known in legal terms as the Derek Jeter Precedent.)

It stands to reason that, owing to how Bobby Abreu has played a considerable amount of left field for the Dodgers this season, that installing Victorino as the club’s full-time left fielder will make a not-insignificant contribution merely in terms of runs saved over the Dodgers’ final 58 games of the regular season.

“How much of a difference, though?” the curious reader might be wondering. “This much of one,” the irresponsible author is now answering, in the form of the following, mostly haphazard calculations.

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Cubs Gamble on Vizcaino, Sell Low on Soto

“As a whole, not specifically regarding potential deals, we need to add a lot of pitching to the system. It’s not enough to have a handful or two. You need waves and waves coming through your system, and we don’t have that. We hardly have even one wave coming, so we need to rebuild a lot of pitching depth.”

–Theo Epstein, July 18, 2012

On Monday night, the Chicago Cubs executed a pair of trades, sending players to both the Braves and the Rangers in exchange for pitching, pitching, pitching. Here’s the breakdown of those trades:

Braves get:
SP Paul Maholm
OF Reed Johnson

Cubs get:
SP Arodys Vizcaino
RP Jaye Champman


Rangers get:
C Geovany Soto

Cubs get:
SP Jake Brigham

The Braves trade feels a bit like a fleecing for the Cubs; the Rangers trade is at best a wash. Let us see why.
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Did Alex Anthopolous Just Make a Bad Trade?

There’s been a lot to like about Alex Anthopolous’ work so far as the Toronto Blue Jays General Manager. On Monday night, he traded Travis Snider, a 24-year-old outfielder dripping with power, for Brad Lincoln, a 27-year-old maybe-reliever maybe-starter in the midst of a career season in the Pirates bullpen. Twitter was incredulous and awarded Neal Huntington the win immediately. There’s probably more to this… right?

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A Hypothetical Rangers Trade for Cliff Lee

With the unnerving (and, it should be noted, unexpected) success of the first edition of Hypothetical Trade Theater, in which the author suggested that Jean Segura and someone resembling (or actually being) right-handed pitching prospect Ariel Pena would likely be part of an Angels’ trade package for then-Brewer Zack Greinke, the same author now presents a sequel — in this case, in response to suggestions that the Texas Rangers might have interest in Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.

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Third-Place Diamondbacks Buy Chris Johnson

Of course that title isn’t fair to the Diamondbacks in a season that features two wild cards. The Diamondbacks are a game over .500, four and a half out of first in the West, and five and a half games out of the second Wild Card slot. They have the sixth-best run differential in the National League.

But, given the fact that the wild card slots are not full playoff spots, maybe it was a little silly for the team to buy Chris Johnson from the Astros today. For the team to give up two legitimate prospects for Johnson, they must see him as a longer-term solution at the position.

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