In case anyone still had doubts, I think the Winter Meetings have officially passed the trade deadline for the most exciting transactional period in the baseball calendar. A day after the Mets inked Francisco Rodriguez and mere hours after the defending AL champion Rays fleeced the Tigers in a Dontrelle Willis-redux trade, the Mariners, Mets and Indians got old-school on all of us with a blockbusting three-team, twelve-player deal!
Here’s how it appears to be breaking down:
To the Indians goes Joe Smith from the Mets and Luis Valbuena from the Mariners.
Where to start? In the simplest part I suppose, the Indians. They lose a terrific defender in Gutierrez, but he was blocked from full value by Grady Sizemore and the emergence of Ben Francisco and some intriguing at bats from Shin-Soo Choo made him expendable. In return they get a serviceable relief arm in Smith and another intriguing middle infield prospect in Luis Valbuena to pair with Asdrubal Cabrera who they got two years ago. Solid move for them.
The Mets continue to re-shape their bullpen adding Putz and Green. If Putz rebounds close to his 2006 or 2007 form, that’s a tremendous revamping for the next couple years. Green provides solid support against right-handed hitters. Heilman and Chavez weren’t pieces the Mets were going to miss and Reed adequately fills in the reserve outfielder role. The other assorted minor leaguers, while not total flotsam, also weren’t likely to end up on anyone’s top prospects list either. For a team competing in the short term, as the Mets are, this is a win for them.
From the Mariners point of view, Heilman might be more useful than Green since he’s not so limited to only right-handed batters, and Endy Chavez is pretty comparable to Jeremy Reed, so knocking those off the Ms get four minor leaguers and Franklin Gutierrez for JJ Putz and Luis Valbuena. While that may seem underwhelming to most, Gutierrez’s defense is legitimately outstanding. Good enough to probably make him a rough equal to JJ Putz in terms of projected value. The four-for-one prospect swap further cements this as a good deal for the Ms, who are clearly building with an eye to the future but also maintaining some view on the present.
All in all, this seems like each team comes out ahead, so kudos to all three GMs.