Going into this year’s MLB trade deadline, each of the following teams has dilemmas to address for the immediate, not-too distant future, and long term.
In Boston, the Red Sox have shown signs of finally coming into their own. Whether it’s legitimate or not, the club could definitely use a power bat. Strengthening an already strong rotation would help as well. Even more so, given they’ve yet to extend their ace.
In Philadelphia, the Phillies are hamstrung by many expensive contracts to aging players. Even more worrisome is the lack of upcoming talent on the farm. A couple of their highly-paid starting pitchers could free up salary space and replenish their Minor League system.
After a hot start, the Miami Marlins have fallen back down to earth. While they have some promising pitchers on the rise, the Miami offense could use upgrades at several positions. Ironically, it will probably take the centerpiece of their offense to get the help they need.
Things actually look really good on the surface in Los Angeles. They are currently in a first-place tie for the NL West. The rotation is led by the best pitcher in baseball. Even their fifth starter has a rather impressive postseason resume that every Red Sox fan should be familiar with. Yasiel Puig is one of the game’s most exciting players, and the Dodgers have him at a relatively low cost.
That being said, there are a few alarming issues facing the Dodgers. They are spending a LOT of money. They have many aging players signed to long-term contracts that are all virtually untradeable. Their closer’s WHIP and ERA are rather inflated to label him as elite. With the amount of money being spent and the roster not getting any younger, the Dodgers need to win a World Series to justify all the spending they’ve done since the new ownership took over.
One of the most expensive areas the Dodgers have is in their outfield. While Puig is providing great value at a low cost, the same can’t be said of the other three (former) stars in the LA outfield. Carl Crawford was already an albatross when the Dodgers acquired him. Andre Ethier is making too much money and useless against lefties. Matt Kemp is the most expensive of the three. While he’s the only other power hitting right-handed bat they have, the player doesn’t want to be in a platoon and has a desire to play center field again. However, GM Ned Coletti isn’t willing to simply part with right-handed power unless he receives a worthwhile return.
Perhaps each team could help the other three and address some of their needs with a four team blockbuster…
And perhaps it could look something like this:
For the Dodgers, their role in this deal is definitely motivated by the “win-now” philosophy. They would be receive some salary relief for Kemp (though paying an average of $10.7 million a year for a guy to play somewhere else is a tough pill to swallow) and some compensation for losing his bat. Gomes would bring his intangibles with him and perhaps create a decent platoon with Carl Crawford.
While Lee’s becoming an injury concern, the Dodger’s rotation isn’t already without them. We all know about Josh Beckett’s injury history. His contract is also up after the season. Chad Billingsley is injured and whether or not his $14 million option for 2015 will be exercised is in the air. Lee would help strengthen the back end of the rotation for the remainder of 2014 and all of 2015. If he does that, the Dodgers will have him again for 2016.
In Cishek, the Dodgers strengthen a strong bullpen and upgrade themselves in the closer’s spot. The righty will be first-year arbitration eligible after the season and is a Super 2.
While the three players the Dodgers would receive should increase their chances at winning it all, they would be giving up some really good minor league talent.
While Lee’s stock has dropped some this year, Seager and Pederson could still be included in the club’s long-term plans. Part of the reason the club wants to purge Kemp is to shift Ethier to left and call up Pederson to play center. The club seems intent to re-sign Hanley Ramirez after the season, play him at SS in 2015, then shift him to 3B and put Seager at SS after Juan Uribe’s contract expires. The presence of Darnell Sweeney (.304/.399/.487/.887 in Double A) could lessen the blow of losing Seager however.
Phillies trade Cliff Lee to the Dodgers and Cole Hamels to the Red Sox
This deal will not solve all of the Phillies problems, but it does help.
The Hamels and Lee contracts are expensive, but the pitchers have been dependable throughout the lives of their deals (Lee’s 2014 notwithstanding). The Phillies rotation is also set to lose Kyle Kendrick and AJ Burnett after the season concludes. That’s why any return the Phillies receive for their top two pitchers needs to be pitching-centric.
Going into the season, Zach Lee was one of the most promising right-handed pitching prospects. A trade to the Phillies would provide a change of scenery and an opportunity to possibly become the face of his new franchise (won’t happen in LA). Pederson would provide a boost to an outfield which has collectively provided underwhelming production.
Allen Webster could possibly be a number two starter in the National League. Felix Doubront could be a solid third or fourth starter in the Phillies rotation and will be first year arbitration eligible after 2014.
Marrero and Coyle provide a changing of the guard to a long-tenured middle infield in Philadelphia. Jimmy Rollins has a vesting option for 2015 that he’ll likely reach within the next week. Chase Utley has one more year left on his contract which includes three option seasons.
But acquiring Marrero and Coyle would allow the Phillies to make separate deals involving Rollins and Utley. They can further replenish the farm system while shedding more salary.
Already having a reputation with the glove, Marrero has shown solid development this season with the bat. After putting up an .804 OPS in 68 games in Portland, Marrero was called up to Pawtucket where he has since put up a .298/.333/.701 line in 15 games.
Sean Coyle is currently hitting .325/.398/.558/.956 with 11 homers in Double A. He’s expanded his versatility this season, playing some games at third base while Mookie Betts was in Portland. Coyle also grew up in the Philadelphia area. That should make him easy to embrace for Phillies fans despite it coming with the loss of the popular Utley.
Marlins trade Giancarlo Stanton to the Red Sox and Steve Cishek to the Dodgers.
The Marlins are currently reluctant to part with Stanton. But perhaps the acquisition of an established outfielder at a discounted rate in addition to a collection of elite prospects has a chance of getting the job done.
Matt Kemp at average salary of $5.35 million a year is quite a bargain. While Kemp isn’t the hitter Stanton is, he does provide above average power from the right side. He could also return to his natural position in center field while Marcell Ozuna could do likewise with a move to right.
The Marlins currently lack a legitimate prospect at shortstop and the incumbent, Adeiny Hechavarria has been underwhelming on both offense and defense. Seager at the very least could provide above average production with the bat. This is probably the best time for Miami to cash in Ceshek as he’ll be arbitration eligible as a Super 2 this coming offseason.
If not for a logjam in Pawtucket, Henry Owens would likely be in Triple A right now. He’s continued to make strides with his development. In his last ten starts, he has walked two or less batters. That’s an encouraging sign given his control was his biggest red flag going into the season. Chances are very good that Owens makes his big league debut at some point next season.
Like Owens, Blake Swihart has made excellent strides with his development this season. He’s hitting .294/.348/.488/.836 with 11 home runs so far for Double A Portland and will likely be promoted to Triple A in the near future. If he continues to make progress with both the bat and glove, he should arrive in the big leagues at some point next season.
While Garin Cecchini has struggled somewhat this season, he still profiles as an above average hitter who can consistently get on base albeit with below average power. Colin Moran, the Marlins’ top third base prospect, is currently in high A. Cecchini could at the very least provide a bridge to Moran and could be used as trade bait when the time comes.
Red Sox trade Jonny Gomes to the Dodgers, Felix Doubront, RHP Allen Webster, 2B Sean Coyle, and SS Deven Marrero to the Phillies, 3B Garin Cecchini, C Blake Swihart, LHP Henry Owens, and Matt Kemp (and $26.75 million in cash considerations) to the Marlins
Red Sox receive: OF Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins and LHP Cole Hamels from the Phillies
If agreeing to acquire Matt Kemp and eat a quarter of the remaining salary is what it takes to pry Stanton from the Marlins (while being able to keep Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley), then the Red Sox should be willing to do it. Stanton would provide a cornerstone power bat from the right side. He’s also NOT a Scott Boras client and would likely sign a long-term extension.
Hamels would provide insurance should the Red Sox fail to extend or re-sign Jon Lester. But if Boston does re-sign their ace, they would have two of the game’s best lefties in the same rotation for the next half decade.
While the farm would take a hit with the losses of Webster, Owens, Swihart, Cecchini, Marrero, and Coyle, they would retain the likes of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Raphael Devers, Anthony Ranaudo, and (most importantly) Xander Bogaerts. When you have a chance to acquire a young power hitter who isn’t in his prime yet and another elite lefty, you pounce on the opportunity.
Bottom line: This is definitely a pipe dream trade. It’s doubtful the Dodgers would go to the lengths of purging their farm to simply rid themselves of Kemp, who’s still a good asset to have. And if the Red Sox can’t acquire Stanton this season, it’s doubtful they part with significant chips for Hamels. But it’s always fun to dream these scenarios up, right?