Starting a trade rumour

Since there are no real rumours to discuss, I thought I would play the “fun with trades” game! Here is an idea to play with. It has not been reported elsewhere, and I have absolutely no basis for suggesting it – other than “the pleasure of the argument”!

Step 1: Hechevarria + Cecil for Rizzo + RP

Having acquired Yonder Alonzo to play 1B, the Padres are “actively listening” to offers for Anthony Rizzo.

After the Latos trade, the Padres could use another SP. They are in discussions with the Cubs about Garza, but Garza is arbitration-eligible in 2012 and is projected to earn about $8.7 million. He is also only under team control for two years, becoming a free agent in 2014. The Padres may have a fit with Tampa with a trade involving Wade Davis, who is signed to a team-friendly contract through 2015 with options for 2016-17, but Davis is coming off a poor 2011 in which he posted an ERA+ of 84.

Cecil is also under team control through 2015, and had an ERA+ of 90 in 2011 and a WAR of 1.1. He is still only 25, so has plenty of room to grow.

The Padres’ other area of weakness is at SS. Of the 18 shortstops in MLB in 2011 who had enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, Jason Bartlett’s OPS of .615 and 2 home runs were dead last. And Bartlett has a cumulative career dWAR of -0.7 over 8 MLB seasons. Hechavarria will be a huge update defensively, and if he could maintain his pace from AAA last year, he should be an offensive improvement as well.

I would argue that Cecil + Hech are worth a bit more than Rizzo, so SD should add a RP (or perhaps a prospect) as well.

Step 2: d’Arnaud + Rizzo + Rasmus for Felix Hernandez

Before you go crazy – yes, I know that the Jays would be giving up an awful lot for a pitcher who is going to earn $58 million over the next 3 years, and who already has 1,400 IP on his arm.

But Felix is a 25-year-old Cy Young winner with an average WAR of 5.4 over his last 3 years. His aggregate WAR over that period is third in the majors – behind only Halladay and Verlander. And, at 25, it is likely that Felix has not yet peaked.

Rumor has it that that the Yankees are offering Montero, Gardner, Banuelos and another prospect, so the Jays would have – as a minimum – to do better than that.

Why these trades make sense for the Jays

As good as d’Arnaud and Hechavarria are as prospects, they still unproven at the major league level. And they are blocked – at least in part – by JPA and Escobar. So, at some point, they would be trade bait anyway. Why not now, if we could get a player of Felix’s caliber?

As to Rasmus – his 4.3 oWAR season in 2009 (at age 23!) should make him very attractive – more so than a Gardner, given that he can also play CF. But the Jays have two CF in their top 3 prospects in Gose and Marisnick, with Gose possibly only one year away.

Why these trades would be foolish for the Jays

Hech, d’Arnaud, Rasmus and Rizzo all have all-star level upside. They don’t need to turn into Tulowitzki, Mauer, Braun and Fielder – even if they become Yunel Escobar, Carlos Santana, Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko, the Jays will still have overpaid.

And even if JPA and Escobar seem to be doing well, and Gose and Marisnick are coming along nicely, it only takes one injury or sudden decline in performance before we are regretting that we do not have a replacement ready to step in.

And finally – players like Hech and d’Arnaud are very valuable trading chips. Thing is, you can only trade them once. If we spend them on Felix, they will not be around for a future trade.

The bottom line

Imagine a rotation of Felix, Romero, Morrow, Alvarez and McGowan/Drabek/McGuire. If you normalize 2011 WAR to 33 starts, the first 4 would have an aggregate WAR of over 15. The best rotation in the AL?

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