5 Moves to Make Prior to the July 31st Trade Deadline
There has been a lot of talk about what if anything AA should do leading up to the trade deadline, much of it surrounding star pitchers and how to get ourselves into the vaunted 2nd wildcard spot. I have taken the unpopular position that given the injuries, number of teams to leap over, and the strength of schedule I am throwing in the towel and looking at moves that might help us in the very near future.
I do however look at the second wildcard, all the teams involved as creating market inefficiencies that we can perhaps take advantage of to make our team better down the road. So for your review I have created 5 Player Moves I would like to see AA consider moving into the deadline. As usual it is impossible to predict the additional mid-level prospects that may be thrown into a trade based on a specific GM’s whims but I have tried to include what I believe would be the key pieces in each move.
1. Sign Kelly Johnson to an extension in the neighborhood of 2 years $10 to $12 million
· This is a two pronged move, part one is that given the new CBA, it may raise his trade value to a team like Detroit or Baltimore who are contending but getting a ridiculously low amount of production out of 2nd base, if we do trade him Hech could fill in at second base, and we also know we are unlikely to make a qualifying offer that he doesn't accept (12-13 million) so we cant lose him and still get draft picks back
· Second, if we choose not to move Johnson, we’ve locked him up until a more permanent solution can be found, the general feeling may be disappointment but he ranks 12th among second baseman in fWAR (at 1.3) and the 2nd base free agent class is nothing pretty. This actually qualifies him as a solid big league starter.
Moves 2 through 5 after the jump.
2. Trade David Cooper to Milwaukee for Shaun Marcum
· Milwaukee has not recovered from the loss of Prince Fielder and they probably expect Marcum to leave at the end of the season. They are 8 games back and likely to be sellers. This will help us get through the rest of the season, give us an opportunity to try and sign him as a great addition that can help the team now but not block the young arms coming up. Internally I would promote McDade and maybe give him a September call up as he has more power than Cooper and switch hits so there is no lefty disadvantage.
3. Trade for a High Level (major league or very close to major league ready) Second Base Prospect
· This is obviously something that is more challenging, but there are two or three targets for this type of deal.
- The first is the Cincinnati Reds, they have Brandon Phillips under contract until 2017, and they have two high ranking middle young middle infielders. The first is Billy Hamilton, and speedster is a huge understatement. In 82 games of High A ball he has a line of .323/.413/.439 with 50 walks (12.8%) and 104 stolen bases. Yes 104 stolen bases, so there will always be questions about whether he will maintain his high walk rate or whether he can hit big league pitching, but he continues to hit as he moves up so at best he is a great leadoff hitter, or at worst, he would cause havoc at the bottom of the order, turn the lineup over and get in scoring position for the big bats.
- The second is Zack Cozart who has been called up and is hitting to a line of .252/.298/.409 with 9 homeruns in 81 games and with his plus glove has actually contributed 1.8 fWAR.
- The Red’s will want Outfielders coming back, they are in the bottom 3rd in WRC+ for OF and have little in their system coming up. It might require acquiring the asset from another team, but could be worthwhile.
· Also on the list are the Anaheim Angels, they have Kendrick signed through 2015 but possess two of Scouting Books top 10 2B prospects, the one we’d want is Jean Segura who has played very well in AA this year at age 22 with a line of .286/.332/.398 with 7 Homers and 30 stolen bases in 85 games. They would still have Taylor Lindsey moving forward after the end of Kendrick. Going to Anaheim, JPA, I’m not a fan of trading him but the Angels are competing and getting no production out of the catching position with Ianetta only around for another year.
4. Trade Escobar, Gomes and Nicolino or Norris to Arizona for Bauer or Skaggs (plus Wheeler)
· All the Arizona talk has been around Justin Upton, but Arizona has made their needs known, 3B, SS, OF and A-ball high-ceiling pitching, but they have a plethora of major league ready pitching and may be wlling to sacrifice one to upgrade at shortstop (though I think we say no if they want Hech). The goal of this transaction is to get us some major league ready, young controlled pitching in exchange for our A-baller, Bauer or Skaggs would be a huge addition to the staff now. Let them use Upton to get their 3B.
5. Reliever Dump
· I can’t possibly know all the angles but Oliver, Frasor and to some degree Laffey and Cecil (they both keep lefties to BA below .200) would be desirable to all these contenders, let’s get something for them or use them to help aid moves 2-4
So please, let me know what you think, are they moves you would make? Would the other teams make them? What else would you do moving into the deadline to improve the roster long term?
As always, in AA we trust.