MLB Trade Rumors

MLB Trade Rumors: Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena

Awful Reds GM Dan O'Brien finally caught up today, realizing that he had a surplus of outfielders about a year after most casual baseball fans.  Will he trade the right one?

Almost certainly not. The Cincinnati media seems to have helped O'Brien narrow the trade candidates to Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena.  In reality, dumping Ken Griffey Jr. for any formidable prospect would've been a major win for the Reds.  If the rumored White Sox offer of Brandon McCarthy and Chris Young for Griffey was true, the Reds missed a huge opportunity.  I'd pull the trigger for just one of the two.  Young could approximate Griffey's production by 2007. 

But it seems the Reds want to hold onto Griffey and wait for his next devastating injury.  Hopefully, O'Brien will have the common sense to look past Adam Dunn's batting average and strikeouts and realize that he's a franchise player.  If it comes down to Kearns and Pena, which should O'Brien deal?

Wily Mo Pena had a disappointing 2005, hitting .254 with 19 home runs and a terrible .304 OBP.  Nagging injuries followed Pena this year.  Even in limited playing time, Pena's awesome power was evident. 


It's very possible he'll be a 40 HR guy for many years to come.  The poor plate discipline and burgeoning power...Pena looks a lot like a young Sammy Sosa.  Pena boasts Albert Belle, George Foster, and Dale Murphy as other comparables.  Former Sosa hitting coach Jeff Pentland is out of work; the Reds should bring him in as a consultant and hang on to Pena.   

Austin Kearns hit .240 with 18 home runs and an average .333 OBP this season.  This was disappointing to Reds management but should have been expected.  Kearns is still living off his flukey 2002, when he hit .315.  Kearns can still be a very good player one day, but he doesn't have quite the superstar potential of Pena. 

Similar to Michael Barrett getting out of Montreal, a change of scenery could actually help Kearns realize his potential.  The Reds should deal him to Oakland for Barry Zito.  If everything falls into place on the West Coast, Kearns could become Lance Berkman on the high end.  If things don't work out, you're probably looking at another Ron Swoboda.  Either way, the Reds should extract some affordable pitching before Kearns's market value declines further.

Post-Trade Opportunities

The fantasy baseball side effect of the trading deadline is very significant and should not be overlooked.  Sure, a few dozen players will change teams, including a couple players of notoriety.  But the important players being traded are typically already owned, and they don't present much of an opportunity for you to move up in the standings.

That's why The Roto Authority is presenting a series called Post-Trade Opportunities.  Here, we'll dive into players who aren't traded but suddenly find themselves with new jobs and opportunities after a teammate is dealt.

Felix Hernandez is the #1 pitching prospect in baseball, and he might finally join Seattle's rotation next week.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has surmised that an Eddie Guardado trade could open up a spot for Hernandez.  A demotion of Joel Pineiro or Aaron Sele would also open up a spot.  There might be a few factors preventing Hernandez's debut from being at the Doc Gooden level.  First, he's coming off shoulder bursitis and might be broken in in the bullpen.  Second, he is being treated with kid gloves and will have a very conservative pitch count.  Despite that, his numbers will be solid this year and you can't afford to miss the boat on him for 2006 and 2007.

Speaking of Seattle, J.J. Putz figures to move into the closer's role if Guardado is dealt.  Putz has been good enough this year and makes a better closer option than anybody on the Reds, Rockies, or Giants.

Mike Gonzalez has been out for over a month with a sprained knee ligament, and his minor-league rehab should start next week.  The injury is just another thing keeping Gonzalez under the radar.  Jose Mesa is a near-lock to be traded on Sunday, and Gonzalez should slide right into the closer's role.  He should put up excellent numbers across the board.  The only caveat is that Salomon Torres will fill in in the interim, and there's a slight chance he holds onto the closer job even when Gonzalez returns.

There are reports that Colorado will spin Larry Bigbie off to Boston for Kelly Stoppach.  Stoppach is currently hitting .260-21-63 in AAA.  Stoppach is just an OK fantasy baseball prospect, but a move to Coors plus a full-time job makes his stock rise considerably in the always-weak catching market.

Ryan Madson just needs a chance to start to be a solid #4 fantasy starter.  If he's dealt to the Devil Rays for Danys Baez, or to any noncontender, Madson will start.  You can rely on him for an ERA below 4 and a decent WHIP.  He'll also supply a fair amount of Ks, so he makes a nice sleeper if he gets an opportunity.

Go here to get to the main page of The Roto Authority, where you'll find articles about 2006 fantasy baseball sleepers and future free agents.         

MLB Trade Rumors: Manny Ramirez

The latest trade rumor whipping the baseball world into a frenzy involves Manny Ramirez.  The Roto Authority thinks it's simply a case of huge trade withdrawal.  When the biggest name on the market is A.J. Burnett, a #2 starter at best, there is a craving for a Manny blockbuster.  But that's half the fun, and the Red Sox truly are exploring a Manny Ramirez trade, so let's have a look at the possibilities.

We all know that Ramirez is a bona fide superstar, well on his way to 600 home runs in his career.  He's a lock for 40 HR, 120 RBI, and a .300 average every year.  The Red Sox paid dearly for the production, and Ramirez is due $57 million for 2006-2008.  Manny is at .275-28-92 this year, numbers that would make a pretty good entire season for most players.  There are two months left in the season for Manny to wreak havoc. 

So, what team could possibly afford Manny's $57 million and has a gaping left field vacancy?  The Chicago Cubs, of course.  The Cubs also have the young talent to draw him in - Rich Hill, Felix Pie, Matt Murton, and Corey Patterson could all be part of a package.  Theo Epstein certainly wouldn't mind getting Murton back after Hendry swiped him.  Imagine a 3-4-5 combo of Derrek Lee, Manny Ramirez, and Aramis Ramirez.  Not that the Cubs need power, but still.  History is on the Cubs' side, as Hendry and Epstein worked out the Nomar Garciaparra blockbuster right before the deadline in 2004. 

The problem with this dream scenario for Cubs fans?  Manny wants out of Boston because he wants more privacy.  Clearly he won't get that in Chicago.  Other possible destinations, like New York, offer the same obstacle.   

MLB Trade Rumors: Thoughts From Around the Web

One of The Roto Authority's most respected baseball websites is Baseball Prospectus.  Now you can try BP free for a week - but the $40 yearly subscription fee is money well spent.  Among their many gifted authors we are especially partial to Joe Sheehan and Will Carroll.  Today, Sheehan has some interesting commentary on the plausibility of the various A.J. Burnett trades being bandied about. 

His dismay at trading Bronson Arroyo is similar to our feelings here at The Roto Authority.  These two pitchers are very comparable and Arroyo has several years before free agency.  Sheehan also had this to say, which I thought was worth quoting:

In general, A.J. Burnett has come to be quite overrated on the trade market this summer. He's a good starter, a #2 in many rotations, but he's not a difference-maker or a star, and he's being priced as such. He's the pitcher on the market most likely to be part of a trade that we're still talking about 20 years from now. 

This is an excellent point - trading the farm for an injury-prone #2 starter to give your team a barely noticeable lift can have devastating long-term effects.  It will be interesting to revisit this year's trades in five years and see which superstar was once traded for a Mark Redman or a Danys Baez

In addition, here's an interesting conceptual trade quote from Matthew Cerrone over at MetsBlog:

...teams get more value on positional players in the off-season when a larger market can be created.

Cerrone is echoing something preached by the Brewers, and it's a concept I never really considered before.  Pitching is the hot commodity at the deadline, and teams have been extracting tons of value through the years for mediocre starting pitchers on July 31st.  The Zambrano-Kazmir deal is everyone's favorite example. 

But it is a valid point that the Reds should shy away from trading Adam Dunn until the offseason, when some team decides they must have a power-hitting outfielder.  Apparently the Brewers subscribe to this strategy and seem to have applied it when they swiped Carlos Lee from the speed-coveting White Sox for the far less valuable Scott Podsednik.

MLB Trade Rumors: Alfonso Soriano to the Mets?

The latest MLB trade rumor picking up steam is Texas second baseman Alfonso Soriano moving to the Mets for prospects.  Back when Soriano was rumored to be going to Cleveland, we delved into his stats a bit to determine his true value.

Our conclusion was that Soriano has a wealth of fantasy value but much less real-life value.  His below average on-base skills and moderate stolen base success rate aren't overcome by his huge power numbers.  Nonetheless, Soriano is a great player for you to target in a trade at this point in the season.  Moving from Ameriquest to Shea would certainly have a detrimental effect, but not enough to cause concern in fantasy baseball.  As we stated before, try to deal a replaceable closer for a commodity like Soriano. 

Stepping outside the realm of fantasy for a moment, should the Mets make this trade?  The short answer is no.  For a team with a major problem getting the top of its lineup on base, Soriano doesn't help.  His fielding is not spectacular either.  There also remains the question of what talent the Mets would have to surrender.  One could almost see a repeat of the Scott Kazmir scenario here. 

If the Mets are forced to give up their top prospect, outfielder Lastings Milledge, this trade would be a terrible one.  The Mets are just on the fringe of the wild card and can't afford to continue abandoning future stars.  Milledge was excellent in A ball last year, and has just been promoted to AA.  He's only 20 and the world is his oyster.  In a Texas Rangers 2007 outfield, Milledge could be a force to be reckoned with.

And as with Kris Benson, the Mets will feel compelled to sign Soriano to a long-term deal in the offseason to justify their mid-season trade.  Minaya has been wise to go after only the best available players so far, but Soriano would be a misstep.      

MLB Trade Rumors: Wagner, Weaver, Burnett revisited

Billy Wagner to the White Sox?  A.J. Burnett to the Red Sox?  Jeff Weaver to the Orioles?

The trade winds are now gusting fiercely, as we now have 9 days, 5 hours, 38 minutes, and 26 seconds until the deadline as of this writing.  The Roto Authority has the scoop on the latest MLB trade rumors and their fantasy ramifications.

Let's start with Billy Wagner.  The Phillies have been playing well lately, and they just traded Tim Worrell to the Diamondbacks.  Worrell has been no prize this year, but this still weakens the Phillies' pen.  Ugueth Urbina would be a bit shaky as a closer, despite his success in Detroit this year.  So a deal seems unlikely. 

However, White Sox GM Kenny Williams seems determined to make some noise, even if it doesn't really help his club.  His bullpen and starting pitching have been excellent - it's the hitting that's lacking.  If Williams does pry Wagner away from the Phillies, the price will be steep.  Because of that price and regardless of 2005 performance, Dustin Hermanson would become a setup man and Cliff Politte would move a notch down the depth chart.  Ozzie Guillen has shown a willingness to use a closer-by-commitee approach in the past, but a high-profile acquisition like Wagner would negate that.

What's the latest on the A.J. Burnett saga?  Blogger Chad Finn loves the fit for Burnett in Boston.  Various sources make the Red Sox the current front runner for two reasons:  they'll take on the dead weight of Mike Lowell's contract, and they don't require Burnett to sign a contract extension to make the deal.  The fantasy effects of a Burnett trade to the AL East have been discussed previously.

Baltimore's Plan B might be to make a deal for Jeff Weaver from the Dodgers.  The Dodgers may not view Weaver as a necessary part of the team for 2006, and could be willing to ship him off.  Weaver makes $9 million and will be a free agent after the season. 

It's not out of the question that Weaver could be moved to the Angels, another team hunting for some starting pitching for the playoff drive.  Weaver would join his younger brother in the Angels' rotation of the near future.  This wouldn't rival the 1934 49-win combo of Dizzy and Daffy Dean, but it would be formidable. 

As a fantasy baseball owner of Weaver, you simply don't want to see him dealt.  He's pitching in one of the best pitching environments in baseball, and a move to the AL will certainly have a negative effect on his numbers.  Weaver's ERA sits at 4.26 at the moment - moving to a high pressure environment again won't help.  If a deal comes through before the trading deadline, ship Weaver off for something better than average. 

MLB Trade Rumors: Griffey, Zito, Schmidt

Here we are on July 21st, and The Roto Authority is being bombarded by trade rumors.  Talk radio, websites, blogs, those GMs I talk to on a regular basis, my little sister - everyone is throwing out trade rumors.  Let's take a look at a few more of the big names purportedly "on the block."  We've already discussed what could happen to Adam Dunn, A.J. Burnett, and Jim Thome.

One rumor picking up a bit of steam lately is Ken Griffey Jr. to the Yankees.  The Yankees have been making some terrible investments lately (Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Jason Giambi, Tony Womack) and even dynasties can't buy every player that comes along.  The Yankees have approximately one legitimate prospect, third baseman Eric Duncan.  They are rushing Duncan through the minors as we speak.  Reds GM Dan O'Brien isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he'd probably make a Duncan for Griffey deal. 

If he did, Griffey would still be the same major injury risk he's been for the past five years.  As the Reds have learned, constant injuries to expensive star players do serious damage to a team.  If Griffey goes to the Yankees, the only thing that improves is his reputation.  This concept includes fantasy baseball.  In the unlikely event of a trade, talk up Griffey's RBI opportunities in his new All-Star lineup and get something in return before he pulls up with a bad hammy

What about Barry Zito?  Zito is coming off six consecutive excellent starts and has lowered his ERA to 3.55.  Chances are, Barry's best years are behind him and he ends up with an ERA around 4.  The A's have a club option for Zito for 2006.  Oakland GM Billy Beane insists he won't be trading the last of the Big 3 this July.  Even if he does, Zito is a middle-of-the-rotation fantasy starter, the type of guy who used to be great and is descending into the Doug Davis range.  Nothing wrong with that, but don't try to acquire him. 

Jason Schmidt is another intriguing name being bandied about.  Schmidt also has a club option, and he also has a GM who has stated that the pitcher is not available.  Ned Colletti made that comment on July 5th, but I'm not taking it at face value.  Unlike the A's, the Giants are completely out of the playoff hunt.  They have almost no good young players to speak of.  Not sure if Moises Alou qualifies, but Giants fans have been actively soliciting for a slugger to protect Barry Bonds

The problem is that there aren't a lot of great fits for the underachieving Schmidt.  Philadelphia could cough up Ryan Howard.  The trade-hungry AL East teams aren't loaded with young tradeable talent.  The Roto Authority can envision a deal involving Daniel Cabrera for Schmidt if the Burnett deal falls through.  If that deal is consummated, Cabrera is the one you want on your fantasy team.  Trade or not, try to acquire the 24 year old Cabrera now, while his ERA is still at 4.64.  Once the young strikeout artist harnesses his control, he will be an ace. 

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