Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Felix Hernandez

Look, you’re being too short-sighted here. Getting a big bat would be great, but this is a contract year for Josh Beckett and we don’t know what we’ll have in Daisuke Matsuzaka. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are great, but two guys does not a rotation make. What are we gonna do if Beckett flies the coop for a deal near $20M/year? What we really should be doing is trading to ensure our future. Solidify the rotation, then you you can go and build the rest of the squad. And there’s no better building block out there than 24-year old Felix Hernandez. Here’s fantasy off-season option B:

Step 1: Trade Clay Buchholz, Junichi Tazawa, Daniel Bard, Josh Reddick and Stolmy Pimentel for Felix Hernandez (+$10M)

Why in the world would the Mariners trade King Felix? Well, he’s peaking a little early for them, or at least his salary requirements are. Seattle is in rebuilding mode, and what they need most is young, cheap and high-ceiling talent. Offer them enough of that, plus a viable replacement for Hernandez in a couple of years, and Jack Zduriencik might actually pull this trigger. Hernandez is entering his second year of arbitration, and given his stellar season, he stands to make about $10M+ in 2010. That’s a big jump up from a mere $3.8M this year, and Buchholz wouldn’t reach that salary tier for another two seasons at least.

The Sox are only gonna empty out the farm for a legitimate young superstar, and Hernandez is it. Seattle is more in need of Major League-ready talent than the Padres, and I think their Japanese ownership would love to get their hands on Tazawa. Would the Mariners want Mike Lowell? Only if we pay for at least half his contract, I’d imagine. And Lowell wants to play for a contender; I’m not sure it’s a great fit. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia are from the area, but they aren’t going anywhere.

Step 2: Sign Matt Holliday or Johnny Damon to play left field (+18M/12M)

The thing about trading for either Adrian Gonzalez or Hernandez is that left field is still vacant. At least in this scenario, though, you don’t have to worry about patching up the rotation quite as much. That frees up slightly more money to sign the outfielder you really want. Again, I think we try to land Holliday early, but if he stalls, we move on.

Step 3: Sign 1-2 free agent starting pitchers (+8-12M)

Fewer reclamation projects, fewer headaches and more security. The same candidates I mentioned before go here.

Step 4: Sign 2 free agent relief pitchers (+$5M)

Re-up Hideki Okajima, then bolster like this. I love me some Kiko Calero (Type B free agent), and I hereby officially advocate signing him. Some of the interesting LOOGY candidates out there this off-season include Mike Gonzalez (Type A), Will Ohman (Type B), Darren Oliver (Type A) and John Grabow (Type A).

Step 5: Sign Adam Everett or Alex Gonzalez as Jed Lowrie insurance (+$4M)

Decline Gonzalez’s option, and sign one of these guys on a one-year deal. Let Lowrie compete and win the spot if he can; we fully expect to be looking for another shortstop next year anyway, right?


Pos Name Rotation Bullpen
CF Ellsbury Hernandez Papelbon
2B Pedroia Lester Okajima
C Martinez Beckett Bard
1B Youkilis Matsuzaka Ramirez
RF Drew Wakefield Calero
LF Holliday/Damon Harden/Sheets LOOGY
DH Ortiz Escobar/Duch
3B Lowell Bowden
SS Everett/Gonzalez

This becomes a much more balanced team in this scenario, with a strong lineup as well as a strong rotation. Team defense is improved by adding a fielding shortstop, supplanting Jason Bay, and hopefully some recovery by Lowell. Can you imagine facing these front four in a short series? My feeling is that this team would be built to compete and built to last. We’ll revisit shortstop again next year. And maybe the year after that. And there are other options at first base who may become available in the next year or two, i.e. Prince Fielder.


6 Responses to Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Felix Hernandez

  1. Jeff Carini says:

    I like the idea of trading for King Feliz as well although Seattle is trying to sign him to a multiyear deal as we speak. I suppose if talks break down they will be more inclined to trade him. At the deadline Geoff Baker reported that the Red Sox gave the Mariners the chance to choose five of the following players in exchange for Felix Hernandez:

    Clay Buchholz
    Daniel Bard
    Justin Masterson
    Nick Hagadone
    Michael Bowden
    Felix Doubront
    Josh Reddick
    Yamaico Navarro

    The Mariners turned this offer down at the deadline and Masterson and Hagadone are in Cleveland. I don’t know if Buchholz, Bard, Tazawa, Reddick and Pimental gets it done. I would guess that after Buchholz and Bard, Seattle would want Casey Kelly or Ryan Westmoreland plus a Reddick or a Lars Anderson and the deal gets done.

    The rotation would be scary, but the farm will be significantly depleted. Not sure if I make the deal.

    The Red Sox have the revenue to spend money on players. Sure they may not want to go over the luxury tax threshold, but if there’s a team that can afford it (besides the Yankees) the Red Sox can.

    They can go out and sign John Lackey and Matt Holliday without destroying what they have built on the farm.

    It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how things unfold this off-season because they could go so many different ways. Either way, with the prices the fans pay the Sox have no excuses for not having a World Series calibur team.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Hey Jeff, I also saw that report. Besides the dubiousness of trade deadline rumors that come out, keep in mind that it is now the offseason and that Hernandez’ contract is one pennant run shorter. My rationale in listing these players was looking for near-MLB ready talent in the Sox system. You could be right about the M’s wanting one more high-ceiling guy back, possibly Westmoreland, Anderson, Kalish or Navarro.

    Epstein has all but said Kelly’s off-limits, from what I gather.

    • Jeff Carini says:

      I’d do the deal if they can avaoid dealing Kelly and Westmoreland.

      I think Seattle will certainly interest Seattle, but I’m not sure Theo will trade him at this point. Tazawa reportedly took less guaranteed money to sign with Boston and I don’t think Theo would want to damage the relationship the Red Sox have with Japan.

      That being said, you make a good point about Hernadez’ contract being shorter than it was at the deadline so maybe Buchholz, Bard, Reddick, Anderson and Kalish gets it done. I hope. That would be a downright nasty rotation.

  3. Pingback: Hot Stove 2010: Sign Matt Holliday « Red Sox Talk

  4. redsoxtalk says:

    Interestingly, a recent survey of GMs suggests that out of Adrian Gonzalez, Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez, King Felix is the least likely to be dealt (and by a WIDE margin). Actually none of them thought he would be most likely to be dealt.

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