Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Felix Hernandez
October 30, 2009 6 Comments
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?
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.