With some deals already completed, there could be a lot more in the next few days. The Major League Baseball trade deadline is this coming Wednesday, July 31st, at 4:00pm EST. What follows is a review of the recent trade of Alfonso Soriano, and some others that may be on the way.
Dissecting the Deal that brought the Fonz Back to the Bronx
Amid all of the chaos surrounding the New York Yankees this season, quietly they have remained in the thick of the Wild Card hunt. An abundance of injuries, the absence of the Captain Derek Jeter, and the circus created by Alex Rodriguez would seem to be enough to sink most ball clubs. Yet there they are, just 3 games out of the final Wild Card spot, largely due to the efforts of the M.A.S.H. unit Brian Cashman has been able to assemble. It is by no means the type of team the Yankees have been known as for the majority of this generation. Outside of Robinson Cano, there is no clear superstar in the everyday lineup which has led to the offense being woefully anemic. But again, there they are separated from the Playoffs by just three games. Having no real depth in their Minor League system cripples them from being aggressive buyers in this year’s deep pool of available players. Friday’s acquisition, bringing back former Yankee outfielder Alfonso Soriano, can only be seen as a gift. Being able to get him in a trade with the Chicago Cubs for low level pitching prospect Corey Black may very well go down as the steal of the year in all of sports. Add to that the Cubs will be picking up most of Soriano’s contract through next season, and you may start to wonder what Cashman has on Cubs GM Theo Epstein. Black mail theories aside, was the addition of Alfonso Soriano to the Yankee lineup enough to get them over the hump? It is commonly known that Soriano is a streaky hitter who, when hot can carry a team and, when cold will accumulate strikeouts. Lost in that perception though is a grossly underrated hitter who doesn’t garner the respect a player of his caliber deserves. As streaky as he is, he is not all sink or swim. He has shown the ability to still steal a base here and there, and his defense has improved tremendously over his career. In comparing him to outfielders who made this year’s All-Star team he is in the same class. The following is a list of some, and their careers numbers:
Player OBP SLG OPS
Alfonso Soriano .321 .503 .824
Adam Jones .322 .458 .780
Jose Bautista .361 .487 .848
Torii Hunter .335 .466 .801
Carlos Beltran .359 .497 .856
While these numbers do not paint the whole picture, they are what most measure success off of these days. Many will point to his on base percentage, but he was brought in to produce runs. He is currently on pace to finish the year with upwards of 30 home runs, and 90 RBI. He shouldn’t be seen as a savior riding into town, but his presence in the lineup will be felt. The fact that Derek Jeter, as well as Curtis Granderson will be returning in the very near future makes the Yankees a legitimate threat once again, with or without Alex Rodriguez. I do not think many people object to the trade, I just don’t think many yet realize how good of a player he really is. Acquiring Alfonso Soriano will prove to be a move many other teams wish they had considered.
Around the League at the Trade Deadline – The Arms Race
While Matt Garza was the most talked about Pitcher available at the trade deadline, he wasn’t the only one. In fact, there are several options out there that may be just as good or even better, and won’t cost nearly the same. Desperation could lead to some bidding wars, and there are a few contenders with healthy assets, but most likely that will be left for the off-season. Of the top remaining players believed to be on the trade block, this is where I see them landing:
Jake Peavy, White Sox: Many thought the Boston Red Sox would be big players for Garza, but perhaps they had their eye on Peavy the whole time. A bulldog, team and fan favorite, Peavy can be a difference maker for a team’s post-season run. In many ways he reminds me of David Cone in the role of “hired gun”. Several teams are interested, but Boston and St. Louis have the most to offer anyone and it could come down to them. I firmly believe he ends up in Boston, but St. Louis would be the better fit.
Bud Norris, Astros: Still coming into his own, and although his K rate is down this year so are his walks. Rumors have him linked to the Braves, and they have some pieces that might be enough to get it done. He would be a solid replacement for the injured Tim Hudson and has comparable numbers. He would benefit from playing on a better team and could see his win total drastically improve in Atlanta.
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers: So much potential that still seems untapped. Only 27, he has taken a big step backwards this year and could benefit immensely from a change of scenery. While the Cardinals and Red Sox appear to have the most to spend on a front line starter, it is doubtful the Brewers would trade him within their own league, let alone division. If Peavy does end up in St. Louis expect the Red Sox to make a heavy push to add him this season.
Glen Perkins, Twins: Closers are hard to find and there are new ones every day. With Minnesota out of contention he would be a piece they could move for some prospects. Not sure the Twins have ever truly been sold on him as their closer, but his performance and age are hard to argue. With some solid prospects a year or two away I think the Twins hold on to their lefty stopper.
Jesse Crain, White Sox: He undoubtedly would have been traded by the deadline, perhaps packaged with Peavy, but his recent shoulder trouble has put that off. If he comes back strong, a waiver deal after the deadline wouldn’t be out of the question.
Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies: Just when it appeared the Phillies might be sellers this year, GM Ruben Amaro traded for former Oriole Chris Dickerson to replace the injured Domonic Brown. The fact that the Orioles themselves could use an outfielder, yet parted with Dickerson, may be a clue that this wasn’t an attempt by the Phillies to be buyers. Two teams that are in contention, and have somewhat questionable closers, are the Dodgers and Pirates. Los Angeles has shown they will go after any and every big name they can acquire, and a move out West wouldn’t shock me. With Jason Grilli going down the Pirates suddenly have a need in their pen as well. Mark Melancon has been spectacular this year, but do the Pirates want to upset that rhythm. While most have Papelbon returning to Boston, I think their desire for a starter takes them out of contention for him.
Steve Cishek, Marlins: The Marlins are letting their prospects learn on the job. Who really knows what their goals or game plan really is, but with the young talent they have they aren’t too far away from being a good team once again. Cishek has put up respectable numbers this year, but for the most part is still unproven. Also, he fits right in with the Miami budget so I don’t think they are aggressively shopping him. Unless a desperate team makes a ridiculous offer, I see him remaining in South Florida.
Ervin Santana, Royals: Still some debate on whether Kansas City is a buyer or seller, and recent rumors indicate Santana may become available. The expectations on the Royals this year were too much and too soon. I think they hold ground and look to add to this team in the off-season.
Sergio Romo, Giants: If the Giants do decide to sell, which I strongly think they should, Romo is one of many that could be on the move. Since being given the chance as closer he has thrived. The team that could benefit most from him, would be willing to deal, and could have enough to offer, is the Cleveland Indians.
Brian Wilson, FA: Reports from his recent throwing session were positive. Some team will take the gamble and offer him a contract, but will it be too soon? I am not quite sure he is ready to come back yet and be a key contributor, but if he does he could be helpful in a setup role. He may find a suitor in Pittsburgh.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (MAG), FA: For a while it appeared the Dodgers would be the ones to sign the young Cuban defector, and I wouldn’t count them out just yet. They have the money to spend, the desire to add a starter, and have had success with another young Cuban. Boston is investigating, but I still think its Los Angeles where he ends up.
Carlos Zambrano, FA: Recently cut by the Phillies, he possesses so much talent that he will continue to get looks. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see GM Brian Cashman offer him a role with the Yankees.
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