With the dust of the Vazquez trade now beginning to settle - word is it's closer to $3m being sent with him than the figure claimed by USA Today - it's time to look at the remaining issues which need to be settled: center field, another starting pitcher perhaps, and we could always use some bullpen help.
With regard to the first of these, FoxSports.com reports we could be in the running for Kenny Lofton to play CF. If this is true, there are currently three teams vying for his services: us, the Dodgers and the Orioles. We may have something of an inside track there, since Lofton already lives in Arizona (and went to the U of A). He's 38, but did hit .335 last year in 367 AB's, and also stole 22 bases in 25 attempts - though with only 2 HR, his power is all but gone. He earned $3.1m, playing for the Phillies, his seventh team in five years.
The starting pitching issue seems a logical target for talks involving Troy Glaus, which is widely seen as being the next deal on the horizon. Pittsburgh are in the market for a third baseman, having lost out on Bill Mueller (another off-season Arizona resident, oddly). However, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "the Diamondbacks want their trading partner to take on outfielder Luis Gonzalez's $11.5 million for next year, too."
That doesn't seem to gybe with this Banana report, in which managing partner Ken Kendrick says of Gonzo, "We are not shopping him... He wants to be here. We want him to be here, and I believe he will be. We want him to finish his career as a Diamondback." That hasn't stopped the likes of the Cubs from sniffing around; perhaps Corey Patterson would be involved in any deal there?
As noted in the comments, the Twins' have signed Tony Batista. However, one wonders whether he is truly a solution: while he hit 89 homers from 2002-04, he spent last year in Japan, and his career OBP is below .300. The significance for Arizona, however, is a sharp reduction in the chances of Minnesota being a trading partner for Glaus. So, looks unlikely that Torii Hunter will be doing any chasing at Chase this year.
Who's left? For amusement and research purpose, let's start with the major league teams who had the worst production (by OPS) from their third basemen last year. For comparison, Troy Glaus's stats are also shown:
HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Troy Glaus 37 97 .258 .363 .522 .885 -------------------------------------------- 21. Minnesota 13 59 .256 .318 .394 .712 22. St. Louis 8 72 .269 .339 .368 .707 23. Seattle 20 91 .247 .298 .406 .705 24. LA Angels 14 58 .245 .306 .388 .694 25. Philadelphia 12 70 .257 .318 .374 .692 26. Florida 15 79 .243 .304 .382 .686 27. San Diego 10 48 .254 .318 .366 .684 28. San Francisco 12 76 .259 .306 .374 .680 29. Kansas City 8 60 .250 .309 .364 .673 30. Cleveland 15 64 .229 .286 .344 .630
We can cross some off as not interested in Glaus right away: Minnesota, as noted, have cast their lot in with Batista, and the Marlins are trying to pay their entire roster less than Glaus would receive. San Diego have also signed Geoff Blum, so should be better next season...er, or perhaps not.
Of the remaining teams, the following were in the top 10 for production from CF: St. Louis, Cleveland and Philadelphia. Philadelphia have signed Abraham Nunez to play 3B, and their CF production mostly came from Kenny Lofton, now a free agent. I can't see Cleveland letting go of Grady Sizemore - and as we're really only looking for a short-term fix until Young is ready, we wouldn't be after a 22-year old.
Perhaps Jim Edmonds from St. Louis? I know how we'd replace Glaus (Chad Tracy), but not what the depth chart of St. Louis at CF is like - So Taguchi backed up Edmonds last season. The contracts are not so far apart: Edmonds gets $12m in 2006, with a $10m team option for 2007 or a $3m buyout; Glaus $9m + $10.5m over the next two year, plus $12.5m in 2008. Edmonds has a partial no-trade clause - and unlike Vazquez, his can cover up to twenty-three teams. So this may be out of anyone's hands, even if it wasn't entirely wild speculation...which, of course, it is. ;-)
Alternatively, what about teams with a lot of good pitching? Again, we see St. Louis and Cleveland, with the Angels also in the the top five for ERA last year. Instinct says this is perhaps a more likely scenario, though St. Louis are still looking for starters themselves, making them unlikely to trade one for Glaus, while Cleveland seem to be taking the "young and cheap" route. Here, the Angels are most likely partners, with these promising candidates:
- Colon - age 32, ERA 3.48
- Lackey - 26, 3.44
- Washburn - 30, 3.20
- Santana - 22, 4.65
Relievers (50+ IP)
- Rodriguez - 23, 2.67
- Shields - 29, 2.75
- Escobar - 29, 3.02
Glaus for, say, Lackey or Washburn + Shields or Escobar? I haven't looked into the contract scenarios too closely, but in Josh Byrnes' shoes, I'd certainly have Anaheim on heavy rotation in my speed-dial...