So, yesterday, I vented to the point of splenic rupture about the malodorous and poorly-formed pile of brown soft-serve that was our 2014 season. And, because I suspect that the Ouija board that the front office has been using is defective, I proposed a series of ten significant trades to get the D-Backs heading in the right direction. You can thank me later, Mr. Stewart.
The first trade yesterday was our prospects 2B Jamie Westbrook (A) and 2B Tyler Bortnick (AAA) to the Brewers for reclamation project/bullpen ace Jeremy Jeffress.
Probability Meter: (65%)
Mark Trumbo was absolutely underwhelming in 2014. We traded a top pitching prospect (Skaggs) to get Trumbo. We plugged him right behind Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, and promptly watched him not produce. He hit fourteen home runs, which is only slightly disappointing compared to his -1.1 WAR. He also cost us 4.8 million (so, we paid him well to hurt our team), and will get a significant raise in arbitration. Oh, and he'll be 29 on Opening Day. He's not exactly a spring chicken anymore.
Of course, Trumbo bashed 95 home runs in three seasons with the Angels. He's not Ortiz-old, nor Cabrera-expensive, and he IS an ideal bounce-back candidate. He's my choice to win the comeback player of the year award. All of which means several teams will be interested.
Enter the Cardinals. They need some pop to get to the playoffs this year, and they're willing to give up some young talent to do it. I like Randal Grichuk, because he's shown consistent ability everywhere he's played and will only be 23 year old on Opening Day. He hit 25 home runs in AAA this year while posting an .808 OPS. In the big leagues, he didn't embarrass himself, either, batting .245 and posting a WAR of .2 in 47 games. So, he didn't bring the house down in the majors, but his youth and power make him a better and cheaper option than what we had with Trumbo. Just sayin'.
Trade #3: Diamondbacks trade RP Willy Paredes (AAA), RP Patrick Schuster (AAA), UTIL Cliff Pennington (MLB), C Tuffy Gosewisch (MLB) and 2B Mike Freeman (AAA) to the Padres in exchange for 3B Cory Spangenberg (MLB).
Probability Meter: (65%)
Cory Spangenberg is a 24-year-old utility guy from the Padres. He saw time this year in the majors at third base, second base and left field, and could probably handle shortstop or right field if needed. He makes minimum wage, and won't be arbitration eligible until 2018 or free agency eligible until 2021. I like him because he batted .290 in his first taste in the majors while posting a 120 OPS+, which is pretty much unheard of for a September call up. He's obviously undervalued, and by getting rid of these spare parts, we'll be cutting salary while improving over the long term.
The Padres'll take it because we're giving them two good (if not slightly old) relief pitchers, a major league catcher, a minor league second baseman, an a super utility man for a relatively unproven commodity. Think about it-the Padres really don't have a good first baseman. Yonder Alonso was atrocious for them, and towards the end of the season, they started putting Yasmani Grandal out there. In other words, they'd rather have a career catcher at first base than their homegrown Alonso. By the end of the season, we saw more and more of Grandal at first, indicating that it wasn't a passing thought. As far as hitters go, Grandal looks to be their offensive face, while Alonso is looking like a dud.
I think that they'd like to get rid of Alonso and either get a good catcher or first baseman in return. We don't really have any good first base prospects, but we do have Tuffy. So, by giving them Gosewisch, a viable catcher, they can afford to trade away Alonso for pitching. Grandal can play first, saving his knees and extending his career. Gosewisch can catch, at least until top prospect Austin Hedges is ready. It just makes sense, and it's a worthwhile trade for both parties.
So far, these have been safe, benign trades that are pretty low-key and slightly boring. Not so with this next one.
Trade #4: Diamondbacks trade OF Cody Ross (MLB), RP Matt Reynolds (MLB), 2B Aaron Hill (MLB), SP Bronson Arroyo (MLB), OF Zach Borenstein (AAA), SP Randall Delgado (MLB), RP Eury de la Rosa (MLB), RP David Hernandez (MLB), SP Zeke Spruill (AAA), SS Sergio Alcantara (A), RP Brandon Sinnery (AAA) and CL Addison Reed (MLB) to Toronto in exchange for OF Dalton Pompey (MLB), SP Marcus Stroman (MLB), and RP Aaron Sanchez (MLB)
Probability Meter: (75%)
Holy Caped Crusader, Batman.
Look, hear me out. I know that I just gave up twelve highly regarded players in exchange for three guys you probably have never heard of. My rationale is that those players I just traded away aren't that good. For starters, those twelve players had a combined WAR of -1.8. It's true. They comprised almost half of our total roster, and they cost us nearly two wins. The only players who had a positive WAR were Bronson Arroyo (0.2) and Eury de la Rosa (0.3). Plus, those twelve players cost us over thirty-one million dollars in 2014 alone. That's thirty-one million we gave to twelve players as a reward for a -1.8 WAR. That's not even factoring in the salary of David Hernandez, who didn't even play for us this year. How do we know he's actually going to perform well enough this year-if he comes back at all-to justify a more expensive option than our minor league guys?
Zeke Spruill isn't a bad pitcher, but he projects as a long reliever/spot starter. Arismendy Alcantara is a no-hit good-field shortstop that may not even make the majors in an increasingly hitting-seeking market. You'll notice a common theme in these players: they're old, expensive, and not as good as the younger, cheaper options we're getting back.
Now, about who we're getting back. Dalton Pompey, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are the top three Blue Jays prospects, and they all made their major league debuts this season and shone. Sanchez in particular wiped out the competition, posting a 1.09 ERA, a .697 WHIP and a 361 OPS+ (that's NOT a typo). He did it all with his 98 mph fastball that he commanded beautifully. Oh, and he can start, too. Pompey is 22 years old and he absolutely demolished minor league pitching this year, batting .317 while getting on base at a .392 clip, altogether accruing a .861 OPS. In the majors, he actually had an OPS+ of 105. He's certainly worth getting. Lastly, Marcus Stroman right now could be the ace of our rotation. He'll be 24 on opening day, and last year he went 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA for the Blue Jays. He had an ERA+ of 107, and an FIP of 2.84. As a ground ball pitcher, he'd do much better in Chase Field, and he has shown stuff reminiscent of a young Tim Hudson.
All these players are young, gifted, cheap, and controllable for several years. I would make this trade nine times out of ten, and I bet the Blue Jays would, too. After all, they desperately need a competitive second baseman and upgraded pitching in an effort to conquer the relatively weak AL East. Just think- after this trade, do you know just how good the Jays will be? After this trade, they' d look like this:
SP: Buehrle, Dickey, Hutchinson, Arroyo, Delgado
RP: Jenkins, Estrada, Drabek, Delabar, Cecil, Happ, Hendricks, Loup, de la Rosa, Reynolds, Spruill, Hernandez, Reed, Sinnery, Norris
C: Russell Martin, Dioner Navarro
Inf: Edwin Encarnacion, Donaldson, Reyes, Smoak, Hill, Alcantara
OF: Bautista, Dirks, Mayberry, Ross, Borenstein
and a lineup of
Plus, a proven closer to inherit Casey Janssen's role. After this deal, they'd have a competent starting rotation, undoubtedly the best bullpen in the majors, probably the best catcher in the American League, an infield of Aaron Hill, Josh Donaldson, Jose Reyes, and Justin Smoak, Encarnacion at DH, and Bautista, Ross, and Dirks in the outfield? There's no way they wouldn't make the playoffs. And there's no way they wouldn't take this trade.
More flights of fancy tomorrow, folks. Don't touch that dial.