Yep, another trade idea thread. I have said I wouldn’t do anymore, but who am I kidding. That would be impossible. Until something actually happens, we are left hoping and wondering about what moves the Mariners will make to improve their offense.
There’s two ways to go about offense improvement: picking up free agents and trades. I would say for the M’s, trades seem to be the most likely method of team building. The organization has a plethora of young prospects that it could offer up for proven hitters. And with a good majority of the roster filled (hopefully) for the future, we may not have a huge need for the prospects that we will move. Pitching is obviously the deepest position in the organization, with the Big 3, or even 4 if you include Brandon Maurer, but there are position players such as Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Stefen Romero who could be parts of a deal as well.
I’ll go through some trade candidates the team could pursue. In doing so, I will talk about what I would be willing to give up as well as what it would actually take.
5) Wil Myers, 22, OF, minor league contract
2012 stats (AA and AAA combined): .314/.387/.600 — .448 wOBA — 176 wRC+ — 37 HR
Myers is one of the top prospects in baseball, and a lot of teams would love to have him. He has tons of power and could be the next big time hitter in the league. He also plays solid defense in the outfield and has decent speed. Unfortunately, all that makes him very expensive on the trade market. Many teams would be willing to give up front line starters for him, and that’s something the Ms don’t have yet. I’m not sure that their prospects can compete with James Shields and John Lester, who have been linked to a Myers trade.
His one draw back is his strikeouts. Even while having a dominant season, he struck out at a rate over 20%. However, I don’t see that being a huge problem in the future. He is almost a can’t-miss prospect, and there isn’t a huge bust concern with him.
That being said, our luck with can’t-miss prospects hasn’t been very good lately, and there’s a chance we give up Walker for the prospect and Myers ends up Smoak-ing it up. But there’s also a chance Walker does the same, and that’s the problem with prospects. You never really know for sure how a prospect will perform during the season, and some times you have to take a risk.
Who it would take: Taijuan Walker+ ?
It’s hard to know for sure what it would take to grab Meyers. But if we are going to beat out Lester or Shields, it would probably take Walker. I would probably do that, but it would be tough. I love Walker and he may be a very good pitcher one day, but Myers might be a very good hitter, and that’s what the team needs.
4) Justin Morneau, 31, 1B, 1 year/$14 million
2012 stats: .277/.333/.440 — .330 wOBA — 108 wRC+
Justin Morneau was one of the best hitters in the league not too long ago. He was the AL MVP in 2006 and looked like he was on pace for another one in 2010 before he got injured. That injury made it so he only played half a season, but he was still able to put up 5.1 WAR in those 81 games. He then missed over half of 2011, and just hasn’t been the same since the injury. He put up a .275 wOBA and 69 wRC+ in his 69 games in 2011.
Now, it’s not necessarily fair to judge him on an injury shortened season, but looking at 2012 doesn’t give you much more hope of a big comeback either. As seen above, he was slightly above average for the year. His home run power was also down at 19, a sizable difference from the 30 a year we normally get from him.
Morneau’s contract could also be a problem, as he is only guaranteed for one year, and it may be hard to re-sign him. Heck, I’m not even sure we would want to re-sign him. We could end up paying for a year of a slightly above average 1st baseman. His MVP pedigree will make him a little more expensive than someone with his recent history would normally be.
That being said, if we can get him without giving up one of the Big 3, Nick Franklin, or Brad Miller then I think I would be up for it. Much more is too much risk for me.
Who I would trade: Erasmo Ramirez or Brandon Maurer
Who it would take: James Paxton OR Ramirez/Maurer+
3) Justin Upton, 25, OF, 3 year/$38.5 million
2012 stats: .280/.355/.430 — .341 wOBA — 108 wRC+
Upton is one of the most talented players out there. He has as high of a ceiling as anyone, and has showed some flashes of reaching it. He was an MVP candidate in 2011, but suffered a drop in his production last year. There are reports that he had a thumb injury last year that held him back, and that may be true. I am not worried about one down year considering his career batting line is .278/.357/.475 and he has the power to hit 30 home runs.
However, there is another thing that worries me, and it is the main reason I have him at #3. That reason being his home/road splits. He has played in the hitting-sanctuary that is Chase Field for his whole career. In doing so, he has seen an inflation in his production, as seen by his career .399 wOBA and 143 wRC+ at home. Now you can’t punish him for hitting well at home. He cannot control that. But when you look at his road wOBA and wRC+ of .32o and 90 respectively, it can give you the feeling that he has simply been lucky enough to play in a launching pad.
In my opinion, road numbers are a little more telling than home numbers. They give you an image of how he hits in 29 parks as opposed to one. Now think about this for a second.
If we assume an improvement in his road numbers, which I think is fair considering his age and potential, we can pencil him down for a .340 wOBA and 110 wRC+ on the road. That may be a little generous also. We then have to assume a sizable drop in in his home numbers as well due to his move to a pitchers park. Now this is a little more difficult to predict, but it only makes sense that if he hits .340/110 on the road, in the average park, he will be the same or worse in a park that favors pitchers. So we can generously assume a .340 wOBA/110 wRC+, or maybe slightly better for his career.
Obviously this isn’t absolute and he could be much better. But, he could also be worse.
I want to love Justin Upton. I really do. But at this point I just don’t. Part of me wants us to trade for him so he can prove me wrong. But overall, I think he will cost too much for the risk. We have gotten a couple other players with potential, and we haven’t had a great result with that so far. I wouldn’t be against a move for him, but its not my favorite either.
Who I would give up: James Paxton/Danny Hultzen and Nick Franklin for Upton OR Walker and Franklin for Upton and Josh Collmenter
Who it would take: Taijuan Walker and Nick Franklin for Upton
2) Shin-Soo Choo, 30, OF, Last year of arbitration
2012 stats: .283/.373/.441 — .359 wOBA — 131 wRC+
Choo could be one of the better players in the league. In fact, he was in 2009 and 2010, posting WARs of 5.1 and 6.1 respectively. He has one of the best outfield arms in the league, to go along with solid speed and moderate power. The thing that really sets him apart however, is his ability to get on base. He has a career OBP of .381, along with a wOBA of .369.
There is one big flaw in his game though, and that’s his ability to hit lefties, or lack thereof. He hasn’t been TOO terrible against them for his career (.249/.338/.358), but it’s been a different story over the last few years. Since 2010, his line against lefties has been .239/.329/.318, and last year was the worst with a .199/.318/.286. That is absolutely horrible, and if that trend continues, he may need to become a platoon player. Luckily he mashes righties to the tune of a .308/..403/.515 line of the last three seasons.
It seems to be his extra base ability that takes the biggest hit against lefties. His OBP is actually respectable, but his slugging % is quite the opposite. It looks as though he has trouble squaring up the ball against LHP, but still sees it well. That ability to take a walk could end up being his saving grace as a full timer rather than platoon-er.
That is how he is able to keep his overall numbers so respectable, and people may fail to look past that. His numbers against righties are so good that it masks his major shortcomings against southpaws. If he isn’t able to at least bring his splits up to where they were in his first couple years, say a .700 OPS, then he may end up not being worth it. We would get him as a platoon player, but have to pay as if he were a full timer.
Having him and Wells platoon would actually be the best-case scenario seeing as he will most likely always struggle against lefties, whereas Wells kills them. It’s just that others may not recognize that he is a platoon player, and will not give him away for what I would be comfortable paying. He would also have to be re-upped after this year, and will most likely get payed around $10M a year, which is a little much for 100-110 games as a platoon player, or a near automatic out as a full timer. My interest in him is completely dependent on his cost, and how he bats against lefties in the future.
Who I would give up: Erasmo Ramirez OR Jason Vargas+ (they would never take the latter)
Who it would take: James Paxton OR Erasmo Ramirez++
1) Billy Butler, 26, DH/1B, 3 year/$28 million
2012 stats: .313/.373/.510 — .377 wOBA — 140 wRC+
In many ways, Billy Butler is the perfect player for the Mariners. He is a great hitter that is signed for 3 years at an extremely cheap amount, and he is entering his prime. There aren’t many 26-year-olds who put up those kinds of numbers, and you will never find many .880 OPS players signed for under $10 million a year. Plus, he is right handed, which seems to be what the team prefers to add this off season.
In other ways though, he isn’t a great fit. The biggest reason is his position, or lack there of. He is pretty much a DH only, and we already have that in Jesus Montero. Having both of them could make for some tough lineup creation, but that doesn’t matter as much as getting a legit batter. If they were to acquire him, it would mean they are confident that either he or Montero could play 1st.
Who I would give up: Walker and Vargas
Who it would take: Walker or Hutlzen+
Once again, its hard to tell for sure what it would take, but I’m either Taijuan Walker or Danny Hultzen would have to be included. The rest of the trade package is up in the air. I would give up almost anything for Butler. I just want him here, and I think he should be Z’s number one target.
Those are just some ideas, and there are others out there. Alex Gordon would have been #1, but I tried to keep my list semi-realistic, and I don’t think Gordon is going anywhere.
Let me know what you think of the list, and feel free to give one of your own.