Deadline Primer: The National League West
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA TodayOver the coming week we’ll take a look which teams are buyers and sellers and who the Twins could look to acquire. We’ll start with the teams in the National League West division.
Los Angeles Dodgers - 66-29
Colorado Rockies - 56-41 (11 games back)
Arizona Diamondbacks - 54-40 (11.5 games back)
San Diego Padres - 40-54
San Francisco Giants - 37-59
As things sit right now, the Rockies and Diamondbacks are the two Wild Card teams. The Cubs are currently five games out of the second Wild Card spot. We know they’ll make some moves, so will Colorado and Arizona be willing to add some players?
If the Twins decide to sell, which would be disappointing as things stand today (but may be different in a week), the Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks could be calling.
Brian Dozier, Brandon Kintzler and Ervin Santana will be the primary names tossed around (no surprise). The Dodgers wouldn’t trade Cody Bellinger for Brian Dozier in the offseason. I’m guessing he’s not available at this point either.
As of right now, the Twins should be leaning toward buying, and if that’s the case, the Padres and the Giants are teams that should be looking to sell. I assume that the Twins have already had discussions with the GMs from both teams. So, who could be on the table?
While the Twins front office has indicated that it isn’t as interested in acquiring rental players (guys who will be free agents at the end of the season), those types of players can be had without getting rid of as big of a prospect, so they can’t be completely ignored.
The Padres have a few starters who are likely very available. All three are free agents at the end of the season. Clayton Richard (33), who the Twins were said to be at least somewhat interested in before the season, has been terrible. He’s got a 4.75 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP through 19 starts. Jhoulys Chacin (29) has been mediocre. He’s got a 4.33 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP .He’s got 92 strikeouts in 108 innings. Trevor Cahill (29) missed two months earlier in the season, but he’s been pretty good since his return. He’s got a 3.38 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. In 50.2 innings, he walked 19 and struck out 63. I mean, if you want, you could go after Jered Weaver who has an ERA way over 7 and a WHIP near 1.50. He’s also been on the disabled list. He also throws 82 mph.
Of course, the Big Fish of the Padres is Chaska native, left-handed reliever Brad Hand. He was a deserving All-Star this year and he’s controllable for at least another two years beyond 2017. Recently, the Padres made it known that they want and expect a return for Hand similar to what the Phillies got to Ken Giles. That is to say a package of three or four players, including a top prospect or two.
The Giants have probably been the biggest disappointment in baseball this season. They have a top-5 payroll and have been unable to get things rolling at all in 2017. So they would likely love to make some trades and push toward 2018. While there will be some position players, like Denard Span or even Brandon Crawford at the right price, the Twins focus should primarily be pitching.
The Giants have pitchers with names, and big contracts. Johnny Cueto’s name has not really surfaced in rumors, but he would cost a team approximately $22 million a year through the 2021 season (and a team option for 2022) along with a haul of prospects. The 31-year-old is 6-7 with a 4.59 ERA and a career-high (by a long shot) 3.2 walks per nine innings.
Jeff Samardzija’s name has been discussed in rumors as several teams have inquired about him. He is owed about $19.5 million for the next two seasons. He is 4-11 with a 4.86 ERA this season. While he hasn’t been particularly good for the last three seasons (posting ERA+ of 79, 104 and 85), he does eat a ton of innings. He’s posted over 200 innings four straight years and is on pace to be close to that number again.
Speaking of long-term contracts that didn’t work out well, Matt Cain was a top pitcher for the Giants for several years. Then he signed a six-year, $127.5 million contract and has been hurt a majority of the time since. He’s healthy this year, and his 5.49 ERA would be his lowest in three years. However, his 1.67 WHIP makes the 32-year-old pretty Colon-like. He can become a free agent at season’s end.
The intriguing name in the Giants rotation might just be Matt Moore. He was one of the top prospects in baseball (he, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were consensus Top 3 guys) with the Rays. He went 17-4 in 2013. They signed him to a team-friendly deal soon after he debuted. early in 2014, he needed Tommy John surgery and missed most of that season and over half of 2015 as well. Last year, the Rays traded him to the Giants. This year, he is 3-10 with a 5.81 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. He’s got options for 2018 at $9 million and 2019 at $10 million. So, while he’s been pretty bad this year, he just turned 28 in June. If pro scouts believe that he is healthy and still has some stuff, Moore could be a relatively inexpensive option for two more years.
I can’t imagine the prospect-return on any of these guys would be real high due to their contract size and/or performance this year. Evaluators just need to determine what they have left and whether or not they could help the team. Personally, Moore is the only one that is relatively intriguing.
As for bullpen arms, the one interesting name might be Sam Dyson. He was good last year, but he began this year just terrible for the Texas Rangers. They let him go, and the Giants signed him. In 15 games, he has an ERA of 2.76 in 16.1 innings in San Francisco. He’s recorded five saves, taking over closer duties since Mark Melancon has been on the DL. Could he be available for cheap?
Other Relievers: George Kontos, Cory Gearrin.
There is a clear team at the top in the Dodgers who have proven they aren’t afraid to spend money. They have a smart front office that hasn’t been willing to just hand away prospects, but they could be buyers.
Both the Diamondbacks and Rockies have been surprises in 2017. If the season ended now, which would be unfortunate for fans, they would both be wild card teams. They may have some interest in acquiring some additional talent at the deadline, particularly bullpen help.
Meanwhile, winning teams will be frequently calling the Giants and Padres as those teams have been out of contention for quite some time already. Players are available. There are some big names who will be in the rumors, but the clear choice for best player available from the division is Brad Hand, and the steep asking price illustrates that well.
What do you think? Could there be a match with the Twins somewhere in the NL West?