GM For A Deadline, Part Two
Image courtesy of Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY SportsAs teams look at the market, it becomes a balance of “what have you done for me lately?” and “who is this player typically?” When the answer to both of those questtions is very good, you’re getting a lot in return. Negotiations become slightly more difficult when the answers don’t match up… especially when the player is on the wrong side of 30.
Today, we’re going to look at a few other players who, for one reason or another, stretch those questions a little bit further than Dozier, a top second basemen who is having a down year, and Escobar, a versatile defender with a solid bat.
Kyle Gibson is having a great year. He’s got an additional year of control, his slider is nearly unhittable and when he’s not producing outs by strikeouts, he’s getting them on ground balls. He’s a great example of a player who, if he continues pitching the way he has since the second half of last year, could really help the Twins get back into contention in 2019. The Twins, though, appear poised to head into spring training with more viable rotation options than any other year in recent memory.
In short, maybe it’s worthwhile to shop Kyle Gibson. Though there isn’t an urgent need to move him - there are worse things than plugging him into an experienced rotation next year - it’s worth taking a look around to see who might be interested.
For me, there is one team that sticks out: the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies are in the midst of a NL West battle that may last until the final days of the season and have gotten productive seasons out of four of their five rotation members. Their fifth member, Chad Bettis, is currently on the DL with a blister. In his place, Colorado has been starting Antonio Senzatela, who himself just returned on Sunday from his own blister issues. I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about their rotation, but it seems like blister issues are typically a recurring problem.
Enter Gibson, who has made 27 or more starts in each season since returning to health after Tommy John surgery. Colorado, where no free agent pitcher ever wants to go, should be motivated to add a groundball pitcher with another year of team control, even if they don’t stay in contention to win the division.
The targeted headliner in a return package from the Rockies should be 23-year-old AAA infield Ryan McMahon. McMahon played almost exclusively at third base until shifting over to first base. The Rockies have all-world Nolan Arenado to man the hot corner for the foreseeable future, so McMahon was moved to help accelerate getting him into the lineup. He's also played quite a bit of second base. McMahon is a good hitter, has a good understanding of the strike zone, hits for power and also can steal some bases.
Now here’s where the problem starts. If you’d paid close attention to Gibson over his last calendar year, you think he’s turned the page and is now a mid-rotation starter and his trade value should match that. “Yeah, but…” would be how every other team in baseball responds to that. I would think McMahon isn’t enough. I’d want someone in addition who is closer to MLB ready. The Rockies might think McMahon alone is too much. To move Gibson, though, the offer would need to overwhelm.
Fernando Rodney is another example of a player who might not get the value his performance has dictated. Understandably, too, as he’s 41 years old. If not for his age and the rapid decline that will set in at some point - though there is nothing in his peripherals that suggest that decline is going to happen soon - Rodney has value, under contract for $4.25 million next year.
The Braves, having recently lost their closer, seems like an excellent match. Would the Twins have interest in 19-year-old RHP Freddy Tarnok, a third-round pick last year who is new to pitching and having success in low-A ball? The Braves didn’t seem to have too much interest in Jeurys Famillia before the Mets dealt him to Oakland. One of the reason had to do with not wanting to deal from the top of their stash of prospects. Tarnok doesn’t fit into that group, but his potential certainly does. I don’t think any return for Rodney is going to include much. Is it worth it to deal away a controlled, affordable, mostly reliable closer for what amounts to a lottery ticket? It might be easy to say no to that from the Twins perspective. At the same time, the Braves might ask if it is worth trading a high-ceiling lottery ticket for a guy who is over twice the lottery ticket’s age. They might pass on that as well.
Lance Lynn and Ervin Santana have both done enough (or not enough) to stay safe through the July deadline. Logan Morrison is having such a disastrous season, it’d be hard to merit any return.
So I guess that leaves Joe Mauer. I’d accommodate Mauer if he wants to chase a championship. Regardless, I’d consider it more than likely that Mauer is back in a Twins uniform next year.
But that might be a conversation for a different day.
BONUS BITS: Typically trading multiple pieces to the same team will reduce the return. Dealing Escobar and Dozier to the Brewers in the same trade might enable them to ask for one of their top prospects, like Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta or Corey Ray. (I still don't think the Brewers have any desire to move any of those three.) The other thing that adds intrigue to this situation is that the Brewers just lost a starting pitcher for the rest of the season.
How much might Milwaukee give up to secure a pitcher like Gibson? Might they be interested in Lance Lynn? There are a number of questions that can only be answered in time. But I certainly wouldn't rule out a creative deal that packages multiple players together. Likely? No. Possible? Sure.
- Cory Engelhardt, mikelink45, Sconnie and 3 others like this