Results tagged ‘ Trade ’

Toss-Up: Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez?

Giancarlo StantonAccording to MLBTradeRumors.com, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has information that the New York Mets’ front office may be looking seriously at trying to swing a trade for either Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies.

We don’t need to tell you that the Mets’ outfield is a mess (the two highest-paid outfielders on the team aren’t actually on the team), or what kind of impact either one of those bats would have on a young lineup struggling to keep pace with the monster of the NL East. But, that’s what we’re here for. So…

…it’s this writer’s opinion that trading for Stanton is the best hypothetical move for the Mets. I prefer Gonzalez as an all-around player, but he’s more expensive to maintain in the long run than the 23-year-old Stanton would be and allows them a lot less financial flexibility to bring in free agent replacements for the pitching staff.

Though the Mets front office has indicated they are willing to increase the payroll (contrary to popular belief, it is not so they can pay Bobby Bonilla even more interest), the 27-year-old Gonzalez would bring over a contract that owes him nearly $65 million over four years, whereas Stanton will be under team control through 2016.

But as Mets’ superfan and MLBFanCave Dweller Travis Miller (@AtTravisMiller) mentions: “I’d go with CarGo. Even though he’s a few years older, he’s a proven .300 hitter who can swipe bags, and is gold glove-caliber in the outfield. A 500-foot bomb is pretty to look at from time to time, but I’ll go with the five-tool player every single time.”

It’s a tough choice, knowing that either trade would likely cost the Mets their top two prospects in Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud, as well as a hefty financial investment. But the opportunity to improve the heart of the order and complement David Wright may be too good to pass up.

CarGo

Stanton brings massive home run potential and has been improving his batting average every year in the big leagues (career high .290 in 2012), but Gonzalez has won a batting title and two Gold Gloves, and sports an average slash line of .299/28/97 with about 25 steals.

Would CarGo struggle away from the thin air of Coors Field? Would Stanton continue to blossom into a premier all-around hitter? Nobody knows for sure, but it seems the Mets may be willing to pay in order to find out.

Vote in our poll below–who would be the better hypothetical pick up for the Mets? And comment with who YOU would prefer if your team was in the same situation.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all of your 2013 MLB news!

Grade That Trade! The “Wait…Are the Mariners Actually Good?” Edition

mike morseYou have to give Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduirneckenckeicnckine (upon further review, it’s actually “Zdurineck,” but who’s counting?) credit for recognizing a weakness and aggressively pursuing a solution.

It’s no secret that the Mariners have needed offensive punch for a long time, but this off-season they finally did something about it. In December, they traded starting pitcher Jason Vargas to the Angels for slugger Kendrys Morales. And this week, they put together a three-team trade to snag Michael Morse from the Washington Nationals.

This lineup hasn’t had two middle-of-the-order power threats in it since Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson — and we all know how that turned out.

Add in the fact that Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero will presumably improve on their 2012 seasons, as well as a handful of top prospects on the verge of promotion (shortstop Nick Franklin and catcher Mike Zunino for example), and this Seattle team might be very, very real.

Let’s break it down:

Mariners Get:

OF/1B Michael Morse

Nationals Get:

SP A.J. Cole (AAA)

SP Blake Treinen (Class A+)

Player to be Named Later

Athletics Get:

C John Jaso

To me, the clear winners are the Mariners. That being said, all three teams do improve in one way or another. The Nationals can afford to trade away a power bat for prospects with the re-signing of Adam LaRoche recently and the addition of Denard Span to the outfield (which will push Bryce Harper to left field, most likely).

Washington actually traded Cole, a top pitching prospect, to Oakland originally for Gio Gonzalez. Getting him back may be a coup, even though they have solid pitching depth already. If the player to be named later is of any consequence, the Nationals could potentially win this trade. And while Treinen isn’t an uber-prospect, the 24-year-old has some upside (92 to 23 K to BB ratio last season).

Fear not, A’s fans — your team did good, too. Oakland was forced to designate George Kottaras for assignment to make room for Jaso, but they landed the good bat behind the plate that Billy Beane has been pursuing for years. In 2012, Jaso hit .276 with 10 homers and 50 RBI in just under 300 at-bats.Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics

But as Beane always does, he scored a hitter who gets on base at a ridiculous clip (.394 last season). Jaso will battle it out with Derek Norris for the starting job, but it should be a very good platoon for the A’s lineup in 2013.

But back to the man of the hour, Morse. This may be a one-year experiment for the Mariners, who sorely need the offense, because Morse will be a free agent after the season. But it might be well worth it.

In 2012, Morse hit 18 homers and 62 RBI in just 102 games. Since getting regular playing time in Washington (Morse had his first four seasons in Seattle, but didn’t see much time), he has become a legit power threat.

In just over 350 career games as a National, Morse hit about 70 home runs (he’s good for just under 30 in a full season, essentially). But the real gem is what this does for the Mariners’ lineup.

It’s this writer’s opinion that the Mariners are an under-the-radar club who may be next year’s Oakland A’s. Why? Last season they were buried in the best division in baseball, so people might not remember they won 75 games. With two legitimate bats bolstering the lineup, plus the aforementioned prospects, the M’s could be very scary in 2013.

And lest we forget Felix Hernandez anchoring an above-average rotation with three star pitching prospects just waiting for a shot at the big leagues. Even if one of the prospects pans out, the rotation more than replaces Vargas.

Assume Morse and Morales stay healthy, and I think the Mariners are good for a .500 season in a very worst-case scenario. In a division where it will take 90 wins to sniff the playoffs, they would have to get incredible production from other members of the lineup too, but we saw it happen in Oakland last season.

Either way, the Mariners are going for it and I respect that. Seattle has improved, as is the goal with any trade. Therefore, they win this trade for me.

If you like wheelin’ and dealin’, follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Every Team’s New Years Resolution

new-years-resolutionsIt’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.

Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.

Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.

Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:

AL West:

Texas Rangers – Make a new friend – The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.

Los Angeles Angels – Make a little money - Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?

arte morenoOakland A’s – Move to a better ‘hood – Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.

Seattle Mariners – Bulk up – No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.

Houston Astros – Graduate – It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?

AL Central:

Detroit Tigers – Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.

Kansas City Royals – Become a “cool kid” – Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.

torii hunter

Cleveland Indians – Get along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.

Chicago White Sox – Prove everyone wrong - Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.

Minnesota Twins – Get back on their feet – Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn,  family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.

AL East:

New York Yankees – Forgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.

Boston Red Sox – Get cleaned up – This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.

Toronto Blue Jays – Build an empire – Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.blue jays new players

Tampa Bay Rays – Try something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.

Baltimore Orioles – Update the security system – In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.

NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers – Give to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!

San Francisco Giants – Share with friends – Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.

Arizona Diamondbacks  v San Diego PadresArizona Diamondbacks – Cut ties with a family member – Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.

Colorado Rockies – Get health insurance – I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.

San Diego Padres – Earn a promotion – Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.

NL Central:

Cincinnati Reds – Follow through – This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.

St. Louis Cardinals – Rekindle the flame – In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

Milwaukee Brewers – Be a good parent – Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Improve their grades – The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!

Chicago Cubs – Change their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.

NL East:

Washington Nationals – Make up – Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.

Atlanta Braves – Learn acceptance – I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.

chipper farewell

Philadelphia Phillies – Become more patient - This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.

New York Mets – Have more fun – I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.

Miami Marlins – Make amends with people – Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.

Tweet @3u3d with what you think your team’s New Years resolution should be, or Facebook Three Up, Three Down with your suggestion! Don’t forget to subscribe and follow the blog and podcast here.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Mariners Finally Make a Move Edition

I won’t lie – I have a soft spot for the Mariners. That seems a bit strange because I live near Oakland and root for the A’s in my free time. Let me explain: I went to Washington State University and spent four years surrounded by sad, wandering M’s fans.

There’s that, and the fact that they have an awesome stadium, badass jerseys, and a slew of fan-favorite heroes (A-Rod, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, etc.). Anyway, it’s been disappointing to see GM Jack Zduriencik not really pull the trigger on any big moves in which Seattle was set up perfectly to do so.

The Mariners have a decently sized payroll, plenty of minor league depth, and a desperate need for hitters. Despite a lack of offensive punch, the Mariners managed to finish just a handful of games short of .500 in 2012, albeit still in fourth place.

With Hernandez leading the rotation, and a plethora of young pitching talent in Triple-A, the Mariners have the pieces to move to acquire a big bat. Today, this theory finally came to fruition. They went out and traded 14-game winner Jason Vargas to Anaheim for Kendrys Morales.

Let’s break this thing down:

Angels Get:

SP Jason Vargas

Mariners Get:

1B/DH Kendrys Morales

It’s hard to decide who wins this trade, but my gut tells me both teams come out pretty hot. The Angels, with the losses of Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren this winter were in dire need of a pitching upgrade (and no, Joe Blanton doesn’t count). They made a nifty move in acquiring Tommy Hanson from Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough.

I’m not sure if you can say Vargas is the final piece they need, but it surely won’t hurt. This gives the Angels a pair of very good lefty starters in Vargas and C.J. Wilson to pair with Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver. We know Los Angeles added Josh Hamilton to the lineup, making Morales expendable.

But is it enough? Can the Angels improve on a 90-win ball club and return to A.L. West supremacy? Having Vargas in the third spot in that rotation will help them inch closer. And you have to expect a full season of Mike Trout, plus Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo, that they will be a better team.

For the Mariners, who are chasing the Angels (and everyone else for that matter) in the division, this should spell the end of the long-drawn out Justin Smoak experiment. Morales is an instant upgrade in all departments over Smoak, and will provide a good source of punch to the lineup.

With the emergence of Kyle Seager and a likely improvement next season from Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, the Mariners could be a sneaky dangerous team in 2013. As long as the rotation can pick up the slack left by Vargas, I expect an improvement for Seattle, though I don’t think they are quite ready to be a contender yet.

That being said, Zduriencik knows he needs another bat or two, and may be chasing an Andre Ethier or Michael Bourn-type player as the winter evolves. If they can pair one more veteran power bat like Ethier’s, or a good top-of-the-order guy like Bourn, without giving up too much pitching, I see no reason why the Mariners can’t make like the 2012 A’s and take the league by surprise.

As for grading this trade, I’m giving a slightly higher mark to the Mariners, simply for going out and being aggressive in adding a bat to a flat lineup. They have pitching depth and are on the right track with getting some power in there with Morales and Jason Bay (well…you know…maybe). Mariners Grade: B+

The Angels got an underrated starting pitcher, but still haven’t made up for lost talent in the rotation. Not to mention, Morales was as good a hitter as they could ask for in that DH/1B slot. The offense did downgrade with the loss of Morales and Torii Hunter, even after the Hamilton signing. Overall, it’s a good move, but they better make a World Series run before 2014 when Vargas is a free agent or be prepared to shell out a pretty hefty extension. Angels Grade: B

 

Like what you read? Follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Steamy Ohio Three-Way Edition

chooOkay, so the Diamondbacks aren’t in Ohio. But two of the three teams involved in today’s mega-deal are! Fans of both the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds must be feeling pretty good about the moves they made.

The Indians finally found a good fit for star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but even they might end up surprised with the return they got on the investment. And Choo’s new team, the Reds, are clear favorites to repeat in the NL Central after adding a quality bat and glove like his.

And the middle child, Arizona, is stuck with the biggest question mark. Luckily for them, their guy also may net the biggest return. However, the ultimate prize for the D’Backs may be that with a shortstop added to the mix, Justin Upton will be staying put in the desert.

Will the other, secondary players in this trade make an impact down the road? This writer sure thinks so.

Let’s break down this three-way trade:

Diamondbacks Get:

SS Didi Gregorius (AAA) from CIN

RP Tony Sipp (AAA) from CLE

1B Lars Anderson (AAA) from CLE

Reds Get:

OF Shin-Soo Choo from CLE

IF Jason Donald from CLE

$3.5 million from CLE

Indians Get:

OF Drew Stubbs from CIN

SP Trevor Bauer from ARI

RP Bryan Shaw from ARI

RP Matt Albers from ARI

Wow, that’s a doozy. The first thing that stands out to me when breaking down this trade is the ultimate haul of ridiculous talent that ends up in Cleveland. Though Stubbs hasn’t quite lived up to his billing in Cincy – mostly due to a high strikeout rate – he’s extremely gifted.

I’m talking speed, power and defense in a combination that few players can match. Even if he struggles to acclimate to Cleveland and continues to fail at getting on base, I think the Indians have a very workable project with Stubbs, who is still young and has a very high ceiling. He should fill in nicely for Choo for the time being.

The real prize has to be Bauer, a top pitching prospect who is considered among the best in baseball. I’m a little bit surprised the Diamondbacks parted with him over Tyler Skaggs, but I’m not one to question that brilliant front office. Bauer brings power, wisdom and accuracy to the mound. At the ripe young age of 21, Bauer is under team control for a long time and should blossom into a star, barring injury.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks

Throw in the fact that Cleveland landed two right-handed relievers under age 3o, and they might just win this whole darn thing. Matt Albers, 29, has a 2.57 ERA last season between the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks, and Shaw, 25, put up pretty good numbers as well.

Over in Cincinnati, the Reds have found a full-time center fielder. One has to wonder if that will backfire, given that Choo has only played 10 games there in his whole career. That being said, the outfield is all the same – center field commands more of a range, but if you can catch a fly ball and throw a runner out, you can do it well from anywhere out there.

Personally, I think Choo will figure it out pretty quick and be an above-average center fielder. And never fear, Reds fans. Choo is most likely a one-year stop-gap before uber-prospect Billy Hamilton reaches the Majors for good in 2014. Adding in Donald isn’t extremely noteworthy, but he’s a good utility man who can provide a spark off the bench across multiple positions – or fill a potentially-vacant role at third base.

In Arizona, fans might be wondering why their team moved one of the best minor league arms in baseball for a guy named Didi. But one look at Gregorius’ tape and stats, and you may be convinced. He is under team control until 2019, and may be that franchise shortstop the D’Backs have been searching for. gregorius

The stats aren’t anything exceptionally flashy, but they don’t tell the whole story. Multiple analysts rank Gregorius as a plus-fielder and a plus-hitter for average. His nearly 450 games in the minors so far have produced a .271 career average and respectable fielding numbers.

If Gregorius lives up to the enormous potential he possesses, the D’Backs may have gotten the biggest steal of the whole trade. And don’t forget they got Sipp and Anderson too. Sipp has a career 3.68 ERA, but is just entering his prime. Anderson is also under team control until 2019 and could very well blossom into a power-hitting, left-handed first baseman.

As it stands now, the Reds definitely win in the short-term with this trade. In the long run, I like what the Indians got. And the dark horse Diamondbacks will need all three players to really pay off if they want to even be considered as winners of this deal. But enough of my opinion – what do you think?

Tell us who won the trade by voting and commenting below – for more back-and-forth, follow @3u3d or like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Span Goes to D.C. Edition

Denard Span, newest member of the Nationals.

After a relatively quiet stretch of time in baseball, we finally had a flurry of deals this week. B.J. Upton went to Atlanta and Russell Martin went to Pittsburgh for way too much money.

But there is a good bargain in the mix, as the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span, sending minor league pitcher Alex Meyer to Minnesota as collateral.

Span became a hot commodity (and an expendable one at that) last season when Ben Revere replaced him after an injury and played very well down the stretch.

Meyer is one of those can’t-miss starting pitching prospects that will ultimately change the entire face of the Twins’ rotation as long as he stays healthy.

It’s a pretty good deal for both sides on the surface, but let’s break it down a little bit:

Twins Get:

SP Alex Meyer (Single-A)

Nationals Get:

CF Denard Span

Let’s start with the Nats’ new speedster, Span. He is fantastic on the base paths, covers a lot of ground and gets on base at a decent clip. He will be a great top-of-the-order hitter for Washington, who has been looking for a full-time center fielder for half a decade.

This move allows Bryce Harper to move to left field and Michael Morse to be traded or put at first in the event that Adam LaRoche signs elsewhere.

Last season, Span hit .284 in 128 games before going down with a strained collarbone. He has hardly any pop, but is most valuable for being a prototypical speedster; good defense, smart base running, and hell on opposing pitchers’ minds.

For the Nationals, this gives them a legitimate speed threat at the top of the order and a regular center fielder at the position. And it doesn’t hurt to have another good, Major League bat in the lineup.

In return, Washington sent a very promising, hard-throwing right-handed starter to Minnesota, who is sorely in need of starting pitching. Even though Span is on a very cheap contract for someone of his talent, the Twins are very limited in the payroll department, and feel comfortable with Revere in center.

That being said, they get a player with a much higher ceiling and a lower price tag who can potential be a front of the rotation starter in a couple of years.

If the San Francisco Giants have taught us anything over the past few years, it’s that strong pitching paves the way to titles. The Twins seem to be aiming to build a strong pitching staff around an already-decent lineup. If they add a good free agent arm and continue to acquire and develop quality young pitching, they might be a surprise contender (again) by 2014.

Top prospect Alex Meyer goes to Minnesota.

Just to shed a little more light on the prospect Meyer, he went 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA between two minor league stops last season. He is 6’9″ and has good command with his 97 MPH fastball and hard slider. His change-up could use a little work, but overall, Meyer will likely always approach double digits in K per 9.

I’m impressed with the potential Meyer possesses, but it’s still just potential. The former first-round pick out of the University of Kentucky (23rd overall in 2011) was ranked as the 50th-best prospect in all of baseball this year, and at the ripe age of 23 (on Opening Day 2013), he will be an exciting member of the Twins organization.

Overall, this is a close one, but I’ll give the slight edge to Washington because they are already playoff contenders and added a much-needed piece to the club. Minnesota made a great move in building up their farm system for the rebuilding, but you never know how the health of a young flamethrower will hold up.

How would you grade this trade for the Twins and Nationals? Vote below!

If you like what you read, follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Everyone Loves Mike Aviles Edition

Less than two weeks after trading their manager John Farrell to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Aviles, the Toronto Blue Jays have turned and shipped Aviles off again, in return for some bullpen help.

As far as the hot stove is concerned, this move is luke warm; but when all is said and done in 2013, we could see the players involved paying big dividends for their new teams.

In what will undoubtedly be the trade with the coolest names involved this off-season, the Cleveland Indians are trying to add a little young punch to their lineup. Let’s break it down:

Indians Get:

C/IF/OF Yan Gomes

IF Mike Aviles

Blue Jays Get:

RP Esmil Rogers

Both Gomes and Aviles are right-handed hitters, something the Indians sorely lacked in 2012. Both are relatively young and promising, with the ability to play multiple positions. With the exception of pitching, you can pretty much cover the entire diamond defensively with Gomes and Aviles.

In Rogers, the Blue Jays get a promising, young, right-handed reliever to add to the ‘pen. With multiple starters going down with injuries in 2012, this blogger wonders if Rogers will get a shot to start a little bit in Toronto? In his second full season in Colorado, Rogers started 13 times – since then he’s been used strictly out of the ‘pen.

Last season with Cleveland, Rogers had the most impressive portion of his pro career. In 44 appearances, he held a 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a nifty 4.5 K to BB ratio. Rogers struck out over a batter per inning, but his past performance is questionable.

For someone with as much talent as the 27-year-old Rogers, his career numbers don’t reflect what he’s capable of. In 185 innings as a reliever in Colorado, his ERA was nearly 7.00 and his WHIP hovered around 1.82. Then again, that’s in Colorado, where pitching stats go to die.

A quick glance at his home/road splits tell me that his numbers away from Coors Field were better, indicating that he may have been a victim of that crazy mountain air in Denver. I doubt Rogers will actually be considered for a set-up or closing role, but if he continues to improve in a normal atmosphere like he did in Cleveland, you never know.

The Indians land a couple young bats that I personally like a lot. Yan Gomes (pronounced: “Yawn”) is more than just an awesome name. He only got a taste in the bigs last year, compiling a .204 average with four home runs and 13 RBI in 98 at-bats for the Jays.

But, he started 24 games, appeared in 41, and split time at all the following positions: first base, catcher, third base, DH, and two outfield spots. He seems to be a good defender regardless of where he’s placed, and only made one error in 119 innings at first base.

Before being promoted, Gomes hit .328 with 13 homers and 59 RBI in 79 games at Triple-A, and tossed in a nice .380 on-base percentage to complement a .938 OPS. Clearly, the kid can hit. If the coaches in Cleveland can get him used to playing every day at the Major League level, they may have a very good player on their hands by the time he hits his prime.

We all know Aviles, too. He’s been around for five seasons now, and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting as a Kansas City Royal back in 2008. Though he’s always been considered a role-playing utility man, his career average is .277 and he has started multiple games at shortstop, second base, and third base.

Even though Aviles is likely in Cleveland to play that utility role again, he can provide some pop and is a guy that plays the game the right way. Personally, I’m a big fan of Aviles and think he’s a very good spark guy, much in the mold of Nick Punto or David Eckstein.

It’s a tough call, but I think I’m going to give the slight edge to the Indians in this trade, because they acquired two bats that can make immediate impacts. While Rogers has all the tools to become a good bullpen arm in Toronto, it remains to be seen if he can continue to improve.

If you like hot stoves, and we don’t mean the ones you cook on, follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Royals Trying to Bolster the Rotation Edition

We have our first, legitimate off-season trade (Diamondbacks-A’s-Marlins swap was technically before the World Series ended), folks! In a move that proved the Kansas City Royals are serious about shoring up their starting rotation, they traded a minor league pitcher to the Los Angeles Angels for right-hander Ervin Santana on Tuesday.

Let’s break it down:

Royals Get:

SP Ervin Santana

Cash

Angels Get:

RP Brandon Sisk (Triple-A)

The Angels were expected to either trade Santana before the deadline for his $13 million option was up, or to trade him. They went with the latter and came away with a decent haul. You can never have enough bullpen depth, especially lefties. In Sisk, Los Angeles receives a young, impressive southpaw.

According to multiple scouting reports I read, Sisk has a great K to BB ratio, a 2.60 ERA in his minor league career, and averages 10 K/9. It looks to me like he projects as a lefty specialist in the Major Leagues, but a good one of those is invaluable.

Santana had been wearing out his welcome in Los Angeles anyway – the 29-year-old never lived up to his full potential in an Angels uniform, though he had flashes of brilliance. A no-hitter in 2011 helped keep him in favor for another season and a half, but for the $13 million price tag, he was easy trade bait.

For the Royals, this is a great pick up. I couldn’t find a figure on how much of the $13 million the Angels are picking up in the deal, but I’m assuming it’s going to be around $5 million at least to make it affordable for the smaller-market Royals. [UPDATE: The Angels sent just $1 million along with Santana, meaning the Royals are responsible for $12 million – very surprising to me. Severely limits KC’s ability to test pitching market in free agency.] 

Some dummy picked the Royals as a fringe playoff team in 2012 (okay, it was me) because I fell in love with their offense. Nothing has changed as far as the lineup is concerned; I’m still incredibly impressed with Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, and Alex Gordon. But what really killed the Royals this year was the pitching staff.

After trading away Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez before the season (oops), they made up for it partially by swinging Sanchez to Colorado for Jeremy Guthrie. He looked good for the Royals down the stretch, and kind of fits the mold like Santana. That is, a righty starter in his prime with dominant stuff that hasn’t quite put it all together.

The Royals are apparently going to let Guthrie test the free agent market, but I personally think they’d be smart to bring him back. He pitched well in Kansas City after coming over mid-season, and would pair nicely in the middle of the rotation with Bruce Chen and Santana.

With plenty of payroll room now that they declined their option on closer Joakim Soria (replaced admirably by Greg Holland), the Royals can spend a little bit on another starter. This blogger thinks they should try to make a play at Kyle Lohse.

I like the offense and bullpen in Kansas City, but I’d like to see them shore up the rotation even a little more. On paper, Chen, Santana, Luke Hochevar, Luis Mendoza and Chris Volstad is nothing to get excited about. But with Will Smith and Jake Odorizzi just waiting to claim permanent spots in the rotation (they might even win spots in Spring Training) and Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy expected back from Tommy John in the second half, this rotation might be better than people expect in 2013.

Now, the Angels mostly got rid of Santana to clear up cap space to re-sign Zach Greinke. They’d also like to trade Dan Haren to clear even more room, and I’m sure they are exploring options for that right now. As an Angel fan, you’d have to like a top three of Greinke, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.

But, after signing Wilson and Albert Pujols to mega-deals before last season, the Angels were a major disappointment, finishing third in the AL West. They need to do something to fall back into favor with the fan base. No matter what, you have to expect the Angels will be gunning hard to make amends and reach the playoffs in 2013.

That being said, I think both teams made out evenly in the trade. Because question marks loom for both rotations, I’ll put them each around a B+, with room to move up depending on the rest of the wheeling and dealing the respective GM’s do.

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Grade That Trade! Heath Bell on the Move (Again) Edition

We have our first major trade of the off-season! Okay, so there is still that whole “World Series” thing that has to go down, but who watches that anyway?

In today’s edition of Grade That Trade! we have three very young, talented teams swapping players. It looks like the Marlins got sick of Heath Bell thinking that walking OTHER people would help burn calories. But that contract was surely burning a hole through Jeffrey Loria’s pockets.

Bell was shipped off to Arizona, to join a bullpen that actually didn’t need that much help. Miami ate $8 million of the $21 million left on Bell’s contract, and received a highly-ranked third base prospect, Yordy Cabrera (no relation to Miguel – I checked), from the Oakland A’s to complete their end of the deal.

Aside from taking on the behemoth contract of Bell, the D’Backs snatched middle infielder Cliff Pennington from the A’s, and sent outfielder Chris Young to Oakland. Whew, that was a doozy. Let me break this down for you:

Marlins Get:

3B Yordy Cabrera (Single-A)

Diamondbacks Get:

RP Heath Bell

SS/2B Cliff Pennington

A’s Get:

OF Chris Young

This trade has a lot of question marks surrounding it, a lot of bad contract cash flowing through it, and plenty of very interesting theories because of it. For example, who the hell is Yordy Cabrera? According to friends of the organization, he is “pretty damn good.”

When looking at his stats, I have to question if my sources were tailgating for college football all day – Cabrera’s best season was 2011, when he hit .231 with 6 homers, 47 RBI and 23 stolen bases (he also had 21 doubles and 5 triples in 359 at-bats). His on-base percentage was below .300 and his OPS was a staggeringly-low .664 that year (.625 in 2012).

I can’t deny that on paper, the kid has potential. At 6’1″, 205 pounds, only 22 years old with gap power and speed, you’ve got to like what he could become. But he better play some solid defense if he’s not going to develop into a serviceable Major League third baseman some day. 

If Cabrera has his head on straight, you could be looking at a player who turns the doubles into homers, cuts down on strike outs and steals 30 bags a year. That could equate to a mid to high-.200’s hitter with 15 homers and 30 stolen bases. Time will tell, but the Marlins could have turned Bell in for scrap metal if Cabrera doesn’t pan out.

The most interesting question for me is what the A’s are going to do now with such a crowded, talented outfield. My gut says there is no way they can cut ties with the heart and soul of that lineup, Coco Crisp. He was a spark plug down the stretch and proved that when healthy, he’s one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball.

That being said, with the immensely talented (yet always hurt or underperforming) Chris Young on board, there are four starting outfielders for three spots. We know Billy Beane isn’t crazy enough to trade away Josh Reddick or Yoenis Cespedes, but is he possibly thinking of swapping Young back to someone for some prospects?

Oakland could use a few infield bats to develop, as their outfield looks set for the near future. But the A’s have question marks at catcher and second base (depending on how Jemile Weeks bounces back), and could use a solid, every day first baseman. One thing this move means for sure, is that Stephen Drew will likely be sticking around in Oakland with Pennington out.

As for Arizona. Oh, Arizona. I’m not sure I understand the moves they made at all. Not only did they take on $13 million of an overweight, over the hill relief pitcher’s contract, but they paid part of Young’s contract to send him to Oakland. They essentially swapped Drew for Pennington (the A’s picked up Drew from the D’backs in the middle of the regular season), which is a huge down grade. AND they lost Young, who has 30/30 potential if he can play a full, healthy, focused season.

Not only do the moves puzzle me, but I don’t see how they made the Diamondbacks a better team at all. Maybe Arizona has some tricks up it’s sleeves, because they usually make very savvy moves. Justin Upton could be the next outfielder out the door, leaving an outfield of Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton in the desert.

Sure, it’s not a bad outfield – but it was a lot better with Young and Upton there (assuming Upton gets moved). Either way, I have to grade this trade on what has happened, not what might happen. And for that, I give the following marks:

Oakland A’s: B+

The A’s now have a crowded outfield with a lot of options, and plenty of curious fans. What comes next for Billy Beane? Getting rid of Pennington was a long time coming, but now they are short on infield depth. If Yordy Cabrera does pan out, they might kick themselves down the road. Then again, this team proved it can win now. So I applaud the move to bring in immediate help.

Miami Marlins: A-

Sure, they got a Single-A infielder who got on base at a worse clip than Juan Uribe does, but he is only 22. There is plenty of room for Cabrera to turn into a great player. It depends how they develop him. Getting rid of Heath Bell and his ridiculous contract is reason enough for the Marlins’ front office to celebrate.

Arizona Diamondbacks: D+

I just don’t get it. Trade away an outfielder who could have star potential, just because you’re tired of waiting. In return, take on a big contract for an old, declining reliever and a slick-fielding, yet offensively inept middle infielder? Unless G.M. Kevin Towers has some tricks up his sleeve, this will remain a head scratcher.

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- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Orioles Make a Sneaky Good Move Edition

Wait, you mean the apocalypse of baseball trades occurred yesterday and moves are still being made? Ugh. I thought I was done with this part of the job!

Fear not, lovers of trades. The Orioles and Diamondbacks are here to feed your appetite today. News just broke on a trade that sends a reliever to Arizona and a starter to Baltimore.

Let’s break it down:

Diamondbacks Get:

RP Matt Lindstrom

Orioles Get:

SP Joe Saunders

Yep, that’s all. No nine-figure contracts. No high-end prospects. No all-star sluggers. But let me just put it out there right now – this is still a hell of an important trade.

Both the D’Backs and Orioles are striving to make the playoffs. Both have a tough road as they will likely only have a shot in the Wild Card race, with legitimate competition in their respective leagues. As it stands now, the O’s are tied for the second Wild Card with the Oakland A’s, just percentage points behind the Tampa Bay Rays and one game ahead of the Detroit Tigers. And lest we forget about Mike Trout and his pesky Los Angeles Angels, still hanging around.

All in all, the American League looks to have five very good teams battling for two spots.

Over in the National League, the picture is just as muddled. Defending NL West champion Arizona sits 5.5 games behind the Braves, who have a slight lead on the St. Louis Cardinals, who have a slight lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a slight lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Again, we are looking at five legit contenders battling for the final two NL playoff spots.

So if the D’backs want to return to the postseason and make this a regular thing, what did they have to do?

If the Orioles want to finally return to glory after years of cellar-ridden misery in the AL East, what moves could they make?

How about Joe Saunders to Baltimore, for Matt Lindstrom to Arizona? Hey! What do you know?!

The D’Backs were sitting right in the middle of the pack in team ERA and had 14 blown saves on the season. J.J. Putz is doing well at the back end, but how about another solid ‘pen arm to fortify a bullpen and hold late leads that the powerful offense has built?

Answer: Lindstrom. Every team Arizona is chasing in the Wild Card race has incredibly good pitching staffs. That needed to change in the desert, and now it has. Any time you can add a veteran bullpen arm with a sub-3.00 ERA, you did good. Especially when said arm has previous closing experience. Insurance is good, people!

Besides, they wanted to get rid of Saunders, based on the placement of the lefty starter on waivers early last week.

I won’t be coy about it. I think the Orioles made a brilliant move in acquiring Saunders. I think they won the trade if only for the immediate impact that another starting arm can add to that squad.

Because the Orioles have been playing fantastic baseball this season, and despite my high expectations of failure, have continued to chug along and contend this late into the season. The offense is there, but the one major question mark behind Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel (when healthy) has been consistent starting pitching.

I’m not saying Saunders is some kind of super star, but he eats innings (only went less than five innings in two of his starts for Arizona this year) and has had multiple double-digit win seasons between Arizona and Los Angeles (AL). He has shown flashes of brilliance at certain points in his career, and new scenery could do him well.

Sure, the AL East is terrifying for pitchers, but if he even puts together three or four quality starts in big games for the O’s, they are on their way to a Wild Card spot.

On the 2012 season, Saunders has a 4.22 ERA and a scary 1.36 WHIP. Again, he’s no superstar, but will get you quality innings on most nights. Before getting shredded by the Miami Marlins for 9 earned runs in less than four innings in his last start, Saunders’ ERA was a respectable 3.70. Before that it was as low as 3.48.

So here is how I see the trade playing out: The D’Backs added a strong bullpen arm to add some legitimacy to their relief corps. With Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Patrick Corbin and Rookie of the Year candidate Wade Miley all performing well as starters at certain points, Saunders became expendable.

The Orioles needed a little pitching depth to go with a hefty offensive attack. They were also middle of the pack in terms of team ERA and quality starts, trailing most teams in the Wild Card chase in those categories. With Hammel back in the fold in the next couple weeks and Chen continuing to grow, the Orioles now have a more solid, albeit very anonymous top three.

If either team makes the playoffs, you can thank the respective GMs for pulling off this very minor, yet impactful waiver trade.

Who do YOU think won this trade? Vote and comment below!

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

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