Three “Rental” Players the Astros Should Consider at the Deadline

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The Houston Astros are currently leading the AL West by 13 games and are not only surpassing expectations but also looking like the best team in the AL and possibly all of MLB. There is no doubt that a weak division has worked in their favor this season having lost only 8 games against AL West opponents, but when they get to the playoffs it’ll be a whole new ballgame. The fact that they will almost certainly face somebody out of a stacked AL East along with the possibility of whoever sneaks in from the AL Central (my guess is Cleveland, who did make it all the way to the World Series last season) creates a bit of a concern about their current roster. Although the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does hold some weight on team chemistry, the bottom line is the Astros will be facing teams that are on a completely different level than anyone in the AL West. The Astros don’t need to add a marquee player at the deadline with a large contract to take over a position from an everyday player, but rather just need to tweak the roster by adding some depth with the addition of some “rental” players that will only be with the team thru the end of the 2017 season. The fact that Houston still has a stacked farm system (6 players in the MLB top 100) with a current young core already at the pro level makes certain prospects expendable in order to obtain a World Series Championship this season. The following potential trades are for three “rental” players that the Astros should add to their roster to help achieve that goal without mortgaging the future or adding an unwanted long-term contract.

Astros Acquire from Athletics
YONDER ALONSO (1B/DH)

Yonder

A’s Acquire from Astros
YORDAN ALVAREZ (1B/DH)

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DAZ CAMERON (OF)

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Alonso is having an amazing season for Oakland, who currently has the 2nd worst record in the AL and is already looking ahead to next season. Batting .314 with 16 homeruns thru 54 games, his left handed bat would be a very welcomed addition to the Houston lineup and his versatility to split time between 1B and DH would give some random days off the 40 year old Carlos Beltran who currently batting .222 in the month of June and has seen dwindling numbers as the season has progressed. Having Marwin Gonzalez at 1B, Alonso at DH and the threat of Beltran as a PH could create some huge headaches for opponents in the postseason when facing the Astros, and would put their lineup completely over the top as possibly the best in the AL (if it isn’t already).

This move works for the A’s because it involves Oakland getting 2 young prospects under team control for years to come while giving up arguably their best hitter who will be signing some please else in the offseason. Yonder Alonso was signed by the Dodgers out of Cuba last season but was traded straight up for Josh Fields at the deadline in 2016. He has a high ceiling as a hitter but not very spectacular when it comes to his defense, which will likely make him an everyday DH with the occasional game at 1B. Daz Cameron is the son of former MLB All-Star Mike Cameron and was a top prospect coming out of high school in 2015. He fell to the 2nd round where the Astros were able to nab him at the 37th pick of the draft, but hasn’t progressed as fast as Houston has hopped. A place like Oakland would be a great place for both these players to develop and eventually become everyday fixtures in the near future for the A’s.

Astros Acquire from Pittsburgh
TONY WATSON (LHP)

Watson

Pirates Acquire from Astros
FRANKLIN PEREZ (RHP)

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COLIN MORAN (3B)

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One thing that the Astros are lacking is left-handed relief pitching, and Watson would be an outstanding addition to their staff. Houston already has a closer in Ken Giles, but Tony Sipp is really the only LHP they have in the bullpen and that’s where Whitley fits in with the Astros. Although Watson has been the Pittsburgh closer for 2 seasons, his was far more effective and had much better number before he took on that role for the pirates. Adding Watson does give you an additional option at closer if Giles were to get injured or have a streak of poor outings, but his true value would be that of a proven left-handed arm out of the bullpen.

Tony Watson is certainly going to gage interest from many contenders until the deadline passes so it is the responsibility of Pittsburgh to get as much in return as possible for the left-hander. Franklin Perez is only 19 years old, but has stuff in the mid 90’s and is considered at this point to be either a mid-rotation starting pitcher or possibly a future closer. Perez is the #95 overall MLB prospect and sits as the #9 prospect in the Astros system which also gives team an idea of how bright the future could be for this RHP. Colin Moran is a 6’4 3B who is batting .273 with 11 HR thru 48 games in the minors this season and would be a welcomed addition to the Pirates farm system while currently listed as the #7 prospect in the Houston system. Pittsburgh will have some tough decisions to make over the next few seasons as it seems that the window of opportunity with their current core is closing fast and in order to remain competitive in the NL Central they’ll need to stock their farm system and build from within.

Astros Acquire from Kansas City
JASON VARGAS (LHP)

Vargas

Royals Acquire from Astros
DEREK FISHER (OF)

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FOREST WHITLEY (RHP)

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The Royals will be in sell mode this summer and will also be likely losing quite a few players this offseason if they aren’t moved at the deadline or resigned this upcoming winter. Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar are all everyday players who might all be gone from KC at season’s end, but starting left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas could be the most sought-after former Royal with offseason. Vargas is having the best year of MLB career and posting a 2.18 ERA along with 59 K’s in 12 starts this season and is in full “contract-season” mode. At age 34, he will get signed some place this offseason but his age could make some teams cautious about how many years he gets. If he were to get traded to Houston and win a World Series this season, it’ll certainly have a huge impact on both his resume and his paycheck in 2018. If Houston made this move it would give them the best 1-2 punch of left-handed pitching currently in the AL along with Dallas Keuchel, and sandwiched at #2 with Lance McCullers Jr. behind him makes for a very good 1-2-3 in the Astros rotation. KC currently sits 6.5 games back in the AL Central and 4.5 back in the wildcard race, so they still have a chance to compete this season but are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are 27-34 in a bad division which doesn’t look too promising for the Royals. The Royals have a few trade chips besides Vargas to help bolster their farm system, but with the season he is having thus far, Vargas is a top starter available via trade and it’ll cost any team that wants to land him.

The Royals would will get a great return for Vargas from someone, and it’ll cost Houston some top young talent to attain his services for the remainder of the season. Derek Fisher and Forrest Whitley are currently the #72 and #73 overall prospects in MLB as well as being the #3 and #5 prospects in the Astros system. Whitley is a 6’7 RHP who has stuff in the high 90s and was the Astros 1st round (#17 overall) pick in the 2016 draft. He is the #2 pitcher in the Astros farm system and would instantly become the top pitching prospect in the KC system. Derek Fisher is a former 2nd round pick that can play either CF or LF with descent offensive numbers but has great speed and a left-handed bat. He does have a high strikeout rate but at age 23 there is plenty of time left for him to develop and improve his numbers. If Fisher was added to the KC system, he would also immediately become their top OF prospect since Hunter Dozier (MLB #10 overall prospect) will almost certainly be the Royal third baseman of the future. This would be a huge haul for KC if this deal materialized and if not the Astros, some team will trade top talent to add Jason Vargas to their rotation for the rest of 2017.

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San Francisco’s Season is a GIANT Dumpster Fire and it’s Time to Start Selling

giantslogodumpster-fire-600x315The San Francisco Giants currently sit 10 games back in the NL West, as well as the wild card race. After backing into the wildcard spot last season only to be embarrassed by the Cubs in the NLDS, the Giants appear as though their window of success with this current core might be closing. There are some pieces that they can keep and build upon on the current roster, but the reality is that big-name free agent signings over the past few years have left them with a depleted farm system that only boasts 2 current prospects in the MLB top 100 (RHP Tyler Beed #77 and INF Christian Arroyo #78) and nothing else significant in the pipeline. They need to SELL right now and get as much youth as possible in return but because of a few questionable contracts and no-trade clauses, the Giants are stuck between a rock and a hard place in regard to moving players. Here is a breakdown of who they should build upon, who they might be stuck with and who they should try and move ASAP…..

STICKING AROUND

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-Buster Posey, C, 31 years old
Posey is the face of the franchise along with being signed until 2022 and is having an outstanding season thus far. Obviously, he would command a king’s ransom if dealt but that won’t be happening since he’s arguably the best catcher in MLB along with having a full no-trade clause. Posey will be a Giant until his career ends.

-Joe Panik, 2B, 26 years old
Joe Panik won’t be a free agent until 2021 and is still too young with too high of a ceiling to be traded at this point of his career. His numbers this season aren’t as good as expected, but he’s only 26 and with exception of 2 players on the Giants, the offense as a whole is terrible this season. Panik is making $600K until 2021 which while surely keep him in Giants orange for a very long time.

-Brandon Crawford, SS, 30 years old
Similar to Posey, Crawford has been another face of this franchise and is signed until 2022 for big money. He’s a top shortstop in the league and along with Panik, gives San Francisco a great middle infield that would be hard to replace if you were to trade him away. Also, like Panik, his numbers aren’t ideal this season but improved hitting is certainly a strong possibility with Crawford and I suspect this will happen eventually.

-Madison Bumgarner, SP, 27 years old
When healthy, Bumgarner is a top 5 MLB pitcher and your ace for the future to build a staff around. In fact, a big part of moving players for youth this season is to secure enough money to resign Bumgarner when his contract is up in 2020. He isn’t going anywhere now or in 2020 when he becomes an UFA.

YOU MIGHT BE STUCK WITH THESE GUYS

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-Brandon Belt, 1B, 29 years old
Although Belt has been part of the 2 of the 3 recent Giants World Series Championships rosters, I don’t feel that he ever actually lived up to the hype he had coming into MLB as a rookie. Yes, he does have 2 rings, but he also had only 2 seasons where he hit above .280 and the reality is he is very replaceable. Sure, based on his resume and being only 29 years old he would seem to fetch a lot of attention in the trade market, however, the Giants made the questionable decision to give him a contract that doesn’t make him a free agent until 2022 when he’ll be 34 years old and also includes a modified no trade clause. His high contract and mediocre play will keep him in San Francisco unless they are willing to pay part of his salary for him to go away.

-Hunter Pence, OF, 34 years old
Hunter Pence is far past his prime, has terrible numbers this season, and isn’t a free agent until 2019. Once again, the Giants are handicapped by a full no trade clause and moving him this season will be difficult, to say the least. There is a chance a team might trade for him if their outfield is struck by injury and they have limited options, but $18.5 million a season for the next 2 years, that’s highly unlikely unless Giants are willing to pay part of his salary to leave San Francisco.

-Jeff Samardzija, SP, 32 years old
I didn’t understand why the Giants signed Samardzija for much as they did a few years ago, and due to his modified no trade clause and $19.8 million a season until 2021 he will remain in San Francisco for a while. He’s a good #3 or #4 pitcher in a rotation, but is highly overpaid and hasn’t been a #1 his entire career and that doesn’t look like it’ll change anytime soon. If they were able to move him, I think they wouldn’t get anything too good in return other than the relief that his $19.8 million a season would be some other team’s problem.

-Mark Melancon, RP, 32 years old
This past season’s big addition for the Giants was not a bad signing for San Francisco since they did need a closer (a new bullpen altogether in all honesty), but what’s the use of having a closer that costs you $42 million until 2021 if he rarely gets into a game to make a save? His deal is back-loaded at $14 million a season in 2019 and 2020 which will complicate trying to trade him, plus, a full no trade clause. He might be the most tradeable player for all listed in this section, but he’s only appeared in 17 games so far with 2 blown saves, however he is still a solid closer and a team with issues at that position might take a long look at Melancon at the deadline but the no trade clause leaves the decision up to Melancon.

TRADE ME RIGHT NOW

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-Johnny Cueto, SP, 31 years old
You’ll never get more for Johnny Cueto than you’ll get right now which is why San Francisco MUST trade Cueto ASAP and get a great return for him. Although he is over 30 years old, he is under contract until 2021 for $17 Million a season with a club option of $22 million in 2022. Cueto is as good of a #2 SP in a rotation that you’ll find in MLB and since the Giants (somehow?!?) were able to sign him without a no trade clause, he could become one of the top SP available via trade at the deadline. I think every team that is in contention right now would certainly take a long look at Cueto and what it would cost them. There is no doubt that the Giants would get offered a top prospect in return from more than one team for Cueto. He would be a great fit for the Cubs since Arrietta will be gone after this season and Cueto’s $17 million a season is a fair price. Until then if the Cubs did make a trade for him, a Lester, Cueto, Arrietta, Hendricks, Lackey rotation would be a force to be reckoned with if all are healthy and on top of their game and could certainly make the Cubs chances of repeat champions a reality.

-Matt Cain, SP, 32 years old
After spending his entire career with the Giants, I think this will be his last season in Giants uniform regardless if they trade him this season or decline his $21 million club option after this season. He is a great “rental” player that would likely get you a legit prospect in return from a team that has a loaded farm system. I could see him heading to the Cubs or Astros at the deadline with either team giving up a solid farm system player that won’t affect the future of either team. He would be a good #4 or a great #5 for a contender that need back of the rotation help.

-Matt Moore, SP, 27 years old
After a few outstanding seasons in Tampa, Moore’s tenure in San Francisco has not really gone as well as planned. He is currently 2-6 with a 5.22 ERA and is currently in the midst of his worst season since entering MLB. His age is a huge selling point since he is only 27 and has two low club options of $9.5 million in 2018 and $10 Million in 2019. Similar to Cain, he would be a good #4 or a great #5 and his contract that doesn’t include a no trade clause makes him very attractive at the deadline. San Francisco might consider hanging onto him for those same reasons, but if a contender offered you one or two valuable farm system players, I think you have to take that call and move Moore immediately.

-Eduardo Nunez, INF, 29 years old
Nunez is in a contract year where he becomes an UFA at this season’s end and I am willing to state with 100% certainty that he will be traded by the deadline. He is having the best season of his career and is able to play both infield and outfield which makes him one of the best utility players available via trade. Nunez should fetch a good prospect in return, and would be great fit on a team looking to add depth like the Angels, Cardinals, Brewers or Red Sox.

-Denard Span, OF, 33 years old
Span is under contract until 2018, with a mutual option of $12 million in 2019 which isn’t too bad for a team looking to add short-term outfield depth at the deadline. Age is working against him since he is 33 and having the worst year of his career, but teams could certainly do far worse than Denard Span. He can still get on base and steal you bases while adding veteran leadership, but isn’t an everyday outfielder anymore at this point in his career. Not sure how much you would get in return for Span, but if anything the Giants would like to get the $10.33 million that is still remaining on his contract off the books since he is not part of the long-term plan in San Francisco. He would be a good addition to the team like the Angels, Astros, Brewers or Cardinals.

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The Giants can either let the dumpster fire that is the 2017 season continue to burn or try and make the most out of a lost season at the deadline. San Francisco is a great organization that knows how to develop players and also attract free agents, the ladder of which could cost them more 1st round picks in the future. They need to fix their depleted farm system immediately to remain relevant in an NL West division that currently looks to be one of, if not the best in MLB with no signs of things changing in the future. Even the last place Padres have an extremely bright future with a stacked minor league system what will be emerging in the next few seasons to compete with the Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks, all of whom are playing great baseball right now backed by some serious talent in the minors. I expect that that Giants might be the most active team at the deadline come July, with their sights set on rebuilding for the immediate future.

NL WEST BATTLE FOR 1st PLACE-DODGERS vs ROCKIES PREVIEW

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The battle for NL West Supremacy starts tonight as the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers travel to Denver to battle the first place Colorado Rockies.  Both these teams are coming off huge series wins after the Rockies took advantage of an underachieving Cubs team and the Dodgers swept a Pirates team that looks more like potential sellers at the deadline with each disappointing loss.  The Dodgers and Rockies lineups are both having great offensive seasons, but this series really comes down to some outstanding pitching match-ups over the next four days.

Although the Dodgers were thrilled with their recent sweep of the Pirates, it unfortunately did come at a steep price.  Outfielder Andrew Toles tore his ACL while attempting to catch a fly ball that would have preserved the current ho-hitter starting pitcher Julio Urias was in the midst of.  Toles will miss the remainder of the season, but the silver lining is current rookie of the year favorite Cody Bellinger is likely to stay with the club for the remainder of the year since he is currently the best hitting outfielder on the LA roster and injuries are starting to pile of for the Dodgers.  Speaking of no-hitters, the Colorado Rockies pitcher German Marquez had a no-hitter going against the Cubs in the series finale yesterday until Kris Bryant was able to end it with a double in the 7th inning.  Both the Dodgers and Rockies had success against two different underwhelming NL Central teams this week, but tonight starts a four game series which will either keep Colorado atop the NL West, or see a power shift with the Dodgers taking over first place in the division.

The Match-ups and likely starters look like this for the series:

THURSDAY

Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA (LHP, 1-4, 4.04 ERA) vs Tyler Anderson, COL (LHP, 2-3, 6.69 ERA)

Thursday’s game might be the most important of the series since it could set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  Ryu last pitched for LA on 4/30 when he struck-out nine Philadelphia batters and recorded the win before heading to the DL.  Anderson is looking for his second win in a row after a tough start to the season that saw his ERA shoot up to 8.59 at one point, but his last outing saw him strikeout 10 Diamondbacks batters on 5/6.  Each team will be looking to get the W in tonight’s contest and likely are pleased it’s two “question mark” pitchers that’ll face off in the series opener.

FRIDAY

Clayton Kershaw, LA (LHP, 5-2, 2.40 ERA) vs Tyler Chatwood, COL (RHP, 3-4, 4.74 ERA)

Clayton Kershaw is 1-1 vs Colorado this season with a combined 16 strikeouts, while giving up 13 hits between the two contests.  Chatwood has seen his numbers get better this season after 7 starts and has yet to face LA this season but only has 1 actual win against a team over .500 this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a Dodgers lineup that is currently putting up more runs than any team in MLB.  If Kershaw can dominate and get run support from the LA lineup, the odds heavily favor the Dodgers in game 2.

SATURDAY

Alex Wood, LA (LHP, 3-0, 2.73 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland, COL (LHP, 3-2, 2.93 ERA)

Alex Wood vs Kyle Freeland could be the highlight match-up of this series since both players are off to fantastic starts this season.  Wood looks like he finally reaching his potential and meeting expectations after battling injuries the past two seasons and was outstanding against Pittsburgh when he struck out eleven batters while only giving up two hits and extended his winning streak to three games.  Freeland had a bad outing against the Cubs on Tuesday but has pitched very well against LA twice this season with a combined 9 strikeouts while giving up 8 hits.  This game starts a two game stretch of very interesting pitching match-ups to closeout this series featuring promising young talent.

SUNDAY

Julio Urias, LA (LHP, 0-0, 1.06 ERA) vs Antonio Senzatela, COL (RHP, 5-1, 2.86 ERA)

This is a great match-up to wrap up the series on Sunday since it’ll be the best young pitchers on each team facing off in the finale.  Urias flirted with a no hitter earlier this week, although Manager Dave Roberts insists that LA is standing firm on limiting Urias’ pitch count and he likely wouldn’t have been kept in once he reached his max pitch count.  Senzatela is coming off a solid performance against the Cubs and has won 5 of his 6 starts this season to help lead the Rockies to 1st place in the NL West.  Neither of these pitchers have faced the opponents this season and this pairing could be a preview of a pitchers’ duel we may see for years to come in the NL West.

This is should be a fun series for MLB fans over the next four days featuring two dynamic offenses and stellar pitching staffs.  Coors Field has always been know at a hitter’s park, but some of the best pitching in MLB resides on both rosters and will be showcased over the next four days.  No doubt, with 10 more games between the two teams left to be played this season, things are just starting to get interesting in the NL West with a battle for 1st place this weekend which quite possibly an early playoff preview.

The Rangers Need to Trade Yu Darvish, Here are Some Ideas…

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The Texas Rangers are in big trouble right now, and it doesn’t look like things will get easier any time soon.  They just escaped getting swept by the 1st place Houston Astros last night and now head to Seattle to play three games in the Pacific Northwest against a Mariners team that plays far better at home opposed to the road.  The possibility of the Rangers getting swept this weekend is very real, meaning Texas could fall to at least 10 games behind the AL West leading Astros and panic will ensue…if it hasn’t already.  They currently sit 7 games back in the AL West, and it appears that the Astros will run away with this division if they continue their strong play and stay healthy.  The AL East already looks like a lock for the one game Wildcard Playoff (some combo of NY, BOS and BAL), so the Rangers have to clean house immediately and trade current players in order to help rebuild a farm system that only boasts 2 players in the MLB Top 100 Prospect list (#49 OF Leody Taveras and #50 LHP Yohander Mendez) or risk falling into obscurity for the foreseeable future.  That brings us to their next problem being that they have very few veteran players that are the least bit appealing on the trade market and ones that would be enticing are currently on the DL.  To make matters even worse for Texas, it was learned yesterday that ace Cole Hammels will miss at least the next 8 weeks due to injury, so let the Yu Darvish sweepstakes begin!!! Here are a few ideas as to where Darvish could be headed, and how the Rangers can help re-build in the process.  Yu Darvish not only the best trade asset Texas has, but could also be the best available pitcher in MLB via trade and teams will be lining up to add him to their rotations before the deadline.

CHICAGO CUBS

CUBS GET

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

RANGERS GET

Javier Baez – IF (Under team Control with Arbitration until 2021)

Baez

Jeimer Candelario – 3B (Hitting .333 in Iowa right now)

Jeimer

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS-

The Cubs offense is fine and in no way, shape or form does the absence of Javier Baez from the Cubs lineup hurt them offensively. The Chicago lineup is currently stacked, and let’s be honest here folks, Ian Happ WILL be your starting 2B for the next 8+ years once he arrives (which will be soon) and Baez will be the odd man out.  As For Candelario, he is having a great season in Iowa but the reality is that Bryant and Rizzo aren’t going anywhere any time soon.  No matter if it’s Texas or some Place else, he will be traded or be a reserve at best.  Baez and Candelario would give Texas 2 young players to add to the mix with Baez possibly taking Odor’s spot at second base and Candelario either moving to 1B or DH in the near future.  The only questionable position for the Cubs right now is pitching.  There is a really good chance that Darvish will leave Texas as an UFA so Rangers need to get what they can and this move gives the Cubs a Solid SP which is an instant upgrade from John Lackey and Brett Anderson.  If Darvish had numerous years remaining on his deal there is no doubt that Texas could get much more, but getting a king’s ransom for a “rental” player will likely scare away many suiters from over-paying.  Cubs have the luxury of being the reigning Champions and certainly have more than enough to win right now, but no sense in not making your team better if given the opportunity.  Since you never know when injuries will strike, there is no such thing as too much good pitching, and this move would be a win-win for both teams.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

DODGERS GET

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

RANGERS GET

Will Smith – C (2016 1st Round Pick)

Will Smith

Mitchell White – RHP (2016 2nd Round Pick)

White

Gavin Lux – SS (2016 1st Round Pick)

Lux

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS –

As a Die-hard Dodgers fan, I am in NO WAY sold on the LA starting pitching right now.  Dodgers have a #1 followed by question marks, inconsistent performances and injuries.  Adding Darvish to the LA rotation would be an immediate upgrade from anyone they have who isn’t named Clayton Kershaw.  “If” healthy (and I stress the “If”), a rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, McCarthy, Wood and Urias could certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.  Yes, as you made have noticed, I am being extremely optimistic about the LA health and outlook when I include McCarthy and Wood in a potential post season rotation for the Dodgers – but it’s Friday, I ain’t got no job, and I believe in the power of positivity (it’s a new day, yes it is!)  As for the Rangers, they would get to take advantage of LA in this deal by getting both of the Dodgers first round picks from 2016 along with a second round pick that surely has potential.  Will Smith has a few years to go, but he will become an MLB everyday starting Catcher down the road, and the same can be said about the young Gavin Lux.  With the emergence of Seager as the top young SS in MLB and top 2B prospect Willie Calhoun awaiting his call the MLB level, Lux will be the odd man out in LA, so his loss wouldn’t be as hard of a pill to swallow as would be the loss of Will Smith, BUT……if it gets the Dodgers a World Series Championship by adding Yu Darvish it’ll all be worth it.  Mitchell White would be a great addition for Texas as he certainly has a high ceiling and recently converted from a RP to SP.  This move would give the Rangers players that will need a few years to develop but that is a great way to bring along your farm system when your able to trade an UFA and get two first round picks along with a second round pick in return.

BOSTON RED SOX

BOSTON GETS

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

Adrian Beltre – 3B (UFA in 2019)

Beltre

A.J. Griffen – RHP (UFA in 2019)

AJ

TEXAS GETS

Pablo Sandoval – 3B (UFA in 2021)*Boston pays 100% of Sandoval’s contract

Pablo

Jay Groome – LHP (2016 1st Round Pick, #1 LHP in MLB Top Prospects list)

Groome

Michael Chavis – 3B (2014 1st Round Pick)

Chavis

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS –

This trade “technically” involves six players, but really only five since Texas would only take on the roster spot and not the contract of Pablo Sandoval.  This deal would actually be perfect for both team because of the two pitchers involved.  Boston would add Darvish to a rotation that could possibly look like Sale, Price, Darvish and Rodriguez as your one through four, with Porcello, Pomeranz and Griffin all competing for the five spot entering the postseason.  Boston would be adding Darvish, Griffin and also Adrian Beltre to a roster that is built to win and compete right now.  Beltre is an UFA in 2019 and it doesn’t appear as though he will get that chance to win a ring by remaining in Texas, and this move would allow him to move to a contender and play at 3B for at least the remainder of the season when he returns from injury and he would certainly be an upgrade from Sandoval.  I am totally aware that Jay Groom is the #1 LHP prospect in all of MLB, but Boston is in the most competitive division in baseball and by giving up their top pitching prospect, they would receive what could be the best SP that will be available by trade this season along with an outstanding player to cover 3B or be a DH in Beltre.  Texas, in return, would get a top pitching prospect to build around along with a young 3B in Michael Chavis that will give them flexibility at the corners along with the DH spot for the future.  Taking on Sandoval isn’t ideal, but if Boston was willing to cover his cost, it’s worth it to be able to develop young players during that time along with “tanking” for a few season in order to get those high draft picks.   If Boston was able to add another ring their recent collection, I don’t think they would have any issue giving up Groome and eating Sandoval’s contract to achieve that goal.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Yu Darvish will be traded this season due to the poor play of the Texas Rangers along with the recent loss of Cole Hammels to the starting rotation.  I truly believe that a large market team (like the Cubs, Red Sox, or Dodgers) will be willing to part with some key future assets and possibly current everyday players to add what might be the best player available at the deadline to their respective rotations.  It’s only the first week of May and things are already getting interesting in the MLB trade market, it’s already looking to be an interesting summer.

An Important Week for the Rockies

colorado-rockies-logoAs we near the end of the first month of the young MLB season, one of the biggest surprises has been the first place Colorado Rockies (13-6).  Of their 13 wins, 10 have come against division rivals San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles after winning the season opening series 3-1 while on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Over the weekend, they completed a sweep of the Giants and have actually only lost one series this season against the fourth place Padres.  The good news for the Rockies is that they are winning divisional games early in the season and currently sit in first place, but the bad news is that they haven’t really played anyone that has been the least bit impressive, thus far.  The Dodgers have been floundering at the 500 mark while underachieving, the Giants are completely falling apart (including losing their ace to a dirt-biking accident last week) and only have six wins this season, while the Padres and Brewers are just bad baseball teams and both will likely meet low expectations this year.

That brings us to this week where the Rockies will face two opponents that will test them and show the rest of the league if the Rockies are “for real”, or if they have just had a hot start to the season and will be brought back down to earth.  They host the first place Washington Nationals for four games at Coors Field starting later tonight, with a match-up of Jacob Turner for DC going up against Tyler Anderson for the Rockies.  Anderson is 1-3 this season and is off to a terrible start with 7.32 ERA, however, Turner is making his first start of the year tonight as he fills in for Stephen Strasburg who will miss the series while on paternity leave.  This is a good matchup for Colorado and a win tonight would be huge for the Rockies since they will likely be facing Joe Ross (1-0, 3.86 ERA), Tanner Roark (2-0, 3.65 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (2-0, 1.35 ERA) to finish out the series.  The Rockies have yet to name a starter for Tuesday’s game, but it looks like they’ll have Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 4.10 ERA) on the mound Wednesday and Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 2.08 ERA) facing Gonzalez on Thursday to wrap up the series.  DC is the hottest team in MLB right now fueled by both stellar pitching along with a great lineup and are currently on a seven game win streak.  This will not only be the first real test for Colorado this season, but could also be a potential playoff preview if the Rockies are able to continue winning games and stay in first place.  Their week gets even more difficult after the Nationals series, though, when they travel to Arizona to face the 12-8 Diamondbacks.  Arizona starts a four game series against San Diego tonight and depending on how that plays out, The Rockies could be playing for first place in the NL West over the weekend.  Both these series will be a true measuring stick to see if the Rockies are in fact, “for real”.  Arizona is another team that many are questioning the legitimacy of due to their hot start, but on paper they appear to be built to contend after a disappointing 2016 season.  The diamondbacks certainly are a better team than both the Padres and Brewers but I can’t say the same about the Dodgers and Giants, so this week will be a test for them, as well.

 

It’s a little difficult to judge how good this Colorado team actually is right now because of the lack of talented opponents they have faced and the hot offensive starts to the season for Gerardo Parra, Tony Walters and 33 year old Mark Reynolds.  Speaking of Mark Reynolds, he is actually putting Colorado in a tough spot when Ian Desmond returns to the lineup in the near future.  Desmond was signed this off-season for $70 million over 5 years to play first base and he may have to shift to the outfield when he returns to the lineup due the hot start of Reynolds.  Desmond did prove last season that he can play outfield, but that would force the Rockies to move either Parra, Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez out of the lineup.  I suppose that could be a good problem to have for Colorado in regard to “too much talent”, but at the same time you don’t want to fix what isn’t broken and mess around with team chemistry that is currently working well enough to keep them in first place.  Nolan Arenado is also off to an amazing start while becoming the face of the franchise and even if the Rockies do simmer down, the silver lining is that the future is bright in the Mile High City.  Colorado needs to get through this week first, and with two formidable opponents in both the Nationals and Diamondbacks, the Rockies will face their first true test of the 2017 campaign.

A Crowded Outfield in LA

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Spring training is under way and the Los Angeles Dodgers have already run into a bit of a problem in regard to the opening day 25 man roster. I suppose that it’s a good problem to have, but the Dodgers have too much current (and future) talent in the outfield and not enough roster spots for all of them.  LA has some decisions to be made and they could end up being extremely difficult for Manager Dave Roberts to make. Let’s first take a look at the breakdown of all the other expected roster spots to see what is left available for the crowded outfield.

STARTING PITCHING (5) Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, Urias, Ryu/McCarthy/Wood

BULLPEN (7) Jansen, Romo, Liberatore, Strippling, Dayton, Stewart, and whoever isn’t the #5 SP and remains on the roster

*Kazmir exited his first start with injury, and I suspect he will either spend the season on the DL, get traded or perhaps even released before the season is under way. McCarthy, Wood and Ryu could also be tradeable assets for the Dodgers since all 3 players are competing for the 5th SP spot and one of the three will be and odd man out in LA.

CATCHERS (2) Grandal, Barnes

INFIELDERS (5) Gonzalez, Seager, Turner, Forsythe, Utley

INFIELDER/OUTFIELDER (1) Hernandez

*Hernandez has the versatility to play infield or outfield so I am not listing him as an outfield roster spot candidate and I expect him to make the team as an extra infielder or outfielder.

THE OUTFIELD

Based on those projections, that leaves 5 spots for outfielders. LA currently has eight “legitimate” options who are MLB veterans (one of those currently inactive) and five young options with two of those “kids” looking REALLY good so far this spring. Let’s breakdown those choices and take a look at who will be on the 25 man roster for the Dodgers on opening day.

VETERANS

Andre Eithier

Eithier missed most of last season with injury and only had a few plate appearances in the post season. The LA fan-favorite is the 2nd oldest player on LA (behind Utley) and also the longest tenured LA Dodger. If healthy, Eithier is solid back-up option at RF for the Dodgers and he also has a history of being a very clutch left-handed hitter. His veteran status and voice in the clubhouse should keep him part of this LA team for the entire season. I suppose there is a chance that not being an everyday player could propel Eithier to request a trade, but at age 34 (35 in April), his time in MLB is winding down and staying with LA is likely his best chance at winning a World Series. Eithier will make the 25 man roster as a backup right fielder and claim one of the five available outfield roster spots.

JOC PEDERSON

Pederson is a lock to make the roster as the Dodgers everyday starting center fielder. He did have somewhat of a down year last season offensively, but there is still an extremely high ceiling for the 24 year old. Pederson is looking to have a bounce-back year and is expected to be a fixture in the Dodgers outfield for years to come. I have no doubt that Pederson makes the Dodgers roster as an everyday outfielder.

YASIEL PUIG

Puig had a roller coaster ride of a season in 2016 and it’s a “make or break” year for the 27 year old. He battled injuries the past two seasons and was also demoted to the minors last year due to a combination of offensive struggles and attitude issues. He returned to the Dodgers after a stint in Oklahoma City but spent a lot of time on the bench the remainder of the season and post season. Puig is currently batting .286 through five games in spring training and also hit a monster home run (that included a signature Puig bat flip) last week and is already looking better at the plate than he had the past two seasons. Puig is aware that his contract is VERY tradeable and LA will not hesitate to move him if his offense or attitude give them reason in 2017. I do remain optimistic that Puig will return to form in 2017 and not only make the 25 man roster, but will also be the Dodgers everyday starting Right Fielder.

ANDREW TOLES

Last year’s Cinderella story Andrew Toles is looking to continue his success of 2016. He went from bagging groceries to being a starting left fielder for LA and for the time being, he should retain at that position for the Dodgers in 2017. His numbers in spring training are not that great thus far as he is batting .188 through five games played, but he showed down the stretch of 2016 that he can play and contribute at the MLB level. For the time being, Toles will make the opening day roster and be the Dodgers starting left fielder, but there are a few players in the LA farm system that will be replacing him in the not too distant future (continue reading the article to find out who those players are).

SCOTT VAN SLYKE AND BRETT EIBNER

Scott Van Slyke has been a solid player off the bench for the Dodgers during his major league career, but time will soon be running out in LA for the 30 year old left fielder. Van Slyke will be turning 31 in July and could be trade bait for the Dodgers before the deadline since LA has so much young depth at OF in the system. I think Van Slyke will edge out Brett Eibner for the 5th OF roster spot since he has more MLB experience and familiarity with LA after spending parts of the 5 past seasons with the Dodgers. Eibner is having a terrific spring training and should Eithier, Puig, Toles or Pederson get injured, he is primed to claim a roster spot. However, until that happens, Van Slyke is your 5th outfielder and Eibner will be patiently waiting his turn since I predict Van Slyke and Eibner will both be called up and sent down quite a bit during the 2017 season.

ODD MEN OUT

FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ

Signed this offseason for his history of success against left handed pitchers, Gutierrez has been awful through five games of spring training. He currently has no hits and seven strike outs with 13 at bats and will be released soon if those numbers don’t pick up very quickly. There are too many outfielders within the Dodgers organization who are all currently outplaying Gutierrez which will make his time with LA short-lived. I expect he will be with another team or a free agent on opening day.

TRAYCE THOMPSON

The “throw-in” player from last season’s trade that sent Thompson, Micah Johnson and Frankie Montas to the Dodgers is currently battling injury and not presently active for LA. Thompson will be 27 years old this season and barring a slew of injuries to the LA outfield, likely will spend the season in OKC or with another organization in 2017. He had fairly good numbers the first half of 2016 until injuries started to pile up and eventually ended his season, but he is another odd man out and doesn’t fit into any future plans for LA. On a side note, Thompson is the only remaining player in LA stemming from the three team trade with the Reds and White Sox last season.  Frankie Montas was traded to Oakland along with Grant Homles and Jharel Cotton for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick while Micah Johnson was traded to Atlanta for a player to be named. If Thompson is traded away or released, there will be no players left in LA from that transaction and a year removed it appears that the Dodgers were the loser in that three team trade. LA essentially gave Oakland 3/5 of a young starting rotation in the Rich Hill deal and also sent prospect Jose Peraza to Cincinnati in the initial trade where he batted .324 over 72 games in 2016 and looks to be a starting infielder for the Reds for the foreseeable future.

THE FUTURE

CODY BELLINGER

Get familiar with the name Cody Bellinger, because he will be an everyday fixture for LA for years to come. He is listed as a first baseman but he can play outfield as well, which could be his first landing spot for the Dodgers until he takes over the ranks at first base when Adrian Gonzalez is gone (likely after this season). Bellinger is having a great spring training, hitting .278 through eight games and has shown flashes of offensive dominance thus far. The 21 year old was not expected to have a legitimate chance at making the Dodgers roster until 2018 at the earliest, but in the past week he has been killing the ball and also signed with agent Scott Boras (which is usually a sign your pretty close to making it to the “bigs”). It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Dodgers roster the next few weeks, but it seems very likely that if during the season a roster spot opens up, it might go directly to Bellinger. Although he is still very young, LA is competing for a World Series appearance this season and a bat like Bellinger’s can’t be kept in the minors all season with hopes of championship in 2017. I am not quite sure when or how it will happen, but I expect Cody Bellinger to be part of the Dodgers roster at some point this season, but unlikely it’ll be on the opening day roster.

ALEX VERDUGO

Alex Verdugo is one of the best left-handed hitting outfield prospects in MLB and is making a very strong case to be part of the Dodgers roster and everyday lineup in the near future. Verdugo is currently hitting .333 through 5 games and the 20 year old is already surpassing expectations as one of the Dodgers top prospects. Like Bellinger, Verdugo will be a part of the Dodgers everyday lineup for years to come once he makes the roster. A player like Verdugo (who can play any of the three OF positions) could force the Dodgers hand at moving Puig, Toles or even Joc Pederson to make room for him and he can immediately take over as an everyday starting outfielder. Similar to Bellinger again, he is just too good to spend all season in OKC when LA is chasing a title and I expect him to be called up at some point in 2017 and contribute right away. To quote Larry David, Verdugo is “pretty, pretty, pretty good” and although not expected to be part of the picture until 2018 or 2019, he is making a very strong case this season to part of the Dodgers roster much sooner than expected.

TYLER HOLT, HENRY RAMOS, O’KOYEA DICKSON

All three of these players are having very strong spring trainings and look to be valid “backup plans” in case a number of players go down to injury during the season or are even traded away. Speaking of trades, all three of these players could very well be trade bait for LA being that Holt and Dickson are both only 27 and Ramos is only 24. None of them would be “marquee” names in a deal, but I could see them being sent someplace to get a relief pitching in return. Holt is currently batting .538 in spring training and has MLB experience with both the Indians and Reds, so a strong spring makes him an attractive addition for many teams, while Dickson is batting .333 and Ramos batting .357 also both have upsides. The flip side of all three players staying put is LA then has options in the minors should they run into injury issues, or perhaps even someone doesn’t behave himself and forces the Dodgers hand at making some changes (I’m looking at you, Yasiel Puig).

END RESULT

Based on those breakdowns, that makes the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielders for the opening day 25 man roster Andre Eithier, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles and Scott Van Slyke. Much like last season, health and injuries will have a lot to do with the decisions that are going to be made heading into the 2017 campaign. Should those players listed remain healthy until opening day, they round out the LA roster and form a solid outfield.  The Dodgers do, however, have no shortage of alternative internal options should things not go as planned….with Bellinger and Verdugo awaiting the call in the not too distant future.

By Anthony Dunleavy