With the Blue Jays in obvious need of at least one quality, established Major League starter to add to their 2013 rotation, they’ll be looking to both the trade and free agent markets to make an acquisition. Two weeks ago we looked at the free agent market for pitching, and now it’s time for the much more difficult task of trying to find what may be available in trade, starting last week with the AL, and concluding today by looking at the National League…
There’s a little something of everything in the NL Central, with a couple of very strong rotations at the top, and the Houston Lucas Harrells at the bottom. The Reds, despite the reputation of their manager, have had reasonable success, remarkable health– until mid-August they’d only used five starters all season– and have their entire rotation under contract next year. The Cardinals have Kyle Lohse set to hit free agency, but Jake Westbrook was recently extended, Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright will be back, Chris Carpenter is a possibility, top prospect Shelby Miller is finally surging after a tough year, Joe Kelly handled a rotation spot very nicely over twelve starts, and Jaime Garcia has now returned to the rotation after being off since early June.
The Cubs are one of the few teams who understand already that they have little hope in 2013, meaning Matt Garza still could be had, for sure, and perhaps even breakout star Jeff Samardzija and his three remaining years of control, too, if a club is willing to pay Jed Hoyer’s price. Similarly, the Astros have a breakout pitcher in Lucas Harrell, but it would be kind of a hard sell for fans, even for a club in Houston’s position, given that he doesn’t appear he’ll hit free agency until after 2017.
The Brewers have some talent, but some serious holes to fill, making it tempting to possibly view them as candidates for an organizational re-think– which might throw Yovanni Gallardo into play. But they also have Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Francisco Rodriguez coming off the books, which probably will see them more inclined to move forward and build around the trio of Gallardo, Michael Fiers and Marco “Polo Erik” Estrada.
Meanwhile, the Pirates have AJ Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeff Karstens and James McDonald set to return in 2013. Charlie Morton should return mid-season from Tommy John, and– more importantly– 2011 first overall pick Gerrit Cole is coming too, meaning the club could potentially flip someone for another much-needed bat.
Michael McKenry has provided some surprising offence from behind the plate for the Pirates this season, which may make JP Arencibia less of an attractive starting point if the Jays were looking to pry away, say, James McDonald.
I think the Cubs made a mistake by not dealing Matt Garza mid-season, because getting just one season of him shouldn’t be nearly as attractive to other teams, so maybe they’d consider a Latos-like deal for Samardzija, but since they’re not quite staring down as deep a rebuild as the Padres, I’m not so sure that flies.
Gallardo could be an interesting option if Milwaukee intends to take a step back next year, but with all that money freed up, I’m not sure that’s in the cards, nor do I think the Astros will be too willing to part cheaply with their one legitimate arm, who has so many years of control left.
Speaking of the Cards, the extension of Jake Westbrook was taken by some as a signal that St. Louis isn’t hopeful of getting much from Chris Carpenter in 2013, but that still leaves a number of quality arms there, with Trevor Rosenthal coming also, and Marc Rzepczynski a one-time starter as well– which of course I only mention in part of some wishful thinking that maybe Jaime Garcia could be in play. Could be time to move Furcal off short– why not for Escobar or Hechavarria? Huh? Huh? Huh?
There aren’t a lot of moving parts when it comes to the rotations of the NL East this winter. I’m pretty sure Philadelphia didn’t sign Cole Hamels to such a huge deal only to take a step backwards as an organization by dealing Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay. The Nationals will likely lose Edwin Jackson to free agency, and will therefore look to add to their core of Strasburg, Zimmerman and Gonzalez. The Mets, for all their Met-ness, have some good rotation options, with RA Dickey, Jon Niese and Matt Harvey in place, Dillon Gee and Mike Pelfrey working their way back from injury, prospect Zack Wheeler coming fast, and Johan Santana still in existence as well. Josh Johnson still looks like an intriguing name from the Marlins’ rotation, which will still look decent enough with Mark Buherle, Ricky Nolasco and the recently-acquired Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Turner.
The Braves have a number of options for 2013, with Tim Hudson having another solid year (and an upcoming club option), Paul Maholm coming over from Chicago to help solidify the rotation, Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson doing… OK, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado in Triple-A, Kris Medlen pitching a lot better than you probably realize, and Brandon Beachy recovering from mid-season Tommy John surgery.
Sure, there’s the Roy Halladay pipe dream I’ve got no doubt a lot of Jays fans are going to cling to, but that’s such a long shot it’s not even worth calling a long shot– or even taking seriously for a second, if only because it’s going to provoke certain subsets of the fan base into talking about it like it’s a potentially real thing. I think it’s safe to skip right past Johan Santana at this point in his career, and Josh Johnson was talked about plenty in the lead up to the trade deadline– which isn’t to say that I wouldn’t still be interested, or that there might not be a fit, should the Marlins be as enamored with JP Arencibia as I really hope they might be (but probably aren’t).
The Braves maybe interest me the most, now that I look at it, because though they’ll have significant money freed up, they may not be able to fill all their holes with money alone– or may not find it ideal, at least. Atlanta is slated for two major losses, offensively, with Chipper Jones set to retire, and Michael Bourn a free agent. Certainly the Jays couldn’t offer the Braves players with those kinds of offensive profiles, but Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose could slot right into those spots– well… technically, though neither would be worse off for some more minor league seasoning. They’re cheap, with many years of control left, and filling those spots– perhaps even with Colby Rasmus– would free the Braves a lot of money to pursue just one bat rather than multiple guys, and would allow them to deal from depth. Randall Delgado was already almost traded this summer for a two month rental of Ryan Dempster, so it’s not like John Schuerholz will be entirely opposed to considering something in this regard– though it’s hard to see how exactly .
There are some intriguing options for a team looking for pitching to target in the NL West, though they don’t reside in San Francisco, where the Giants looked locked in to a serious front five, or in San Diego, where the Padres have really only Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez, in terms of established starters, both of whom have significant-enough home/road splits to entirely rule them out of consideration. Colorado, of course, is where halfway decent pitching careers go to die, so there isn’t a whole lot there to look for either.
The Dodgers, though, added a starter this week in their giant mess of a deal with Boston, picking up Josh Beckett, to go with ace Clayton Kershaw, as well as Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and the injured Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly as returning starters in 2013. And out in the desert, the Diamondbacks got out of the Joe Saunders business prematurely, but still have Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Patrick Corbin, Dan Hudson (who is recovering from Tommy John), as well as phenoms Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer.
Arizona is a club with plenty of arms and a declared need for help at short, which might make them a natural fit for the Jays– though, as I wrote last week, the Rangers can trump anyone trying to deal a shortstop, with their ability to offer Elvis Andrus, now that Jurickson Profar is ready for the Majors. The Jays, as I also wrote at the time, may be able to provide a more cost effective option for Arizona, as they’ll be looking down the rotational pecking order, should they be interested in trying to deal Hechavarria or Escobar to the Diamondbacks. Miley or Corbin, while unsexy names outside of the NL west, seem like they might do just fine.
And then there are the Dodgers, who may not be content to keep their rotation intact, and obviously have more than enough money to do something about it. Ryan Dempster, we heard this summer, really wanted to play there with his pal Ted Lilly, and perhaps the club will have eyes for him this winter, when he hits free agency. Should that be the case, perhaps a Chad Billingsley becomes available– and the Jays could help the Dodgers recoup some of the prospect value lost to Boston in a deal like that. You could do worse.