This morning at ESPN.com (Insider Only) the one and only (hopefully) Jim Bowden began looking ahead to the trade deadline, which is only about six weeks away, coming up with a list of the top twenty pitchers who could be traded.
It should come as no surprise that two names on it belong to members of the Toronto Blue Jays– unless, of course, you’re surprised it isn’t more. Josh Johnson, a free-agent-to-be on a club looking to retool and already armed with a bunch of young… er… arms either returning to health or getting very close to the Majors for 2014, is there and makes perfect sense.
Sure, the Jays could hold onto him and try to extend him, or cross their fingers that he stays healthy and productive enough through the end of the season to be worth a qualifying offer that would either retain some productive form of him or net a draft pick next year. But… seems to me that the Jays could probably use picking up some assets that will help them in the near term, even if they payoff ceiling may not be quite as high as yet another early round draft selection who’ll be just about hitting his peak around in 2020, when Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of the front office would be naive to assume anything but that they’ll be long, long gone.
Bowden evidently thinks so too, placing the likelihood of Johnson being traded at 70%– tied with Scott Feldman for the third-highest percentage on the list, behind Ricky Nolasco (95%) and Matt Garza (90%).
More interesting, however, is the fact that Mark Buehrle’s name is on the list. And more more interesting is what he says about the Jays’ expensive left-hander.
And by interesting I, of course, mean batshit:
“His contract makes him difficult to trade unless it’s a bad-contract-for-bad-contract arrangement, which is why Andre Ethier-for-Buehrle rumors have started to flow.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree that if the Jays are going to move Buehrle, a big part of the deal is going to be financial. Obviously. On July 31st he’ll be owed the remaining 40% of his 2013 salary, which amounts to $4.4-million, plus $18-million in 2014 and $19-million for 2015.
It’s a fucking pig of a backloaded deal, so they’re going to have to eat money or take back garbage to get anything of value for Buehrle– if they feel he’s not going to be worth keeping, which I actually doubt, given his durability, his ability to get by (as he’s done his entire career) throwing in the mid-80s, and the fact that it appears he may have turned a corner, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and averaging six-and-a-half innings per start over his last six appearances, holding opponents to a .628 OPS.
And Ethier’s deal is indeed garbage. I could expound on that for quite some time and using quite a number of cuss words, but let’s just do one of those lazy Player-A / Player-B things.
Here are the numbers against right-handed pitching in 2012 and 2013 for a couple of left-handed bats who have demonstrated pretty clearly in their careers that they’re platoon guys:
Player A: 541 PA, 11.1 BB%, 15.5 K%, .878 OPS, .328 BABIP, .374 wOBA, 141 wRC+
Player B: 428 PA, 10.7 BB%, 16.8 K%, .832 OPS, .321 BABIP, .358 wOBA, 126 wRC+
The numbers are somewhat close, though pretty clearly Player A has been better. Thing is, though, now look at their contracts going forward:
Player A: 14:$15.5M, 15:$18M, 16:$16M, 17:$18M, 18:$17.5M club option ($2.5M buyout)
Player B: 14:$7M club option ($2M buyout),15:$7.5M club option ($1M buyout), 16:$8M club option ($0.5M buyout)
Bit of a difference now, right? The club with Player A’s contract is on the hook for $70-million– considerably more than the $37-million left on Buehrle’s deal after 2013.
The club with the slightly worse Player B owes him just $3.5-million if they buy out his options at the end of this year, or they can go year-to-year with him on much smaller salaries than what Player A is being paid, and no long term commitments beyond the buyout money.
And if you’re looking at just this year’s stats, in nearly the same number of plate appearances against right-handers (171 versus 162) Player B becomes even more attractive, having posted a .381 wOBA and 142 wRC+, as compared to the vastly more expensive Player A’s .310 and 99.
Oh yeah, and if you’re the Jays you don’t have to give up a single thing to get Player B, because it’s Adam fucking Lind. (Player A is, rather obviously, Ethier).
Now, granted, Lind doesn’t really have a position, and therefore can’t allow Melky Cabrera to slide over to DH the way that, in some insane parallel universe where this trade isn’t fucking laughable, Ethier could. But come on.
Come the fuck on.
And while this year’s sample against left-handers is far too microscopic to go suggesting that there’s still hope Lind might not even be a platoon guy, since way back to 2011 his .290 wOBA against LHP looks downright fucking respectable when compared to Ethier’s .262 over that span.
So… yeah. No. Not a thing. Not even close to a thing. No way.