Trade Targets


Should the Twins trade for Freddy Sanchez?

Friday, July 10th, 2009

FreddySanchez.jpg

When we launched these baseball blogs in 2007, we quickly discovered a spike in readership each time we including trade rumblings. It was addicting, really, throwing that stuff on the blog and watching the comment section explode.

I started a Trade Target series that year, as a Twins team with current All-Stars Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Jason Bartlett, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan slumbered through a mediocre season. Many of us thought that team was one big bat away from turning the corner and making another serious run.

In the end, it was all a waste of time. The Twins wound up selling, not buying, trading 2B Luis Castillo to the Mets in a move that infuriated their clubhouse.

Last year, when it was so obvious they needed relief help to fill the void left by Pat Neshek’s injury, we helped feed the frenzy again, profiling various relievers who could help the Twins, including LaTroy Hawkins. Again, it was mostly a waste of time, as the Twins responded with an August deal for non-factor Eddie Guardado.

So forgive me for being less enthused this trade season. The Twins haven’t made an impact move before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline since 2003, when they landed Shannon Stewart. La Velle and I make the calls, and we keep hearing how hard the Twins are trying – talking to every team, listening, blah, blah, blah.

Sure, we hear they’ve spoken to the Pirates about Freddy Sanchez. Sure, we’ve read these recent reports. But we have yet to hear of the talks getting serious, yet to hear of an actual offer. So this isn’t exactly driving our coverage. Basically, I went through this exercise on Sanchez for background, in case things really do get serious.

Name: Freddy Sanchez, Pirates 2B

Basics: He’s 31 (and turns 32 on Dec. 21). Bats – R, 5-foot-11, 185 lbs. Born in Hollywood, Calif. He went to Oklahoma City University. He signed with the Red Sox after being drafted in the 11th round and got traded to Pittsburgh in 2003.

Stats: He is batting .316 with a .355 OBP and a .477 SLG. He has six home runs and 33 RBI. Sanchez is batting .304 against righties and .345 against lefties. He won a batting title in 2006, when he led the NL at .344. But he also batted .271 last year with a .298 OBP. Sanchez has committed just one error this season.

Injury note: Sanchez has been out since July 2 with a lower-back problem.

Salary: He’s making $6.1 million this year and has an $8 million vesting option for next year. (Because Sanchez made the All-Star team, the option has a better chance to vest, as he needs just 600 plate appearances to trigger it now and already has 329.)

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Trade target series: Dmitri Young

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Dmitri.jpgI didn’t hear Terry Ryan’s interview on KSTP AM-1500 yesterday, but someone wrote in our comments section that when Ryan was asked about Dmitri Young, he didn’t dismiss the possibility, saying there are about 15 hitters they are considering on the trade market.

Well, we’ve only had nine Trade Targets in this series, so we’ve got some catching up to do. A couple months ago, we had heard the Twins weren’t interested in Young because he had ”too much baggage.” But there is a growing sentiment that Young truly has turned his life around since getting released by the Tigers last season.

As Torii Hunter told KFAN’s Dan Barreiro last week, “I talked to [Young] at the All-Star Game. He’s straight, clean-cut. I think he’s ready. … I think I overheard him say he liked the Twins. I don’t know. I thought I heard that through the grapevine.”

Torii obviously was being careful because teams can get penalized for tampering if they’re openly recruiting players. Anyway, many of you have been writing Young’s name for weeks. So, let’s take a closer look:

Name: Dmitri Young, Nationals 1B

Basics: He’s 33 (and turns 34 on Oct. 11). Switch-hitter. Throws R. 6-2, 220 lbs. Born in Vicksburg, Miss. Was a high school All-American for Rio Mesa High School in California. Signed with the Cardinals as a first-round pick (No. 4 overall) from the 1991 draft.

Stats: His .340 batting average currently ranks second in the National League. He also has nine home runs, 52 RBI, a .395 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage.

Salary: $500,000. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end. He’s been an absolute steal for the Nationals this year, as GM Jim Bowden, who knew Young from Cincinnati, took a chance coming off his troubled 2006 season.

Good Twin because: He’s an experienced DH. Rondell White returns to that role tonight, but he said last year that he’s a better hitter when he plays left field. Young is a career .287 hitter with 52 home runs as a DH. The Twins know him well from his years with the Tigers.

Available?: Yes. He belongs in the American League, where he can DH, so it would behoove Bowden to trade him, rather than lose him as a free agent.

Probable cost: My jaw almost hit the floor last week, when a major league insider told me what Bowden asked the Twins to give up in return for Alfonso Soriano last year. I always had heard it was Matt Garza. No, it was Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker. All three. The insider told me I would be surprised to know just how much the Twins were willing to give up in that deal. We had heard they refused to give up Garza but would have parted with Slowey. Anyway, it sounds like the Twins offered two pitchers other than Garza — probably Slowey and someone else – who have pitched in the big leagues this year. Soriano never got traded. He went on to sign an eight-year, $136 million contract.

Young certainly isn’t that valuable. But you can work backward from Bowden’s asking price for Soriano and realize that he’s hardly going to give away Young. Would you trade Slowey straight up for Young? I sure wouldn’t.

Potential Batgirl nickname (*You know, if she still ran the greatest blog ever): Baseball-reference.com tells us Young’s nickname is Meat Hook. I can’t remember, but Batgirl might have had a not-so-nice nickname when he played for the Tigers. I’ll take your suggestions below.

Odds this trade happens: 15-to-1. I really do get the feeling the Twins will do something before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. As I’ve been writing, they seem more inclined to grab somebody who wouldn’t be limited to DH duty. Young would be a great jolt for their lineup, but I’m guessing Bowden’s asking price is just too high.

Trade target series: Jeff Conine

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Niner.jpgWhen Michael Cuddyer got hurt, it reminded us why the Twins have been looking for more than just a DH in their trade pursuits. Yes, they need a bat. But they also need players who can move around the diamond and not kill them defensively.

Shea Hillenbrand is sitting home right now, for example, after being designated for assignment by the Angels. But, according to industry insiders, the Twins have not pursued him because they’re looking for more defense than Hillenbrand can provide.

Ty Wigginton is a utility infielder, and the New York Post reported this morning that the Devil Rays would be willing to move him to the Yankees for reliever Scott Proctor. Right now, the Twins need someone who can play right field while Cuddyer is healing, and then play left field or possibly even third base when the team moves closer to full strength.

Other players mentioned in this trade target series, Matt Stairs and Kevin Mench, could still be fits. But the name we’re throwing at you this morning is Reds utility man Jeff Conine.

Twins scout Larry Corrigan was spotted at the Reds/Marlins game on Thursday. Corrigan is responsible for all of the team’s National League coverage, but at this time of year, it would make sense that he’d be watching potential trade targets.

Full disclosure: Conine is a personal favorite. I covered him with the Orioles in 2002 and 2003, but he’s also a favorite of former Florida Marlins’ teammates Mike Redmond and Luis Castillo. The Twins have had interest in signing Conine in recent offseasons.

Name: Jeff Conine, Reds 1B/OF

Basics: He turned 41 on June 26. Bats R, Throws R. 6-1, 225 lbs. Born in Tacoma, Wash. Played for UCLA and signed with the Royals as a 58th-round pick in 1987.

Stats: Batting .262 with 5 home runs and 26 RBI. A .323 on-base percentage and a .411 slugging percentage. He batted .280 after getting moved from the Orioles to the Phillies last August.

Salary: $2 million. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end. Because only 41 percent of the season remains, a team acquiring Piazza today would owe him $815,000.

Good Twin because: He’s a professional righthanded hitter and he can move around the diamond. The Reds haven’t used him in the outfield because their outfield is stacked. But last year, he played 56 games in left field for the Orioles. Then, after getting moved to Philadelphia, he played 25 games in right field and 12 in left. Conine helped the Marlins win a World Series in 1997. In 2003, Conine was playing for the Orioles, but Florida traded for him again, and he helped them win another World Series.

Available?: Yes. The Reds are 41-56, and while there has been much speculation that they’d move Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr., it’s more likely that they’d move Conine or Kyle Lohse. Yeah, the guess here is the Twins would pass on Lohse.

Probable cost: The Twins could probably get him for an A-ball prospect.

Potential Batgirl nickname (*You know, if she still ran the greatest blog ever): Everyone calls him Niner. But Batgirl could work her magic in the nickname department, possibly playing off the fact Conine is a world-class racquetball player.

Odds this trade happens: 8-to-1. Remember, since Wayne Krivsky left to become the Reds’ GM, Terry Ryan has made three major league trades (four if you count Darnell McDonald) and two have been with Krivsky.

Trade target series: Mike Piazza

Friday, July 13th, 2007

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Saturday morning update: Piazza started his rehab yesterday for Class AAA Sacramento, and his agent, Dan Lozano said, “Hopefully, in that time, Mike gets his swing back and one of two things are going to happen: Either Oakland activates Mike, or they’re going to trade him to a location Mike is OK with. … We don’t have a no-trade clause, but Billy [Beane], Mike and I agreed prior to Mike’s signing that we have a gentleman’s agreement that Billy would not trade Mike anywhere that Mike was not OK with.”

As noted below, Lozano indicated before the 2006 season that Minnesota might be a good fit for Piazza. This definitely is a situation worth following. The odds at the bottom of this file just got a tick better.

When Piazza injured his right shoulder on a head-first slide May 2, the A’s acted quickly, trading for Padres minor leaguer Jack Cust. All Cust did was hit six home runs in his first even games.

Twins fans have been understandably frustrated with their team’s inability to patch the hole left when Rondell White pulled his calf muscle on April 7. White hasn’t made it back, and now Garrett Jones is getting his chance at DH.

With the A’s in town, some of the trade gossip has centered on Dan Johnson, the Coon Rapids native. But Johnson won’t be arbitration eligible until after 2008, so the price of obtaining him wouldn’t be cheap. Also, Johnson plays first base, and the Twins have that position pretty well solved with this guy, Justin Morneau.

It sounds like the Twins are searching for rental players, especially the ones who won’t cost much in the way of prospects. If they make a deal with Oakland, the far more likely target is Mike Piazza.

Name: Mike Piazza, Athletics DH

Basics: He’s 38 (turns 39 on Sept. 4). Bats R, Throws R. 6-3, 215 lbs. Born in Norristown, Pa. Attended Miami Dade North C.C. Signed as the Dodgers’ 62nd round draft pick in 1988.

Stats: Batting .282 with 1 home run and 8 RBI. A .339 on-base percentage and a .379 slugging percentage. He batted .283 with 22 homers and 68 RBI last year for San Diego, and was faring pretty well in 103 at-bats as a DH for Oakland this year before suffering a severe right shoulder injury.

Salary: $8.5 million. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end. Because only 45 percent of the season remains, a team acquiring Piazza today would owe him $3.8 million, and the guess here is Oakland would be willing to pay some of that salary and not expect much in the way of prospects in return.

Good Twin because: The Twins had discussions about acquiring Piazza as a DH before the 2006 season, and his agent made it known that Minnesota could be a good fit, even though Piazza has spent his career playing on the coasts. He wouldn’t have to catch for the Twins, which is good because his shoulder still restricts him from throwing. The question is, can he swing? If he could produce like he did for San Diego last season, his righthanded bat would be a terrific boost for the Twins’ lineup, but that’s a big if.

Available?: Big time. In Friday’s San Francisco Chronicle, Susan Slusser writes: ”Since the A’s signed Piazza strictly as a DH over the winter and he has been ready to hit since mid-June, there’s some thought that the union might have grounds for a grievance if Piazza’s return is delayed much longer. With roster space tight, it’s likely the A’s will try to move the future Hall of Famer.” In another story, Slusser added, “A team source said that the A’s have not had any conversations with the Twins — or Yankees — about Johnson. Should Oakland decide to move Mike Piazza, however, he might be an excellent fit for Minnesota, a team looking for a right-handed hitting DH.”

Probable cost:  Not much. Terry Ryan told La Velle yesterday that he’s hesitant to move his top pitching prospects. In this deal, he wouldn’t have to. In fact, this deal would be more about getting the A’s to eat chunks of Piazza’s remaining salary.

Potential Batgirl nickname (*You know, if she still ran the greatest blog ever): I don’t have the name in my head, but if Piazza donned a Twins uniform and started showing off the old hitting prowess, I know Batgirl would be gaga.

Odds this trade happens: 9-to-1. Would be interesting to know if the Twins have scouted Piazza’s workouts, as some teams have. It sounds like Piazza will be moved soon, so they should definitely be checking into this.

Trade target series: Garrett Atkins

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

GarAtkins2.jpgPlease, don’t kill the messenger. I did some homework on one of the most popular names from the comment section, and here’s what I found:

Garrett Atkins is available. He’d be a pretty good fit for the 2007 Twins — far better than two other 3B oft-mentioned here, Cincinnati’s Edwin Encarnacion and Houston’s Morgan Ensberg. But from what I can tell, there are too many other drawbacks to trading for Atkins, which I outline below.

I know this is getting depressing. I hope studying examples like this help put things into perspective. It might explain why the likes of Ty Wigginton, Kevin Mench and Matt Stairs were featured in this series before any promising, everyday third basemen.

Name: Garrett Atkins, Rockies 3B

Basics: He’s 27 (turns 28 on Dec. 12). Bats R, Throws R. 6-3, 215 lbs. Born in Orange, Calif. Attended UCLA. Signed as the Rockies’ fifth-round pick in the 2000 draft.

Stats: Batting .247 with 11 homers and 45 RBI. A .323 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage. He batted .329 with 29 homers and 120 RBI in 2006, and those were not Coors Field inflated numbers, as 15 homers came at home and 14 came on the road. He was terrible this May (.188-1 HR-7 RBI), but bounced back in June, batting .305 with eight homers, 25 RBI and an .999 OPS.

Salary: $400,000. He won’t be a free agent until 2010. But he will be arbitration eligible after this season and can expect to see his salary jump into the $4 million range for next season. I was told that the Rockies tried locking him up to a four-year, $18 million contract last winter, and Atkins’ agent (Jeff Blank) hinted that he was looking for something closer to the five-year, $75 million deal the Cubs gave 3B Aramis Ramirez.

Good Twin because: He would infuse their offense with a potent righthanded bat and has the durability to play 3B every day. This would allow Nick Punto and Jeff Cirillo to stay in utility roles. … However, a scout who sees Atkins play regularly told me, “he’s nothing special defensively. His feet get him in trouble, and he doesn’t come in real well on balls.” Everyone here knows how much the Twins stress defense, so they have to accept far less defense than what Punto offers. The same scout raved about Atkins’ swing: “He stays inside the ball so well. He looks like he’s back to his old self. He’ll hit you 20-25 [home runs] and a lot of doubles. He must have had 50 doubles [actually 48] last year.”

Available?: Yes. The Rockies have been listening to offers because they have 22-year-old 3B Ian Stewart playing well for Class AAA Colorado Springs. They also have Jeff Baker on their big-league roster, as a serviceable 3B option. Interesting note, the scout told me he’d rather trade for Jeff Baker than Morgan Ensberg.

Probable cost:  Here is the huge catch. Six weeks ago, when Atkins was struggling miserably at the plate, the Rockies were still asking for a king’s ransom. The Angels, for example, were reportedly told it would take Ervin Santana-plus other prospects to get him. For the Twins, that means it would take Matt Garza-plus, and you can argue that Garza has yet to put himself in Ervin Santana’s category.

Potential Bat-Girl nickname (*You know, if she still ran the greatest blog ever): Garrett Golddigger. (Suggestions?)

Odds this trade happens: 20-to-1. Price just seems too high for what you’d have to give up for another arbitration-eligible player.