It may be the first week of May, but I say it is never to early for a little trade speculation.
With the recent news breaking that the Giants have had discussions about tradng for Jose Reyes of the Mets, I’m declaring open season on rumor mongering. Only my target is set slightly to Reyes’ right at third baseman David Wright.
Now, don’t go getting too excited, there are ABSOLUTELY ZERO rumors about Wright being dealt to the Halos. What I am simply attempting to do is predict the eventual trade market for the Angels, and Wright seems like a good first scenario to consider since the combination of the Mets’ poor record and sticky financial situation could lead to a fire sale of their star players.
What I want to figure is not only if the Angels have what it takes to pry Wright loose, but also if that is even a realistic scenario and actually a good idea.
One thing I hate when I see contrived trade scenarios pop up on the net is a complete lack of consideration for what the other team actually thinks and wants. So as not to fall victim to that trap myself, I’ve called in some reinforcements in the form of Bloguin’s Mets blog MetstradamusBlog.com. John offers up his take on a potential Wright trade:
“As for whether the Mets would trade Wright, given the state of this organization, whether you’re talking finances or lack of a farm system, I don’t think you can rule out trading Wright. The focus right now is on Reyes because his contract is up after 2011. But I think the Mets realize that if they want the renaissance to be accelerated, they know you can get a lot more for a guy who is a face of a franchise, a guy that has a contract that runs through 2012, and a guy that puts up the kind of numbers that he’s capable of.
That’s not to say the chances of this happening are very good. Reyes and Wright are the two most popular Mets by a country mile. If you trade them both in the same season (and it’s pretty much a slam dunk that Reyes is gone on July 31st, probably to the Giants), the middle finger that would be flipped to the fans would be enormous. It would be Midnight Massacre Part II (part one being Seaver in 1977) Now GM Sandy Alderson and his crew has no emotional ties to Wright so I could see them pursuing a deal or at least asking around. But while Alderson has none of those sentimental ties, ownership does. And know that the Wilpons are extremely conscious of public perception … and I know that sounds weird given that their public perception is as awful as it’s ever been for this franchise (and that’s saying a lot). Trading Wright would send that perception through the floor. So I think the only way that ownership would approve a Wright trade would be if Alderson went to them and presented an Angel deal that would be a haul on the level of, say, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus for Mark Teixeira. In short, the Angels would have to overpay and guarantee that the players coming back would help both the farm system and the major league club.”
The most obvious question is why the Angels would target Wright instead of Reyes since Jose is the one most readily available. I like Reyes quite a bit, but let’s be honest, shortstop isn’t that big a hole for the Angels. Erick Aybar is playing well this season and Maicer Izturis is always around and actually playing even better than Aybar. Reyes would certainly be an upgrade over either of those guys, but, in my opinion, not enough to justify the price the Angels would pay.
Wright is infinitely more attractive to the Angels though because of the gaping hole they have at third base. Yes, Maicer Izturis is doing a fine job at the hot corner this season, but we all know that is not a long-term solution and may not even be a short-term solution considering Maicer’s fragility. And when I say long-term, I mean the next several years out.
As much as the Angel farm system has been built up the last few years, they have no up-and-coming talent at third that is a good bet to be a quality player and reach the majors in the next three seasons. The best they have is Kaleb Cowart, who could be very, very good, but is going to spend the season at the Rookie ball level. Nor are there options in free agency. The best third baseman the 2012 free agent class has to offer is a very washed up looking Aramis Ramirez. No thank you, sir.
That brings us back to David Wright who appears to be the only star-caliber third baseman that might be available via trade. As our Met blogger friend pointed out, the Mets may be loathe to deal Wright away since he would be the one marquee name they could keep on the roster while they rebuild. Make no mistake, having a brand name player on the team even when said team stinks out loud is still very important when you play in the Big Apple.
With that said, I don’t think it will be impossible to convince the Mets to move Wright. As Metstradamus alluded to, Sandy Alderson is calling the shots now and he is no dummy. He isn’t going to hold onto a valuable trade asset when he could get a windfall of prospects in return. And let’s not forget about the salary he could clear either. Wright is under contract for at least this season and next with a club option for 2013. Moving Wright now could save the Bernie Madoff-pillaged Mets nearly $25 million when it is all said and done. PR is great and all, but $25 million is $25 million.
The monetary savings aren’t going to force Alderson’s hand though. He has plenty of time to find the perfect deal for Wright, so the Halos best be prepared to knock Sandy’s socks off, but I think they have the minor league talent to get it done if all the cards fall right. The way I see it, there are a few packages that Tony Reagins could put together to tempt the Mets (fret not, Mike Trout is no in any of them):
- Chatwood-Trumbo-Amarista-Arenas/Reckling: This is more of a quantity over quality approach. If the Mets really want to re-stock their farm system, this is a great way to start. They get two very good talents in Chatwood and Trumbo, another decent talent in Amarista and a mid-level arm in Arenas or Reckling (or really whatever mid-level pitching prospect they want). None of these guys are superstars in the making, but they are all ready or close to ready to being big league contributors.
- Chatwood-Trumbo-Aybar-Bell-Wilson: If the Mets are looking for a package that can help them still remain a bit competitive as they rebuild, this might be worth a look. Adding Aybar is a risk for the Angels since it means Izturis needs to stay healthy, but it gives New York a guy to plug in at short after Reyes is gone (if he isn’t already by the time this trade is made). I add in Trevor Bell and Bobby Wilson too since both are ready to be in the bigs, but don’t have high ceilings. I have to say, I don’t think the Mets would go for this package since it is pretty short on star power, but it might be worth thinking about since it gives them five guys that could help them out right away.
- Chatwood-Trumbo-Segura: If New York is serious about rebuilding, they’ll forgo the mid-level prospects and focus on the cream of the Angels’ crop. Depending on what you think of Trumbo, this essentially gives the Mets the Angels’ three best prospects not named Trout or Conger. Segura is the big prize here since he has the makings of a real star even though he is a few years away.
At the end of the day, whether or not the Mets show mutual interest in a trade has everything to do with how they rate Mark Trumbo. He and Chatwood, who has high value right now, are going to be the base of any trade offer. The problem is that some people love Trumbo and some people hate him. His power is tantalizing, but the lack of walks and high strikeout rate are bound to scare certain GMs away. This is particularly problematic for a Mets trade since Alderson is saber-friendly and might not like what Trumbo’s peripherals say. The Mets would also have to be convinced Trumbo could handle playing a corner outfield spot since Ike Davis is pretty well-entrenched at first base for the Metropolitans.
The Angels could always up the ante and throw in Hank Conger or just totally empty the minor league pitching vault with Garrett Richards and Fabio Martinez-Mesa, but I don’t see them willing to forfeit Conger with the way he is playing right now and I definitely don’t think Reagins would gut the farm system’s pitching depth just to get one player. Their best bet is to give the Mets secret option number four which is basically Chatwood-Trumbo-Segura-Aybar and maybe Bobby Wilson or Trevor Bell. That gives the Mets their best chance at getting a star prospect and also filling a number of holes right away.
The real monkeywrench in the system is that the Mets are likely to deal Jose Reyes first, so who they get in return for him will dictate what kind of players the Mets seek in return for Wright. For example, if Reyes gets traded to the Giants for Brandon Belt and others, New York is going to have absolutely no interest in Trumbo. If Trumbo is taken off the table, the Angels are in real trouble because finding another position player with his potential and readiness in the Angel system is hard to find, maybe Jeremy Moore, maybe Alexi Amarista, but those two both seem short on upside.
The real elephant in the room though is whether Wright is really worth any of these big offers. On paper, he appears to be just what the Angels need: a power hitter with good patience that can hit for average and steal some bases. In reality, there are a few complications to deal with. First off, the Angels need to be sure that Wright’s slow start this year is just a fluke. He might just be unlucky so far, but his power has dropped off a tick this season and he is only two years removed from his 2009 campaign in which he mustered only 10 homers in 144 games. That 2009 season also ended with him suffering a nasty concussion, so he is a health risk as well (concussions have a way of piling up). Some might also question the wisdom of adding another right-handed power bat to an already righty-heavy lineup. To me, those are all risks worth gambling on since Wright could be an MVP-caliber player for the Halos and, at only 28, could form a potent heart of the order with Kendrys Morales for the next five years.
Alas, the real problem is, thanks to the Vernon Wells, money. The Angels are already over their expected 2011 budget, standing at a cool $141 million. Tony Reagins will have to do some serious sweet-talking to get Arte Moreno to loosen the purse strings even more to add roughly $8 million more to this years payroll and after Moreno’s miserly display this off-season, that is no sure thing. Then in 2012, the Angels with Wright (and after all arbitration cases) would probably be already locked into an approximate $130 million payroll and that is BEFORE they fill the last two spots in their rotation since Pineiro and Kazmir are free agents.
Bottom line, the Angels would be really stretching their financial limits to add Wright, even though he is relatively well-priced for his level of talent and production. But he is also the kind of elite talent that could make the Angel line-up pretty scary. Izturis-Abreu-Wright-Morales-Hunter-Wells-Kendrick-Conger-Bourjos seems like pretty capable lineup if you ask me (assuming Morales can get healthy and Wells can stop sucking), and that is just this year. Add Mike Trout to the mix next season and watch out.
If I’m the Angels, I make the trade and I don’t hesitate to offer up the Chatwood-Trumbo-Aybar-Segura package to get it done. Arte Moreno has always said he would be willing to spend whatever is necessary to add a piece that could lead them to a title. While his actions this winter indicate he might not meet that promise, I do believe Wright is the special kind of talent that could convince him to go all-in and make the big investment.
If I’m the Mets, however, I’m not so sure. That is a nice package and all, but it doesn’t quite blow my socks all the way off. I’d probably wait until after the 2011 season, an off-season in which the free agent market is incredibly thin, and hope someone gets desperate and beats that offer.