Next week’s trade deadline promises to be a quieter affair than last season, when the Sox moved seven (!) major leaguers for eleven (!) minor leaguers, including da bessssss. This year Rick Hahn lacks the quality big league assets he used to snag Eloy Jimenez, and the organization is not yet in a place where it makes sense to acquire a premium major leaguer.
This was on my mind as I watched Tuesday’s All-Star Game, in which Blake Treinen mowed down Joey Votto, Christian Yelich, and Charlie Blackmon for a 1-2-3 inning. Treinen, the A’s 30-year old first-time All Star, was part of the package that Oakland received from Washington in exchange for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson last July. The Athletics’ return seemed questionable then, but looks fantastic in hindsight, in large part because Treinen has become one of the three best relievers in baseball this year.
At the time of the trade, Treinen was a somewhat established reliever struggling to fill the Nationals’ closer role. The A’s front office was likely faced with the choice between acquiring Treinen or a mid-level prospect, and was savvy to choose the player with a bonafide major league skillset and years of control, but who didn’t come with the inflated price tag attached to many prospects. It was a shining example of the A’s organizational philosophy dating back to Moneyball days: find and acquire undervalued assets.
“Find and acquire undervalued assets” should be Rick Hahn’s prime directive right now. And without a Jose Quintana-like or even Tommy Kahnle-like (lol) centerpiece to dangle for prized prospects, nabbing the next Treinen is more realistic than nabbing the next Jimenez.
So what kind of major league pieces should be on the front office’s radar? I see possible targets falling into one of three groups.
The Sox have taken shots at highly regarded prospects who couldn’t put it together in the majors many times before, from Alen Hanson to Gavin Floyd all the way back to Paul Konerko. With no firm contention timeline, the organization can afford to give long looks to former prospects, and hope they turn things around when relieved of the baggage that comes with unmet expectations. Players like Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow or Mets first baseman Dominic Smith fit this description.
The Cardinals are an interesting trade partner, with multiple moving pieces on their major league roster, but holes in the infield and bullpen. Guys like Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez (whom the Cards front office intimated they may deal) don’t have obvious paths to regular playing time, so dealing one of them for a Joakim Soria or a Leury Garcia might more evenly spread St. Louis’s talent across the roster. Meanwhile, the White Sox could attempt to maximize either player’s value in a full-time role.
Similarly, Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly would be a good if more expensive target; the former top prospect has yet to thrive in a part-time role alongside Yadier Molina, and Andrew Knizer is squeezing him from lower on the depth chart. Likewise, tools-heavy outfielder Keon Broxton is something like sixth on the Brewers depth chart, and would give the Sox a chance to experiment with a higher-upside version of Adam Engel.
(A completely unrelated aside: while looking at the Cards’ org chart, I noticed that Rangel Ravelo is in the middle of his second straight excellent season at AAA Memphis, splitting time between OF and 1B. If St. Louis turns him into the next Martinez, I might have to give up on following the Sox minor league system.)
You might more charitably describe this category as “change of scenery candidates.” The name that immediately comes to mind is Astros reliever Ken Giles, who punched himself in the face, cussed out his manager, then was optioned to AAA. The Sox have a history of helping troubled high-end talents like Bobby Jenks, and if the Astros want to get off the Giles roller coaster, he’d be a worthwhile gamble – either to stabilize the back-end of the bullpen over the next 2.5 years, or to rehab his value and flip.
Whether they target any of these particular players or not, Rick Hahn and company should take a discerning look at 25-man rosters around baseball. With many of the Sox’s best (or even marginal) prospects still years away, it’s worth acquiring an undervalued major leaguer who can plug a hole on the roster today, and potentially turn into Blake Treinen tomorrow.
(Figuratively. It’d be creepy as hell if Jose Martinez literally turned into Blake Treinen.)
Reading the headline I thought KenWO came over here to post for a second.
A j Reed on the Astros kind of fits the bill, former top prospect.
Astros also have Derek Fisher and JD Davis who are interesting guys that have nothing to prove in minors and are blocked. Also pitcher Francis Martes has been the last 2 years and has a ton of upside.
Jose Martinez was a highly touted White Sox prospect 12 years ago.
Before Matheny got canned, I was thinking the Cardinals might jump on a package of Avi and one of the two currently active MLB catchers for Dexter Fowler, Carson Kelly, and either another prospect or money for Fowler’s contract.
Maybe they still would, given Avi’s production and shorter contract.
The trade with the Dodgers for Cedeno and Soria and a Logan Forsythe, Gavin Lux return is on my mind.
The Sox could certainly take on an albatross contract like Forsythe or Fowler. Thinking through luxury tax concerns could set up a deal. Anyone the Red Sox or Nationals want to jettison?
The Yankees would probably love to get rid of Ellsbury’s contract. Although, it seems he is not going to be playing baseball this season. I don’t know if the Sox would want to pay him $20+ mil for the next 2 years. Could be a move they make in the offseason.
How about Soria and Cedeno + cash to the Yankees for Sonny Gray and his remaining $ + one of their young Intl. signees like Luis Medina or Everson Pereira?
19 year old Jesus Luzardo was the centerpiece of that Doolittle trade.
IMO- With the lack of talent in the DSL and the advanced ages of many of the prospects in Great Falls and Kann. the Sox should trade for young, raw, higher upside prospects far for the Majors.
PS- Paulie a busted prospect? How dare you.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Jesus Luzardo also the centerpiece of a David Robertson deal that Nats ownership nixed because of $$$?
Imagine if we could’ve pulled that off and still found a way to get Rutherford for Kahnle. That would’ve been fantastic. It’s nice to think Rick was making some good decisions prospect-wise, but it also kind of hurts to see them not kick in some money on that deal, seeing as their payroll was/is ridiculously low.
Yes. That was the rumor surrounding the scuttled Nats trade.
That was also an offseason deal where Robertson was still owed $25mil and coming off a lackluster 2016 season.
The Sox did take on $2.5mil of Tyler Clippard in that Robertson/Kahnle deal.
I like the Glasnow idea, but I doubt the Pirates are looking for any short-term upgrades. Their midseason slump and killer division probably preclude them from doing so.
Shields, Soria for Keon Broxton and an A ball pitcher. Brewers could use an innings eater and bullpen help and Broxton is blocked and could immediately upgrade CF now and until Robert arrives. Part of me wishes that the Sox would kick in some money and that might allow them to snag Brett Phillips but I don’t think the Brewers would be willing to do that.
Center Field is the perfect place for the White Sox to experiment with a failed prospect or someone in a logjam so someone like Broxton definitely makes sense.
The Royals just did a version of this.
Goodwin was a top-100 prospect in 2013/2014 and has showed flashes in the majors the last couple years, but has struggled this year. Controllable through 2022.
Looking to the North side, David Bote seems like a guy that the Sox should target with their lack of depth in the minors at third. Bote will be behind Bryant for the foreseeable future so he seems very expendable for the Cubs. Much like Candelario
Sean Dolittle is out a few more weeks, the Nationals are one of two teams on track to pay the luxury tax this year, and the Sox have been able to work deals with Mike Rizzo in the recent past. If the Sox offered Washington Soria and Cedeno and offered to take back Ryan Zimmerman’s contract, what kind of prospect might Rizzo be willing to give up?
I’m not really sure how desperate they are to get out from under that contract given his background with the team. They could certainly use the financial wiggle room, but I think this is different than a guy like Ellsbury who doesn’t have longstanding ties with the yanks.
The Nationals and Red Sox are both over the tax threshold and may be worried about long-term penalties. If the Nationals keep Harper, Zimmerman’s contract is a lot less welcome.
The Yankees managed to reset the number of consecutive years they were over the tax threshold (as part of their planning for this year’s free agent class), so Ellsbury is an inconvenience who is less of a burden than he would have been had they not reset.
That said, it’s a bad contract that I’m sure Cashman would love to deal. Would he be willing to give up Albert Abreu or Justus Sheffield? Or a concussion-affected Clint Frazier?
I dont disagree that they’d probably like to get out from under that contract. They’ve just presented him as a franchise face for so long, I’m not sure they move him in that kind of deal where it comes off like hes a total anchor. Certainly possible though.
Very fascinating concept. But who would we be giving up from the farm for such a player where it doesn’t seem like we’re giving up on them and could be making a possible huge mistake?
Like for comfort sake, who would be an example of someone we could give up and not have that fear be that big a concern?
Depends on the guy. Royals gave up an A-ball arm for Goodwin. A’s gave up two high-quality relieves for Treiner and Luzardo. So that’s the basically the spectrum.