The Major League Baseball All-Star break is a fitting time for clubs to assess their roster and to prepare for the second half of the season. With the addition of a second wild-card spot for this season, there are more teams in contention for a playoff berth than in the past.
That is not to say that there are not those teams who have been all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason, such as the San Diego Padres.
What's interesting about the Padres is that they carry quite a few trade chips that would be very attractive for many teams. Almost half of the Major Leagues is within striking distance of a playoff spot. A position of need for 10 of those teams is third base, and the Padres just happen to hold one of the best in the Majors on a very affordable contract: Chase Headley.
Trading away Headley has its significant advantages. First, it's important to understand that the Padres are not going to contend for the division or a playoff spot for at least two more seasons. Therefore, it's vital to the organization to trade its (soon-to-be unaffordable) assets for major building blocks.
There are so many MLB clubs on the cusp of the playoffs who have deep farm systems and fringe MLB players manning third base that it is almost unconscionable that the Padres do not at least entertain the idea of trading away Headley.
(Photo courtesy of http://mlbfranchiseinsider.wordpress.com)
Evan Longoria has been out since late April/early May with a torn hamstring. It is questionable as to how effective he may be on the field once he returns.
He could easily replace Luke Scott at DH, judging by Scott's .609 OPS—not exactly a terrifying opponent at the plate.
Trading for Chase Headley would ensure that Longoria remained more healthy during their playoff push. It would also be a significant upgrade over Longoria's current replacement at third, the unproductive Elliot Johnson.
This is why Detroit is No. 9 on this list: They already have unmovable objects at third and first base, respectively, in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
However, Headley has been worth almost twice as much as Fielder this season (3.4 WAR vs. 1.8) because Fielder's defense has been so unsatisfactory. Plus, GM David Dombrowski has never been one to shy away from a deal.
Ergo, Headley pushing Cabrera to first base, Fielder to DH and Delmon Young back into the outfield to replace the .536 OPS corner outfielder (Don Kelly) makes all the sense in the world.
(Photo courtesy of Detroitnews.com)
Ryan Roberts is a disaster at third base and is making a mockery of the game of baseball.
Roberts has amassed a wRC+ of 65, showing that he is a 35% below average Major Leaguer, and yet Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers still have unfathomably allowed him to accumulate almost 250 at-bats this season.
He can't hit, can't hit for power and can't walk. His minuscule saving graces are that his glove and base-running have compensated for his automatic out at the plate, providing him with a 0.2 WAR.
Chase Headley routinely makes plays that are worth 0.2 WAR. Headley's wRC+ is 125 which not only means that he's created 25% more runs than the average MLBer, but that he's also been almost twice as valuable as Arizona's incumbent at third base.
Given that Headley would be moved intradivision, he would cost a bit more but he would also not be available for the Giants or the Dodgers to swoop in and steal.
(Photo courtesy of desertball.wordpress.com)
Oakland has a third basemen, Brandon Inge, who is under-performing Headley by 55% in terms of wRC+. Inge is also being out-valued with the glove in terms of 2:1. There is no reason why Brandon Inge should be occupying a roster spot over Headley, especially considering Billy Beane's penchant for acquiring players just to trade them later.
(Photo courtesy of http://prosportsextra.com)
This scenario feels like the Tigers a little bit, pushing the third baseman from his natural spot to make room for the premier National League fielding third basemen.
The difference in this scenario is that Headley would immediately occupy third base with Sandoval manning first base and Brandon Belt taking over duties in left field. I understand that Gregor Blanco has been terrific in the field this year, but it does not make sense to keep a left fielder with a smaller hitting sample size in the lineup over adjustments that clearly make the offense and defense more potent.
Baltimore needs much help in different areas. At the All-Star break, their pitching staff is in disarray, their run differential is -36 and their intradivision rival, the Boston Red Sox, are getting back Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford soon after play resumes.
Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz may take a little while to figure out what has been ailing them, but replacing Wilson Betemit with Chase Headley will provide instant results for a team that is desperately trying to hang on to second place in the the AL East.
Betemit's overall profile of 0.9 WAR is not even as valuable as Headley's glove; that's like saying that Betemit is worth more to Baltimore by sitting on the bench while watching Headley take over the hot corner to try to bring the Orioles back to the playoffs.
A team with a $151 million payroll is actually starting a pure fielding third baseman. Albert Callaspo is sporting a superb 7.0 UZR/150 but also a 200% decrease on WAR on Chase Headley.
Veteran leadership is often taken so much for granted that its true effect on a squad is either overlooked or missed altogether.
Potential future Hall of Famer, Scott Rolen, is such a specimen. He's literally been worth negative dollars to the team during the season, contributing a staggering 55% below wRC+ average Major League player's performance in 2012.
At this point, Chase Headley not only makes sense to keep the Pirates in check and the Cardinals at bay, but also to send a message that veteran players need to perform at a high level in order to keep playing for the club.
It does not take a rocket scientist to see why the Cleveland Indians need to trade for a dominant third baseman. The club is sporting a -29 run differential and sending out to third base every inning a guy with no offense and a sheer drop off of defensive capability (Jack Hannahan). The team must replace a player with a .318 OBP and an 83 wRC+. Trading for Chase Headley will allow the Indians to build on their solid core of maturing prospects as well.
If there was ever a general manager who would make Brian Sabean look good, then it would be Ned Colletti. After the 2009 season, Juan Uribe was a free agent and Sabean's Giants took a pass on the free agent. Instead, Sabean's long-time protege, Ned Colletti, inked Uribe to a three-year/$24 million contract.
In the one-and-a-half seasons since, Uribe has rewarded Colletti with (going on) two seasons of sub-.600 OPS bodies of work. Coupling how Uribe is essentially stealing money from the Dodgers, starting shortstop Dee Gordon is expected to miss six weeks, putting a premium on infielders.
Chase Headley knows the division, could be inspired by the pennant chase, would be playing his normal position with Uribe sliding over to SS and have the luxury of knowing that his arbitration years would be picked up on account of new ownership affording new talent. With Headley, the Dodgers would become perennial favorites to win the NL West until the Padres' prospects matured enough to challenge for the crown.