Anytime a young player makes his way toward his first crack at free agency, there is no doubt a sense of urgency about getting a big deal done.
San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley finds himself in that very situation right now, just a year away from free agency.
A strong stat line would seemingly be enough for the San Diego Padres to take advantage of an opportunity to get a head start on signing their lone star to a long-term deal that could help set the team in the right direction of a rebuilding process.
Instead, the team simply avoided arbitration with Headley in agreeing to a one-year deal worth $8.6 million, but that clearly isn't what the third baseman had in mind (via Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune):
We talked about a long-term contract briefly at the start of these negotiations. It was a quick discussion. We weren’t on the same page right from the start. This close to free agency, it has to be a good deal for us. You can’t sacrifice what’s fair.
And as spring training kicks into high gear, it now appears that the team is taking the exact opposite approach to a long-term deal, with Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reporting that the Padres are putting out feelers for trade offers on their star third baseman.
When a player of this caliber enters the conversation surrounding a trade, any front office will make a phone call to see what it may take to get a deal done, though there are always a few favorites that stand out above the rest.
Perhaps the most likely landing spot for Headley, however, is Yankee Stadium, where the Bronx Bombers have already had interest in the third baseman as recently as last summer.
Before committing to such a deal, however, Brian Cashman and the rest of the front office needs to take a long look at the pros and cons that come along with bringing Headley on board.
The benefits of bringing a player like Headley into the lineup are fairly obvious, especially as he comes off his best season as a major leaguer, with 31 home runs and a league-leading 115 RBI to his name in 2012.
Injury issues are a big part of the reason that the Yankees are in a position to need to take on additional offense, and though Headley struggled to stay on the field during the 2011 season, he did average 160 games per season during 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Taking into account the different players that will be missing time for the Yankees early on in 2013 (Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez), it needs to be noted that Headley has seen time at multiple positions, with nearly 500 games played at third base and 200 in the outfield—and he was solid enough with the leather in 2012 to earn his first Gold Glove award.
At the plate, Headley has seen his on-base and slugging percentages increase in each of the past three seasons and is effective from both sides of the plate, with almost equal numbers against both right- and left-handed pitchers. He has rounded out his game with more solid play in the field, taking home his first Gold Glove last season.
The Yankees may have far greater financial freedom than many other teams when it comes to pulling off a blockbuster deal, but that doesn't mean that the moves don't carry some risks with them.
Case in point, Rodriguez is still owed over $100 million before his contract expires five years from now, and that's a financial commitment that the team surely wishes it didn't have on its books.
Headley is young enough that the risks of handing out a big sum of money likely wouldn't come back to bite the team a few years from now, but the cost of acquiring him very well could.
New York is heavy on veterans, meaning that in a matter of years it'll be looking toward its top prospects to produce. Trading for a superstar player, however, would more than likely push one or two of those prospects out of the picture.
In the short term, the team would also need to take into consideration what type of logjam would form once players do get healthy, as Granderson, Teixeira and Rodriguez won't be lost forever.
Nobody expects that a trade would be imminent, but with the possibility of a free-agent battle looming next winter and the Padres seemingly coming to the realization that Headley won't be a long-term fixture in San Diego, that could change at any moment.