Francisco Rodriguez should have plenty of interest on the trade market but which team is the perfect match?
The perfect trade scenarios often present themselves around this time of the season—or so we think—and then we scratch our heads when they don't happen and were never even mentioned as possibilities on the rumor mill.
But what makes a perfect trade scenario? In reality, it's almost impossible to find the perfect match. There are too many factors that need to work in each team's favor, some that aren't easily identifiable by even some of the most passionate baseball fans.
Two teams can obviously match up based on need. But does it make sense financially? Can both teams agree on what is an even trade? Do teams agree on the value of a minor league prospect? How does the trade affect a team two to three years from now? All of these factors and probably a few others, must be taken into account before we decide what is a "perfect trade scenario."
Here are six perfect trade deadline partners that I've matched up.
The Diamondbacks are in 1st place in the NL West despite a closing duo that has been far from spectacular this season. Heath Bell and J.J. Putz, who have combined on a 4.53 ERA with nine blown saves and 13 homers allowed in 44.2 innings pitched, just aren't getting the job done and general manager Kevin Towers is reportedly looking to make improvements.
In addition to the bullpen, the D'backs could also be interested in adding another starter to the mix with Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill both on the disabled list. They've been linked to Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo in trade rumors but are reportedly not interested in dealing highly-touted prospect Tyler Skaggs, who would likely have to be the centerpiece of that deal.
But if a deal was expanded to include Gallardo and reliever Francisco Rodriguez (pictured) and another mid-level prospect or two heading back to Milwaukee, then Towers might be more willing to part with the 21 year-old Skaggs in order to fill two holes on his roster.
Here's what Arizona's revamped pitching staff might look like:
1 LHP Pat Corbin
2 RHP Yovani Gallardo
3 LHP Wade Miley
4 RHP Ian Kennedy
5 RHP Trevor Cahill/Brandon McCarthy/Randall Delgado
CL RHP Francisco Rodriguez
SU RHP David Hernandez
SU RHP Brad Ziegler
MID RHP J.J. Putz
MID LHP Tony Sipp
MID RHP Heath Bell
LR RHP Josh Collmenter
Matt Garza's price tag has risen with every great start he's made over the past few weeks, meaning that a team like the Red Sox with the payroll flexibility to take on the remainder of his 2013 salary (estimated $5 million) and a deep pool of talented prospects could become the favorite.
The Sox feel good about their overall rotation depth and don't feel like a back-of-the-rotation type is necessary. However, Garza (pictured) would give them another frontline starter to go along with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and even John Lackey is pitching like a No. 1 starter these days.
That quartet would be tough in the playoffs, which is why the Sox would likely ante up and send one of their talented, live-armed pitching prospects—Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa or Anthony Ranaudo would all be candidates—to the Cubs as the centerpiece of a deal to land Garza.
It doesn't have to end there, though. With Joel Hanrahan out for the season and Andrew Bailey struggling to get on track, the bullpen could use another reliable arm in the late innings. If the Sox sweeten the overall deal and send Webster, Triple-A outfielder Bryce Brentz (.804 OPS, 16 HR) and a lower-level prospect with upside, they could end up with Garza and relief pitcher Kevin Gregg, who has a 1.59 ERA and 14 saves in 15 chances for the Cubs.
Here's what the Sox's revamped pitching staff could look like:
1 LHP Jon Lester
2 RHP Matt Garza
3 RHP Clay Buchholz
4 RHP John Lackey
5 RHP Ryan Dempster
CL RHP Koji Uehara
SU RHP Kevin Gregg
SU RHP Andrew Bailey
MID LHP Andrew Miller
MID RHP Junichi Tazawa
MID LHP Craig Breslow
LR LHP Franklin Morales
A Giants pitching staff that has been as unreliable as it has in years now needs the offense to step up more than ever. It hasn't happened. The result is a struggling teams with 20 losses in their last 30 games to fall 4.5 games back of the 1st place Diamondbacks.
With Angel Pagan expected to miss most of, if not all of the remainder of the regular season after hamstring surgery, a very thin Giants outfield must get by with the light-hitting duo of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres in the everyday lineup. They're in need of some pop in the middle of the lineup and the White Sox appear willing to trade outfielder Alex Rios, who has a .769 OPS with 11 homers and 19 doubles.
The 32 year-old is signed through next season ($12.5 million) with a $13.5 million club option for 2015 so the price tag will be much higher than a two-month rental. In fact, they'll probably have to dip into their strong pitching depth in the lower minors and give up one of their best three prospects—right-handers Clayton Blackburn, Kyle Crick or Chris Stratton.
Ridding the Sox of Rios' salary and giving up a good young pitching prospect—let's say they settle for Stratton, last year's 1st Round draft pick, after asking for Crick and being denied—plus lefty Ty Blach, who has a 2.72 ERA with eight walks and 73 strikeouts over 82.2 innings in the hitter-friendly High-A California League could be enough to get a deal done.
Take a look at the Giants' revamped lineup with Rios:
1 Marco Scutaro, 2B
2 Alex Rios, LF
3 Buster Posey, C
4 Pablo Sandoval, 3B
5 Hunter Pence, RF
6 Brandon Belt, 1B
7 Grego Blanco/Andres Torres, CF
8 Brandon Crawford, SS
It won't have quite the impact of the deal that brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit from the Marlins prior to the 2008 season, but acquiring one or two relievers from the 2013 Marlins could be just what the Tigers need to take the next step in the postseason.
Of course, that means winning the World Series as opposed to just getting there as they did in 2012. As unreliable as the bullpen has been, they'd be lucky to win the AL Central again. Joaquin Benoit appears to have locked down the closer's job and 24 year-old lefty has been outstanding in a setup role. Beyond those two, there's not really anyone else you'd trust with the game on the line.
Steve Cishek (pictured), who has a 2.97 ERA and 17 saves in 19 chances, would be an ideal 8th inning setup man and occasional closer when Benoit needs a night off. Adding Mike Dunn (2.97 ERA, 11 holds) to the trade would give the Tigers a second lefty to take over for a struggling Phil Coke (6.04 ERA).
And for those two bullpen upgrades, each under team control for several more seasons, the Tigers would likely have to give up hard-throwing Bruce Rondon, who isn't quite ready to help a World Series contender but would have a chance to be eased into the closer's role in Miami, and two lower-level prospects with upside.
And why would the Marlins give up two established major league relievers who won't be expensive for another year or two for an unproven reliever? Because the Marlins need to do whatever they can to build a fan base for their new stadium. Having a pitcher from Venezuela who can throw 102 MPH to close out victories might help to bring in more of Miami's 65% Hispanic population.
Take a look at the Tigers' revamped bullpen with Cishek and Dunn:
CL RHP Joaquin Benoit
SU RHP Steve Cishek
SU LHP Drew Smyly
MID RHP Al Alburquerque
MID LHP Mike Dunn
MID RHP Luke Putkonen
LR LHP Phil Coke
Earlier today, I wrote about the Dodgers' interest in Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (pictured) and how a potential midseason trade could happen between the two clubs if the Dodgers could first sign the former UCLA star to a long-term extension.
By agreeing on a deal that would send outfield prospect Joc Pederson, one of the Dodgers' top three prospects to Philadelphia, the Dodgers could then potentially have a two or three day negotiating window to keep Utley in Los Angeles for at least another two seasons. If a deal is not agreed upon, then the trade doesn't happen. If it does, Utley becomes the Dodgers' starting second baseman and Mark Ellis moves to the bench.
The 21 year-old Pederson, who the Dodgers would be very reluctant to trade in a deal for a short-term rental, is having a huge season for Double-A Chattanooga with a .910 OPS, 14 homers and 25 stolen bases. He'd be in the mix to join Domonic Brown and Ben Revere in the Phillies' 2014 outfield.
Take a look at the Dodgers' revamped lineup with Utley:
1 Carl Crawford, LF
2 Chase Utley, 2B
3 Matt Kemp, CF
4 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5 Hanley Ramirez, SS
6 Yasiel Puig, RF
7 A.J. Ellis, C
8 Juan Uribe, 3B
The Pirates have passed on potential deals for impact players the past two seasons, instead opting for minor deals that didn't cost a whole lot from an impressive pool of elite minor league talent. It didn't help as the Bucs quickly fell from contention and ended up with their 19th and 20th consecutive losing seasons.
If there was a year that they should go all out, however, it would be 2013. Not only because Pirates fans deserve better than a 21st consecutive losing season. Not only because this is a very talented team with the best record in baseball (53-32). But also because there are two very good teams, the Cardinals and Reds, close behind them in the division race and they'll need all the firepower they can get to hold them off and ensure their first playoff appearance since 1992.
The pitching staff, despite a rash of injuries, should be fine even if Wandy Rodriguez is unable to return from an elbow injury. A five-man rotation of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton is very good.
If there was a need for an upgrade on this 25-man roster, it would be in the middle of the lineup where only Pedro Alvarez (21 HR) is a major threat to hit the ball out of the park. Adding 41 year-old veteran Raul Ibañez (pictured), who went 7-for-22 with three homers last postseason as a Yankee and has 21 homers this season for the Mariners, could be the move that pushes them over the top.
Ibañez would play against right-handed starters in one of the corner outfield spots, which could be an adventure, but he could be lifted for a defensive replacement late in games. The way he's hitting the ball this season, his bat would more than make up for any defensive limitations.
The asking price will be high, but only in terms of what it would normally cost for a 41 year-old free agent-to-be who will hurt the team defensively. The Bucs could possibly get Ibañez for power-hitting first base prospect Stetson Allie, a converted pitcher who hit .325 with 17 homers in 66 Low-A games before a recent promotion, and a mid-level pitching prospect.
Take a look at the Pirates' revamped lineup with Ibañez:
1 Starling Marte, LF
2 Neil Walker, 2B
3 Andrew McCutchen, CF
4 Raul Ibañez/Jose Tabata, RF
5 Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez, 1B
6 Pedro Alvarez, 3B
7 Russell Martin, C
8 Jordy Mercer, SS