Three MLB Trades I Would Make Before the Deadline
Atlanta Braves and Oakland Athletics
Braves send Jeff Francoeur, Kris Medlen, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Kelly Johnson to the Athletics for Matt Holliday and Adam Kennedy
The A’s and Braves have made trades before. This deal gets the A’s three major league-ready young players for a pair of one-year veterans. The Braves are desperate to unload Jeff Francoeur (.246/.281/.336), and maybe the A’s philosophy of OBP being very important could help Francoeur fix his approach.
Francoeur might benefit more than any player currently in the Majors from a change of scenery, and Oakland is a perfect, no pressure fit.
The Braves can easily afford to move the other three. Atlanta has extremely deep pitching and will get Tim Hudson back at some point. Right hander-Kris Medlen (2-2, 21.1, 5.91), just 23 years old, is a solid, potential middle of the rotation starter who could thrive in pitcher-friendly Oakland.
Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2, 27, 7.00) is a 24-year-old lefty who has some potential. He is a project, but Oakland has a history of trying to bring in struggling young pitchers and develop them (see Dana Eveland).
That brings us to Kelly Johnson (.222/.293/.373). I know the Braves have said that Johnson is staying put, but it would make sense in this deal. Johnson fits the A’s offensive player profile and can provide a younger version of Adam Kennedy to bridge the gap until Jemile Weeks (2008 First Round Pick, 12th Overall) is ready.
The Braves get the big bat they need in Matt Holliday (.270/.368/.422). Holliday is a perfect fit in Atlanta and would provide the right-handed bat the Braves need. Holliday’s numbers are solid in Oakland and would certainly get a strong bump from moving to Atlanta.
Adam Kennedy (.301/.373/.470) is having a resurgent season, but he is not a long-term guy for Oakland. Trading him now takes advantage of the high value and gives the Braves a veteran to take the place of Johnson.
The Braves can use Kennedy for this season and then turn the job over to Martin Prado (.283/.348/.450) in 2010. Atlanta is very high on Prado, and this gives them the opening to play him full-time next season.
San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians
Giants send Henry Sosa, Jonathan Sanchez, and Nate Schierholtz to the Indians for Mark DeRosa and Carl Pavano
This deal depends a great deal on the other offers Cleveland gets for Mark DeRosa (.273/.346/.464). It is a good deal for both sides if you believe in Nate Schierholtz (.278/.301/.392), which I do. He has produced at all levels with career averages of .308/.354/.518.
Schierholtz would almost definitely benefit from the AL ballparks and weaker pitching as well. We have not yet seen his power in the majors, but that could be due to the park factor of San Francisco. Schierholtz has averaged almost 16 homers over the past four seasons in the minors.
Jonathan Sanchez (2-8, 66.2, 5.54) gives Cleveland a 26-year-old lefty with all kinds of potential. Sanchez has yet to reach his potential and is still struggling mightily with his control (46 walks in 66.2 innings).
If he can ever get his control to be even adequate, he could be dominant. He has only allowed 71 hits and has struck out 64 batters on the season. Those numbers are made all the more impressive by the fact that he constantly pitches from behind in the count.
Henry Sosa also gives the Indians a young, power-armed, potential third starter. Sosa has a plus-plus fastball in the upper 90s and a solid power curve. Sosa is 25 years old and could help Cleveland by next season.
Sosa has been solid at Double-A San Jose for the Giants, going 6-0 with a 2.61 ERA so far in 2009. The only issue is that he has only struck out 38 in 62 innings, but he has also only allowed 54 hits.
All it costs Cleveland is a 34-year-old DeRosa and a 33-year-old Carl Pavano (6-5, 81.2, 5.73). Along with his offensive prowess, DeRosa can play a solid defensive third base in San Francisco, allowing them to upgrade two spots instantly. The Giants can move Pablo Sandoval (.336/.385/.544) to first base.
That move gives them more offense at that position. The other plus is that Sandoval's well below average defense at third is upgraded by moving him to first, where he can be at least adequate.
Pavano gives the Giants another veteran starter, not that they do not already have enough. But they have to replace Sanchez in the rotation. Pavano has pitched pretty well for the last month or so, except for his last two starts (9.2 innings, 15 runs).
He would no doubt benefit from the move to the NL and from the chance to pitch in AT&T Park. Pavano would give the Giants one of the better fifth starters in the NL. Also, to be honest, they cannot afford a better upgrade for Sanchez.
Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers
Red Sox send Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie (would have to be off the DL) to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy
This deal makes loads of sense for both teams, but it will never happen. Boston has been searching for a replacement for Nomar Garciaparra ever since they traded him in 2001. They are very high on Jed Lowrie (.056/.150/.056), but J.J. Hardy is an opportunity they cannot pass up.
Hardy (.218/.299/.336) is struggling this season, but it is likely he will bounce back. He has averaged 25 home runs and 77 RBIs over his past two seasons and should finish about there again.
Hardy is also one of the better defensive shortstops in the NL. In addition, Hardy would benefit from a switch to the AL and Boston, seeing more fastballs and getting the short right field at Fenway.
Lowrie can move to second base for the Brewers when he gets healthy and fill the void left by the Rickie Weeks injury. The trade opens up shortstop in Milwaukee for Alcides Escobar (.294/.339/.415 at AAA).
Escobar is ready to play defense in the Majors, and he can probably provide a similar offensive profile to Elvis Andrus (.261/.325./372, 11 stolen bases) of the Rangers this season.
The big win for the Brewers is right-hander Clay Buchholz (5-1, 74.2, 1.93). He is dominating AAA with a 1.95 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. Most impressive is that Buchholz has allowed just 46 hits in those innings.
Buchholz immediately jumps into the Brewers rotation and gives them another potential ace to pair with Yovani Gallardo (7-4, 90, 3.00) for several years. Buchholz has dominating stuff with three plus pitches and much improved command; he could dominate the NL quickly.
It is a great deal for both teams. The Brewers get younger and cheaper while adding the starter that they desperately need. Boston gets rid of the starting pitcher that they need to move anyway.
In a real coup for Boston, they get a top-10 shortstop that is just 26 years old for two guys they do not need anyway. This trade shows the benefits of both teams having such a deep farm system. Yankees brass should pay attention.
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