On Wednesday, I offered up the theory of trading Joakim Soria to build a better future base for the Kansas City Royals.
It could be sheer lunacy to consider moving either the second or third best player on the roster—one who is signed to a long-term deal for reasonable money and a player who, frankly, may not even be in his prime yet.
Some of you commented that while the theory might make at least some sense, you simply did not trust Dayton Moore to make the right call on the players to be received in return. I cannot argue with that trepidation, not even a little.
However, for fun, let's take Moore out of the equation and, using the three trades detailed on Wednesday as a guide, examine one potential trade option.
Those three trades we talked about involved a rehabbing Eric Gagne, free agent to be Jose Valverde, and George Sherrill. Without sounding too biased, Soria is better than any of those three at the point in time they were traded. He is in a better contract situation, has a better track record, and is pitching RIGHT NOW better than any of those three were.
That said, I think one can logically assume that Soria would net more in return than what the market granted for those three closers.
Okay, so who is the trading partner?
In looking around the league, I considered only teams that are going to make the playoffs or are in contention to do so this season (and hence might believe they are just "one player away" from making the playoffs next year).
Truthfully, there are a number of teams that might consider an upgrade at closer, and I intend to explore some others later, but one really screamed out to me: Philadelphia.
The Phillies' closer right now is Brad Lidge. He has a 7.48 earned run average and a WHIP of 1.861. While we in Kansas City fully understand how overvalued win-loss records are for pitchers, you have to put some stock in those numbers when a closer has ZERO wins and EIGHT losses.
Lidge has been bad enough for the Phils to start thinking about using Chan Ho Park to finish games.
Now, Philadelphia will make the playoffs and might win the Series anyway, but don't tell me they want to go into 2010 relying on Lidge...or Park...or anyone else. They are a team built to win now, next year, and the year after that.
They have three outfielders (Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth, and Shane Victorino) who are all really good and two exceptional outfield prospects in the minors.
Anyone smell a match here?
Keeping in mind that Ibanez will someday show his age and that, as good as he is, Joakim Soria is "just a reliever," the Royals will not pry both Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown away from Philadelphia. They might be able to get one of them, however.
Both Brown (the preseason No. 1 prospect of the organization) and Taylor (preseason No. 6) are big, athletic outfielders with pop and tons of potential. At 21 years old, Brown went .299/.377/.504 split between High A and AA ball this year. Taylor, two years older, went .320/.395/.549 split between AA and AAA.
My guess is that Brown still remains the better prospect, so I would be happy to propose the Phillies send over Taylor as part of this deal. He might not be ready to play every day next spring but likely would be in the majors no later than next summer—at which point he would likely already be the team's best outfielder.
Along with Taylor, just for tradition's sake, the Phillies would send along outfielder John Mayberry Jr. He hit .200 in limited major league duty this year and just .256/.332/.456 in AAA action.
At age 25, the junior Mayberry is probably not a prospect any longer, but not so old to completely call him washed-up either. He would be a decent risk for an organization like the Royals without much potential help at the AAA level.
The haul of Taylor and Mayberry is still a little light (both in my opinion and based upon past trades), so let's throw 24-year-old pitcher Alexander Concepcion into the deal.
The right-hander compiled a 3.21 ERA split between AA and AAA this year, sporting a strikeout to walk ratio of over four to one at both levels. He is a control pitcher, not a strikeout guy, who has split time between the pen and starting.
Again, not a great prospect, but he has enough of a track record to be useful at the back of the rotation or in middle relief.
So the question is twofold: Is this a reasonably logical trade, and would you do it?