MLB Trade Rumors: The Teams That Could Roll the Dice on Daisuke Matsuzaka

deleteth accounethCorrespondent IIIOctober 30, 2010

MLB Trade Rumors: The Teams That Could Roll the Dice on Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    Recently, The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo entertained the idea that Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka could generate some serious trade interest if the Sox chose to put him on the block.

    He cited an informal poll of baseball execs as the basis of his claims that moving Daisuke could generate a lot of interest among the baseball community

    This is certainly not a new idea, as his inconsistency on the mound and unwillingness to adapt to a more aggressive style of pitching has frustrated many Red Sox fans.

    Yet the talent is definitely there, and a change of scenery could be all it takes for Daisuke to finally figure it out on the major league level.

    If the Red Sox really were going to seriously consider trading the Dice-Man, which teams would be lining up for him, and what could the Red Sox expect to get in return?

    One thing's for certain: The Red Sox would likely have to eat a portion of his remaining two years and $20 million to move him. 

Texas Rangers

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    The Texas Rangers are one possible landing destination for Daisuke Matsuzaka. The void that Cliff Lee will likely create this offseason will need to be filled one way or another.

    However, there are a few things that make a trade to Texas less-than-likely. For one, Daisuke has spent his entire professional career pitching in mild climates, something the Rangers ballpark in Arlington is not known for.

    From 1999-2006, Daisuke made his home in the Japanese Pacific League. For those of you who aren't familiar with the league, most of the teams play in domes, something which Daisuke must have become acclimated to during his time in Japan.

    Also, Boston isn't exactly warm and sunny.

    In just two career starts in Texas, Daisuke is 1-1, yet posts a combined 6.94 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 11.2 innings of work. While the sample size is small, all signs indicate that Daisuke would not be a good fit for Texas.

    It also remains to be seen what the Rangers would have in return for Matsuzaka. They've built themselves a great organization, even if Lee leaves. It's almost a given that they would be unwilling to even discuss deals for top prospects like Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Max Ramirez, all three of which would interest the Sox (and every other team). 

    On the Major League level, someone along the lines of OF David Murphy could be of interest. It would give the Sox the chance to rectify the dreadful 2007 trade which sent David Murhpy, along with Kason Gabbard and Engel Beltre to Texas for Eric Gagne.

    Yet the addition of Murphy to the Red Sox might not prove to be all that valuable if the Red Sox reign in one of the two top free agent outfielders available in the 2011 offseason: Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

    If everyone remains healthy, Crawford/Werth would join the ranks of Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew, Mike Cameron, and Ryan Kalish. The acquisition of Murphy would make six outfielders, and would only find a spot on the roster if the Sox dealt and/or released more than one outfielder this season.

    All in all, the Rangers don't have much to offer the Sox on the major league level. It's unrealistic to think they would unload any of their top outfielders in any deal, let alone for the inconsistent Matsuzaka.

    The prognosis on a deal developing doesn't look good. Any deal the two teams would complete would probably send some mid level prospects/low ceiling major league players. Since dealing Matsuzaka would open up a hole in the Sox rotation, it's unlikely they would pursue this route heavily.

New York Mets

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    The New York Mets were one of the teams who lost out during the Daisuke Matsuzaka sweepstakes of 2006. They could look to make up for their miss this offseason.

    While it's likely the Mets will express some interest in Daisuke, they provide a wild card aspect to trade negotiations, in the sense that their organization is hanging in a state of limbo, with no manager, GM, or apparent direction.

    It's impossible to predict in what direction the Mets will go this offseason; they might not even know themselves at this point.

    A player who could be of significant interest to the Red Sox is current Mets third baseman David Wright. With the potential departure of Adrian Beltre looming, the Red Sox will need to find a corner infielder to fill Beltre's void.

    The Mets could also be in need of a closer, with the legal status of Francisco Rodriguez still very much up in the air. The Red Sox happen to have a closer with a ballooning salary and ERA in Jonathan Papelbon, who is likely entering his last year in Boston regardless of whether he gets traded.

    He becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2012, and all signs point to the Sox not wanting to pay him.

    The Red Sox also have Daniel Bard waiting in the wings, making Papelbon expendable. It's possible that the Mets could work out a package deal involving Wright for Daisuke and Papelbon.

    Yet David Wright is one of the best third baseman in the game, and fans should expect him to stay a Met until further notice. The Mets haven't given any indication that they would be looking to trade him, even if a trade might make some sense on their end.

    Another possible deal could send often injured outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Red Sox. The Red Sox outfield in 2010 was plagued with inconsistency, and despite his injury problems, Beltran possesses loads of talent.

    However, the Red Sox have balked in the past at a chance to acquire Beltran, and it appears as if they are not seriously interested in him. Like Murphy, Beltran would join the already cluttered ranks of the 2011 Boston outfield.

    The Mets have far more to offer the Red Sox on the minor league level. Prospects like OF Fernando Martinez, INF Ruben Tejada, and RHP Jenrry Mejia could all be potential interest targets for the Sox.

    All three have been involved in trade rumors, and could be components to a deal for Daisuke.

    Fernando Martinez appeared in seven games for the Mets this year and 75 games in the minors this year. He batted just .254 in 303 plate appearances in the minors, and .167 in 22 plate appearances in the majors. Martinez has been hampered by injuries throughout his short career and 2010 was no different; he suffered both back and knee injuries throughout the course of the season.

    Mejia appeared in 33 games for the Mets this year before being shut down with a rotator cuff strain. He posted a 4.62 ERA and 1.69 WHIP, and was 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA in three appearances as a starter.

    Tejada appeared in 78 games for the Mets this year, but managed just a .213 batting average and .588 OPS in 255 plate appearances. With the future of the Red Sox shortstop position very much in the air, Tejada could end up being a viable candidate for the job.

    The under performance and injury history of the trio could significantly dampen their value in the trade market, making them easy to acquire in a deal for Matsuzaka.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers could also be a prospective landing spot for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

    The Dodgers have had a history with Japanese pitchers; Hideo Nomo, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, Masao Kida, and Kazuhisa Ishii have all donned the blue and white at one point or another.

    The Dodgers also have a unique connection to the Japanese baseball market via Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who's superb work with the Japanese baseball system garnered an award from the Japanese Emperor in 2008.

    The pending divorce of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt complicates matters as well.

    Speculation that the Dodgers will look to slash and burn large contracts this offseason have been fueled by the high profile, high cost, and lengthy proceedings. 

    Ethier is due over $9 million in 2011, and then has one arbitration year in 2012. Ethier is due for a large pay raise in 2012, and then hits the free agent market in 2013, where he will probably become one of the highest paid outfielders in the game.

    Ethier is just 28, younger than top outfielders Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford, both of whom are free agents this winter, and both of whom are expected to be potential Red Sox acquisitions.

    Ethier would be better longer, and would quite frankly be a fantastic addition to the Red Sox.

    It remains to be seen whether or not the Dodgers would actually be willing to part with all star outfielder. 

    The re-signing of pitcher Ted Lilly has shortened their need for starting pitching, and also dispelled some talk that the Dodgers are looking to cut costs.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin has already promised to fix the pitching issues that plagued the Brewers throughout the 2010 season.

    And it just so happens they have and should be looking to move one of the best power hitters in the game.

    I've already written about this issue in depth, but here's the quick run down:

    Assuming either Adrian Beltre, or David Ortiz aren't back in a Red Sox uniform next year, an everyday corner IF position/DH spot should open up. The Red Sox have the luxury of being able to switch Kevin Youkilis to third, so Fielder could play first.

    The time is right for the Brewers to trade Prince. He's a free agent in 2012, and entertaining any ideas of resigning him are foolish. There are too many factors that could lead a decrease in the trade market, like questions about his weight/production, as well as the influx of top first baseman who should hit the free agent market over the next two seasons.

    It's fairly simple: The Red Sox have pitching, the Brewers have a power bat, and both teams could use the other. A trade here just makes sense.

Closing Thoughts

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    At this point, most everything discussed in this article is entirely speculative. The playoffs are still going on, and the offseason hasn't officially begun.

    Yet don't be surprised if a number of these scenarios are at least seriously discussed over the winter.

    Teams like the Mariners and Tigers, among others, could also be in the hunt of Daisuke this offseason.

    Personally, I don't see the Sox trading Daisuke for some mid-level major league talent/prospects. Even if Daisuke is frustrating at times, he still is probably the best fifth man in baseball, and would be a solid No. 2 or 3 on most major league teams.

    Also, trading Daisuke would leave a significant hole in the Red Sox rotation. They have Felix Doubront, Michael Bowden, and Casey Kelly waiting in the wings, yet neither Doubront or Bowden has shown that they could reliably be an everyday major league starter, and Kelly won't be ready until at least 2012.

    There's also been some speculation that the Red Sox could dip back into the Japanese talent market, and try to acquire 24-year-old Yu Darvish. However Darvish recently said on his blog that he would be remaining in Japan for the 2011 season.

    If the Red Sox were to deal Daisuke, they would most likely have to turn to the free agent pool in order to replace him. Obviously, Cliff Lee would be the No. 1 choice for most Red Sox fans, but they would have to outbid the Yankees for him.

    Let's face it; If the Yankees are willing to give AJ Burnett $82.5 million, think of what they'd be willing to offer Cliff Lee. As the postseason so blatantly showed, they quite simply need starting pitching more then the Red Sox do.

    A more likely scenario would be to bring in a reliable vet or an injury prone, high-risk, high reward type player. Pitchers like Brandon Webb, Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, and Carl Pavano fit that bill. The Red Sox were even on hand to scout Brandon Webb earlier this October, as he appeared in an instructional league game. 

    If the Red Sox were in fact to deal Daisuke, it would probably happen only if the Red Sox were able to land a game-changing player, like Prince Fielder, Andre Ethier, or David Wright.

    Yet, anything could happen this offseason. It should be a big one for the Sox regardless.