MLB Trade Rumors: Three Felix Hernandez Deals That Actually Make Sense
TV shows, newspapers and websites have all given various reasons why Seattle will eventually (i.e. 2011) trade Felix Hernandez to the New York Yankees.
Most of the reasons stem from the fact that "King" Felix is set to begin making almost $20 million per season in the coming months, or the fact that the Mariners lack any real offense, and their farm system is lacking players who will be here soon enough to bring the Mariners back to relevancy before Hernandez decides he wants to move on and demands a trade or refuses to re-sign.
There are several problems with all of the reports that have Felix Hernandez headed to New York. First, the Yankees top prospects are, by and large, pitchers.
"The Killer B's" as they have been dubbed by the New York media, consisting of Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman, are all pitchers. The only top positional prospect that the Yankees have is Jesus Montero, and he's taken a step backwards this year.
Montero is only valuable because of his bat, and his bat is completely unproven against Major League pitching, at least at this point. The consensus is that that he will not be able to play catcher in the Major Leagues and will need to be switched to either first base or designated hitter before he can play every day. The problem with that is the fact that the Mariners have pitching. They lack offense.
The second problem with Felix to the Yankees scenarios is that Hernandez has continually stated that he wants to remain in Seattle and doesn't want to pitch as a member of the New York Yankees. His contract extension included a no-trade clause with 10 teams, one of which is the Yankees.
The other teams are from major media markets like Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Presumably the no-trade clause was put into the contract to give Hernandez leverage in any trade negotiations, giving him the ability to make it a requirement that the team who acquires him extend his contract, and so on and so forth.
While this has never been denied by Hernandez or his agent, it has also never been confirmed. What has been confirmed, as recently as the All-Star Break, is Felix's desire to remain in Seattle for the foreseeable future.
Finally, the problem is the presumption that Seattle cannot afford to pay what Felix's contract requires them to pay. Seattle has an MLB monopoly on the Northwestern United States. They are the only team within easy driving distance of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
They are NOT a poor team. Poorly run for the past decade, yes.
But, the Mariners ownership group is, in fact, among the wealthiest in MLB. The money is not a problem for this franchise.
The following are three trade partners, and deals, that make sense for the Mariners, as well as for the other teams involved.
I am not suggesting that the Mariners SHOULD or WILL trade Felix Hernandez, just pointing out deals that make more sense to the Mariners than to trade with the Yankees.
First up, and my personal favorite, are the Cincinnati Reds.
This trade makes sense for several reasons.
First, the Reds are very close to contention after making it to the playoffs last season. A front-of-the-rotation starter might just put them over the top.
Second, the Reds are able to pay Felix Hernandez's salary, which seems to take many of the teams out of the running. This is demonstrated by the amount of money they just recently stopped paying to Ken Griffey Jr. and the fact that most of the Reds' everyday players aren't making much.
Finally, the Reds and the Mariners have a history of trades beneficial to both clubs, namely, the Ken Griffey Jr. trade, and the Reds have what the Mariners need: hitting prospects.
1B/DH Yonder Alonso
Alonso is a left-handed slugger who is blocked in Cincinnati by Joey Votto and the National League. If he were in the farm system of an AL club, he would be inserted into the lineup as the everyday DH.
He could be a valuable piece in Seattle because of his overall hitting approach and the fact that he is a left-handed slugger. Coming to a park built for lefties is a match made in heaven.
Catcher Yasmani Grandal
Grandal is a switch hitting catcher whose overall approach is above average. He's got decent pop in his bat and his defensive ability as a catcher is above average.
He looks to be blocked in the future by Devin Mesoraco, another catcher who is above average all around. The Mariners need a catcher, and the fact that he is a switch-hitter is just a bonus.
Outfielder Yorman Rodriguez
Rodriguez is another prospect with above average pop in his bat, and a cannon for an arm. What his defense lacks, he makes up for with his power at the plate. He's definitely raw, at only 18 years of age, and he may not pan out, but he's looked solid in Single-A this season.
Third Baseman Juan Francisco
Francisco continues the theme of power. A slugging third baseman, he currently sits on the bench as a backup to Scott Rolen and left-handed pinch hitter. He has a lot of power in his bat, and his arm. He could immediately slot in as Seattle's third baseman.
RHP Felix Hernandez
Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in the American League. While some pitchers struggle making the transition from one league to the next, there's little doubt that Felix would have no problem with that transition.
Third Baseman/Left Fielder Chone Figgins
While Figgins' time in Seattle has been a colossal failure, beginning with the transition to second base, he still has the skills that made him a valuable player for the Angels. His game is more suited for the National League, and the Reds are in need of a leadoff hitter.
The Mariners would have to send cash to offset part, if not all, of Figgins' salary to make this deal work.
This trade makes sense for both teams. For the Reds, they get the ace they so desperately need. For the Mariners, they get rid of a non-productive player, and fill some of their most pressing needs by trading their star.
On the plus side, they can call this the "Killer Y's Package."
Next up, the Washington Nationals and No. 1 prospect Bryce Harper.
This makes sense because the Nationals could use an established ace to pair with Stephen Strasburg, and they may decide to get rid of their problem child,Bryce Harper.
Outfielder/Catcher Bryce Harper
Harper, the 18 year old wunderkind, is slowly becoming a problem for the Washington Nationals. He possesses otherworldly power and may be the best baseball prospect since Alex Rodriguez or Ken Griffey, Jr.
He played catcher all through high school, and probably could play there in the pros as well, but, because the Nationals have two highly rated catchers in the farm system, he was switched to right field.
The problem is that he has an attitude problem. While in Single-A ball, Harper hit a home run. That's great. That's what he's paid to do, in fact. The problem arose when Harper blew the opposing pitcher a kiss as he rounded the bases.
That kind of immaturity in the Major Leagues would probably end in a fistfight between one of the opposing pitcher's teammates and Harper.
Catcher Derek Norris
Norris is another of those catching prospects who hits well and has the ability to stick at catcher. The Nationals currently employ Wilson Ramos, who's better defensively, and has some pop in his bat as well. Positional conflicts are always nice to have, mostly because it allows one team to trade a surplus for something they need.
RHP Felix Hernandez
Felix would immediately become the ace in Washington, and, when Strasburg returns, Felix would help to alleviate some of the pressure put on Strasburg by the weight of the Nationals franchise pressing down on his shoulders.
Seattle would immediately get the most sure-thing prospect in baseball and a catcher for the future, while the Nationals would get a pitcher to pair with Stephen Strasburg.
Kansas City Royals
Finally, the top farm system in all of baseball meets the team with the most needs in baseball.
The Kansas City Royals have developed a load of talent, but most of it has been hitters, and their pitching needs some work.
1B/DH Eric Hosmer
Hosmer is a talented left-handed power hitter who would fit right into the middle of Seattle's lineup right away. He's currently the starting first baseman for the Royals, but they have several guys who could take over that job.
Third Baseman Mike Moustakas
Mike Moustakas is yet another left handed power bat and possible future Gold Glove third baseman. He could plug the hole at third which was left after the departure of Adrian Beltre.
These two prospects were ranked No. 8 and No. 9 on the 100 Best Prospects of 2011 list by Baseball America. A couple of lower-level prospects would be needed to seal the deal, but none of them would be the Royals top prospects.
Kansas City Gets:
RHP Felix Hernandez
An ace to lead their staff and mentor the young pitching prospects who will soon be filtering up from the ranks of the lower levels of the minor leagues. Not much else needs to be said about Hernandez.