According to multiple sources, including ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are in talks about a possible trade that would send Robinson Cano to the Dodgers.
Olney reports that the Yankees preferred package would include either Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley and assuming that offer is turned down they would focus their attention on outfielder Matt Kemp.
Early this week, there were rumors that the Yankees would swap Cano for Matt Kemp and Russell Martin, however those talks died down. If the Yankees want to make a serious move for those players together, I would assume an additional prospect or two would have to be added, probably of the caliber of a Philip Hughes or Ian Kennedy.
Even if the Yankees are unable to trade Cano to the Dodgers, it is highly likely they would find another team willing to pay big for the second basemen. Although Cano had a poor season in 2008, he was considered almost untouchable a year ago, even in talks for Johan Santana, because of his production early in his career and the length of time until arbitration.
If the Yankees were to trade Cano, it is likely that Orlando Hudson would be headed to New York. Olney reports that the Yankees have had “internal discussions” regarding Hudson, and that if Cano was traded he would be signed.
Robinson Cano’s struggles in 2008 were greatly documented by the New York media. Cano, who had hit .342 and .307 the previous two seasons with an OPS+ over 120 in both, was expected by many to make a big leap in 2008. Not only did his average go down to .271, but his defense got progressively worse and his OBP dropped to .305. His '08 OBP was lower than his average in 2007.
Although there are many theories as to why Cano struggled in 2008, most people point to him missing Larry Bowa. Cano and Bowa had grown very close during the 2007 season and was missed by Cano last year. Not only is Bowa on the Dodgers, the team Cano is rumored to be headed to, but so is Joe Torre who was also instrumental in Cano’s success. While Cano did struggle in '08, the Dodgers may be expecting him to turn it around with Torre and Bowa, something he may be able to do.
Of the potential packages coming back for the Yankees, the most impressive one is probably Matt Kemp and Russell Martin. Although it is unlikely the Yankees get this kind of package just for Cano, it is worth looking at as this deal could grow and both players could potentially end up on the Yankees during the '09 season.
Matt Kemp is an impressive young outfielder with a large skill set who struggled last season when his playing time was reduced. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that Kemp can hit in the .300 range with a .375-.400 OBP and a high SLG, as he showed this skill set in the 2007 season. Kemp is 24 and only going to improve, and he fits right into the Yankees gaping hole in center field.
As for Russell Martin, he has proven over the last few years to be one of the better catchers in baseball. Although his power decreased last season, he made significant strides in OBP while walking more and striking out less. He will be 26 by spring and should be entering the prime of his career. With Jorge Posada aging and his injuries piling up, it makes sense that Martin would slide in at catcher and Posada would DH.
I doubt the Yankees are able to pull off both Martin and Kemp, and it seems far more likely that Matt Kemp would be in the trade than Russell Martin. But according to Buster Olney, the Yankees would prefer a package that included either Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley.
I doubt the Dodgers would be sending either of them away; however, it is possible the Yankees could get something done that would include one of the young stud pitchers.
This story was originally published at fantasybullpen.com. Alex Geshwind is a sabermetric baseball analyst for fantasybullpen.com and can be reached at email@example.com.