Trader Kenny is done buying, but is he still "shopping"?
In the week since the Sox officially signed Paul Konerko, the GM Ken Williams indicated that the team, at it's payroll limit, would have to make a trade to bolster their roster in any still-lacking areas, namely the bullpen. So, naturally, rumors promptly arose that Williams was "shopping" Carlos Quentin and "listening" to offers for Mark Buehrle.
Of course, since Williams isn't the woman in this Seinfeld clip, there's no reason why he wouldn't be listening to trade offers. (Yes, a deaf joke. Sue me.)
While both statements strike me as something of a sensationalized "sun rises in east", I'm more inclined to believe that Quentin is in danger of finding himself a new address next season. (JJ at White Sox Examiner makes the case why trading Buehrle is a long shot.)
I doubt the Sox are "shopping" Quentin as aggressively as it was played up in the media, but it makes sense to think they are at least open to the idea of getting some $5 million in payroll relief while shedding an injury prone, poor defensive outfielder now that they have no room at DH. Also, could it be more than just a coincidence that Carlos is not pictured in the "We're All In" ad?
Young DH-in-waiting Dayan Viciedo is another player with value but without a position on this team, making him prime trade bait as well. What I don't want to see is one (or, shudder, both) of Quentin and Viciedo traded for a mere relief pitcher.
I understand the Sox are in a super-sized "win now" mode, and that the bullpen is in need of one or two quality arms to be truly competitive. But it would be depressing if the value of Quentin, who was a freak injury away from an AL MVP, and Viciedo, who, at 21 years old is the top hitting prospect in the organization, have been reduced to the characteristically-volatile garden-variety 65-inning-per-year relief pitcher.
Trades and signings involving Octavio Dotel, Matt Capps and Joaquin Benoit over the past few months have revealed a shockingly-high cost for bullpen help, but the Sox shouldn't be lured in to making a similar overpay. (Unfortunately, the best buy-low relief pitcher candidate on the free agent market right now is probably Bobby Jenks, who may need a change of scenery and thus isn't really a real option for the Sox.)
I know Kenny said he needs to "get creative" to improve the bullpen, but I am wary of the famed "Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino" template that some are trying to apply here. While that deal ended in a World Series trophy, it isn't the kind of value-adding deal that generally improves an organization.
So what should Kenny do?
I'm not interested in anything that leaves a hole in rightfield or starting pitching, so any straight up deals of Quentin, Viciedo or any of the Sox starters for bullpen pieces, no matter how highly-regarded, looks like a loss to me.
Finding a logical way to add to the bullpen seems pretty difficult. So I'll leave that up to Williams. However, if you'll indulge me for a second, I would like to go Phil Rogers on you and propose a wacky series of trades.
Suspend reality for a minute and consider the following:
- Trade Quentin and Viciedo to the Rays for SP Matt Garza
- Trade Gavin Floyd to the Yankees for OF Brett Gardner and RP Joba Chamberlain
- Trade Juan Pierre to anyone willing to take his contract, maybe with a $1.5 million subsidy
- Trade Mark Teahen and one of Kyle Bellamy/Charlie Leesman/Nathan Jones to the Mets for OF Carlos Beltran plus $6.5 million.
- Sign Freddy Garcia (one year, $1.5 million).
(* Assuming the Sox pay $2 million of Pierre's salary, this series of trades would subtract ~$19.5 million and add ~$19.5 million. Crazy how that worked out, eh?)
Sox Line Up:
1. Gardner LF
2. Beckham 2B
3. Beltran RF
4. Dunn DH
5. Konerko 1B
6. Rios CF
7. Ramirez SS
8. Pierzynski C
9. Morel 3B
Cliff Lee's shocking return to Philadelphia opens a lot of avenues for the Sox, including trades with the pitching-desperate and reeling Yankees. Floyd for Gardner and Chamberlain is probably a too-good-to-be-true deal, but the Yankees are desperate, and they may see Gardner as a 9-hole hitter and Chamberlain as a bust.
If the Rays are shopping Garza, who would replace Floyd in the Sox rotation, they could do worse that Quentin and Viciedo. (Maybe the Sox sweeten the offer with another prospect.) And of course Jake Peavy could replace Garcia in the rotation somewhere in the middle of the season, provided he's healthy and effective (I'm not counting on anything significant from him right now.)
And everyone knows I love me some Carlos Beltran. How did it take so long for me to work him into an offseason article?
That's an "All In" team right there. If there's any way Kenny could pull that off, I would personally petition the city every day until they renamed nine streets in his honor. All that's left from there is to print the ALCS tickets versus Boston.