In thinking about the offseason, the FO is obviously faced with some tough decisions. So far, the team is literally in the red at both 2b and 3b which have produced totals of -.5 WAR and -1.4WAR respectively. I don't care what your thoughts are regarding WAR but I think by any metric it's abundantly clear we've sucked at those positions and they are the greatest levers for change. Being a mid-market team that strongly values its farm system; I get the impression that the Rockies have enough in the budget for one flashy FA acquisition and one big trade.
I've been looking at a handful of trade targets for the Rockies this offseason. Personally, and with all due respect to Rox Girl and whoever else, I really (and I mean really) dislike the idea of signing Michael Cuddyer. It's not that Cuddyer isn't a good player and it's not that I don't think he couldn't help, but rather, I don't see what problem he solves. We already essentially have Cuddyer on the team except he goes by the name of Ty Wigginton. Wigginton is about 18 months older than Cuddyer, but beyond that they're fairly similar players. Neither can play anything but first base and be considered above-average defensively, both are aging but offer a respectable offensive skillset with some pop and versatility to play multiple positions.
Regarding Cuddyer, I can't envision the benefit to having both him and Wigginton on the same team. Additionally, for a team with relatively limited resources, I don't think it would be a wise idea to hand out a 3 year contract to a guy who will be 32 at the start of next season and most importantly is coming off of a career year - we'll almost certainly overpay. It honestly sounds like a great way to perpetuate the Rockies current status of "fringe-contention mediocrity".
I'm also not too on board with signing Aramis Ramirez unless he wants to sign a 1 or 2 year deal to try to set himself up nicely for one last big contract, which brings me back to the trade candidates.
Now before I list names, I think it's important to consider a few things that I kept in mind when composing this list:
First, we need a player that we don't have to sell the farm for. I don't mind losing quality pieces, but we can't do what the Brewers did this past offseason.
Secondly, this team has been borderline okay this season with negative production at 2b and 3b - having 2WAR players at each position would have improved our win total this year by 6(!) which would leave our record at 72 and 69. I'm not writing this piece to suggest I'd be content with a 2WAR player at each position; rather I'm just using this to emphasize how big of a turnaround the Rockies could experience from only the most modest of improvements.
Third, we still play in Coors, we still will benefit a ton from ground ball pitchers, and we'll also be breaking in a new crop of young pitchers next season - Pomeranz, White, and Nicasio to compliment a still-maturing Chacin, and a recovering JDLR. This means defense will be critical. All of these pitchers are already big time ground ball pitchers and the younger guys will almost certainly allow more hits due to their inexperience. In targeting trade candidates I placed a greater importance on defense than I would otherwise. This is also why you won't see Michael Young on this list.
Fourth, this is all hypothetical. Clearly the packages that other teams demand dictate their attractiveness and likewise how on-board I'd be with a trade. I'm not sure how interested other teams are in moving these players. Since we don't really know what the demand consists of, I'm mostly ignoring that with this list, so please don't think I feel as strongly about acquiring Casey McGehee as I do David Wright.
The list of names is as follows:
Aaron Hill (not actually a trade candidate but a possible free agent)
In the interest of keeping this short, I'm only commenting on the players that I consider the biggest/best targets. I'll post my thoughts on the remaining players in the comments but essentially, they're all high risk/high reward types that may not improve the team OR the players' current team most likely has no interest in dealing them. That being said, if you read this and feel a certain way about player X, make sure to check the comments to make sure he hasn't been discussed. Of course, if there's someone else you like who isn't on this list, then please comment away!
The cost of acquiring David Wright may be rather high and he means more to the Mets than any other team. From the Mets' perspective the reasons to trade him are as strong as the reasons to keep him. He's expensive, his defense has been really poor the past few seasons, his offense has dropped since his peak 5 years ago, and he spent a large portion of this season on the DL with a fractured vertebrae. The good part? He's David Friggin' Wright. He has played plus defense in the past and his offensive numbers have improved this past season. His strikeout rate is back down to where it was 5 years ago after ballooning to Ian Stewart levels the past few seasons. He is a right-handed power bat and his offense would more than make up for his poor defense. His back injury was about as not-serious as any back injury could be. He has one year with a club option left on his contract, but that last option can be voided by him in the event of a trade. Any team trading for him will do so envisioning him as a one year player. This makes it perfect for us if Nolan Arenado keeps being awesome. It also however is a good reason for the Mets not to trade Wright.
I really like the idea of Headley playing for the Rockies. Headley is a switch hitter who had an amazing season on defense in 2010 and has been average to below average defensively in 2011. He has some pop and look at his home/road splits for his career - PetCo has really kept him down. He has a career line of .303/.365/.442 on the road. While I wouldn't interpret his road line as how he'd perform on any other team, it is rather insightful to see what a quality player he has been away from PetCo. The other thing I love about Headley is that he has improved pretty much every season. His strikeout rate has continued to fall and he's become quite adept at drawing walks. However, there are some major burdens associated with trading for him. First, he plays for the Padres so the whole stupid ‘no trading inside your division' rule applies. Second, the Padres really wouldn't have a good reason to move Headley anywhere, let alone to a division rival. Third, Headley is coming off of a career year so we'd have to pay a premium. With this in mind though, the Padres ARE rebuilding so it may not surprise me if no one is untouchable on that roster. Also, even though he's coming off of a career year so far, with PetCo killing his numbers, Headley seems like he would have an even better season next year for any other team.
Lastly, and perhaps my favorite trade target is Martin Prado. Prado will be 28 years old next season, is a tremendous contact hitter, bats right handed, has decent pop (think 15 home runs) and can provide plus defense at either 3b or 2b. Most importantly for me, he is having a career worst year. His line drive rate has fallen but that's about it. His babip this season is 60 points below his BABIP of the past two seasons (.335!). Additionally, he's playing LF for the Braves. He was a 4.4 WAR player in 2010 through 140 games and was a 3.2 WAR player in 2009 through 128 games. Even in a down year, he's on pace for about 2 WAR.
Martin Prado's cost will never be lower and acquiring him gives us some flexibility. For instance we can acquire him and resign Mark Ellis. Those two could provide 6 WAR with fantastic defense. Once Arenado is up, we can slide Prado to 2b with no problem. I'm not sure how interested the Braves are in dealing Prado but his down year and him playing LF coupled with the Braves' lack of offense may mean they might be open to dealing Prado. I'm thinking Tim Wheeler would be a great person to include in a trade as Prado is a great buy-low candidate and Wheeler is a great sell-high candidate. Wheeler has provided some awesome power in Tulsa this year in the OF and after Heyward, the Braves don't have much in the way of outfield players. Of course, Wheeler could be awesome for the Braves (though his strikeout rate of 26% in AA really worries me about his long-term potential). Even if Wheeler does breakout, it wouldn't mean the Rockies got robbed, but rather both teams made a win-win trade.
What do you guys think?