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Welcome back to Trade Cops. We’re back in Denver, Colorado, where we’re hearing about a team looking to make some trades again. This time, for real.
Last year on Trade Cops we broke down the pieces the Rockies could potentially sell and made sure they didn’t make any missteps in these moves. We might have scared them off from making any big trades at all but that’s better than losing a trade in our eyes. We keep the peace. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. That someone is us. We are Trade Cops and we’re back on the beat.
Trade #1: Acquire a Reliever
The Situation: The Rockies need middle relief help. With a young starting rotation, the Rockies are more likely than other contenders to be relying on middle relievers to carry them through a couple of games per week. This has hurt the team on a few occasions both in losses and wins that should’ve been blowouts but ended up being close games. Greg Holland and Jake McGee are good but behind them there is only inconsistency in pitchers like Scott Oberg and eternal pain in pitchers like Jordan Lyles. With that in mind, the Rockies should (and have admitted to) be looking for relief help at the deadline to bolster their chances this fall.
The Partners: Miami, Detroit, San Diego, Philadelphia. From Pat Neshek to Brad Hand, the Rockies have some options to grab a good, reliable reliever in the next week and a half. There are small rumblings of an AJ Ramos or Justin Wilson grab but the way the Rockies have worked in the past would suggest a couple smaller moves over a big splash. Neshek sort of fits that mold, he’s an effective reliever but may not be a high priced commodity on the market.
The Return: Relievers are becoming more and more expensive as more playoff series are determined by bullpen effectiveness. That being said, I have no idea what the market prices are these days. The Nationals just shored up their bullpen with two stout relievers and didn’t really give up anything of consequence. So you could say, “The Rockies need to give up as much as Ryan Castellani to get a good reliever,” and you could also say, “The Rockies need to make a really good broom and paint a face on it and that would be good enough to get a reliever,” and either way I would probably agree with you. Trade markets are weird, I don’t make them.
How to Not Lose the Trade: Pray to the gods that the reliever you acquire is effective. No matter what price you pay to acquire this arm, you’re going to be in a situation where if he sucks big time people will be upset. Look at last season where people hand wrung over Kevin Padlo (guy hitting .240 in A+ ball) all season because Jake McGee was terrible. It literally doesn’t matter what you give up, people will be ticked if the purchase doesn’t contribute. So, doing the research is important.
The Crime for Losing the Trade: A whiff on a reliever in a contending year is a Class E Felony. You’ll be in jail up to a year.
Trade #2: Acquire a catcher
The Situation: The Rockies have (not so) quietly had a terrible season from their catching duo/trio/quartet. It was quiet until about a month ago when people started to notice that the Rockies catchers have a combined OPS+ of like 13. On top of that, Tony Wolters’ framing stats have cratered and now the club can’t even rest on the idea that at least they at least have good defense. Tom Murphy’s wrist injury has likely cost him an entire season so it wouldn’t be a terrible idea (heck it might even be a good one) for the Rockies to acquire a rental catcher.
The Partners: Baltimore? Atlanta? Detroit? The Braves have a good one in Tyler Flowers but the team is turning it’s rebuild around quicker than expected and it wouldn’t be dumb of them to hang on to Flowers. The Orioles have Caleb Joseph and Wellington Castillo both are decent catchers with flaws that could be had for cheap. The Tigers probably have the best option in Alex Avila (149 wRC+) but he’s also probably expensive (as catchers usually are). All of these guys aren’t for sure getting moved, so we have to keep some question marks next to their names, but if you’re looking for an immediate upgrade at the position: there’s your suspects.
The Return: It’s probably going to be more expensive than you’d want. Catchers are rare, good ones are rarer, that makes them annually expensive. There isn’t a fluctuating market for good catchers, you either pay for one or you don’t get one.
How to Not Lose the Trade: Don’t get desperate. A catcher is important, you don’t want that black hole in your lineup anymore, but if you stumble into it and screw it up you might as well just eternally play a mannequin as your catcher because it couldn’t be worse!
The Crime for Losing the Trade: Class C Felony. 10 to 40 years in prison. Tread lightly.
Trade #3: Improve the Bench
The Situation: The Rockies could use a power bat to improve their bench. It would help increase the overall baseline for the bench, too. Basically, same as the bullpen, every better piece you acquire pushes a worse piece out so even an ok acquisition is a twofold improvement. The Rockies have a couple of bench spots that could be better, so why not dabble.
The Partners: Whomever would like to participate in such a trade. Guys like Khris Davis or Danny Valencia can be found all over the league. The Rockies can put something together for those types pretty easily.
The Return: Probably pretty cheap! Acquiring a guy you don’t expect to start every day allows you some leverage so long as teams don’t outbid you. The best part about this type of deal is it doesn’t even have to happen on July 31. The waiver deadline is the perfect 30 days to find guys like that. It’s like after Halloween when the candy goes on sale. Sure, the best candy is already gone but sometimes there’s a bag of Snickers that got trapped under five or six fruit Tootsie Roll bags so no one saw it. Bam, 70 percent off for a giant bag of Snickers.
How to Not Lose the Trade: Don’t acquire a starting caliber outfielder. Make sure whoever you get doesn’t start demanding a ton of at-bats. Not because it’s a bad thing to have another good player but because another outfielder would be absolutely too many. The Rockies are already overloaded and since nobody wants to consider my brilliant idea for a million man outfield the Rockies can’t exactly start to stuff more outfielders into a small box. It would behoove them to acquire literally anything else.
The Crime for Losing the Trade: This isn’t such a big deal, it likely wouldn’t hurt the Rockies that much. We’ll call it a misdemeanor and just make Jeff report to community service for 30 hours.
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Every day is hard when you’re investigating trades but someone has to do it. Another year of Trade Cops in the books, we’ll be back on the beat next year, or sooner, our entire budget keeps getting blown by Billy Beane.