If we learned anything from last week’s Montero-Pineda swap, it’s that you can’t predict baseball. No one could have foreseen this trade, nor did anyone expect the trades surrounding Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher a few years ago. With the open spot in the lineup and lingering rumors of payroll inflexibility, there is a good chance the Yankees are looking for a bat through trade. In the spirit of long-shot trades, I decided to collect the longest of shots that realistically fit the team’s needs.
At this point I should offer you some sort of warning. Trade musing is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. In the coming days, weeks, perhaps months, we’ll have all sorts of speculation on who the Yankees should sign or trade for; what you believe is up to you. Adding Cole Hamels to our rotation or Prince Fielder to our imaginary rosters is what makes the offseason bearable, so have an open mind when we get into these sorts of discussion. After all, Pineda on the Yankees would have been one of the crazier trade scenarios back in October.
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Pros– This one starts from a little rumor started by a not-so-reliable source. The 2011 Rookie of the Year runner up was good for a .254/.291/.477 line. Most impressively, he hit 29 homeruns, 14 at home, in a stadium that hates the long-ball. Trumbo may be expendable to the Angels after signing first baseman Albert Pujols to a massive ten year deal. With that, the young righty fits into the Yankees lineup at DH or a corner outfield spot once Swisher’s contract expires.
Cons– Trumbo isn’t a Yankee type bat. Throughout Cashman’s tenure he’s made it no secret that his players need to draw walks. Working pitch counts has become a notorious part of the team’s offensive barrage, and Trumbo walked only 25 times through 573 plate appearances. His on-base-percentage didn’t even break .300. The homerun total cannot be discounted, but for the price the Yankees will have to pay, his lack of patience won’t be overlooked.
Chase Headley, 3B
Pros– With the DH opening up, moving recently injury-plagued Alex Rodriguez to a full time hitting position may prolong his bat for the six very expensive years left on his contract. In this case, a third base spot opens up, and switch hitting Chase Headley becomes a very intriguing name. In his 2011, injury shortened season, Headley hit .289/.374/.399. While not the biggest or brightest of numbers, his career splits home and away are eye opening. In 997 plate appearances at spacious Petco Park, he has hit a career .229/.319/.336, and in 1117 away plate appearance he hit .303/.364/.441. At 28 years old this season, and with three years left of team control, you can argue that Headley has more value to a team that’s home field helps his bat.
Cons– Headley’s biggest negative would be his cost. A .735 OPS wouldn’t typically demand a big return, but the Padres understand the type of value Headley could have in another home park. Reportedly, the Padres are asking for the moon.
Brett Wallace, 1B
Pros– A first round draft pick in 2008 and big time prospect, Wallace spent time with four different organizations before his 24th birthday. 2011 was the first season he started at first base, where he hit .259/.334/.369 before a demotion in early August. Although Wallace spent his entire major league career at first base, the majority of his minor league time was at third. He is still young at 25 and projects to have a lot of lefty pop, something the Yankees should be looking for out of their designated hitter or third baseman spot.
Cons– Wallace status as a big time prospect comes from his heavy hitting in the Pacific Coast League, one that’s notorious for inflating offensive numbers. Moving between four different organizations might be an indication of the overvaluing that each team saw in his bat. There’s also a very good reason that the Astros switched him to first base, his defense at third was flimsy. As defense goes, Wallace at third is not an upgrade over Arod.
Domonic Brown, OF
Pros– This time last year, Brown rated as the fourth best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. But, the Phillies have shown every indication that they have little faith in the 24 year old. After hitting .245/.333/.391 last year, his team traded two of their top prospects for outfielder Hunter Pence, who is under team control until 2014, and with fan favorite Shane Victorino and breakout player John Mayberry finishing off the outfield, there aren’t any clear openings for Brown in 2012. A few embarrassing outfield plays, and this notorious game in AAA, has ruined a lot of his five-tool prospect hype in Philadelphia, and around baseball. He could be a buy low if you believe in his star potential, he would fit into right field, where Swisher becomes the DH in 2012.
Cons– For the type of prospect that Brown is, he’s at a low trade value, but that doesn’t mean he would cost nothing. He most likely nets the biggest return on this entire list, and for a player with such little major league experience, the buyer should be wary. Prospect hype isn’t uncommon in the Phillies’ farm system, so the price would have to be right for the Yankees.
Gordon Beckham, 2B/3B
Pros– After being selected as the eighth overall pick in 2008, Beckham flew through the minor leagues, and had a huge rookie year in 2009. Since then, he’s been one of the worst offensive second basemen, hitting .241/.306/.356. For a kind-of-rebuilding-but maybe-not White Sox, who traded Swisher to Cashman for peanuts, Beckham has buy low written all over him. His righty bat might not be the perfect fit, but he has experience at both 3B and SS, positions the Yankees should target. He still has significant potential if he can ever replicate his rookie season. (.270/.347/.460)
Cons– Like I mentioned above, Beckham was awful in 2010 and 2011. His bad plate appearances now outnumber his good ones, and thus he could become the biggest bust on the list. The 25 year olds numbers are only getting worse, so a trade would be a significant gamble.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Pros– He grew up in the New York area, played for the Bay Side Yankees, and eventually was drafted second overall in 2008. As a prospect, he mashed through the Pirates minor league system and showed huge lefty power potential. In 2010 he hit 16 homeruns, and posted a batting line of .256/.326/.461. Last year was a complete failure though; through 262 plate appearances he hit .191/.272/.289. Those numbers are far from his true ability, and he is a clear buy low candidate. He’ll be 25 in February and has star ability.
Cons– Alvarez strikes out way too much with a career 30.7% strikeout rate. He also has a lefty/righty split that might scare a team away. Kevin Long seems to be successful with lefties ailing in both categories, but what he can’t fix is defense. Alvarez hasn’t impressed many with his glove work at third, and might not be an upgrade over Arod. Like Dominic Brown, he would also require some big trade pieces from the Yankees.
There are plenty of young trade targets out there, including Billy Butler, who Domenic wrote about yesterday. As fans suffering through the cold baseball-less months of winter, we need to have fun with these sorts of names. So I challenge the TYA readers to come up with your own long-shot trade targets. Someone is bound to predict Cashman’s next move.