Michael Scannell - Hamilton to LAA...Now what?

It's difficult to surmise what the reaction of the Texas front office to the Josh Hamilton signing is going to be.  At first glance, it might seem that they're going into a period of desperation.  Their chief division rival just stole their marquee hitter a year after signing away their top starting pitcher.  Their top replacement trade target (Justin Upton) is apparently off the market and their options for starting pitching (Greinke, Sanchez, etc.) have dwindled down very quickly.  However, as a potential Rangers' trading partner, the Mets cannot just assume that the Rangers are desperate as they had to know that there was a good chance Hamilton might leave....in fact, given the apparent multiple concerns that other teams have had about his health, they might have assumed he was leaving and have had a back-up plan in place.

Arizona has made it clear that Upton is off the trade market now that they've apparently acquired their SS of the future in Didi Gregorius.  However, now that Arizona knows that Texas needs to replace Hamilton, the Diamondbacks may try and hold the Rangers up for Andrus or Profar and more and Upton may suddenly become available again.  The Rangers might not have been willing to move either SS while they still had a chance to sign Hamilton, but now they find themselves in dire need of replacing his offensive production.  As far as the Diamondbacks go, I'm sure their announcement that they are happy with Gregorius was more posturing as any team would rather have one of the Texas short stops than the former Reds farmhand.  Similarly, the Marlins have maintained that Giancarlo Stanton is not going to be traded after their roster-purging trade with Toronto.  Rival GM's have leaked to the media that Stanton could be traded, but that the Marlins would be looking for a ridiculous return. The Rangers are certainly capable of putting together an attractive offer.

The Rangers could also dive into the remaining free agent pool to grab someone like Nick Swisher.  He isn't a prototypical cleanup hitter, he did put up strong numbers last year with the Yankees.  He even contributed a 3.5 WAR in 2012, much in line with Hamilton's 3.3 last year and his 3.5 in 2011.  Some might argue that Swisher's numbers were an aberration due to his playing in Yankee Stadium, however Arlington isn't exactly a canyon and he should be able to produce similar results in Texas.  The biggest questions will be due to the additional pressure (Swisher would be a focal point in Texas whereas with the Yanks he was able to produce in a complimentary role).

When looking at the options, I'm assuming the Rangers would value both Stanton and Upton over Swisher, as both are superior talents even though Swisher may produce similar production.  Assuming all 3 are available for the Rangers to choose from, the only reasons I could see the Rangers preferring Swisher are that Upton or Stanton would add another RH bat to an already RH-heavy lineup and Swisher would only cost money and allow the team to also address its pitching needs in the trade market.  Trading for Upton or Stanton means their pitching will stay status quo for 2013.

Obviously, Alderson is going to have to wait this out and see how the Rangers decide to fill their current glaring offensive needs.  If Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton are actually on the trade market, the Rangers will likely use their tradable assets to bring one of them in...in which case the Mets won't be able to trade Dickey to Texas for much if at all.  If the Rangers re-allocate Hamilton's free agent dollars to Swisher (and possibly Michael Bourn as well), they'll still need a top pitcher and would still have multiple pieces to deal from.  They may be even more likely to deal for Dickey now in order to soothe their fanbase a bit, given the opportunity to add a prodigal son/Cy Young winner.

The best-case scenario for the Mets of course is that the Rangers opt for signing Swisher and Bourne to fill their lineup and making a deal for Dickey.  I could see the chips falling as such:

- Arizona decides to hold onto Upton for now
- Florida demands more than the Rangers are willing to put up for Stanton.
- Texas signs both Bourne and Swisher, leaving the lineup as

CF Bourne
2B Kinsler
3B Beltre
RF Swisher
DH Cruz
LF Murphy
1B Moreland
Ca Soto

I've left SS empty for now as the Rangers have both Andrus and Profar.

Now the Rangers need pitching.  Dickey is obviously the top pitcher on the market and the Rangers may be desperate for him.  What could this mean for the Mets?  This is the point where I'd try to expand the deal to include one of their SS, probably Elvis Andrus.

The demand for Dickey should naturally go up as the winter moves along and a number of teams are left without options.  The Mets could use the additional leverage of the Angels' theft of Hamilton as well as the demand of other potential partners.  A week ago, I thought a return of Mike Olt and Leonys Martin would be reasonable for the reigning Cy Young winner.  Both can be above-average contributors to the future winning ballclub, set to take the field in 2014.  Sure, there are questions about Dickey due to his age and the fact that he's a knuckleballer, however Olt and Martin carry questions as well.  Neither profile as future superstar hitters (as Wil Myers does) and the Mets will have concerns about their transition to the major leagues, especially Olt to the OF.  I can see Martin as a competent leadoff/#2 hitter who plays good CF defense and I think Olt will be a solid run-producer, but I doubt either would hit 3-4-5 on a championship ball club.  I could even see the Mets hitting Davis-Olt-Martin in the 5-6-7 spots and take advantage of their relatively low salaries and reallocate dollars to bring in established talent to hit in the higher-lineup spots other than #3.

Given the value and questions of an Olt/Martin offering as well as the Rangers' overwhelming need to improve their club, I don't think it would be unreasonable for the Mets to ask for more at this point.  I don't think that Dickey is worth 3 players by himself, but this is where the trade could be expanded.

It's well-known that the Rangers currently have a problem that most teams would like to be burdened with - how do they play 3 very good middle infielders?  Andrus and Profar can't both play SS and shifting either to 2B is currently not possible with All-Star Ian Kinsler currently playing there.  Although I thought Kinsler might be traded a few weeks ago, now with both Young and  Hamilton gone, the Rangers won't move their other franchise face.  It has been bandied about that they may try him at 1B or a corner OF spot, but I don't see either happening.  Moving Kinsler to 1B would be a waste of his athleticism and a move to the outfield may prove difficult given the team's need to replace Hamilton.  If they sign Swisher AND Bourne, the Rangers will have their two new additions as well as David Murphy and Nelson Cruz all needing spots and only one DH to provide some relief of the logjam.  I don't think they'd be throwing Kinsler into that mix as well.

That and the Hamilton signing mean that one of the SS is likely in play in the trade market.  Given his status as the top prospect in all of baseball and the fact that the Rangers can control him cheaply for longer, I think Profar is the obvious choice to keep over Andrus, who will be a free agent in only 2 years.  The question would then be who else the Mets would include in a deal as Olt/Martin/Andrus would be a clear overpay by the Rangers for Dickey.

I would add Duda, Familia, and Den Dekker to Dickey in order to make the trade.  Duda can hit 25+ HR playing his home games in Texas (he was on pace for 22 last season in NY even during a struggling campaign) and has yet to hit his potential.  I think he's much closer to the player he was in 2011 than in 2012 and would benefit from playing his true position DH.  He would be a back-up in 2012 but would likely move into a starting role in 2013 as Cruz and/or Murphy may leave via free agency.  We all know about Familia's talents, and while his future as a starter is unsure, he can give the Rangers additional pitching depth and provide them with a future closer once Joe Nathan moves on.  Den Dekker is added as an additional piece to serve as a 4th OF and defensive specialist.

Mets - Andrus, Martin, Olt
Rangers - Dickey, Duda, Familia, Den Dekker

This would only be possible if the Rangers fill their offensive needs via free agency and feel the urgency to now add Dickey.  Losing Hamilton to the Angels was a double gut-punch for them.  It's bad enough that they have to replace him, but they now have to counter their primary division rival who just added him to what could be the best lineup in MLB.


Justin M. said...

I think the Rangers value Dickey as a straight up trade for Mike Olt, else they would have worked something out already.

So in this circumstance they would essentially be trading Martin and Andrus for Duda, Familia, and Den Dekker. I believe they would be looking for a lot more than that for Andrus alone.

Mack Ade said...

It's December 14th.

Alderson has showed everyone what he has available (Dickey). He also has let it well know that the deal will take one "impact player" (we assume OF or C) + another secondary prospect.

The phone will ring when someone has what it takes to get one of the few quality starters off the market

Mack's Mets © 2012