Hi, I’m James Fegan. I’ve been writing here on a weekly basis for the past 7 months, but this is where you can find my work nearly every day from now on.
The exclusive re-signing period, arbitration decisions, the winter meetings. All of these off-season activities that we follow breathlessly once real baseball has gone into hibernation, are still way off in the distance–entire weeks away, even.
Or not. Apparently baseball teams pay their phone bills all year round.
This Saturday, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded CF Chris Young to the Oakland A’s for SS Cliff Pennington and IF Yordy Cabrera, then flipped Cabrera to Miami for RHP Heath Bell and $8 million toward the $21 million left on Bell’s contract.
One supposes that Arizona signing up for two years of Bell at essentially $6.5 million could qualify as buying low on a good player, but even a good season from a reliever is only so interesting at that price. It’s far more fascinating to see Young–a excellent fielding center fielder with enough power to be a league-average hitter–on the move after a injury-plagued season knocked his trade value down from its apex.
The Diamondbacks outfield was crowded, but so is the outfield of the A’s team that accepted him, presumably because six months out is way too early to start worrying where everyone is going to play when there’s value to be had. Young isn’t the cheapest guy around–$8.7 million for 2013 would have made him the 2nd highest-paid player on the Diamondbacks–but Arizona made a plus player available for a shortstop who hit his away out of Oakland’s lineup. That, is an opportunity to jump all over.
For his part, Kenny Williams tried to make such acquisitions a habit during his GM tenure, since sudden devaluation of expensive star players is the primary method for the White Sox to shuffle their way to into elite talent.
Chris Sale, Joe Crede, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Magglio Ordonez–these are the White Sox All-Stars who graduated from the farm system in the past decade, and Williams was responsible for acquiring just one of them. Buying low on talented players is hardly a practice unique to the Sox–though they might have been the only team willing to absorb Alex Rios straight-up–but there’s a particular need for them to identify what’s available and who they can re-work to their previous heights.
Young would have been nice asset for the Sox to have in their back pocket should they decide to move Rios, Dunn, or Konerko, or simply to place in a wicked platoon rotation with Alejandro De Aza, and Dayan Viciedo. But Young’s gone, and there’s no undoing the Javier Vazquez trade, try as we might.
But there are others! Possibly even better players that have ground their current teams down into short-term thinking from all of the frustration they have caused. Their rumored availability is a reminder that it’s never too early prey on other teams mounting discontent.
- Tim Lincecum RHP pitcher to add top-level potential to a “meh” rotation- Again, it certainly seems like the Giants would be picking the lowest point of value to deal Lincecum, but he’s also only under control for one more year, and there’s other things that can be done with $22 million. Known Boston Globe rumor machine (not that he’s fabricating, just that he seems to report all chatter) Nick Cafardo reported that he’s “on the block.” Quick, how about Chris Cwik of CBS Sports offer a sobering reminder that we should separate name value from actual value!
Lincecum will make $22 mil, Peavy’s option (which White Sox will decline) is $22 mil. I would rather have Peavy next season, I think.
— Chris Cwik (@Chris_Cwik) October 21, 2012
- Justin Upton Potential lineup anchor- He’s without the worrisome physical decline baggage of Lincecum, nor does interest in him require a short-term focus. Upton’s just a very good young right fielder coming off a year where he took a step back from a breakout 2011, and ticked off the entire franchise with lapses in focus in effort. He’s still a 25 year-old with a career slash line of .278/.357/.475 on a friendly enough contract with the potential for a lot more. Arizona just made their outfield a bit less crowded by trading Young, giving them less incentive to deal Upton (who would already cost every Sox prospect you’ve talked yourself into liking), but Ken Rosenthal defiantly commented “I’ll believe Justin Upton will be a Diamondback in 2013 when I see him in an Arizona uniform on Opening Day.”
- There’s also the whole A-Rod business
Of course, these are some of the biggest names, which not only makes them inherently unlikely, but possibly ill-suited for the White Sox goals to possibly rebuild, or continue to gradually inject their roster with youth. Nevertheless, the immediate wake of a frustrating season is the best time to strike for buy-low trades (even Yunel Escobar-level low), and it appears that season is already in the works.
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