Process Of Elimination
We’ll hopefully find out about where Clement’s headed at some point today. Until then, we can do a little process of elimination to make an educated guess.
First off, let’s write off the entire National League. Clement’s a DH who might be able to learn how to play first or go back to catching eventually, but his primary position is hitter. National League clubs don’t have the fallback of letting him hit while his knee recovers, so they’re far less likely to trade for him.
Okay, now, write off the Angels/Rangers/A’s. Intra-division trades are rare enough, but division rivals don’t trade major league players to a team trying to catch them in the standings. Texas and Anaheim aren’t interested in helping make the M’s better. Oakland is already loaded with Clement-type players. Deals with those three don’t make much sense.
Now, write off the Yankees. Even with Matsui leaving at the end of the season, they need to save their DH spot for Jorge Posada. Also, their top prospect is a kid names Jesus Montero, a monster hitter who probably can’t catch. In other words, they already have their Jeff Clement. They don’t need ours.
Boston? Nope. Ortiz is hitting again, they just acquired Adam LaRoche to serve as their LH bat off the bench, and they’re not giving up pieces from their big league roster while they try to make the playoffs.
Detroit? No – he doesn’t fit their needs and they don’t have the kinds of players the M’s would be looking for.
White Sox? No – they already have six DH’s on their roster.
Minnesota? No – Mauer/Morneau/Kubel.
KC? Not a Royals kind of player.
That leaves four teams that make some sense.
Tampa Bay – they aren’t getting any offense from Dioner Navarro or Pat Burrell, and they’ve expressed interest in Clement before. Reid Brignac, as has been discussed many times, is exactly the kind of player that makes sense for the M’s to be pursuing. The M’s could also afford to take on Scott Kazmir’s contract to give Tampa some financial flexibility. Morrow + Clement for Kazmir + Brignac makes sense for both teams, even without the whole Cleveland angle.
Cleveland – They don’t need a catcher, but they just traded Ryan Garko and they might deal Victor Martinez, so there would be some 1B/DH at-bats open, and he’s their kind of hitter. Jhonny Peralta could be a good fit for the M’s if they think he can play shortstop.
Toronto – The Blue Jays ownership has just stated that they’re going to get “costs under control”, which might prevent the Jays from offering arbitration to Marco Scutaro this winter. Clement and some lower level prospects might be enough to get you Scutaro, in that case – he’d be a rental unless the team liked him enough to try to sign him long term, but as a Type A free agent, the M’s could prefer the draft picks to the prospects they’re giving up.
Baltimore – They have this Wieters kid, so he’d be a 1B/DH only in Baltimore, but Aubrey Huff is a free agent at years end and the O’s could use another young power bat. What they would give up in return is less clear, but they at least fit the mold of a team that would be interested in Clement.
If I had to bet, I’d say it’s a deal with Tampa Bay. Kazmir impressed in his start against the Yankees, and the Rays would probably prefer to be free of his contract even if they can’t pull off the Cliff Lee deal. Brignac, obviously, fits a big need too. This just makes the most sense of anything. But it’s not the only possibility – I could see him going to Cleveland, Toronto, or Baltimore as well.