Trading Cliff Lee

Dave · June 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

This post deals with where Lee might end up. If you’re interested in what his trade value is, check out this post at FanGraphs.

With the season basically over and focus shifting to the future, there’s one obvious big story left in this season – what will the Mariners get for Cliff Lee?

This is essentially the last drama of 2010 for Mariners fans. At some point in the next six weeks, the Mariners will trade Lee. Don’t buy into the smokescreen about keeping him around for the draft picks – at least one team will step up and make an offer that gives Jack Zduriencik significantly more value than he will get from keeping Lee and letting him walk at the end of the season.

Who will that team be? Well, the easiest way to guess is good old process of elimination. First, let’s throw out all the obvious non-contenders – that eliminates Baltimore, Kansas City, Cleveland, both Chicagos, Washington, Houston, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Arizona. Lee won’t be going to any of those teams.

Among the teams that are currently contenders, let’s cross off cities where Lee doesn’t make sense – Tampa Bay, Florida, Colorado, Cincinnati, Atlanta, San Diego, Toronto, Philadelphia, Oakland, and San Francisco fall into that category. If any of those teams are buyers in July, they’ll be buying someone else.

That leaves the teams that could potentially be interested in Lee – both New Yorks, Boston, Minnesota, Detroit, Texas, both Los Angeles’, and St. Louis. Those are your ten potential destinations for Cliff Lee.

So, who’s the best fit? Well, as we talked about last week, the Mariners have a lot of holes on their 2011 roster, and they don’t have a lot of ways to fill those holes with limited budget space this winter. The Lee trade is going to be their best bet to get a player or two who they can slide right into next year’s team, and who could be a productive player almost immediately. I don’t think the M’s are going to be hunting for a bevy of A-ball prospects in this deal, no matter what their upside is – the emphasis is going to be on getting someone (or a couple of someones) who can get to Seattle in a hurry.

That makes St. Louis pretty unlikely. They simply don’t have a high level premium prospect to give up that will make the Mariners pull the trigger. You could probably say the same about Detroit and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s tough to imagine any of those three teams being able to put together a package of players that the Mariners would really fall in love with. There are good prospects in each system, but they’re not the right kinds of prospects, and there aren’t enough of them.

Of the remaining six, I’d call Boston a pretty big longshot as well. Theo has consistently sat out of big pitcher sweepstakes, determining the cost was more than he wants to pay in young talent. The Red Sox farm system isn’t in great shape either, so their only hope to get Jack Z to listen would be to include someone like Casey Kelly, who they’ve been adamant that they’re not trading. Their pitching staff is pretty good anyway. I just don’t see it happening, though it potentially could, so they go to the bottom of the final six.

Coming in not too far ahead of the Red Sox in the longshot category would be both AL West teams – the Rangers and Angels. While both could really use Lee in their rotation and have the chips to make an interesting offer, inter-division trades of this magnitude are pretty rare. Teams are generally loathe to give their competitors players who can come back and hurt them long term. While both teams would love to have Lee, they don’t want their star prospects beating them 19 times a year for the next six years. It might not be rational, but it’s how baseball works, and it makes it unlikely that the M’s will deal Lee to another AL West team.

So now, we’re down to three – the New Yorks and Minnesota. Last week’s speculation from Ken Rosenthal about Lee’s eventual destination has made a lot of people assume that the Yankees are the favorites, but I’d make them the least likely of this trio, honestly. It’s fine and dandy to suggest that Lee would make any rotation better, and while its true, its less true with the Yankees than any other team in baseball. Right now, their playoff rotation is Sabathia-Burnett-Pettitte-Hughes. Yeah, they could put Lee in the rotation and bump Hughes back to the pen to strengthen their relief corps, but is that the kind of upgrade that is going to make a big enough difference for Brian Cashman to give up a blue chip prospect? And we haven’t even mentioned Javier Vazquez, whom the Yankees liked enough to give up one of their top young arms for this winter. They’re not just going to discard any chance of him pitching meaningful innings in November no matter how badly he started the season.

So, really, I see two teams that make sense on most levels – the Mets and the Twins.

The Mets have the glaring need, with only three big league starters on their roster and a GM whose job is almost certainly on the line. Omar Minaya has shown a willingness to give up a bushel of prospects for an arm he believes could put him over the top, as he did when he traded Lee (along with Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips) to Cleveland for Bartolo Colon. The Mets have spent a lot of money to try and win, and yet, they are one starting pitcher short of being a legitimate contender. Lee would give them a real chance at grabbing the NL East title and playing well in October. And in Jenrry Mejia, they have the kind of dynamic young pitching prospect who the Mariners would see as a valuable long term piece who could also potentially be part of the 2011 rotation. The Mets could put together a strong offer for Lee built around Mejia. There’s a potential deal to be made there.

However, if I’m Jack Zduriencik, I’m praying every night that the Twins get heavily involved. The fit is almost perfect.

Lee is everything the Twins love in a pitcher. They groom a never ending supply of strike throwers who get outs despite not having big velocity, and Lee is the quintessential version of that kind of arm. Paired with Francisco Liriano, the Twins become a lethal post-season team. And, they have what the 2011 Mariners need – young, cheap, major league ready starting pitching.

The Twins could create a package for Lee built around either Scott Baker or Kevin Slowey that would certainly pique the Mariners interest. Rather than getting a prospect that you hope develops into something, the Mariners would be able to slide either of them right into the middle of their rotation, filling a big hole on the 2011 roster but providing future value as well. In addition, the Twins have a quality young catching prospect named Wilson Ramos who doesn’t have a future in Minneapolis thanks to the presence of Joe Mauer, and while he’s not that much different than Adam Moore, he’d offer the M’s another option at a position that has been a huge problem since Jack got to Seattle. A package of Ramos and a second prospect, along with either Slowey or Baker, is the kind of deal that the Mariners simply couldn’t turn down.

The Twins have the depth to make that kind of move without crippling their future, and could capitalize on the primes of Mauer and Morneau with a legitimate World Series run with Cliff Lee in their rotation. It makes the most sense of any deal possible. Lee was made to pitch for the Twins, and they have exactly the kinds of players that the Mariners are going to want in return.

So, don’t be surprised if Lee ends up in pinstripes this fall, but not the Bronx version. Lee to Minnesota makes sense on a lot of levels, and you have to think that both teams see the same things we do. There’s a win-win deal here where both teams benefit, and that’s why I’d put Minnesota as the favorites to land Cliff Lee this summer.

Comments

104 Responses to “Trading Cliff Lee”

  1. jrosco3 on June 14th, 2010 11:48 pm

    Thank you, Dave, for a well written, informative, interesting piece.

  2. Liam on June 14th, 2010 11:57 pm

    With only two potential trade partners, it seems that keeping Cliff Lee is more than a smokescreen.

  3. CCW on June 15th, 2010 12:01 am

    This makes perfect sense to me. Almost too much sense, as the Twins are an unpredictable organization.

    I’m curious why you tossed the A’s out. Billy Beane is just the kind of GM who might surprise everyone with a deal. I don’t think Beane’s the type to care much about trading within the division, and the A’s have a quite a few good prospects who could help the M’s soon (Carter 1B, Taylor OF, and Green SS). If the A’s are legitimate contenders, I wouldn’t rule out a deal with the A’s centered around one of those guys.

  4. Seattleken on June 15th, 2010 12:12 am

    I’d love Lee to go to the Twins, but the Twins aren’t an organization to sellout tomorrow for today. I can’t see them trading Blackburn, Baker, Liriano or Slowey as they will be the core when Lee leaves via free agency.

    So a deal with the Twins would have to be something like Duensing (decent better then French but not great #4 lefty), Ramos and maybe you can convince them to include OF Ben Revere.

  5. djtizzo on June 15th, 2010 12:19 am

    Why wouldn’t Colorado, SF, or SD make sense? Just curious. All are contenders that, with Lee, would make them a top contender for the division?

  6. the tourist on June 15th, 2010 12:50 am

    I can’t see them trading Blackburn, Baker, Liriano or Slowey as they will be the core when Lee leaves via free agency.

    Making a world series run might be a good way to convince him to come back through free agency, though, don’t you think? Especially on a team that can hit (something he hasn’t seen much of this year) the ball and score him some consistent runs.

  7. Double Suicide Squeeze on June 15th, 2010 12:50 am

    Is that really all we can get for Lee? I like the idea of Baker, but SP seems to be the area of least concern, along with CF. Any way Hardy gets packaged in a deal with the Twins?

  8. Islets of Ryan Langerhans on June 15th, 2010 12:51 am

    And why wouldn’t Philly make sense…?

  9. Wak Attack on June 15th, 2010 1:15 am

    I can see why it makes sense to rule out all of the teams you listed except one: Cincinnati. They are in serious need of starting pitching if they expect to win their division or go anywhere in the playoffs if they make it that far. Harang, Arroyo and Cueto don’t scare anyone but Reds fans. Leake is off to a great start, but relying on a rookie is risky. The Reds have some decent prospects to offer. The name Juan Francisco comes to mind.

  10. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 1:18 am

    I think your argument’s sound, Dave- but have one “but”. It involves Boston. Historically, you’re right- Epstein avoids the pure rodeos. But he’s also never been in a position like this before, really- where he has to fend off a very tough Rays team as well as the eternal conundrum of the Yankees.

    Nobody panics quite like Boston fans, where I promise you that their latest World Series title is a swiftly fading memory. And Epstein’s sure to feel some pressure to go for it to the fullest extent of their considerable resources. I think those alone will at least make them a player in preliminary stages of these sweepstakes.

    I do agree, though, that the BoSox farm is not the best fit- Lars Anderson has never regained the luster from a (for him) miserable 2009, Casey Kelly has been regarded as all but untouchable.

    The Twins are much like the Reds, though- they don’t exactly have an extensive rental-player history. Are you sure they’d go for a move like this?

    With a draft this potentially deep in 2011, I don’t know if any Zduriencik-standing-pat stance is entirely a smokescreen either. If he took those draft picks, he has to wait a little longer for major league returns… but he truly has a core of premium hitters and arms to build with, then.

    If it was the Twins, though? I sure hope Wilson Ramos would be the key to the deal.

  11. The_Waco_Kid on June 15th, 2010 1:23 am

    Dave,

    I can’t imagine you’d be receptive to this, but is there no chance we could keep Lee? I mean, proven, dominant lefties don’t grow on trees and in the next year or two, if we want to contend, we’ll need someone like Lee (you’ve already written off Fister and Vargas as 4 and 5 starters, so we need a 2-3).

    Please tell me we’re not 3 years from contending. That would be ten years of “rebuilding.” Might as well move the Mariners to the PCL at that point.

  12. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 1:23 am

    And what about the Braves? You cross them off, but they ARE in Bobby Cox’s final season and would probably like to go with guns blazing.

    They’ve got every reason to go for it this year and the pockets to be in on this swag.

    Pity Jason Heyward is doubtless in their “not available to another team-EVER” category.

  13. griffin on June 15th, 2010 1:43 am

    Waco Kid – Lee just simply won’t be here next year. Even with a decent-to-good contract offer, I still see him turning it down and looking to other teams for a contract.
    He is just too damn good. He can help teams win NOW, and I am sure that is what he really wants, to win NOW.
    I(no one) can’t blame him. He was forced to come waste a year in the Northwest…He is going to get out as quick as he can and get on a team that will help him get a ring he deserves, it’s just unfortunate the M’s organization were unable to get a team together for him that could contend- showing Lee that maybe it would have been worth it to stick around.

  14. SethGrandpa on June 15th, 2010 3:07 am

    Blackburn is older than I realized (28). I’d be down for a package of Slowey/Ramos/+, if only because it’s realistic. It’s gonna KILL me to not be able to watch Lee pitch for my team anymore.

  15. ctdawg on June 15th, 2010 5:33 am

    The Red Sox farm system is in rough shape? Ummm, Keith Law ranked them 2nd in baseball this offseason with more top 100 prospects the the top ranked system (Rangers). He did say that not many of them are super close to the majors and one of them Ryan Westmoreland is now having issues.

    Now obviously a mlb squad is always looking for pitching but shouldn’t the Ms focus on getting bats back for Cliff Lee? If this team wants to have any hope to contend in the near future, they have to bring in guys who can actually score and drive in runs. The starting rotation this season has been solid but with all the close games due to lack of offense, the bullpen, which was thought to be a strength, has collapsed under pressure.

  16. wsm on June 15th, 2010 6:10 am

    I have a hard time believing the Twins trade Slowey or Baker. Is there any precedent for a team in contention trading away one of its productive pieces to get better? Nothing comes to mind for me at the moment.

    Baker and Slowey are both about to become expensive as well. They each have three years of control left, but you’ll be paying arbitration prices. Baker has a deal locked in, but it’s not a great value for a #3 SP. They are short-term help, but this team isn’t going to make a lot of noise next year unless we see another 2009-type fluke.

    I don’t think you can classify either guy as better than a #3 going forward at this point (why would the Twins deal either guy if it were otherwise?). And can’t Jack find a quality #3 SP for less than $5 million this offseason? I should think so.

    You’ve underestimated the Yankees, I believe. Don’t forget Hughes is coming off a 106 IP season last year. To ask him to go 220+ into the playoffs is asking for trouble. He’s already starting to fade a little. And like you mentioned, Hughes could reall stabilize their pen. They definitely will have room for Lee.

    Jesus Montero or bust.

  17. JH on June 15th, 2010 6:17 am

    and the A’s have a quite a few good prospects who could help the M’s soon (Carter 1B, Taylor OF, and Green SS). If the A’s are legitimate contenders, I wouldn’t rule out a deal with the A’s centered around one of those guys.

    Green can’t be traded until a year after his signing date, which is after the trading deadline. Beane is unlikely to give up 6 years of Carter for a half-season of Lee unless he’s really soured on Carter and thinks the draft picks will return better value. In that case, we may be better off keeping Lee ourselves.

    You’re right that Beane’s as likely as any GM to buck the “don’t trade within your division” conventional wisdom, but keep in mind that the division thing is all about PR, and Billy Beane does not have the same level of Goodwill with Oakland fans that he had 6 or 7 years ago.

  18. JH on June 15th, 2010 6:42 am

    On Boston, I don’t think the Mariners need to demand Kelly. I would be pretty happy with a deal centered around Ryan Kalish and a couple of other mid-level Sox prospects. Where Boston is thin is starting pitching in the high minors (behind Kelly), so if Z is dead set on getting pitching back in the deal it might not be a match.

  19. ivan on June 15th, 2010 6:54 am

    I’m with wsm. If there is any chance, no matter how slim it might seem, to get Jesus Montero for Cliff Lee, I’m for it.

  20. bermanator on June 15th, 2010 7:00 am

    I have a hard time believing the Twins trade Slowey or Baker. Is there any precedent for a team in contention trading away one of its productive pieces to get better? Nothing comes to mind for me at the moment.

    Baker and Slowey are both about to become expensive as well…

    Your second paragraph answers the implied question of the first … Minnesota would likely deal one of those pitchers to get Cliff Lee because they are about to get pricier (I wouldn’t call them “expensive,” but nor will they be making the minimum).

    Some of you are awfully pessimistic as to what other teams would give up for Lee. This is the best starting pitcher on the market, easily capable of swinging a playoff series, and a lock to be a Type A free agent that will generate two high draft picks in the offseason. Jack should be able to do very well shopping him around.

  21. MFG on June 15th, 2010 7:01 am

    Dave,

    Curious about your take on a one-two SP punch that involves 2 LHP. Lirano and Lee would be just that. Is there a precedent for this, in the postseason context?

    And, I really don’t see the Twins giving up a SP in a deal. Ramos and Revere, though, makes tons of sense.

  22. Pat O'Connell on June 15th, 2010 7:45 am

    Dave,

    It’s columns like this that keep me coming back to your site and engaged in the MLB season. Thanks!

    I like the Twins this year; I hope you’re right.

  23. MFG on June 15th, 2010 8:07 am

    Nevermind on my 2 LHP question. I’ve been reminded that the Twins would’ve loved to have a Johan-Liriano combo in the 2006 playoffs (but for Liriano’s injury), and the Yanks sure did well with CC and Pettitte in the playoffs last year.

  24. Badbadger on June 15th, 2010 8:09 am

    It seems a bit silly to not want to trade prospects within your division. I mean, if they trade their prospects for a different pitcher from another division and we trade Cliff Lee to someone else and they get beaten by those prospects 19 times a year, what’s the difference? In either case they trade away prospects and we gain them.

  25. Dave on June 15th, 2010 8:16 am

    I’m curious why you tossed the A’s out.

    They’re not really contenders, I don’t think, and they have significant problems at other positions to where they’d probably make a run at someone else (who they could keep beyond 2010) if they somehow found themselves buyers in July.

    So a deal with the Twins would have to be something like Duensing (decent better then French but not great #4 lefty), Ramos and maybe you can convince them to include OF Ben Revere.

    You’re wildly underestimating Lee’s trade value. It isn’t “two months of Cliff Lee”, it’s “two months of Lee, the postseason pitching of Lee, and two draft picks when he leaves”. That offer isn’t even better than the two picks, so no, that won’t do it.

    Why wouldn’t Colorado, SF, or SD make sense?

    Colorado and SF have deep rotations and needs at position other than SP. If they trade, they’ll trade for someone else. SD is still rebuilding, and isn’t going to surrender part of their core with Adrian Gonzalez’s future still undetermined.

    Is that really all we can get for Lee?

    In general, premium rental arms command one high quality prospect and a couple of other decent prospects. This is in line with that – the upside might be a bit lower, but the present value makes up for it.

    And why wouldn’t Philly make sense…?

    They don’t have the pieces to get him, and Ruben Amaro doesn’t have the balls to say “hey world, I screwed up, so I’m going to give up more for half a season of Lee than I got for a full season of him six months ago.”

    But he’s also never been in a position like this before, really- where he has to fend off a very tough Rays team as well as the eternal conundrum of the Yankees.

    2008. CC Sabathia was on the market. Theo didn’t go after him.

    I can’t imagine you’d be receptive to this, but is there no chance we could keep Lee?

    I’d love to keep Lee, but it’s just not realistic. The team doesn’t have enough room in the budget to keep him around and fix all the other problems with the roster, and there’s no reason to think Lee would choose Seattle over his numerous other suitors this winter.

    And what about the Braves?

    Their starting pitching is fine. If they make a deal, it will be for an outfielder.

    He did say that not many of them are super close to the majors and one of them Ryan Westmoreland is now having issues.

    Ding ding ding. They have a lot of guys who could be good in 3-4 years. They don’t have much to offer the M’s in terms of 2011 help.

    I have a hard time believing the Twins trade Slowey or Baker. Is there any precedent for a team in contention trading away one of its productive pieces to get better?

    If the Twins acquire Lee, one of those two gets bumped from the playoff rotation, so they’re not losing a piece that would be important to their run this winter.

    As you mentioned, both of them are going to start getting paid next year, and the Twins have Kyle Gibson coming up through the minors who could step in next year. They have the ability to lose one starting pitcher and be just fine going forward.

    They definitely will have room for Lee.

    Of course, you completely omit Vazquez from the discussion. If they want to shift Hughes to the bullpen in October, they don’t need Lee to do it. And I don’t see any reason to believe that they actually want to do that.

    Jesus Montero or bust.

    Yeah, let’s limit ourselves to making just one deal for a guy who is going to be a DH and is overrated.

    I would be pretty happy with a deal centered around Ryan Kalish and a couple of other mid-level Sox prospects.

    Ryan Kalish isn’t any better than Michael Saunders. I don’t see much point in building a deal around a guy who would have to displace one of the team’s better young players in order to grab a job in the big leagues.

    Curious about your take on a one-two SP punch that involves 2 LHP. Lirano and Lee would be just that. Is there a precedent for this, in the postseason context?

    They both have great change-ups and don’t have problems getting RHBs out. It’s not a problem.

    And, I really don’t see the Twins giving up a SP in a deal. Ramos and Revere, though, makes tons of sense.

    No, it doesn’t. That offer doesn’t even cover the value of the draft picks that Lee would bring after he leaves, much less make up for his value the rest of the year.

  26. MangoLiger on June 15th, 2010 8:24 am

    I think another likely team is the ______’s, who nominally wouldn’t trade for Lee, but they just lost their #1 or #2 starter to injury for the rest of the season and they still want to contend.

    Any team you’ve eliminated just because they have a strong rotation could instantly become a suitor due to injury.

  27. G-Man on June 15th, 2010 8:29 am

    I have no disagreement with Dave’s conclusions, but I’d also like to look at this starting from the list of Mariners needs. Besides starting pitching, C and 1B are holes, and for the love of the long ball, could we get a power hitter?

    Among the contenders, are there any sluggers languishing in AAA because they are blocked at the MLB level, or for some other reason? And how good are the Yankees’ two catching prospects?

  28. G-Man on June 15th, 2010 8:36 am

    And how good are the Yankees’ two catching prospects?

    OK, Dave answered that one about Montero while I was typing.

  29. Adam B. on June 15th, 2010 8:36 am

    Ben Revere?

    Because what this team really needs is a gritty speedster with no pop who maxes out a limited skillset–”Oof!”-I just tripped over four years of Chone Figgins.

  30. Leroy Stanton on June 15th, 2010 8:38 am

    Dave, I’m glad you’re optimistic about what we can get for Lee. You make a good case and I hope you’re right.

    On Montero, you don’t think he’ll end up at 1B or RF? I’m sure he won’t stick at catcher. Also, do you think he’s overrated because of his defense or is it his hitting?

  31. ThePopeofChilitown on June 15th, 2010 9:00 am

    Why be so dismissive of Tampa Bay? While they do have options internally, they are also in the middle of a lengthy and heated battle to build a new ballpark. Much like Seattle in the 90′s, I would think a big playoff push could end up with long-lasting ramifications. Additionally, they are struggling at the gate; adding a “name” like Cliff Lee could get some butts in the seats.

    Could a Hellickson or Joyce/Perez be something the M’s would look at? Or Navarro, as he has been seemingly replaced by John Jaso?

  32. HerseyChris on June 15th, 2010 9:03 am

    Dave, I’m curious why you named Mejia as a possible target as opposed to Ike Davis? Any particular reason, or would Ike do as well? Or do you see Ike Davis as not much better than Carp?

  33. ivan on June 15th, 2010 9:09 am

    Montero overrated? Compared to what, please? Every single report I have read says his catching continues to show steady improvement, and that he is dedicated to becoming a good catcher.

    For heaven’s sake, he is 20 years old — 20! — and playing in Triple-A! The Mariners have no similar RH power bat in their organization.

    No one has said the Mariners should “limit themselves” to dealing for him — and the Yankees might not make him available at ANY price — but I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone the M’s MIGHT get who fits their needs more, long term.

  34. Nate on June 15th, 2010 9:11 am

    Any team you’ve eliminated just because they have a strong rotation could instantly become a suitor due to injury.

    well, of course. but how do you plan for injuries? are you suggesting someone will make a winning offer for Lee as insurance?? c’mon, Jack has to work with the current situation. and that’s what Dave’s describing.

  35. bermanator on June 15th, 2010 9:16 am

    Dave, I’m glad you’re optimistic about what we can get for Lee. You make a good case and I hope you’re right.

    I don’t think that is optimistic — that is what the M’s can reasonably expect to get. It also helps that this is a year where there isn’t an obvious second prize (Oswalt comes with a much heftier salary and commitment, and it is a long way down from there).

    Could a Hellickson or Joyce/Perez be something the M’s would look at? Or Navarro, as he has been seemingly replaced by John Jaso?

    I said something similar the other day (a package led with Davis/Hellickson, plus some other parts).

    I think Dave is right in that they are not the most obvious partner, but that could change in a hurry if anyone gets hurt and Lee would make their postseason rotation truly scary for anyone. Moreover, they are a team that could give up MLB-ready pitching prospects without threatening its long-term goals, since it has a lot of depth there in the high minors.

    Seattle has an advantage in that Lee is a guy who everyone in contention want, even if there isn’t a true need. All it takes is a GM or two to fall in love with the possibilities of him as the anchor of their postseason rotation, and Jack could do very well indeed.

  36. Adam B. on June 15th, 2010 9:20 am

    Why be so dismissive of Tampa Bay?

    Because their front office is too intelligent to give up 6-years of a Hellickson type for someone they don’t have the budget to sign long-term.

  37. Dave on June 15th, 2010 9:22 am

    Any team you’ve eliminated just because they have a strong rotation could instantly become a suitor due to injury.

    The Mariners shouldn’t wait that long to deal him. The sooner they trade Lee the better – both in terms of maximizing the amount of starts Lee will get for the other team, and minimizing the risk that he gets hurt while still a Mariner.

    Besides starting pitching, C and 1B are holes, and for the love of the long ball, could we get a power hitter?

    Adam Moore still has enough potential that giving up on him to just acquire a catcher isn’t a good idea. Yes, first base is a hole, but there aren’t any available first base prospects that make a lot of sense given the teams in the bidding. The Rangers aren’t giving up Justin Smoak, for instance.

    On Montero, you don’t think he’ll end up at 1B or RF? I’m sure he won’t stick at catcher. Also, do you think he’s overrated because of his defense or is it his hitting?

    He’s not athletic in any real way, shape, or form. He could play 1B/RF like Adam Dunn “plays” those positions, but his glove would be a problem.

    On Montero, read this, and then realize that I don’t think Montero is a big league catcher. His bat is special for a position I don’t think he can play, but as a guy without much defensive value, it’s overrated.

    Why be so dismissive of Tampa Bay?

    Have you seen their rotation?

    Dave, I’m curious why you named Mejia as a possible target as opposed to Ike Davis?

    Davis is the Mets starting first baseman. They aren’t going to create one hole to fix another. He’s also not a good enough player to anchor a package for Lee.

  38. pdxMsfan on June 15th, 2010 9:44 am

    Great post.

    Too bad the Braves aren’t a good fit. I’d be happy if we could work something out with them. Seems like they have some great pitching in the lower levels – Teheran, Minor, Vizcaino. It would be fun to watch Pineda develop with those guys to solidify our future rotation.

  39. nickwest1976 on June 15th, 2010 9:51 am

    I would be very happy with the Twins package you are referencing Dave. I understand people’s concerns about getting position players in a deal for Lee but the rotation is going to have a major hole once Lee leaves and we can’t count on Fister and Vargas being this good moving forward. Slowey or Baker would slot in nicely to the middle of the rotation and push Fister and Vargas back to the 4/5 spots which is very solid for them and the team.

  40. dadude on June 15th, 2010 9:58 am

    Dave do you think that Aardsma would be added to a deal with the Twins?

  41. Steve Slow on June 15th, 2010 10:07 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Rays got involved. We’re actually just talking about that today on DRaysBay. Their rotation is deep and stacked, but is currently under-performing and lacks a big, guaranteed ace in the front.

    The idea is the package would probably focus around Wade Davis, which would serve much the same purpose as Kevin Slowey or Scott Baker – slide him into the rotation now but still has lots of future value. Hellickson could also get involved, but there’s no way both him and Davis get included in the same deal…that’s too much value even for Lee. Unless, of course, I’ve done my math wrong.

  42. chris on June 15th, 2010 10:08 am

    Twins fan here–I gotta say that the reasoning here makes sense to me. Ramos is a natural trade piece; the only question is whether the Twins would rather invest his value in a “win now” rental instead of a longer-term asset. Lee is certainly the kind of pitcher worth chasing for a short-term chance at a championship run if they choose to do so, but the team doesn’t have much of history of going that route.

    If they do, my impression is that the Twins would be more willing to trade Slowey than Baker. Baker has cost certainty; he has a deal that locks in his arb years and includes a club option for his first FA year (which is 2013). Blackburn has a similar deal. Slowey doesn’t, despite being clearly a better pitcher than Blackburn. I think the Twins have historically viewed him as somewhat riskier, and hence more tradeable.

    As far as other prospects, the Twins stockpile strike-throwing arms and athletic outfielders. They don’t have much depth in the way of middle infielders (just watch the disasters that have to step in whenever Hudson and/or Hardy are hurt), so they are probably unlikely to trade IFs that are very interesting.

  43. djtizzo on June 15th, 2010 10:27 am

    I really don’t think Smoak would be too much to ask for Lee, but then the argument of inter division trading comes in making it pretty improbable. Any way we could pry Logan Morrison away from the fish? Or Wallace from the Jays?

  44. lesch2k on June 15th, 2010 10:34 am

    to the guy who asked about the Reds. (this is from an Ms fan in Cincinnati).

    #1 reason cliff lee is out is money
    #2 reason is that Volquez is coming off the DL in the coming months
    #3 is that Chapman is 1-2 years away from the show
    #4 is travis wood, a guy who almost beat out leake for a rotation spot in spring training.

    so the reds have plenty of big league pitching, pitching that they could trade if they wanted but the Reds can’t take on any money.

    The reds have a promotion this summer where you get 2 lower level tickets and 2 beers for $22 total. they are desperate for money

  45. rick m on June 15th, 2010 10:35 am

    I can’t see Texas dealing Smoak to the M’s, but a deal with Chris Davis could be doable. I gotta believe Texas knows they need a Cliff Lee in their rotation if they want to be serious about this season, and I also gotta believe they have some good second tier talent (Like C.Davis) they can part with without unduly fearing they will become Mariner superstars and Ranger killers.

  46. anothermekongplease on June 15th, 2010 10:37 am

    No deal with the Twins unless Gibson and Ramos involved. MLBTR saying Mets and M’s have talked a lot about Lee. Not sure what the Mets have left in their farm system worth having or better than what we already have.

  47. robbbbbb on June 15th, 2010 10:41 am

    I’ll throw in one more variable, which could increase the number of teams that would make Lee attractive: A three-way deal. Z’s already shown a willingness to work a three-corner deal, and that might bring a team like Texas back into the mix.

    That’s a lot tougher in midseason, due to time pressures. I still don’t think it’s out of the question.

    I also think that Lee’s value is at its peak. Trade him in the next couple of weeks, please. The M’s are certainly out of contention, and being first to market with a big piece will net them more value.

  48. terry on June 15th, 2010 10:51 am

    Whats the argument for why Cincy doesn’t make sense and what would they buy instead?

  49. msk0230 on June 15th, 2010 10:53 am

    What about the Orioles? They have loads of prospects and we really need them to pick up the pace because I just don’t think we can lose more than 119 games, which is what they are on pace for. If we can help their mlb team that would be awesome. All joking aside, am I alone in dreaming of Anthony Rendon? Is he still the consensus 2011 #1 overall pick?

    Also I understand we need a lot of help for the 2011 season but isn’t the 2011 draft stacked with talent (a lot of which is high minors ready) that wouldn’t set us back much on getting the M’s good but would add more talent upside and more club control so they are cheaper and ours for longer? I guess what I am getting at is for this draft the 2 picks even though they will be roughly 25 and 35 (right?) are very valuable this year, moreso than normal due to the draft.

  50. codybond31 on June 15th, 2010 10:58 am

    Tell me what you think, but I’d so much rather get One Stud (hitting) Prospect back rathan than 3 B+ prospects. This franchise (actually in a good way) has filled its roster with a lot of average MLB players. But in a horrible way, lacks enough impact players, especially bats.

    So I’d take one of these:
    Justin Smoak-1B Tex
    Aaron Hicks-OF Min
    Logan Morrison-1B Fla
    Brett Wallace-1B Tor
    Chris Carter-1B Oak
    Josh Bell-3B Bal
    Donavan Tate-OF SD
    Ike Davis-1B NYM
    Tyler Colvin-OF ChC

    Then a combo of the likes mentioned above

  51. wsm on June 15th, 2010 11:01 am

    I have no problem with acquiring a guy like Montero who may do nothing but DH for us for the next 6 years. That job has been a black hole for us since Edgar retired. If you’re going to go defense first everywhere else, it makes sense to me to maximize the offensive potential of the DH position.

    Theoretically, its easy to find value at the position in the offseason. In reality, Jack Z is 0-2 the last two years in getting one.

    Talking playoff rotations is all well and good, but all of these teams are in no position to punt their 5th starters. The Yanks and Twins still need to win those games to get to the postseason. The Yanks are definitely more concerned with not giving more regular season starts to Aceves than who their 4th playoff starter may be.

    Likewise, the Twins would be much more inclined to make Blackburn a long reliever than ship off Slowey or Baker. I just can’t imagine a team shipping off a consistent member of their rotation in the middle of a pennant race, even to acquire someone like Lee. When has this ever happened? Sure Minnesota may be concerned about 2011 salaries, but they won’t deal with that until the offseason and definitely not at the expense of 2010.

  52. anothermekongplease on June 15th, 2010 11:03 am

    M’s rumored to be holding the Mets up for Niese and other prospects. If another team gets desperate then Mets may feel pressured and make a bad deal. Mets site says Twins are very involved in the Lee deal as well. Would love a 3 way deal that gets us prospects to flip for a stud outfielder or 1b.

  53. codybond31 on June 15th, 2010 11:03 am

    I’d also take one of these:
    Desmond Jennings-OF TB
    Yonder Alanzo-1B CIN
    Tim Beckham-SS TB

    BUT MY FAVORITE TRADE WHOULD AND COULD HAPPEN:
    Lee

    To MINN for:

    OF Delmon Young
    OF Aaron Hicks
    P “B” Level Prospect

  54. TomC on June 15th, 2010 11:09 am

    Dave:

    In discussing the potential for a trade with the twins you said: “And, they have what the 2011 Mariners need – young, cheap, major league ready starting pitching”

    This implies starting pitching is the Mariners most pressing need. Is that your contention? If so, why do you believe their need for improved offense is less than their need for improved starting pitching?

    Isn’t the need for “young, cheap, major league ready hitting” more of an issue for this team?

  55. BennyG on June 15th, 2010 11:09 am

    I’m not sure why TB, COL and ATL don’t make sense if the Yankees do make sense.

    If you put Cliff Lee with Garza and Shields, that’s a dominant playoff rotation. Price has been awesome this year – but he’s not playoff tested really. Neimann is also good – but Lee is much much better.

    Atlanta has Tommy Hanson, who’s been a bit inconsistant this year – but is good. They have Hudson, who has been solid – but beyond that, they don’t really have a shut down guy. Lee could do that for them. Plus they’re going to have to compete with the Phillies putting Halladay out there and the Mets having Santana.

    Colorado has Ubaldo, but no one else on their pitching staff is that dominant and some of their starters are quite young still. Ubaldo with Lee – that would be pretty dominant as well.

  56. Sports on a Schtick on June 15th, 2010 11:20 am

    I still think like a few others like the Rays might get involved. As good as Tampa Bay is they’re far from guaranteed from a playoff spot in any given year. Friedman might want to pull the trigger and create a devastating top three rotation to match up against the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies of the world.

  57. ivan on June 15th, 2010 11:24 am

    I read the Fangraphs piece about Montero’s value that Dave referred to. Among the prevailing comparisons in the comment thread is Paul Konerko.

    If this is accurate and if the question is: Do you trade Cliff Lee for a 20-year-old Paul Konerko who just MIGHT be able to catch for you, do you do it?

    For me, the answer is yes, today, right now. Why WOULDN’T they, if the Yankees were willing to deal him?

    Of course, they might not be, and all this might be just the rankest rosterbating. But it can’t hurt to find out.

  58. Leroy Stanton on June 15th, 2010 11:25 am

    The Rays will also be motivated to keep Lee away from the Yankees.

  59. tmac9311 on June 15th, 2010 11:28 am

    I think any team trying to make the playoffs should consider dealing for Lee. I agree the Twins make the most sense though. Especially if all things go right for us and our rotation looks like

    SP Felix
    SP Baker
    SP Pineda
    SP Vargas
    SP Fister
    Spot Starter RRS

    not that I expect Michael to light the world on fire, but if he could come up and Baker and him could fill 2-3 that be awesome. Even if we had Felix-Baker-Vargas-Fister could be a decent rotation with a fill in somewhere. Our large item pickups seems to have worked pretty well with pitching.

    And anything that could get RoJo off the team next year benefits us.

  60. BennyG on June 15th, 2010 11:31 am

    Is Pineda really going to be in our starting rotation next season? Seems like he’s a bit away from that (or at least starting the season there). I guess we’ll see what he does the rest of this year.

  61. G-Man on June 15th, 2010 11:32 am

    I’ll add another wrinkle to the deal. What if the Mariners include somebody else with Lee? I don’t have anyone specific in mind, but adding more value on this end should help, if for nothing more than covering the receiving GM’s butt a bit.

  62. rick m on June 15th, 2010 11:35 am

    Lee for Montero? Does George Costanza’s Dad know about this??

  63. Dave on June 15th, 2010 11:36 am

    The idea is the package would probably focus around Wade Davis…

    I’d be shocked – shocked – if the Rays traded Davis. They are notoriously impossible to trade with, especially when it comes to young talent. Don’t hold your breath on this one.

    Whats the argument for why Cincy doesn’t make sense and what would they buy instead?

    If they decide they need to add an arm for the second half, they’ll just call up Aroldis Chapman, not trade for Lee.

    This implies starting pitching is the Mariners most pressing need. Is that your contention? If so, why do you believe their need for improved offense is less than their need for improved starting pitching?

    Right now, the Mariners rotation next year is Felix-Fister (who is currently on the DL)-Vargas. That’s a huge problem. I know, the team’s offense is frustrating as hell, but it’s not the only problem the organization is facing.

    As far as trading for a young guy who can hit, that guy has to fit in to this team. LF is somewhat taken by Saunders, 3B is taken by Ackley pushing Figgins to the hot corner, and you’re not going to get a C/SS who can mash.

    So, if you want to trade Lee for a good young hitter, you’re basically left with first base, and there aren’t really any good 1B prospects who are going to be available for Lee. The teams that are going to be potential trade partners don’t have the guy that you’re looking for.

    Given that, the M’s best option is to get major league pitching in return, and then try to fill the first base hole another way.

  64. bat guano on June 15th, 2010 11:41 am

    Good write up Dave, but I think you are too quick to dismiss the Rockies as a potential trading partner. What’s your logic for saying they don’t make sense? Pair Lee with Ubaldo and you’ve got the best one-two punch in baseball for the playoffs. If they get Lee, the Rocks can spare a major league starter (say, De La Rosa, Francis or Hammel) and Chris Iannetta might be expendable if they got a back up catcher from us (adios, Rob Johnson). They’re also overloaded in the outfield with Fowler, Gonzalez, Smith, Hawpe and Spilborghs, so if we threw in a decent reliever and/or prospects maybe we could even get Hawpe in the mix to play 1B. They may not be willing to trade all of the people I’m suggesting, but there might be a fit and I just don’t see why they wouldn’t talk to us. Am I missing something?

  65. chris on June 15th, 2010 11:45 am

    That offer [Ramos and Revere] doesn’t even cover the value of the draft picks that Lee would bring after he leaves, much less make up for his value the rest of the year.

    I don’t agree. Ramos and Revere have to at least cover the value of the picks. They are somewhat known quantities, and they’re both good. The picks, while high, are question marks that could turn out to be complete busts for all we know. Even if they produce useful players, they won’t be MLB-ready for several years. Future uncertainty is not as valuable as present certainty.

    You’re implying that the Twins would trade both those guys for a low 2011 first-rounder and a sandwich pick, if such a trade were legal. No way would they do that.

  66. Utis on June 15th, 2010 11:54 am

    Can we expect a deal for Lee as good as the RJ for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, and John Halama deal with Houston? I would say that deal worked out well for both teams. Slowney or Baker plus prospect doesn’t strike me as being of the same magnitude.

    Also what about 3B or 2B? Couldn’t/shouldn’t the M’s be trying to upgrade there? It’s probably hard but I would expect them to try to move Jose Lopez now or this winter. It seems clear Lopez has no future with this team except perhaps as a super utility guy (1B, 2B, 3B).

  67. codybond31 on June 15th, 2010 11:59 am

    bat guando,

    great thought on the Rockies. It makes a lot of sense.

    I’d take a 2-3 player combo of:
    C-Chris Iannetta
    3B-Ian Stewart
    OF-Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Brad Hawpe, maybe Seth Smith. Hmm… I like it

  68. nickwest1976 on June 15th, 2010 12:01 pm

    Carlos Gonzalez is not even close to available…he’s a big time talent and the Rockies aren’t moving him.

  69. djtizzo on June 15th, 2010 12:01 pm

    If a trade with the Twins does happen, Hicks and Ramos names better both be involved, throw them “the DA” or Saunders to make it happen. I like Saunders potential, but Hicks is a stud!

  70. luckyscrubs on June 15th, 2010 12:11 pm

    The latest from MLBTR.

    Rosenthal says the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers – yes, the Brewers – could be interested in Cliff Lee this summer. The Brewers could provide the Mariners with a hitter like Corey Hart or Mat Gamel and trade Lee to a third team for younger pitchers.

    Something like this makes a lot of sense with GMZ being very familiar with the Brewers prospects. Most importantly, this would increase the teams interested in getting Lee, but may not have the MLB ready players we need.

    Whatever happens, I hope this situation is resolved quickly.

  71. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 12:28 pm

    I’d be shocked – shocked – if the Rays traded Davis. They are notoriously impossible to trade with, especially when it comes to young talent. Don’t hold your breath on this one.

    Dave couldn’t be more right about this. It’s known in the industry as “like pulling your own teeth” to deal for young talent with Tampa Bay (unless they’ve soured on their own about somebody, like what happened with Delmon Young).

    I think the Twins ARE the best match, and would like to add a couple new wrinkles to a scenario agree with djtizzo, who types faster than I do, apparently:

    What if we offered to fortify their bullpen with a David Aardsma at the same time? It’s not a secret they need bullpen help.

    An arm like Slowey or Baker has GOT to come back to us, though- for both their logistical reasons and ours. Sure, we need hitters… but the rotation is every bit as problematic in 2011. The money from either being in arby years doesn’t bother me so much. I vote Baker, between the two.

    Baker is a pretty huge chunk of an expected return for Lee. For them to add the names I’d want: Ramos, Revere and Hicks- I think you include Aardsma and (wait for it) Carlos Triunfel.

    Let’s go mega on this one, all the way.

    I’m not sold on Triunfel in any way- I’ve maintained that Safeco isn’t the best park for HIM to hit 81 games in a major-league season for awhile.

    Lee-Aardsma-Triunfel for Baker-Ramos-Revere-Hicks. Who likes it?

  72. Dave on June 15th, 2010 12:36 pm

    The Twins aren’t trading Aaron Hicks.

  73. jephdood on June 15th, 2010 12:36 pm

    Lee-Aardsma-Triunfel for Baker-Ramos-Revere-Hicks. Who likes it?

    I think you’re over-valuing the two names after Lee. :-)

  74. djtizzo on June 15th, 2010 12:53 pm

    I think Lee and Saunders for Hicks+ wouldn’t be asking too much and the Twins would consider it. They don’t need Ramos, but we also have Moore who has about the same potential as Ramos! Dave, you even mentioned that it’s not just Lee, it’s Lee plus playoff service plus 2 picks. So, this would not be too much to ask for Hicks, even without throwing in Saunders in my opinion! I only mention his name because of the log jam we would have untill Ichiro retired.

  75. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 1:06 pm

    They don’t need Ramos, but we also have Moore who has about the same potential as Ramos!

    IMHO, Ramos > Moore. I’m not soured on Moore at all, but put it this way: who’s better suited to back up Joe Mauer in Minnesota for the better part of a decade? Also, Ramos is three years younger than Moore.

    The Twins aren’t trading Aaron Hicks.

    Okee-doke. “Lee-Aardsma-Triunfel for Baker-Ramos-Revere-Hicks” doesn’t work, then.

    But if (for grins) we keep the mega-deal format, what variation DOES work?

    How about: Lee-Aardsma-Moore-Triunfel for Baker-Ramos-Plouffe-Revere?

    Lee-Aardsma-Triunfel for Baker-Ramos-Revere-Hicks. Who likes it?

    I think you’re over-valuing the two names after Lee.

    If so on Triunfel, then I’m far from alone. The guys is constantly ranked the second-or-third-best prospect we have in the system.

  76. pdxMsfan on June 15th, 2010 1:10 pm

    The Twins aren’t trading Aaron Hicks.

    What is the thinking behind this? It seems they aren’t that high on him as they’ve asked him to repeat A ball this year, while they have promoted Revere to AA. Are they more committed to Hicks than Revere? Who profiles as the better player?

  77. djtizzo on June 15th, 2010 1:16 pm

    Are they more committed to Hicks than Revere? Who profiles as the better player?

    Last I checked they have Hicks listed as a higher prospect, but he is a still pretty raw. If I remember right, I think he may even have been picked as a pitcher due to his arm strength and then converted to CF due to his natural athleticism. Not sure though, don’t hold me to that! Revere is good too though. Further along than Hicks right now for sure.

  78. Mike Snow on June 15th, 2010 1:22 pm

    Whats the argument for why Cincy doesn’t make sense and what would they buy instead?

    If they decide they need to add an arm for the second half, they’ll just call up Aroldis Chapman, not trade for Lee.

    I’m not suggesting it would make the Reds a plausible destination for Lee, but I wouldn’t count on Chapman being ready enough to have that kind of impact.

  79. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 1:26 pm

    A package of Ramos and a second prospect, along with either Slowey or Baker, is the kind of deal that the Mariners simply couldn’t turn down.

    Let’s get away from my “mega-deal scenario” for just a moment.

    Dave, if it’s to be Lee for Baker-Ramos-and-Player X…who has the strongest possibility of BEING that Player X in the Twins system?

    I know you’ve got some idea on who’d be a fit!

  80. abcd on June 15th, 2010 1:56 pm

    I’d like to believe we’ll get a big return on Lee but I don’t have as much faith in Z as the peanut gallery. I hope to be proven wrong…

    I don’t have a strong opinion about some of the rumored deals, but getting a poo poo platter led by a guy like Niese would be a disaster.

    I’m not sure why Dave thinks the Phils don’t have the ammo, I think a guy like D.Brown would be fantastic.

    I can’t believe the Royals have a better record at this point in the season and we are already talking about trading Lee…sigh.

  81. amnizu on June 15th, 2010 1:59 pm

    The Rays will also be motivated to keep Lee away from the Yankees.

    I think this is one factor that hasn’t really been addressed thus far.

    In the past the Yanks and Red Sox have gotten involved in trades that they weren’t really interested in to drive up the price of players and block trades to their competitors. I think this may be a reason why the Yankees are even in the mix, the M’s want them there to help set the market and the Yankees want be there to keep Lee out of the AL East. It behooves them both to talk to each other and the press right now.

  82. Leroy Stanton on June 15th, 2010 2:17 pm

    I think this may be a reason why the Yankees are even in the mix, the M’s want them there to help set the market and the Yankees want be there to keep Lee out of the AL East. It behooves them both to talk to each other and the press right now.

    I agree, and that’s why I’m officially starting a Matsuzaka/Kelly to Seattle rumor. It goes like this: Matsuzaka is tired of failing to live up to expectations in Boston and he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause to be closer to home and play alongside fellow countryman Ichiro.

    The Mariners will also receive highly regarded prospect Casey Kelly. The only details left to be worked out are how much cash is involved in the deal and Boston/Lee agreeing to a long-term extension.

    Do you think the Yankees will buy it?

  83. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 2:25 pm

    I agree, and that’s why I’m officially starting a Matsuzaka/Kelly to Seattle rumor. It goes like this: Matsuzaka is tired of failing to live up to expectations in Boston and he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause to be closer to home and play alongside fellow countryman Ichiro.

    The Mariners will also receive highly regarded prospect Casey Kelly. The only details left to be worked out are how much cash is involved in the deal and Boston/Lee agreeing to a long-term extension.

    Do you think the Yankees will buy it?

    No. They’ll realize it’s smoke because no bats are involved in the deal.

    They know we can’t afford to give up our one big chip in a deal that DOESN’T involve bats for 2011. I’m not even talking about the quality of said bats, I’m referring to the fact the M’s WON’T have a lot of money to fill a serious amount of holes on next year’s squad.

    (Although I’d admit that Matsuzaka would likely fill the need for a #2 or #3 starter, there’s other serious holes we have among everyday players and the bench for this to be a rumor easily bought into.)

  84. Leroy Stanton on June 15th, 2010 3:01 pm

    No. They’ll realize it’s smoke because no bats are involved in the deal.

    That’s once they’ve stopped laughing at the idea of someone wanting to play in Seattle.

    It really is too bad that a credible case can’t be made for Boston being in the mix.

  85. marinersunbird on June 15th, 2010 4:21 pm

    Bedard’s name hasn’t been mentioned. Hmmmmmm.

  86. lalo on June 15th, 2010 4:33 pm

    Why the Giants out of the mix? Imagine that they had to Lincecum, Cain, Lee. and Jonathan Sanchez, I would place as top contender to win the World Series. They could send to Buster Posey and some pitching prospect.

  87. lalo on June 15th, 2010 4:40 pm

    Why the Giants out of the mix? Imagine that they had to Lincecum, Cain, Lee. and Jonathan Sanchez, I would place as top contender to win the World Series. They could send to Buster Posey and some pitching prospect.

    I forgot, Zito, this rotation could be the best in the big leagues, even better than the Yankees or Boston

  88. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 4:41 pm

    Why the Giants out of the mix?…

    They could send to Buster Posey and some pitching prospect.

    I don’t think the Friscos have the cashola to be a factor on this. Plus not enough of a need. That rotation is pretty blasted good as it is, they’d be more in the market for an affordable bat.

    Lee’s contract is going to phase him out of most mid-markets’ do-ability charts. It’s not like he’s making peanuts, as is.

  89. GoldenGutz on June 15th, 2010 5:44 pm

    Why couldn’t we pick up the rest of Lee’s contract? More teams would be interested then. Technically we could go up to about 120m. And we are sitting at 91m right now. I have been on the Lee-to-Cincy bandwagon for a while. Get Alonzo and some other prospects. And to those saying “Cincy has enough pitching, they could call up Chapman if they need pitching.” Well Lee is better than anyone they had and they need a “true ace” Alonzo is also blocked by Votto. So he needs to be traded or just sit and rot. Throw in Aardsma as well and we can get another top prospect from them.

  90. pensive on June 15th, 2010 5:44 pm

    Has the budget for 2011 already been made public? If a player that improves the team is available and willing to play in Seattle (reasonable current market price) budget should be the least of ownership concerns. Empty seats are contagious.

  91. SonOfZavaras on June 15th, 2010 6:00 pm

    I have been on the Lee-to-Cincy bandwagon for a while.

    Cincinnati just doesn’t do rental-player trades with players of Lee’s caliber. I mean, virtually NO history of doing it.

    They’re on the outside looking in.

  92. uoduckfan33 on June 15th, 2010 7:23 pm

    This may have already been pointed out, but Baker and Slowey are both fly ball pitchers with good K/BB ratios who would definitely fit nicely with Safeco + Guti/Ichiro.

  93. tmac9311 on June 16th, 2010 6:09 am

    Seeing as some one brought up Bedard do you think there’s any chance someone would take a package deal, as in they don’t want to give up their top prospect, but we throw in the wild card of Lee and Bedard? Would any team legitimately bite at that, or does Bedard have to prove he can pitch first? I think that could help the Twins as well, although I think Bedard is also a lefty. I’m just not confident in Pavano/Baker/Slowery/etc. for the playoffs at this point in time. I suppose Bedard is right around that level too, so maybe I’m just talking out my ass.

  94. DMZ on June 16th, 2010 7:30 am

    Yeah, you essentially can’t trade guys on the DL.

  95. Miles on June 16th, 2010 11:33 am

    I like the Tampa route. Tampa is going to have some major pieces to sell. They have 3 guys for the middle infield and 3 catchers. They can afford to move Davis, Bartlett and Navaro. I see them as potential buyers and sellers. It will be interesting to see how they work it.

    For an arm like Davis and possibly a bat like Sweeney, whom the M’s could move to 1st or keep at third, I would think they could get Lee and some cash. Lee may put them over they top and they have Hellickson and McGee to replace him next year and 2 good draft picks to restock.

  96. loveMeSomeStats on June 16th, 2010 1:39 pm

    I was just reading the various posts about Cliff Lee’s value on here and on fangraphs as well as the post over there about “what the M’s should do”, and I had the thought…

    I wonder if people would have thought the Cliff Lee trade was the right trade to make at the time if they had known exactly what the 2010 M’s budget would be. As I recall, there was a lot of talk in the months afterwards about what additional pieces to acquire and that turned out largely to be no additional pieces (Kotchman/Hall trade, Garko, Byrnes, Sweeney … Figgins was already signed). Is Cliff Lee the correct acquisition if he’s your last piece (or nearly so)?

  97. Adam B. on June 17th, 2010 10:05 am

    I understand it’s almost certainly posturing, but Zduriencik is just making himself look ridiculous with this “Get back in it” talk.

    Stick a fork in ‘em Jack; This team was cooked weeks ago.

    Personally I hope Omar Minaya goes all Bavasi and in a last ditch effort to save his sorry rear, offers us SS Wilmer Flores, RHP Jennry Mejias and RHP Brad Holt.

    Certainly Flores isn’t close to the majors yet, and doesn’t fill a position of immediate need, but his upside would be tantalizing, and he’d give our system yet another quality infield prospect.

    Mejias, as Dave has said, would be the other centerpiece; He’s not as polished as a Scott Baker or Kevin Slowey, but he has less service time and a much higher ceiling then Minnesota’s arms, and since the Mariners are going to be rebuilding for the next couple of years anyway, I don’t think they’d be hurt in giving him a little time to develop.

    Brad Holt would be the final piece of the trade and would give the M’s another power arm to potentially supplement next years bullpen.

    I understand that getting prospects of Flores and Mejias merit in a package together is not probable or even likely, but when provoked Minaya has a history of making just these sorts of moves, and he wont be any less desperate this year with his butt on fire.

  98. AdamJ on June 18th, 2010 11:10 am

    Dave,

    As a Twins fan, I think the idea of adding Cliff Lee is great. But I think your proposal sounds totally out of line. There’s no way that the Twins trade three seasons of control for Baker or Slowey plus six seasons of control for Ramos and Revere for a half-season of Lee. They don’t have the money to resign Lee at the end of the year because of salary increases due to Mauer and the rest of their roster.

    Really, this proposal sounds a lot like the Lester, Ellsbury, and Masterson or Hughes, Cabrera, and Austin Jackson rumors people in Minnesota kept hearing about for Johan Santana after the 2007 season. The Twins might be willing to trade both Ramos and Revere due to organizational strength at those two positions, but I don’t see them parting with a starter as well.

  99. 1986 on June 18th, 2010 11:44 am

    Nice analysis, Dave. But I think you come to the wrong conclusion. I doubt that the Twins part with either Baker or Slowey for Lee since they probably cannot sign him after the season and they do not want to be left with two holes in their rotation to fill over the winter.

    Your expectations on what Lee will fitch should be re-evaluated considering he will only be with the receiving team for 3 months. Johan Santana was traded for 5 players — only one of which has had any impact on a major league team (Carlos Gomez) AND that deal was a trade and sign — which ain’t gonna happen with Lee.

    When CC was traded to Brewers in midseason ’08, they gave up Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson and Taylor Green. Only LaPorta was a real prospect and he has struggled with the Tribe and was recently sent back to AAA.

  100. Steve Lein on June 18th, 2010 2:20 pm

    Twins guy here (http://twins.gearupforsports.com/blog/)

    To be blunt, I don’t think you’re going to get a Baker/Slowey AND Ramos type deal at this point for a rental who is 100% not going to resign with the Twins, even if 2 draft picks are involved on our end.

    It’ll be one or the other if it happens plus a few decent prospects (keep in mind, this is NOT the type of deal the Twins have EVER made).

    The FanGraphs article gives the evidence: “If you’re a GM shopping for Cliff Lee this summer, that looks to be the price – $15 to $20 million worth of value, which translates into one high quality prospect and a few fillers.”

    As for some names that have been thrown out there from you guys:

    CF Aaron Hicks – A Lee Rental does not land the teams #1 prospect (and he’s ‘untouchable’ anyway).

    SP Kyle Gibson – Can not be traded this season (1st year in Minors, didn’t sign until deadline day last year).

    LF Delmon Young – no way Twins deal him with the season he is putting together (you want Michael Cuddyer?)

    CF Ben Revere – He’d be an interesting piece of the trade, BUT, Twins would be up a creek without a paddle if Denard Span were to get hurt and he was gone.

    If I missed anyone, ask and I’ll tell you what I think.

    But, if I were to wager on a deal the Twins would offer up for Lee, it’d be this:

    - C Wilson Ramos (AAA) – he’s been hitting better recently, and his struggles have been traced to the fact he felt he should have been on the MLB Roster to start the season (which I agree with).
    - SP David Bromberg (AA) – Led his league in strikeouts the past 3 seasons with plenty of upside left. Could make a difference at some point next year.
    - OF Rene Tosoni (AA) – Shoulder injury limiting him a bit this year (currently on the DL), but had 44 XBH’s (15 HR’s), 71 RBI’s, and an .814 OPS at AA last year.

    That’s 3 of our Top 15 Prospects.

    If you want a pitcher for the MLB squad back for this year, Swap Ramos for Baker/Slowey. That’s what you can see yourself getting from the Twins for Lee (and the Bromberg-Tosoni names might be a little generous as well).

  101. twinsfan on June 19th, 2010 2:48 am

    Twins fan here searching the trade rumors and thought I would chirp in with regards to our prospects.

    We have never made a deal of this kind, ever. If it was ever going to happen, this is the year, but we just don’t make these kind of trades. Cliff Lee also makes us the best team in the AL in my opinion when we are healthy.

    Here is a rundown of the pieces you have mentioned:

    Kevin Slowey: 26, pure control pitcher. He does not have a strike-out pitch, but is a very smart pitcher and keeps stuff down in the zone. He does tend to rack the pitch count up because his pitches are easy to foul off so he rarely goes deep. Still, a reliable 4 or 5.

    Ben Revere: 21, This piece doesn’t make sense to me given Franklin Gutierrez. Revere is all speed, with an above average glove and an above average contact hitter.

    Ceiling: 8-12th best leadoff hitter in bigs
    Floor: Career pinch runner

    Wilson Ramos: 22, Ramos would obviously be the lynchpin of any deal. He has a cannon on arm and is very good stopping balls in the dirt. To be honest, another year behind Joe Mauer would do him a lot of good in learning, but he could play in the majors now. He has 20 home run potential, but chases too much. A good hitting coach could do him a lot of good.

    Ceiling: Every-Day Catcher, 5th-10th best D Catcher. .260 20 HR.

    Floor: Reserve catcher for a Yadier Molina type player.

    Scott Baker: Baker, 28 is solid, solid #3. He will never take on the Yankees or BoSox consistently, but he owns crappy teams without fail. He has good control with a big breaking ball and a good change-up. He throws a slider too, but usually only as a waste pitch or against young players that chase sliders.

    Baker has a tendency to crack under pressure against big teams though and implode, but he is reliable.

    The other wild card in this is that we have Kyle Gibson waiting in the minors. He and Aaron Hicks are untouchable, but he could step into the rotation right away. As a Twins fan, I would love to see Lee replace Pavano(who we all hate), but there is nowhere to put Pavano unless we swing him in a 3 way deal. Gibson is due to take Pavano’s spot next year, but trading Slowey for Lee means we would have to fill another spot if Lee went to NYC.

    Someone mentioned Brian Duensing up top. Given my choice of Duensing, Baker, or Slowey… I’d hang onto Duensing the tightest. Long Relief/Spot Starting like his is impossible to come by.

    Too high a price for me: Ramos, Baker, Revere.

    What I think is reasonable: Ramos, Slowey, Anthony Slama(above average reliever prospect)

    What I think is robbing you blind: Ramos, combination of Anthony Swarzak, Glen Perkins, Jeff Manship, Jesse Crain.

    O god I would love for you to take Jesse Crain.

    Hope all is well. I went with the Twinkies to Safeco last year. Still got those freaking garlic fries on my breath.

  102. goat on June 19th, 2010 11:34 am

    It sounds like Texas is interested in Lee afterall, but might have difficulty taking on his salary. If they added Harden to the deal, that would help the salaries match up a bit, and the M’s might be able to get them to throw in more value in prospects because of taking on Harden. Texas might not want to do that, but it might be the only thing they can do with the state of the team. They might be a bit more desperate, hoping that WS success pushes sentiments in favor of resolving the situation. ie- the ownership issue might increase the fervor of the win now thinking, but the inability to take on payroll limits the ways in which they can do it to trading lots of prospects, and possibly unwanted salaries to make it work.
    The drawback is that Lee might end up signing with them at the end of the year if the ownership thing does go through. So trading him would be betting against that happening.

  103. sploorp on June 21st, 2010 11:40 pm

    Baker or Slowy, plus Ramos, plus another prospect?

    I just don’t see it happening. There is no way the Twins brass let the M’s raid their farm and rotation like that.

    Maybe. Just maybe, they might go Ramos for Lee even up. And that is a maybe, not a for sure.

    Maybe, just maybe, they might go Blackburn and a pitching prospect.

    But there is no way the Mariners score three decent players for a six month rental.

    This is coming from a Twins fan that has watched them walk away from deal after deal saying “too much.”

    The Mariners are basically in the same boat as the Twins were with Santana. Actually, they’re probably worse off. At least a deal for Santana hinged on the team getting him being able to sign him to an extension.

    In the M’s case, Lee has made it clear that he intends to test the free agent waters.

    I think M’s fans need to set their expectations real low on this one or be content to settle for the picks.

  104. the tourist on June 22nd, 2010 12:57 am

    Maybe. Just maybe, they might go Ramos for Lee even up. And that is a maybe, not a for sure.
    Maybe, just maybe, they might go Blackburn and a pitching prospect.

    Wow. Just wow. No thanks. We’ll take draft picks.

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