The trade idea that follows is a little off the beaten path, a little different, and highly unlikely on the surface. However, if you look deep enough into the entire proposal, I think you will find it benefits each team involved, and fits in with each team's payroll. Having said that, here we go:
Toronto receives: Chad Tracy, Javier Vazquez, and Adam Melhuse
Arizona receives: Barry Zito, Duke, Orlando Hudson, Miguel Batista, and Jay Payton
Oakland receives: Alexis Rios, Josh Banks, Zach Jackson, Dustin Nippert, and Connor Jackson
Why would each team make this deal?
From Toronto's standpoint, they need to add pitching and a bat to contend with the Red Sox and Yankees. The Blue Jays are adding $25-30 million in payroll this year, $9 million of which is locked up in BJ Ryan. I estimate another $11-12 million allocated for AJ Burnett. That leaves anywhere from $4-9 million in space for Toronto to add another starter and a bat. By moving Batista's $4.75 million, along with probably close to $1-2 million in savings on Rios and Hudson, Toronto can add Chad Tracy and Vazquez while just coming under their set payroll. Melhuse gives them a solid C with power, and the abilty to let Greg Zaun leave via FA.
Arizona is basic at a crossroads. Do you load up on veteran talent to try and win the NL West? Do you start a firesale like Florida? I think you really have to go somewhere in the middle on this. My proposed trade accomplishes both ideas. You move Vazquez, who has demanded a trade, and you replace him with a veteran ace in Zito. You give up three young players in Jackson, Tracy, and Nippert, two of which are part of a positional logjam. Payton takes over in CF, allowing Green to move to RF. In 2007, Quentin takes over for Gonzalez, in 2008 Upton takes over for Payton. Batista gives Arizona a former D-Back, who could fill in the back of the rotation or fit into the bullpen, as does Duke. Hudson allows Counsell to move from 2B to SS for 2006, until Stephen Drew is ready in 2007.
For the A's, Connor Jackson can slot in as the full time DH in 2006. He could form a three man platoon at DH/1B with Barton and DJ in 2007, or stay at DH if Barton is moved back to catcher. Nippert and Zach Jackson are added to the mix for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation, with Meyer, Cruz, Kennedy, and Saarloos. Josh Banks gives us another young arm, who should be ready for the bigs by no later than 2008. Alexis Rios becomes the starting RF with Swisher moving to LF. Rios is a young, athletic, speedy outfielder, with power potential and the ability to play CF. If Ethier pushes for playing time by mid-season, the presence of Rios makes it possible to trade Kotsay at the deadline.
The Blue Jays get the players they need to contend for and, in my opinion, win the AL East. The D-Backs would have to become the favorite to win the NL West, with a L/R combo of Zito and Webb, and the much improved defense with Hudson and Payton(and Green not playing CF). As for our A's, we add two young bats who can contribute immediately and three young, highly talented arms to the organization. You can never have enough young pitchers, as we all know.
In closing, I know trades involving 7 or more players are unlikely, and a 13 player trade would be quite possibly the biggest ever. With three slightly like-minded GM's, who all think outside of the box, I think a deal like this is entirely possible.
(Please check thebaseballcube.com for any stats on players mentioned above. I'm not totally sure how to post links to individual pages, or I would have done so.)