I always roll my eyes when I see a comment, in a thread, that says, "We should trade Exxy McWhy and Queuey Von Ess to Podunk for Dee Mordon and Eff Shmordon." As if we had any idea whether Podunk would even want to trade those exact players and if they did, whether this is the precise matchup of players that would allow the two sides to agree on a deal.
Add to this my open disclosure that figuring out equitable or realistic trades is not my forte and I am the last person who should naming specific individuals and specific teams in any "possible trade talk". But it's fun. And it's January. And the A's still need either a left-baseman or a second-fielder, and I do know this: The A's are always looking to get, simultaneously, better for now and better for the future. And they could really use another outfielder in the mix for the now and for the coming years.
Daniel Nava's name has come up as a possible trade target and for good reason. The Boston Red Sox' outfield is crowded while the team could use more pitching in its quest to return to contention in 2015. Meanwhile, here are the A's looking for a couple things. One is an outfielder who excels against RHPs and another is payroll flexibility as they pursue intriguing possibilities such as Hector Olivera.
In general, I wonder if a decent starting pitcher and a good reliever might make the right match to land Nava. Specifically, I could see something like Jesse Chavez (under contract for 2 more seasons, will make $2.15M this season) and Eric O'Flaherty (under contract for 1 more season at $5.5M) for Nava (under contract for 3 more seasons, just settled his arbitration case for $1.85M). For those less familiar with Nava, here are the switch hitter's career stats and splits. Nava's career slash line against RHP is .293/.385/.428.
I love Chavez, and on a personal level would hate to see him go. However, he is arguably expendable, not too good to keep and good enough to be valued, so I think he's as good a guess as anyone as to who might fill that slot if a "SP and RP for Nava" deal were to be consummated. Other possibilities might be Drew Pomeranz (more years of team control) or Chris Bassitt , but for simplicity I will use Chavez as the place marker to show how such a transaction might look.
Note that a trade like this would not only give the A's an every day LFer for the next three seasons, but it would also clear about $6M in payroll. Ironically, while solving the "LF or 2B problem" it might also enable the A's to bid high enough to land Olivera -- which of course would, for the one season Ben Zobrist is here, double-solve the problem. This would either create redundancy or depth, depending on how you look at it.
Here's how I look at it. What if for the price of losing Chavez and O'Flaherty, you had the means to secure Nava and Olivera? You would have Nava and Olivera in hand come 2016 and 2017 and you would simply have a ton of depth -- quality depth in your every day lineup.
Even with the loss of Chavez, you would have SP depth of Gray-Kazmir-Hahn-Pomeranz-Graveman-Nolin-Bassitt-Griffin (July), probably enough to ensure a very solid rotation throughout the season. Even without O'Flaherty and initially Doolittle, there is bullpen depth of Clippard-Otero-Cook-Alvarez-Abad-Bassitt and others (Venditte, Leon) to choose from. And you might even be able to sign Neal Cotts on the relatively cheap if you want to add a lefty reliever. (Update: While I turned to sneeze, apparently the Brewers signed Cotts yesterday so forget that.) Another loss, frankly, is probably Sam Fuld or Mark Canha due to roster space. However, with LF filled for three seasons this becomes less painful. I'm guessing Fuld would be the casualty of adding Nava.
Now the gains. Your lineup might look like this -- with the depth to withstand injuries reflected in parentheses:
CF - Crisp (Gentry)
2B - Zobrist (Olivera)
LF - Nava (Zobrist)
3B - Lawrie
1B - Davis (Butler)
C - Vogt
DH - Butler/Olivera
RF - Reddick
SS - Semien
CF - Gentry (Crisp)
LF - Zobrist (Nava)
1B - Canha (Butler)
3B - Lawrie
DH - Butler
2B - Olivera (Zobrist)
C - Phegley
SS - Semien
RF - Reddick (Nava)
I'm looking at those lineups, offensively and defensively, and kind of going "Wow." Especially when considering that after 2015 only Zobrist's contract is up. Am I hallucinating or is that a very good team, now and going forward, for a payroll the A's can afford?
So I guess my questions become this:
- Is the kind of trade I'm suggesting, which comes down to "Chavez or Pomeranz, and O'Flaherty, for Nava," a realistic trade idea?
- Would you want the A's to do this trade if they could?
- Would you advocate for adding both Nava and Olivera if this is how it would play out?
My success rate is predicting A's transactions is roughly 1.4%, so 10 minutes after I publish this I expect Oakland will in fact trade three other players for one guy I never thought we'd want and another guy I've never heard of. Jeremy F. Koo will have that story...