One of the great things about teaching 8th graders is that when they are supposed to be doing homework they are actually reading "mlbtraderumors.com" and can fill me in on rumors I might have missed. Here's a nugget that has some intrigue for me...
- The Rays are willing to eat some of James Loney‘s $8MM salary to help facilitate a trade, which Topkin believes could help them swing a deal in a thin first base market. Topkin also suggests that if the Rays dealt a pitcher, they could insist on adding Loney as part of the trade package.
- Matt Moore ($5MM) or Drew Smyly ($3.9MM) could be the likeliest candidates to be moved if the Rays decided to deal another starter, Topkin opines, as both southpaws carry significant salaries for the low-payroll club. Even after trading Nate Karns to the Mariners, the Rays may have enough young arms to get away with moving another starter, and they could also add a low-cost veteran to add further depth.
What intrigues me? Quite a bit.
Start with the fact that the Rays are supposedly interested in shedding what is hardly a crippling contract: $8M for one year for an excellent defensive 1Bman and decent hitter (the knock on Loney has always been that he lacks the power normally associated with the position, but the past three seasons he has batted .299, .290, and .280 and his career slash line vs. RHPs is .296/.351/.432). If that's a guy you "have to take just to absorb his salary" I'm interested in where this conversation is going...
Add Moore or Smyly to the discussion -- and their availability is only the purest of speculation at this point -- and you would have a pretty exciting package.
Yes, Moore scuffled in his initial return from TJS, and yes, he finished 2015 with a 5.43 ERA, but he has a big-time arm and finished the season very strong (4 starts, 26 IP, 4 ER). At his best, Moore is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation SP who, when healthy, is perhaps a good template for what the A's hope they have acquired in Sean Manaea.
Smyly is just the kind of young (26), good (3.11 ERA, 20 BB/77 K in 67 IP), affordable ($3.9M), cost-controlled (3 more seasons) pitcher Oakland covets. He is probably what the A's were hoping they were getting in Sean Nolin. He is also considerably better than Sean Nolin.
A package of Moore and Loney, or a package of Smyly and Loney, could be a terrific get for a team. For the A's, the chance to platoon Loney with, say, Rangel Ravelo, keep Mark Canha in the lineup in LF (or DH if the A's were to acquire a LFer and be willing to dump Billy Butler), and add an excellent SP to the rotation, while getting a better deal because they were "willing to take on" all of $8M for all of one season?
Oh. The A's still have to give something back in return? OK. Here's where I turn to you (yes you, not the other readers), to suggest what the Rays might demand in return for a package of Moore-Loney or a package of Moore-Smyly.
I'm admittedly not good at these kinds of "pretend trades" but I can see where there might be some potential for a match if guys like Renato Nuñez and Chad Pinder were in play, if guys like Danny Valencia and Brett Lawrie were in play. Or maybe it's Canha or Burns who would have to be in play (me no likey so much, but I guess I'm not supposed to lovey the ones that might actually happen).
Do you see a possible match here? Do you even want the one that might get it done? Weigh in, or if you're not going to then at least go do your homework!