Welcome back to The Daily Bernie! It's the best dance in the game, so let's get rolling once more!
- The A's said goodbye to one of their best free agent signings in the twenty-first century. Southpaw Scott Kazmir was sent to the Houston Astros in exchange for 22 year-old right-hander Daniel Mengden and coveted 20 year-old catcher Jacob Nottingham, as the team announced on Twitter. The trade seemed underwhelming to many upon first look, especially considering the A's were said to have been targeting Triple-A talent in exchange for Kazmir. However, Nottingham and Mengden both slot comfortably into Oakland's top 20 prospects, with Nottingham taking the fifth spot and Mengden taking the thirteenth spot, per MLB.com's rankings. All in all, most in the industry seem to agree that the deal is a win-win for both teams.
- Meanwhile, the rest of the market seems to be heating up as well. Specifically, another notable trade occurred on Thursday, sending veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez back to Pittsburgh where his career began. In exchange, the Brewers received minor league reliever Yhonathan Barrios. Both teams have confirmed the deal on Twitter. The Pirates desperately needed infield depth after injuries to Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, and could use some right-handed power as well. Ramirez satisfies both needs. The Brewers, on the other hand, pick up a young, hard-throwing reliever with late inning potential. I doubt the Milwaukee could have gotten much more from anyone else for Ramirez, so this also seems like a quality deal for both clubs.
- Many more trades are still brewing, and A's super-utility man Ben Zobrist could be the next piece to fall. The A's and Mets seem to be at a stalemate regarding the 34 year-old, as Andy Martino of The New York Daily News reports. The Mets are unwilling to part with any of their top young starters, and the A's have shown little to no interest in prospects like Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, and Gavin Cecchini. However, A's director of player personnel Billy Owens was in attendance at a game between the Double-A affiliates of both the Mets and the Yankees, per Michael Mayer of Metsmerized Online. Both teams have shown strong interest in Zobrist. Another name the Mets have inquired about, per Martino, is outfielder Josh Reddick, but it is unknown if he is available.
- Quite a few other notes from around the league: David Price of the Tigers is the Dodgers' number one target (link); the Pirates will likely look to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (link); the Padres are officially open for business (link); the Blue Jays, looking to add at least one starter, have talked with the Indians about righty Carlos Carrasco (link); the Rockies are open to considering trading shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (link); the Pirates are working hard on another trade, possibly to add a reliever (link); the Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins, and Blue Jays have shown interest in Marlins reliever Steve Cishek (link); the Cubs are continuing their pursuit of Phillies ace Cole Hamels (link).
Bernie's Daily Deal(s): Ben Zobrist and Josh Reddick to the New York Mets
So maybe I'm cheating a little bit. But since there is a very real possibility that Zobrist is moved today, I'd like to get two trade ideas out there now, just in case. The Mets supposedly covet Zobrist, and have targeted Reddick as well. Having watched them get dominated by Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, their need for offense is more than apparent to me. Adding the two bats would likely reshape and revive their entire lineup, and could even make the Mets a legitimate threat to the injured Nationals.
The first return I'd like to explore is one centered around outfielder Michael Conforto. Conforto, 22, has been deemed untouchable by most of the Mets fanbase. However, if the Mets want good hitting, they'll have to part with either Conforto or a top young starter, and they'd likely sooner give up Conforto than a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz. Conforto is lefty-hitting outfielder with above average power and walk rates in Double-A. He is defensively average in left field. Conforto has some strikeout concerns, but is still young, and the A's could take their time promoting him. In addition, the A's would receive righties Miller Diaz and John Gant. Diaz, 23, is in High-A and has some control issues to iron out, but could also function well as a reliever. Gant, almost 23, has been very successful in the lower levels of the minor leagues, but has struggled in his first taste of Double-A. Both Diaz and Gant could move quickly and become rotation depth (or bullpen pieces) as soon as mid-2016.
The second package involves injured right-hander Zack Wheeler. The 25 year-old righty is currently recovering from Tommy John Surgery, and had shown control problems prior to the injury. However, Wheeler had also shown great strikeout rates, and while he would be a considerable risk for the A's to take on, he also has a high ceiling as a number two starter. The A's would also receive 24 year-old shortstop Matt Reynolds. Reynolds is posting solid numbers at Triple-A, and is an above average defensive shortstop with some power and a little speed. At worst, Reynolds would be a decent utility man; at best, he could provide the offense of Marcus Semien with a better glove. Finally, the A's would receive outfielder Vincente Lupo. Lupo, 21, is in Single-A and offers great raw power, but with horrible strikeout rates. Lupo will likely bust, but has considerable upside, and would be a nice lottery ticket.
Either of these deals may seem like an overpay for the Mets, but keep in mind - they need offense. You could replace half of the current Mets starting lineup with pitchers and nobody would notice. Zobrist would be a rental, but Reddick would also be under team control through 2016, meaning he would contribute next season as well. If it seems like an overpay, that's because it is. Because the Mets are going to have to overpay if they want to win.
That's all for today. The Battle of the Bay begins tonight, as the A's take on the rival Giants in San Francisco at 7:15 P.M. PST, and I'll be hosting your Game Thread! Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until tomorrow - lean on, A's fans!