I guess if there's a dichotomy lately on AN, it's between those keen to trade only the "2015 free agents" and those eager to cash in on the value the 2016 free agents (Josh Reddick, Jesse Chavez) can potentially bring back in trade.
Having supported dealing Scott Kazmir, I'm all for dealing Ben Zobrist (should bring back a legitimate return) and Tyler Clippard (folks, he may be our bullpen's tallest midget but he's just not that good). What I don't get is the idea that including Chavez in a trade is a good strategy.
First of all, I think it's important to recognize that currently the A's starting pitching depth is a lot shakier than it may appear at first blush. With Kazmir gone, sans Chavez the front of your rotation for 2016 looks like Sonny Gray-Jesse Hahn-Kendall Graveman, and while that's not bad you would be foolish to write Hahn's name even in dark pencil. Hahn is already once sliced, meaning that TJS probably means lost 2016-17 seasons and a return only to the bullpen, and while it's very possible he could return at full strength in 2016 we just don't know.
Put it this way: Hahn and Doolittle are in similar situations, maybe pitching late this season, likely "coming back strong" next season, but with injuries that do not in any way ensure a solid return at all. So at the front of the rotation you might count on Gray and Graveman and hope for Hahn.
Then you have a slew of "back of the rotation" candidates, beginning with Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin, continuing with Drew Pomeranz and A.J. Griffin, and likely including multiple young pitchers whose names are not yet known -- such as possibly a promising return for Ben Zobrist or perhaps a precocious Dillon Overton.
In that group there are exactly zero slam dunks. Bassitt has pitched well but is trying to rise above scouts' concerns about his ability to get LHs out enough to thrive in the rotation. Nolin has just not been able to stay on the field, nor has Griffin been able to get back onto one. Pomeranz has proven to be overmatched by RH batters and continues to suggest that a 2-pitch pitcher is best suited to the bullpen. A young SP traded for may be a great bet but is certainly going to be unproven. In other words, we just don't know.
That is not a lot of certainty to hang your hat on contending in 2016. Whereas Chavez has shown himself to be a legitimate middle of the rotation stalwart. He gives you depth not just overall but in that all important "front 3" part of the rotation. He pushes Graveman into the back group, giving it depth. It's a significant difference, and adding praise to health (isn't that the opposite of adding insult to injury?) Chavez is a bargain even factoring in a raise in 2016.
The reality is that the A's hang their hopes on having not just a good rotation but a very good one, and that in order to have a very good one throughout a season you need to be 8 SPs deep in decent quality with at least 3 of those at the front. Gray-Hahn-Chavez-Graveman-Bassitt-Nolin-Pomeranz-Griffin-Zobrist Acquisition might get you there, but subtract Chavez and have everyone move up a slot and suddenly you are very, very vulnerable. Confucius say: When projecting rotation, do not stop counting at 5.
Chavez is an incredibly valuable commodity: he is a middle of the rotation SP with a track record of health and now sustained success, who is not expensive. You ride that out until he is a free agent, since any young SP you acquire is very unlikely to come out of the gate producing as well as Chavez.
Sure it makes sense to deal Chavez, and Reddick, if your goal is to punt 2016 and commit to a complete and utter rebuild. Short of that total about-face, if the goal is to be good next year and then keep getting better, it's just a whole lot easier to see doing that if you build your trades and signings with Chavez on the 2016 roster than without.
Dear 29 teams,
You can't have my Jesse Chavez.