Now Here’s A Trade Rumor I Can Get Behind

MLBTR with news that should be glorious but is probably just going to lead to crushed expectations:

Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports says that three or four teams are interested in Juan Pierre, and that a three-team trade is being explored to bring a bad contract starter to the Dodgers in return. Henson says the bad contract starter wouldn’t be ex-Dodger Derek Lowe.

The 32-year-old Pierre is still owed $18.5MM over the next two years, however he boosted his value a bit by hitting .308/.365/.392 with 30 steals in 2009. It was his best offensive season since 2004, and the second best of his career. UZR/150 pegged Pierre as excellent in LF (+16.4) but awful in center (-19.4).

Three or four teams? Get the hell out. The “three-team trade” is what is really the new wrinkle here; when I said a few weeks ago that I didn’t see a fit to trade Pierre for a bad contract starter, it was because there were so few teams that had such a pitcher and didn’t mind taking a guy like Pierre. Expanding the deal to three teams really opens up some possibilities.

So who are we looking at? MLBTR speculates on a trio of hurt and ineffective Tigers: Jeremy Bonderman ($12.5m in 2010, 81.2 IP the last two years), Nate Robertson ($10m in 2010, hasn’t allowed less than a hit per inning since 2006), and Dontrelle Willis ($12m in 2010, 57.2 IP the last two years). Holy hell, have the Tigers made some poor pitching decisions.

But I don’t see any of those guys being viable options, because you can’t count on a single one of them to give you anything in 2010. No matter how you feel about Pierre, it’s clear that the Dodgers do place a decent amount of value on him as a speedy caddy for Manny, and though we all know Pierre’s not bringing back an All-Star, they’re also not going to give him away for zero on-the-field return at all.

So here’s a quick list of the possibilities for the pitcher (ignoring how the three-team aspect might work for now), looking at both the hilarious ones brought up by MLBTR commentors and a few of my own.

Jeff Suppan. Mentioned in the original MLBTR post, but I don’t even need to look up his stats and salary because it’s pointless. The Brewers are probably the only team that’s more desperate for starters than the Dodgers are, and they just traded for a younger, cheaper, better-fielding version of Pierre in Carlos Gomez to play CF. Pierre’s certainly not displacing Ryan Braun in LF, so there’s no fit here. No.

Carlos Silva. Mentioned in the comments, I’ll admit that he came to mind to me as an overpaid horrible starter, as well. But there’s no fit here, either. Silva is awful (no, really, he’s unpitchable. ERA’s north of 5.90 three of the last four years? Wow), so the Dodgers wouldn’t enter into a deal with three, thirty, or three hundred teams that ended up with them getting him. Even if it wasn’t a three-teamer, with the M’s about to sign Chone Figgins, they have less need for a speed type like Pierre. No.

Gil Meche. Now, this one might have some legs. After two surprisingly effective years in Kansas City, Meche was hurt and lousy last year (5.09 ERA, 1.566 WHIP). He does have $24m left over the next two years, so the Dodgers would have to add a bit more payroll, potentially a problem. If this one’s not a three-teamer, well, the Royals have a mess of an outfield, so there’s room for him, and their GM Dayton Moore has a long history of ridiculous decisions. Mostly, I just want to see Rany Jazayerli‘s head explode if he had to suffer through both Pierre and Yuniesky Betancourt on the field at the same time. Perhaps.

Oliver Perez. Probably the most talented name we’ll bring up, but also the most inconsistent. He’s been so bad with the Mets that you can’t even depend on him being available in 2010, and he’s got $24m left over two years. Besides, Omar Minaya would have to admit the free agent deal he signed Perez to last year was a huge mistake. No chance.

Aaron Harang/Bronson Arroyo. We’ve heard these Cincinnati names pop up time and again, and I’ve never really seen a fit. I’d be happy to get either for Pierre, since both have been roughly league-average in a tough park. But that’s the problem – both have been roughly league-average in a tough park. The Reds won’t give either up for peanuts, and they certainly don’t need Pierre, so here’s where the three-team aspect is crucial. It’s foolish to try to even guess how a three-team trade might work out, but if Colletti can turn a 4th outfielder into either one of these guys, he deserves a golden statue. Maybe, but doubtful.

Kyle Lohse. Fun fact: I actually advocated that the Dodgers sign Lohse when he was still available for peanuts in March of 2008. They didn’t, and he went to St. Louis where he had a very nice 15-6, 3.78 season, which got him a massively overpaid 4-year deal. He was hurt and less effective in 2009, putting up a 4.74 ERA, though his peripherals didn’t change all that much. The biggest issue here is that he’s still got 3 years and about $34m left, so the Cardinals would have to eat a hefty bit of that. Probably not.

As you can see, there’s no simple answer here. There’s options, but none without huge question marks – and that’s even without including the complication of a third team. Regardless of your feelings about Pierre, it’s clear that the Dodgers cannot afford a $10m backup outfielder, so you’d love to see something happen. Now, can Ned pull it off? Sometimes the winter is the best part of the baseball season.