I feel like before we get into any discussion of trade rumors, given that the deadline is only a month and change away and that this week really feels like the kickoff of the silly season, we need to issue the usual disclaimer: rumors are just that.
Every year, some reporter who may or may not have any connections or info at all will put out some thought that’s often just pure speculation, and over-anxious fans will run with it. “Hey, did you hear the Pirates are trading for Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander?!” I can’t imagine what front-office folks in the know are thinking if they’re paying attention to even 10% of what fans are kicking around; laughing themselves silly, I imagine.
So two good rules of thumb here are 1) take everything with an enormous grain of salt and 2) know your source. You might not like Jon Heyman or Ken Rosenthal, but know that they’re plugged in; conversely, when a rumor is coming from some guy at the bi-weekly local paper or an large online content farm, well, you get what you pay for. Yes, I’m including myself; I will get some inside nuggets from time to time, but while my sources are usually pretty good, nothing is ever certain until it happens.
Got that? Good, so let’s get to the fun stuff. Jayson Stark, a guy I would put on the “trusted” list, has this about the Dodgers:
The other thing to keep in mind is that they’ve been telling other clubs they still view themselves as buyers, especially if they can reel in a third baseman they can control for multiple seasons.
Stark also says that they’re not dying to give away Andre Ethier, which I’m not really sure I buy, but the need for a third baseman has been a gaping one for this team ever since Adrian Beltre left. Corey Seager is still at least two years away, and even if you do want to move Hanley Ramirez over, he’s a free agent after 2014 and that just causes a hole at shortstop.
So let’s say Stark is right about this. You’re not going to get Cabrera or Beltre or David Wright or Evan Longoria or Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado or Brett Lawrie or Ryan Zimmerman. Chase Headley may yet end up on the market, but the Padres sure don’t look like sellers right now. Michael Young, though he’s almost certainly someone who will come up again, is a free agent after the season. Guys like Mike Moustakas or Placido Polanco or Matt Dominguez aren’t really upgrades, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mike Olt, & Will Middlebrooks have taken steps backwards, and don’t even start with Alex Rodriguez or Mark Reynolds, who are basically designated hitters at this point.
If so, you’re left with… what, Aramis Ramirez, or Kyle Seager? Maybe, maybe, Pedro Alvarez or Todd Frazier or David Freese, though each seems unlikely for various reasons. Ramirez had a surprisingly excellent year for Milwaukee last year, hitting .300/.360/.540 with 27 homers and 50 doubles; he’s also 35 (today!), owed about $25m guaranteed through, and has an extensive list of injuries. The Brewers look likely to sell, and we’re already hearing as well that the Dodgers are sniffing around pitchers Matt Garza & Ricky Nolasco, so be sure to keep an eye out for a trade of Joc Pederson, Zach Lee, Chris Reed, & Ross Stripling for Gallardo, Ramirez, and — what the hell, because of course — Yuniesky Betancourt coming soon to a Chavez Ravine near you.
The other option here is Seager, and the fit makes sense a bit because of the family connection and that Ethier has been rumored to go to Seattle forever. But Seager’s hitting .282/.345/.456 (.348 wOBA), and since Ethier has a .308 wOBA, Seager is cheaper, younger, better, and plays a more valuable position, and all of a sudden this stops making as much sense. So if the idea is for the punchless Mariners to improve their offense, that’s a tough sell, unless you’re eating all of Ethier’s deal and sending a ton of prospects too.
I don’t doubt that the Dodgers want to improve at third base; we all want that, lest we be doomed to another year of Luis Cruz & Juan Uribe. But it’s a real tough market at the position, especially when clubs like the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians & Royals may all be looking for upgrades too, and so options will be limited.