This morning, we've been treated to several posts detailing a dream many Red Sox fans probably have had every night for the past two years.
Mike Trout in a Red Sox uniform.
For those unaware of who Mike Trout is, why are you on this site, how did you get here, and do you even like baseball? For those of you who are aware of the awesome that is Mike Trout, you will understand why exactly there are so many posts on it at such an early hour.
This is not meant to be insulting to those writers, I think it's a fun way to promote discussion, and on Christmas Eve, what better way to give an air of fun than to present to us what a model Christmas gift would be.
I for one, find it amusing, and have decided to try my own hand at it for funzies, because that's what today (and tomorrow) are about!
So without further ado, let's see what I think it would take to land Mike Trout, reasonably. (Note - I do not endorse trading the package for Trout, one team for one player is hardly a fair trade).
Part 1 - The Meat of the Package.
Any offer going to the Angels has to include that wow factor that would make them part with their beloved future hall of famer. And for good reason. A player of his caliber doesn't come across often, in fact, they don't come around at all generally. Then all of a sudden two once in a generation players came up around the same time. Trout, and Bryce Harper.
Now, Mike Trout is a special player as we know, so it's reasonable to say a special player would be needed in return.
Obviously, you know where this is going. Xander Bogaerts. I see no fair alternative to Xander Bogaerts being involved in a Mike Trout trade. Just like talents like Trout don't come along every day, such is for young Mr. Bogaerts from Aruba. (Did I mention he's from Aruba?)
This not only addresses a need at shortstop for the next several years, it lets them reset the "big money" clock. As it stands, Mike Trout will be worth a ton in free agency. Xander Bogaerts has two extra years before he can be eligible for it. This won't get them past the Pujols contract, but it'll be far enough out of the Hamilton contract they could even sign him to a team friendly extension, because Xander is a swell guy and would probably go for it.
In addition to this, it gives them that "it" player that Trout has become. It is sad to say, but if you want Trout, you have to part with Xander.
Part 2 - The MLB-Ready players and Mike Trout's Replacement
However, Xander is not enough. In fact, Xander for Trout straight up would have people laughing you to the morgue. And since we don't want that, we have to add pieces. The Angels, as evidenced by spending big money on Hamilton and Pujols, are in "win now" mode. Thus, they need MLB ready pieces in exchange for Trout.
To help them with their win now phase, let's take a quick look at their starting lineup and rotation once we account for Xander/Trout.
C - Chris Ianetta
1B - Albert Pujols
2B - Howie Kendrick
SS - Xander Bogaerts
3B - David Freese
LF - Josh Hamilton
CF - ?
RF - Kole Calhoun?
DH - JB Schuck?
This look at their team leaves me with a few questions. Who is their CF/RF/DH? Do they have Schuck playing center and Calhoun in right? Who are those two? Are they really pitching Skaggs as their #4 next year? Should he be there?
I have a few answers for them.
First of all, Jackie Bradley Jr is going to join the package and slot in in CF for them. He's a rookie himself, granted, but he should be an upgrade over what they have. And with Trout coming to Boston, JBJ would be entirely movable. So say your farewells to the lovable Bradley.
Next, I have an answer to their rotation woes.
I give them a choice in the matter. They can have either Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster, or they can have Clay Buchholz and a minor prospect we'll hash out at the table (nobody major, don't worry). Why the difference in packages? Simple. Clay Buchholz is an ace when he's healthy, so good in fact was he, that he was a door stopper each and every time out until he went down with an injury. He could be relied on so heavily that when healthy, he can be better than the ace of that staff, Jered Weaver. Of course, there's no guarantee he will be, so let's slot him in as their #2 pitcher.
Or they could have the latter package of Doubront and Dempster. We'd pay all the salary for Dempster in this scenario, giving them what amounts to a free year of a league average pitcher. This would solidify the backend and give them a rotation of Weaver, Wilson, Santiago, Doubront, and Dempster, allowing them to move Richards (who was league averageish last year) to the bullpen or to another team for another need. That rotation is an upgrade over what they have, and while not as flashy as Weaver, Buchholz, Santiago, Richards, Skaggs, it might be preferable to a win now team in that packed AL West. At any rate, I leave that for them to decide.
So currently we have two packages on the table. Either Xander+JBJ+Buchholz+minor leaguer or Xander+JBJ+Doubront+Dempster (at no cost).
Part 3 - The prospects, otherwise known as NO PLEASE DONT TAKE MY SQUISHY
However, we aren't done yet (did you really think we were). We still have the last part of this deal to put together, and for some this is the most painful. Especially with how stacked the system is. Prospect love is at an all time high, and for good reason. There are reports the Sox could have as many as 10 guys in the top 100 prospect list. While I personally think the number is closer to 8, that's an outstandingly strong farm system, one worth envying.
But to get Trout, our MLB depth won't cut it. We need to move prospects as well as the players outlined above. And with them in win now mode, they have to be prospects close to the MLB level.
So here are a list of players the Angels may be interested in and are close enough to the MLB level to fit within a competitive window of the next 5 years.
Garin Cecchini (3rd Base - May be upgrade over Freese in time, and may start season at AAA)
Henry Owens (LHP - Pitcher with potentially the highest ceiling in the system, may also start at AAA, though a short AA stint wouldn't be the end of the world.)
Allen Webster (RHP with major league experience, but may need a AAA stint to get his head back together)
Christian Vazquez (C at AA. Swihart makes him expendable, and he's no schlub. Strong defensive catcher)
I propose we add the following players to the packages.
Package A - Vazquez, Barnes/Ranaudo, and Webster. In this deal, the Angels are already getting Buchholz, making the high level prospect Owens keepable. They may push and try to get Owens over Barnes/Ranaudo, but even if they do and it is required, we are covered, as we have Ball in the wings, eventually likely to take Owens spot as top pitching prospect. He's far away but worth the wait.
Package B - Vazquez, and Barnes/Ranaudo (whichever they prefer) + Betts. Cecchini is off the table for me in this case, as we have no one behind him on the list of players to take over for Middlebrooks. And since the Angels have Freese, we can't pawn off Middlebrooks on them. Thus it makes no sense to trade them a third baseman. So Cecchini is staying. Webster also stays simply because his value may be at a low, and he may only be a reliever. At most, he's a throwin to push the deal over, but even then, I don't think it'll make that much difference in the package. Reasoning for Betts being involved is that he could be a sell high prospect, and with Doubront being potentially lesser valued than Buch, it makes sense to try and give them more in this case.
Finally, we have arrived at the end of constructing the deal.
Part 4 - Actually proposing the package.
The most important part of any deal is presentation. Currently the deal is as follows. Either package A) Xander+JBJ+Buchholz+Webster+Vazquez+Barnes/Ranaudo, or package B) Xander+JBJ+Doubront+Dempster+Vazquez+Barnes/Ranaudo+Betts
Both of these offers may indeed be overpays. It's a lot to give up for one player. So much, that it makes me ill thinking about it. But then I try to look at our top 10 prospects list post trade, and here's what I come up with (because I rank players differently, I'll just use SoxProspects rankings with a little adjustment)
3. Barnes/Ranaudo (the one we didn't give up)
6. Either Webster/Betts
At first look, this looks much more barren than our rankings pre-trade, however, I also wish to bring your attention to what our rankings would look like a year from now after the "graduation" of several prospects.
1. Cecchini (keeps R eligibility)
The lists aren't that different, are they? While prospects are valuable, we must keep in mind one thing, prospects are just future value. Once they graduate, they lose their status as prospects. Once they are no longer prospects, they stop showing up on prospect lists. They can also leave this prospect list via trade.
Ultimately, it comes down to either letting the Angels have them or keeping those players for yourself.
Which would I rather do?
Part 5 - The Decision
No thank you, Angels, I will keep our talent, and you can keep Mike Trout. It was fun discussing this one sided trade with you, to get a gauge of the cost, but it is much too steep for me, even though Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. I would be more likely to give you package B personally, but I don't think I feel like doing either. I don't feel like giving up so much future talent for the sake of this one player who all my hopes and dreams would ride on.
It was fun to think about, but when it comes down to it, Xander+JBJ+Owens+Barnes/Ranaudo+Vazquez+Buch/Doubront+etc are more valuable put together than Mike Trout is. Xander could be a really special SS, JBJ could be a 4 win player defensively, and I won't keep going on and on, but the point is that while alone, none of these players stands up to Trout, they don't have to. They all do a very specific job, at a very specific position, and generally do a good job of it.
We may not get the best player in baseball, but I have a feeling we have a better chance of winning in 2015 and beyond with the players we have chosen to keep today.
Merry Christmas everyone, thanks for bearing with this crappy fanpost :P
(NOTE - 90% of this was a very tired OOLF trying his hand as an armchair GM for all of an hour. If he was actually in this situation, he would have thought more carefully and not allowed the Angels to bully their way into stealing all of our top prospects. He would have hung up the phone after Xander+JBJ+Buchholz was presented to him)
Comments are more than welcome. Just don't fire me. I already quit after all.