Some quick thoughts on Wednesday’s flurry of news.
*The Mets should trade for Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.
The Nats acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Athletics on Wednesday, presumably with the intention of playing him at second base.
I’m not so sure.
Escobar has not played second since 2007, his rookie season. True, Asdrubal Cabrera went from short to second after the Nats acquired him last July. But think about it: The Nats are now fully protected at short if they want to move Desmond.
Escobar is signed through 2016 with a club option for ’17. Top shortstop prospect Trea Turner, the reported "player to be named" in the Nats’ three-team deal with the Rays and Padres, should be ready at some point during that time.
Enter the Mets, who according to sources, recently balked at acquiring Desmond and Ben Zobrist in separate trades because they did not want to give up top prospects for a player who was under control for only one more season.
Well, what if the Mets offered second baseman Daniel Murphy, a player whom the Nats tried to acquire last July? And what if they sweetened their proposal with one prospect and took a second, lesser player back, considering that Desmond is more valuable than Murphy?
The Nats could go with Murphy at second and Escobar at short, or Murphy at third and Anthony Rendon at second (Rendon is a plus defender at both spots, while Murphy is considered better at third, the position that David Wright plays for the Mets).
The Mets, ahem, then would be obligated to go all-out to sign Desmond, which is what every other high-revenue team in their position would do.
Yes, the Nats have failed to secure Desmond long-term, but that’s probably because they’ve failed to offer him market value. Desmond, who is coming off three straight Silver Sluggers, likely would command $150 million as a free agent next offseason.
The restrictions on the Mets’ finances are obvious to anyone who follows the sport, but it’s absurd that their 2015 payroll likely will be lower than those of some low-revenue clubs. Many of their fans are frustrated, and rightly so. The team seemingly is on the verge of contention, but its only major offseason acquisition was free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer, and shortstop remains something of a black hole.
The Mets would not suffer much financially in ’15 if they exchanged Murphy’s projected $8.3 million salary in arbitration for Desmond’s $11 million guarantee. They also are trying to trade right-hander Dillon Gee, who is projected to earn $5.1 million — and such a trade could even put them ahead financially short-term.
Beyond ’15? That’s the issue, but it shouldn’t be for a New York team. And if it is, incoming commissioner Rob Manfred should get involved, no matter how close Mets owner Fred Wilpon is with commissioner Bud Selig.
Enough is enough.
*The Braves should trade Craig Kimbrel.
Seriously, what good is a closer on a non-contender?
The Braves certainly look like they fit that description now that they’ve traded Evan Gattis to the Astros.
Gattis, gone. Justin Upton, gone. Jason Heyward, gone. And free-agent addition Nick Markakis coming off neck surgery.
I know, I know — the Braves are building toward the opening of their new ballpark in 2017. Well, Kimbrel is under club control only through ’18. And it’s a near-certainty that his value will decrease by then, perhaps sooner than later.
John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, built strong bullpens in Cleveland to support mediocre rotations in the 1990s. But those teams were contenders. This Braves team is headed for what, 70 wins?
The Blue Jays, Brewers and Indians are still looking for late-inning help, and other teams surely would jump if the Braves made Kimbrel available. Relievers, though, generally carry more trade value at the non-waiver deadline than during the offseason.
The Braves, then, might be better off waiting, so check back in July, when they’re cratering and contenders start clamoring for Kimbrel.
The Gattis trade makes it official: Kimbrel is now an unnecessary luxury.
*The Orioles need to part with GM Dan Duquette.
Yes, I noted the strong denial from Orioles owner Peter Angelos after both FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi and I reported that the Orioles had discussed a compensation package that the O’s would require for allowing Duquette to become CEO of the Blue Jays.
To which I say: All part of negotiating.
Angelos told Dan Connolly of The (Baltimore) Sun that Duquette to the Jays "is not going to happen." Certainly, I would not expect Angelos to tip his hand. I also would not expect him to part easily with Duquette, who is under contract through 2018.
Here’s the problem: Duquette wants the job, according to major-league sources; CEO is a step up from GM — the highest position, in fact, that an executive can attain.
Duquette’s preference is no secret within the Orioles’ organization, creating a question of divided loyalties and an uncomfortable working environment. As I’ve reported previously, some of those employees believe that Angelos should allow Duquette to depart.
What would the Orioles do about a GM? Manager Buck Showalter likely would welcome more responsibility, perhaps even a dual manager/GM role. Special assistant Brady Anderson also could assume expanded duties, and the Orioles could hire an administrative type to make sure the front office ran efficiently.
Could Showalter succeed as both manager and GM? Probably not, considering that a GM’s responsibilities are almost too much for one person, much less someone who also is managing. But that is a question for another time.
The bottom line is that Angelos has an employee who wants to be elsewhere. And that is not a healthy situation.