Classic swap of bad contracts. Zambrano has a no trade clause and says he wants to stay in Chicago. However, a phone call from fellow countryman, Santana, changes his mind. The Cubs get an uncertain commodity in Beltran and dead weight in Castillo and Perez. The money is a wash for the first year. The Mets get a mid-rotation starter in Zambrano, a quality 4th outfielder in Fukudome, and an unproven fireballer in Mateo. The Mets get the better talent in the deal, but are on the hook for the $18 million owed to Zambrano in 2012 (there is also a 2013 $19.25 mil. player option that vests if he finishes in the top five in the Cy Young race).
Baltimore envisioned Markakis would become a franchise player and signed him to a long-term contract last year. However, Markakis experienced a drop in offensive production across the board. He is looking less like a marquee player and more like a solid regular. His contract represents fair market value for a big market club, but will soon restrict a cash strapped team like Baltimore. Pelfrey gives them a young pitcher just entering arbitration. Nieuwenhuis, Cahoon, and Rodriguez sweeten the pot.
Shields had a difficult year in terms of ERA (5.18), but he continues to eat innings. In addition, he continues to have good K/BB ratio and has relatively inexpensive club options for 2012 and 2013. Parnell gives Tampa Bay a late inning reliever with closer potential. Duda has the potential to contribute immediately with the bat.
Jordanny Valdespin, and Brad Holt for Maicer Izturis
Izturis is a slick fielding utility infielder, whose bat wont kill you should you stick him in the starting lineup. Anaheim gets three interesting, albeit 2nd tier prospects in return. Izturis and Murphy should be allowed to duke it out in spring training to determine the starting second baseman. If Murphy shows he has the defensive chops for the job, Izturis gives you a nice utility man to move around the diamond. In any event, you have a stopgap until Havens or Tejada can emerge.
Russell Martin, c, for 1 yr. $2.5 mil.
Martin was once one of the best catchers in the game. He was absolutely abused in LA (between 2007-2009 he averaged 143 games behind the dish). Used in tandem with Thole, perhaps he can regain some of his former value.
Chad Qualls, RHP, for 1 yr. $1.5 mil.
Qualls had a terrible year in terms of ERA (7.32!). However, his peripherals remain good. He should bounce back strong. Historically, he’s been a solid late-inning reliever
Tony Gwynn, Jr., OF for 1 yr. $500,000
Tony Gwynn, Jr. is an excellent defensive outfielder. Provided his offensive role is limited, he should be a nice role player.
Spring Training Invitees
Juan Cruz, RHP; George Sherrill, LHP; Taylor Buchholz, RHP; Taylor Tankersley, LHP; g-wang" class="sbn-auto-link">Chien-Ming Wang, RHP; Jeremy Bonderman, RHP; Jeremy Hermida, OF; Gabe Kapler, OF; Bobby Crosby, SS; Matt Treanor, C
Mets bullpen should be a wide open battle in spring training. Cruz, Sherrill, Buchholz and Tankersley should be given an opportunity to win jobs. Wang and Bonderman should be brought in to compete with Gee and Misch for Santana’s spot in the rotation. Hermida, Kapler, Crosby, and Treanor should be brought in for organizational depth.
Lineup Salary Projected WAR
Jose Reyes,SS $11 3.5
Angel Pagan, CF $3.5 2.5
Nick Markakis , RF $10.25 3.0
David Wright, 3B $14 4.0
Ike Davis, IB $0.4 3.0
Jason Bay, LF $16 2.0
Josh Thole, C $0.4 1.5
Maicer Izturis, 2B $3.1 1.5
Russell Martin , C $2.5 1.0
David Murphy , 2B, IB, OF $0.4 1.5
Kosuke Fukudome, OF $13.5 1.0
Nick Evans, 1B, OF $0.4 0.5
Tony Gwynn, OF $0.5 1.0
Johan Santana $22.5 1.0
Carlos Zambrano $17.9 3.0
R.A. Dickey $4.0 2.0
Jonathan Niese $0.4 2.0
James Shields $4.25 2.5
Dillon Gee* $0.4 0.5
Francisco Rodriguez $11.5 1.2
Chad Qualls $1.5 0.8
Pat Misch $0.4 0.5
Marcos Mateo $0.4 0.0
John Grabow $4.8 0.0
Mike O’Connor $0.4 0.5
Ryoto Igarashi $1.75 0.0
With the following moves, the payroll ends up at $146.15 mil. (Using Cot’s Baseball Salary website). Being somewhat conservative with WAR projections, the team projects to win 88 games. The bullpen is suspect, but the entire rotation can eat inning when healthy, mitigating the exposure. With a little luck (a healthy Santana returns early, Markakis or Bay regain former power, either Reyes or Wright regain 2008 form, etc), the team could make the playoffs. Furthermore, aside from the shortstop position, the lineup and starting rotation is basically set for 2012. With over $31 million coming off the books after this year, the team has the resources and flexibility to make any needed adjustments. In addition, the team retains most of its prospects with upside (e.g. Mejia, Flores, Harvey, F-Mart, Havens, and Tejada).