There was one big trade that made noise this weekend, having an effect on the Mets and their off-season plan. It was a three-team deal that included the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A’s, and the Miami Marlins, which included some big names.
First, it was Heath Bell getting shipped out of Miami and heading to the desert in Arizona after a horrible season in South Beach, this coming just one winter after signing a three-year/$27 million contract to be the new closer for the Marlins. Bell was rumored to be involved in a few different trade talks while he was putting together a season in which he had a 4-5 record with a 5.09 ERA and converting only 19 saves out of 27 opportunities; first, we heard the possibility of the Mets trading Jason Bay to Miami in exchange for Bell and catcher John Buck, but it was just a rumor. We also heard the Yankees might have been interested in him with a deal for Alex Rodriguez. It looked as though Miami was determined to unload their overpaid closer as soon as possible, and they were able to find a taker in Arizona. In exchange, the Marlins received Yordy Cabrera, a minor league prospect, from the D-Backs.
Arizona continued to stay busy, as they traded away their center fielder in Chris Young to the Oakland A’s for shortstop Cliff Pennington. Rumors had been flying around that Arizona wanted to trade away some of their outfielders not named Justin Upton, and Billy Beane came calling for Young’s services. He had a down year, hitting .231/.311/.434 with 14 homers and 41 RBI in 101 games for the D-Backs. Meanwhile, Pennington could possibly fill a hole at shortstop that Stephen Drew left this past season after being dealt. After falling out of favor in Oakland (.215/.278/.311), Pennington has a chance to start fresh in the National League.
These deals help each team accomplish what they wanted to before everything became official; the Marlins wanted to dump Bell’s contract, which they were successful in doing, while getting a 22-year-old third base prospect that’s under team control. As for the Diamondbacks, after picking up the option on J.J. Putz, they continued to solidify the back end of their bullpen in acquiring Bell, while also filling their hole at shortstop with Pennington. In doing so, they shipped Young out, giving themselves some more room in the outfield. Jason Kubel could still be available, but it remains to be seen if Arizona will shop him around as well.
What is most interesting to me is the A’s swooping in to nab Young for their outfield. They already had a solid outfield in Yoenis Cespedes (.292/.356/.505, 23 HR, 82 RBI), Josh Reddick (.242/.305/.463, 32 HR, 85 RBI), and Coco Crisp (.259/.325/.418, 46 RBI, 39 SB) before even talking about where Young fits in. Oakland was apparently interested in bringing back Jonny Gomes after he completed the one-year/$1 million deal he signed with the A’s for this past season, but with this recent acquisition, it’s unlikely he will be returning.
Bob Melvin now has three players that could all play center field (Crisp, Cespedes, Young), but this deal also leaves him flexibility in keeping all of those players fresh, mostly thinking about the older Crisp (32 years old). Instead of having a player like David Ortiz, who would only be in the lineup as a designated hitter, Melvin is able to rotate his outfielders in and out of the DH position in the order, allowing him to use it more as a way to give his players a break, but still allow them to hit. With interleague play being expanded in 2013, this will come into play because Oakland won’t have to be sitting a legitimate bat of theirs because they can’t play the field.
Reports are also pointing to the A’s not trading away Crisp, who is in the last year of a two-year/$14 million deal he signed with Oakland last winter. He also has a team option in his contract for the 2014 season. GM Billy Beane cites Crisp as a “personal favorite,” but would definitely draw interest from a few teams if he became available in the trade market, with the Mets being one of them. So, another outfielder bites the dust as Young packs his bags for the Bay area, still leaving plenty of options for the Amazins, but one less power threat in center field for them to acquire.