Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Pirates-Red Sox Trade

Trade speculation is generally pretty silly, particularly this early in the season. Nobody wants to press the panic button. But the Red Sox, the preseason Best Team in Baseball, are 2-8. The Pirates, sitting at 5-5, don't have a panic button. They also don't have a shortstop. I think this makes sense:

It is well-known that the Pirates have been looking to move Ryan Doumit and his $5.1 million contract. It also seems pretty clear that there is a gaping hole at shortstop at the major league level and no real identifiable prospect in the minors.

After last night's pasting it's possible the Red Sox might be willing to part with Dice-K. The big caveat here is he has a full no-trade clause in his contract. The Red Sox also have some questions at catcher. The key is an infielder I think would fit perfectly in Pittsburgh.

So how about this deal. The Pirates trade Ryan Doumit ($5.1 million in '11 and $500K buyout after this year) and Paul Maholm ($5.75 million in '11 and $9.75 million option for '12 or $750K buyout) for Daisuke Matsuzaka ($10 million in '11 & '12) and Jed Lowrie ($434K this year, 1st year arb eligible in '12). If the Red Sox so desire the Pirates can throw in Ronny Cedeno ($1.85 million in '11, free agent after).

How the finances break down: This year is almost a perfect wash money-wise. The Red Sox would take on a couple hundred thousand or about $2 million if they wanted Cedeno. I think the Pirates might send them the $2 million if they took Cedeno.

In 2012 the Sox are on the hook for nothing except $1.25 million of buyouts. If either Doumit or Maholm is great they have a team option. So they save about $9 million. The Pirates take on $10 million of Dice-K and probably $2 million for Lowrie in his first arb year. You have to pay someone to play shortstop and they are paying Cedeno the same amount this year, so that part is a wash. The money is obviously a big component of this trade.

Why it makes sense for Boston: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek are the catching tandem in Boston. Salty is a 25 year-old switch-hitter who has some upside but is certainly a question mark. He has gotten off to a terrible start in 2011. Varitek, also a switch-hitter, is 39. Doumit has about an .800 OPS batting left-handed about 100 points better than right-handed. Salty has a bad platoon split batting right-handed so it doesn't lead to an ideal platoon with Doumit, but Varitek's platoon split is the opposite and he has an OPS of .828 in his career against left-handed pitching. Doumit, a bad defensive catcher, could catch a couple days a week and give Big Papi a day off once a week at DH while providing a solid left-handed bat off the bench.

Maholm, a pitch-to-contact lefty could potentially thrive in front of the Red Sox's excellent infield defense. He has proven to be very durable and would slide in as Boston's fifth starter.

While Lowrie would be missed, Cuban-born Jose Iglesias is the shortstop of the future. He's 21 and should be in the majors next year.

Why it makes sense for Pittsbugh: With the hole at shortstop, the 26 year-old Lowrie would step in and start immediately and most likely fill the position for the next couple of years at a bargain price.

It would be a roll of the dice with Dice-K. Certainly the contract looks a bit like the Matt Morris contract, the one where the Dave Littlefield-Pirates ate $13 million, got nothing in return and gave up a young outfielder to boot. But Matsuzaka is only 30 and has been pitching in the AL East. A move to the NL Central would be a big step down in competition and it's clear a change of scenery wouldn't hurt. DK would slot into the roatation in place of Maholm.

With some young pitching coming in the Pirates organization, there is a chance the team would end up just eating $10 million next year if Dice-K proves to be washed up. That's a huge amount for the Pirates, but they have virtually no contractual obligations for 2012 and will have to spend $25 million just to get to a $40 million payroll. They have to view it as the cost of doing business to get their everyday shortstop on the cheap. If Matsuzaka straightens things out, $10 million for a league-average starting pitcher would be just fine for one season.

Neal, call Theo. Let's get this done.


cocktailsfor2 said...


My first thought is that the BoSox won't give up Lowrie, though.

Martan said...

Who plays shortstop for the Red Sox this year (when they clearly still can--and perhaps should--make the playoffs)?

The Hammer said...

Lowrie doesn't start, Marco Scutaro does. Lowrie is a super-utility guy for them.

Guillemineg said...

Brilliant. You deserve a full commission on this one. If you can get the Bucs to take Lackey in the trade, you deserve a lot more from Theo for saving his ass. Lowrie is a great player, but Scutaro does a fine job and the Sox would benefit from swapping dice-K without question. I'd send this post along with a cover letter offering to take over as GM straight to Henry. If you can find him in the States these days.

Pants said...

Interesting thought but, why would Dice K ever agree to be traded to the Bucs?

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