The first cut is the deepest. Well, usually. It wasn't in this case. Let's review, however, in summation, what the first cut was here:
Fire most of coaching staff, replace with Omar Vizquel (manager), Darin Erstad (hitting), Troy Percival (pitching), Dino Ebel (bench), Scot Shields (bullpen), Tim Bogar (first base), Tim Salmon (third base).
Trade 2B Howie Kendrick and RHP Matt Shoemaker to Baltimore in exchange for RHP Parker Bridwell, C Michael Ohlman and RHP Michael Belfiore.
Trade INF Alberto Callaspo to Philadelphia in exchange for RHP Mitch Gueller.
Trade C Chris Iannetta and RHP Eric Cendejas to Tampa Bay in exchange for RHP Jeff Ames, RHP Parker Markel and SS Spencer Edwards.
Trade LHP Jason Vargas and RHP Jarrett Grube to New York (NL) in exchange for RHP Cory Mazzoni, C Kevin Plawecki, LHP Josh Edgin and a PTBNL.
Trade LHP Scott Downs to St. Louis in exchange for RHP Samuel Tuivailala.
Remember that list of ten in part one? Well, on it were the five predictable pieces (Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo and Jered Weaver) and then five others (Peter Bourjos, Ernesto Frieri, Erick Aybar, C.J. Wilson and Sean Burnett). Here in part two, we're looking at the second cut, which includes the latter group of names I mentioned.
This, I believe, is when things go from simply restocking to a fire sale. The pieces become much more significant. Vital bullpen pieces, a more significant member of the starting rotation, our Gold Glove shortstop and a future Gold Glove center fielder. In this piece, I'm going to look at one of the trademarks of a fire sale: multiple stars in one deal.
Remember, other names will get traded than these five in most trades. As with Shoemaker, Grube and Cendejas, there will be more add-ins that net us more pieces. For example, if one were to say that trading Ernesto Frieri could get us two prospects, throwing in two more low-impact or minor league players--say, David Carpenter and Eric Stamets--could net one more prospect apiece, giving us a four-player haul.
In this speculator marvel, however, that won't happen. Not those players, anyway.
First, let's look at Peter Bourjos. He's one player that has been in the center of rumors before; the Nationals pined for him for quite some time before acquiring Denard Span from Minnesota, and many other teams would CRAVE to have someone like Bourjos in their lineup: a 20/20 threat with unbelievable defense. If the Aaron Hicks experiment doesn't work in Minnesota, they're one team that could definitely look at Bourjos, and have some decent pieces they could give up for him. Boston could be another spot; Jacoby Ellsbury is in his walk year, and as a Boras client, he's not exactly inclined to commit to Boston without testing the waters. Seattle, likewise, has Franklin Gutierrez about to leave, and they won't be too tempted to exercise Gutierrez' option, barring a season of no more injuries, seeing as he's the poster boy for the disabled list the past three years.
Of those three teams, all three are top-ten farm systems, according to SB Nation's own John Sickels (who ranks ours, currently, at number 29). Seattle ranks second, Minnesota seventh, and Boston ninth. All three brains are worth picking, but because Seattle has by far the best minor league pitching of the three, I'll go intra-division and see how they can help.
Seattle has bad luck with former Angels. Jarrod Washburn fizzled, Chone Figgins was a disaster, and Kendrys Morales isn't exactly making pitcher tremble in the ill-fitting teal. However, Bourjos has been able to be himself in Seattle, BEFORE they moved fences in (.274/.338/.435). The OBP and SLG totals are both higher than his Anaheim-only totals, and the batting averages are identical. So the Mariners, barring him becoming a walking cast, could count on decent production from him, and could fit in as their number-two quite nicely, especially once Mike Zunino gets called up and hits behind him in the three-hole.
More importantly, Seattle has what we want, and they're rolling in it. Observe.
Mariners acquire CF Peter Bourjos and SS Eric Stamets in exchange for LHP Anthony Fernandez, SS Brad Miller, and RHP Matt Brazis.
Bourjos alone would net Miller and either Fernandez or Brazis. Stamets, as a throw-in and a minor-league infielder that DOESN'T swing at all flying things, automatically is worth far more than almost all of Seattle's minor league shortstops (outside of Miller and Nick Franklin). In Stamets the Mariners would have another young shortstop to fast-track to the majors, and he would likely start in AA Jackson. Miller, departing from said location, could very well replace Aybar at shortstop if HE were to be dealt; hitting in Jackson (not exactly a hitter's paradise), he's put up a line of .305/.395/.473, and has been far more patient than most of our veterans (36 walks to 47 strikeouts in AA). Fernandez is a lefty that would have the potential to land himself in our rotation by 2016; he managed a 3.68 ERA in High Desert in 2012 (which, based on park factors alone, is like a 2.65 in Anaheim). Brazis is a young gun, likely to toil in our system and more likely than not end up in the bullpen.
After Bourjos, who next? Sadly, we turn our eyes unto Ernesto Frieri. Making it nasty as only he can. Almost every team needs bullpen help. It cost us Donn Roach and Alexi Amarista to get him. It'd be fair to trade him alone and look for a similar return: a high-upside pitcher that would be major-league ready within the next year, and a utility man that can eventually be trusted as a starter.
Not every team has both at their disposal. Limit the search to contenders, and your pool grows smaller. However, it appears to me that the Yankees are always aching for bullpen help, and we're just the guys that can give them a quality reliever with club control; quite possibly someone that can fill the infinitely large shoes of Mo come 2014. They have a trustworthy utility infielder in Jayson Nix; a journeyman that has been filling in for Derek Jeter. Upon Jeter's return, they'll likely hang on to the young Eduardo Nunez and DFA Nix, so why not jump on that opportunity? To pair with him, Corey Black. He's got the combination that scouting director Ric Wilson loves; fresh out of college with the potential to develop quickly. Scouts have noted his lethal combination of speed AND control at such a young age. He sailed through three leagues in 2012 and started 2013 at Tampa; upon acquisition he'd likely land in Arkansas, and possibly audition for us as a September callup. If he can send shockwaves like he does now with his 100 MPH fastball and 3.58 K/BB ratio, he could even earn a look at the rotation as soon as 2014.
Yankees acquire RHP Ernesto Frieri in exchange for UTIL Jayson Nix and RHP Corey Black.
Next? Why not Sean Burnett? Burnett likely is a one-for-one deal, but he can net a decent prospect with his reputation and cheap contract (would have approximately $5.5M left on his contract at the deadline this season, with a year plus of control). Again, teams are almost always clamoring for bullpen help. I turn, at this point, to the Braves. They already have one of baseball's more stellar bullpens, but would they honestly refuse a deal for a pitcher who knows very well the hitters in that division (chiefly the hitters of the team they'll be fighting for the division crown with). The desperation to win the division, plus the intrigue of a pitcher that knows every Nationals hitter, would lead to us getting a halfway decent pitching prospect from Atlanta. I like Luis Merejo and Navery Moore, both of whom have their interesting pluses and minuses. Moore is the college-age type that Ric Wilson loves, that we could possibly fast-track to the majors, but Moore had an injury-plagued career at Vanderbilt. Merejo is a much younger player, but he displayed a solid rookie ball season with decent control and a low-90s fastball, plus a curveball with enough promise to be improved upon. I pick him.
Braves acquire LHP Sean Burnett in exchange for LHP Luis Merejo.
Now comes the monster deal I'd like to experiment with. What team out there has a deep enough farm system that we could pick at, that needs both a steady starting pitcher and a premier defensive shortstop that can hold his own with the bat as well?
C.J. Wilson and Erick Aybar can be put together and command a four-prospect package, maybe five from the right team. Aybar is controlled for two more years after this one, Wilson for three (plus his NTC evaporates after this season). They can spend this year building their stock. And in the mean time, an aforementioned top-ten system can prepare its prospects one more season.
Minnesota has barely ANY reason for teams to fear their starting rotation (although with our showing against them, maybe they do). C.J. Wilson could anchor that rotation of youth (and also inject some life into the clubhouse) while Erick Aybar provides a LARGE upgrade, offensively and defensively, over Pedro Florimon. Toss in a borderline-ready arm, and we can net us a very, VERY nice package.
On our end? Well, let's list before we review:
Twins acquire SS Erick Aybar, LHP C.J. Wilson and RHP Ryan Brasier in exchange for RHP Kyle Gibson, 2B Eddie Rosario, RHP Jose Berrios and OF Adam Walker.
Kyle Gibson is Minnesota's top minor league pitcher--or at least among them, along with Alex Meyer and Trevor May. Had Tommy John surgery but has fully recovered, and put on a strong enough showing in spring training to display himself as a threat to become one of baseball's best when he hits his prime. Rosario displays the know-how to adapt to whatever role we need him in. His ability to play second base would put him in competition with Alex Yarbrough as our future second baseman. Jose Berrios, in his brief career, has a 1.68 ERA and 11.67 K/BB ratio in the GCL, Appalachian League and the Midwest League, and can become a frontline starter OR a setup man or closer, having pitched in the rotation AND the bullpen. Adam Walker projects as a Mark Trumbo-type outfielder with slightly better speed, and would likely be ready for the major league roster by the time Hamilton is either out of Anaheim, or DHing full time.
Here's a look at the haul from Part II alone:
FOUR right-handed pitchers, TWO left-handed pitchers, ONE second baseman, ONE shortstop, ONE outfielder and ONE utility player.
Combined with the haul from part one:
ELEVEN right-handed pitchers, THREE left-handed pitchers, TWO shortstops, ONE second baseman, ONE outfielder, ONE utility player and ONE player to be named later.
With the fifteen total pieces we traded (Kendrick, Shoemaker, Callaspo, Iannetta, Cendejas, Vargas, Grube, Downs, Bourjos, Stamets, Frieri, Burnett, Aybar, Wilson and Brasier) we acquire 21 players, 18 of whom still need at least one full season in the minors (Josh Edgin, Jayson Nix and Michael Belfiore could all be in Anaheim either upon arrival or in September).
Does part two seem feasible at all? Could any of THESE happen?