Kenny Williams is crazy. Not hot-sauce-in-the-knickers-as-he-drives-a-Vespa-into-the-ocean crazy. He's a respected Stanford man who led a Major League Baseball franchise to its first championship in nearly a century. He's not literally insane.
But he is crazy. So this post is almost certainly in vain. Will Williams extend Gavin Floyd? Will he trade him? Will he just let Floyd walk after 2013 without getting anything? Will he just decline Gavin Floyd's option after this season because he doesn't like people with two first names? Don't know. You don't either. Kenny Williams can do that to you.
Assuming that he's in the middle of a moment of clarity, though, it would make sense to trade Gavin Floyd. He still has two years left at a reasonable rate, which should bring back a good prospect or two. John Danks was extended, so maybe there's a chance that Williams extends Floyd, building around the starting pitching under contract for the next half-decade. That wouldn't be an unreasonable strategy.
Here's an actual quote from John Sickels on the state of the White Sox' farm:
The horror … the horror.
I watched Joe Borchard crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare.
So Floyd for prospects isn't a bad idea. Sort-of rebuilding is like being almost syphilitic, and there's no sense in just dipping a toe in the rebuilding water if you're Williams. But the return for Floyd isn't going to be something like the Mat Latos, Gio Gonzalez, or Michael Pineda trades. For one, Floyd is only under contract for two more years. For another, here are Floyd's ERAs over the last three years.
2009 - 4.06 (116 ERA+)
2010 - 4.08 (105 ERA+)
2011 - 4.37 (96 ERA+)
Bad trend, that. Of course, those are just two stats that happened to be biased against Floyd. You can use others:
2009 - 3.64 xFIP, 2.76 K/BB, 4.5 fWAR
2010 - 3.69 xFIP , 2.60 K/BB, 4.3 fWAR
2011 - 3.73 xFIP, 3.36 K/BB, 3.6 fWAR
You could look at those numbers and conclude that Floyd is an underrated gem. But not if you're looking to acquire him via a trade. You'll point to the ERA when Williams asks for your best prospect, and you'll point again when he asks for your second-best prospect. Based on unadjusted ERA, Floyd isn't much different than Jeremy Guthrie, Joe Saunders, or John Lannan. Here's a C+ prospect and some cash considerations. Buy yourself something nice.
In isolation, that could be what happens. But I'm thinking that there are going to be a couple of smart teams who miss out on the starting pitchers left on the market. They'll figure that Floyd is a consistent, valuable piece to a contending puzzle, and the White Sox will have their pick of interesting-but-not-overwhelming offers. Here's my completely uneducated guess:
To the Royals
To the White Sox
When I wrote "there are going to be a couple of smart teams" up there, I also meant that there will be other teams who will notice the smart teams sniffing around, and who will just hang around the smart teams, asking stupid questions until the smart teams get annoyed and leave. It's a cunning strategy, if you think about it.
The Royals are still looking for a starting pitcher, and it doesn't look like they're going to trade top prospects, like Wil Myers or Mike Montgomery. Good idea. But they have all sorts of depth in the system, and they can give some of that up for two years of Floyd. Ventura is just a puppy, but he has big upside. Jeffress has similar upside, but he also had a bit of a lost year, as he struggled terribly with his command.
What would the White Sox want with Mazzaro? No idea. He was just thrown in to Kenny Williams the whole thing up.
This would be a pretty underwhelming result for the White Sox, even if Ventura and Jeffress are good prospects. But I'm not sure that when the Edwin Jackson/Roy Oswalt dust settles that there will be a lot of teams looking to trade their best prospects away.
The Royals should probably be looking for a pitcher who will be around for at least three years, not two, but those sorts of pitchers will cost way too much in trade. It would be nuts for the Royals to do what the Nats did for Gio Gonzalez, so this is a fine compromise. The Royals can hit a little bit -- maybe more than you think. If they start getting pitchers, they could be the Diamondbacks of the Central in the next couple of years.