The Forgotten Trade Candidate

HOUSTON, TX - Pitcher Wandy Rodrguez #51 of the Houston Astros throws in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

There are a lot of teams kicking themselves for missing out on Roy Oswalt. But there's a pitcher out there as good as Mark Buehrle for half the price, and he should be on the trade market ...

You are a general manager. You desperately need starting pitching. Your owner keeps sending you passive-aggressive text messages on the subject. The injuries are piling up. You think you saw Matt Clement in the clubhouse. You need to act fast.

Your options:

Pitcher A used to be on the Royals, but he was traded to the Brewers for a substantial package of young players. For a while, things were great. They reached the NLCS together, and it looked like a good fit all around. But the pitcher is scheduled to be a free agent after the season, and the Brewers are currently terrible. If an extension can't be worked out, he'll almost certainly be shopped.

Stats over the last three years
621 innings, 126 ERA+, 3.33 ERA, 624 strikeouts, 151 walks, 48 home runs allowed

Cost to acquire
High. Even though he's a pending free agent, the Brewers' apparent willingness to extend him gives them a little leverage. It would likely take a team's top prospect and additional filler to swing a trade, especially this early in the season.

Star-divide

Pitcher B is another pending free agent, this time with the Phillies. He led them to their first World Series championship in over two decades, and even though he was pushed down in the rotation by two of the best pitchers in baseball, he's still considered a true ace. He carries a dog in a backpack, but there's probably a very good reason for that.

Stats over the last three years
618 innings, 120 ERA+, 3.36 ERA, 573 strikeouts, 148 walks, 69 home runs allowed

Cost to acquire
Look, forget it. The Phillies are over .500 and just four games out of first. They aren't sellers right now, not even close. Get away, you jackals. /swings large stick found on the side of the road

Star-divide

Pitcher C was a free agent over the offseason. You could have had him. You chose not to pursue him. He signed with the Marlins for four years and $58 million.

Stats over the last three years
629 innings, 113 ERA+, 3.91 ERA, 313 strikeouts, 139 walks, 65 home runs allowed

Cost to acquire
Four years, $58 million, and a Delorean with a flux capacitor. You missed it, pal. Move on.

Star-divide

Pitcher D is David Price. He's good.

Stats over the last three years
561 innings, 115 ERA+, 3.42 ERA, 508 strikeouts, 196 walks, 54 home runs allowed

Cost to acquire
Why would you think you can trade for David Price? You're annoying.

Well, why did you include him?
I don't know. Just listing pitchers to make a point, I guess. Because it turns out there's one more pitcher that's worth bringing up. I mean, he's alright. Doesn't hurt to give you the option, at least.

Star-divide

Pitcher E is scaring teams away because of his contract. He's due a prorated portion of $10 million this year, $12 million next year, and a $12 million option that becomes a player option if he's traded. So about $30 million over the next three seasons.

Stats over the last three years
591 innings, 118 ERA+, 3.36 ERA, 537 strikeouts, 200 walks, 62 home runs allowed

Cost to acquire
Well, if you take the rest of the contract, it shouldn't be too prohibitive. They're not going to say "no backsies" and just give him to you like he was Alex Rios, but we're not talking about giving up your top prospect. But if you're worried about losing prospects for a rental, remember that you have the pitcher for at least another year. And if he declines his player option, it's probably because he had a hell of a year.

What's the catch?
What do you mean?

Well, why aren't teams fighting over him? Is he hurt? Is he having a miserable season?
Oh, no, no. Quite the contrary.

Year Age ERA G IP HR BB SO
2012 33 2.49 11 72.1 6 15 50


I don't get it
Neither do I. Pitcher E is Wandy Rodriguez, and he's good. Better than you think. Those other pitchers up there were Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Mark Buehrle, and David Price. Wandy might not be as good as those pitchers, but he doesn't stand out as a ridiculous comparison. He's been quite valuable. He's been consistent. He's been one of the better pitchers in the National League this year.

But the difference is that he'll have teams on the hook for (potentially) $30 million. That's the cost of the gold leaf used to wrap the manservant who will fulfill the personal-services part of Cole Hamels's contract. That's almost half of what the Marlins had to commit to Buehrle, both in years and money. It's less than the Dodgers had to spend to secure Randy Wolf, who wasn't quite as productive and had larger injury concerns. But for some reason, it's making teams balk right now.

There are a lot of teams who need pitching. The Phillies, Dodgers, Red Sox, and Tigers were all rumored to be interested in Roy Oswalt. And that made sense. But for a solution that can help in 2012 and 2013, Rodriguez would be a fine choice. Maybe I'm underestimating what the Astros are asking, but the early rumors suggest teams are scared by the contract.

There aren't going to be a lot of premium options in July. Considering prospects and salary, Wandy Rodriguez might be your best bet. Hop on the bandwagon now because it's going to be awfully crowded in two months.

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