Hey folks, I'm a writer over at the AZSnakePit D-backs site, and while I know that's hardly the typical demographic of a FanPost writer here, I promise I have a point to this. I recently wrote an enormous post for the 'Pit on the likelihood that second baseman Kelly Johnson leaves the D-backs in free agency this summer, and what Arizona could do to fill the hole he would leave on the roster. With his swing-and-miss-happy ways, overall offensive inconsistency, and Kevin Towers' disdain for strikeouts of every sort, it seems pretty likely that the slumping Johnson will not be retained for 2012 unless he finishes the year on a torrid hot streak.
This led me to discuss replacement options at second base (simply plugging someone into KJ's spot), shortstop (in case Stephen Drew's broken ankle pushes him to second), and third base (moving Ryan Roberts to second) that could be acquirable in some way. The free agent second baseman crop - outside of Johnson, of course - sucks, and although there are plenty of guys lined up to be free agents at the shortstop position, that's consistently one of the more expensive slots to fill. The only half-appealing third baseman in the free agent class for this off-season is Aramis Ramirez, and his horrible defense, atrocious baserunning, and age all make him undesirable, particularly since I think the price will be high.
This leads me to my point: what kind of package do you think it would take to acquire Chase Headley (assuming of course that the D-backs' and Padres' front offices are actually willing to work with each other on a trade with the scary levels of tension between them)? San Diego is in the midst of a pretty significant rebuilding and is always cost-conscious, while Arizona has one of the deeper farm systems in the league and a meteor-sized infield hole. Headley is a Super Two player entering his second of four arbitration seasons, already makes $2.325MM, and unless he OBP's .400 next year I don't see his value - which is significant - ever being higher.
Here's my idea of a trade package, let me know what you think:
LHP Joe Saunders - Saunders is the pitcher the Padres always seem to enjoy acquiring. Low ground ball rate and a pitch-to-contact guy? Check, just 42.4% GB-Rate this year, and a 4.89 K/9. One year of control? Check, Saunders enters his final year of arbitration, and Arizona could chip in cash to lower the $7-8MM pricetag he'll probably command. Legitimate trade value to flip at the deadline? Another check, as in spite of Saunders' poor peripherals in 2011, he's had a career trend of out-pitching them, and his incredible ERA for the D-backs this year at Chase Field will convince some team looking for a starter next year that Saunders' success at Petco - because, let's face it, he'll have success at Petco - isn't a mirage. If we pay Saunders down to $4MM, he'll give you good innings and a nice prospect return.
OF A.J. Pollock - He's not a guy with home run power, but he's second in the Southern League in doubles, can play CF with plus defense in a corner, more than enough arm strength for right field, consistently makes contact, and can take a walk. Seems like the perfect guy to put in one of the top two slots of a lineup that kills home run power as it is. He's an everyday outfielder for the Padres the moment the plane lands in San Diego, and Maybin/Pollock is two-thirds of an excellent outfield for that park.
LHP Patrick Schuster - I've watched Schuster a lot this year, as I go to college at Notre Dame and Schuster has pitching for the Low-A South Bend Silver Hawks. Here's what you need to know: he's currently works only in the upper-80's (86-88 is what a scout told me at one of the games I saw him work) but is rail-thin and immeasurably projectable and should add velocity, gets a ton of movement on his pitches to generate ground balls, has a clean arm action (though he's costing himself zip by not always striding towards home plate), and has the off-speed arsenal necessary to be a major-league starter if he adds velocity and refines his command/control. Ceiling is as a #3 if he throws harder as he fills out.
I'd love to hear some thoughts from you all. Headley's a great player, probably somewhere in the 4-4.5 fWAR range as an everyday 3B (solid as his defense is, it isn't 16.5 UZR solid going forward IMO), but this package gets you a cheap starter (if AZ chips in) who can be flipped for a good return, a top prospect who would be in San Diego for the next six years, and a young arm to dream on. Are there positional needs that I should be looking closer at? Would you rather have more prospects than Saunders? Do you want arms closer to the big leagues and/or bats lower in the minors? Am I delusional for writing a post to suggest a trade between two teams that, for nearly too many reasons to count, seem to have front offices that hate each other with a passion? Any thoughts would be appreciated.