|Gordon would look |
good in Black and Gold
R.A Dickey is as interesting test case as far as trade value goes. The positives are overwhelming. Dickey won the National League Cy Young award this past year, winning 20 games, while more importantly posting a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 233.2 innings. He provided a 4.6 fWAR thanks to a 3.27 FIP. While Dickey's 2012 season was sensational, it was both an outlier and part of the trend. Dickey's had a 3.65 FIP in 2010 and a 3.77 FIP in 2011, so he's been effective in the two years prior to 2012. However, 2012 saw a huge spike his strikeout rate, from a rate near 5.5 K/9 in 2010 and 2011 to a rate of 8.9 K/9 in 2012. That's a startling increase, especially considering the scouting report on Dickey.
That's also the potentially negative part. Dickey will start next season at age 38. In addition, his primary pitch is a knuckleball. Without doing significant research, I'd wager that Dickey's 2012 season was by far the best season ever produced by a knuckleballer. The fact that Dickey did it at age 38, in his 11th full season in the major leagues is unusual and a potential red flag. It's hard to know if Dickey can repeat his 2012 season or even come close. His age is also a potentially huge negative, but arguably the fact that he uses a knuckleball makes Dickey's age a non-factor.
All-in-all, a team that trades for Dickey will realistically hope for something between his 2012 season and what he did in 2010 and 2011. That's an above-average pitcher, and for 5 million dollars - the figure Dickey will earn in 2013 - Dickey provides a huge bargain. In addition, it's possible that a team that trades for Dickey could extend him at a reasonable cost due to his age and hope he holds up. Another option is that a team could offer Dickey a one-year qualifying offer, and then either accept his production at that price or receive a compensatory draft pick if Dickey goes elsewhere.
Reports this offseason indicate that the Mets are willing to move Dickey and are looking for a package of prospects rather than a 1-for-1 swap like the one that brought Zack Wheeler to New York for Carlos Beltran. Several teams will be in on Dickey, but the Pirates could make an offer to bolster their 2013 rotation, wait till the offseason and then offer Dickey a year deal and either bring him back at a reasonable cost or receive an extra draft pick. For Dickey, I'd put together a package that keeps our top six prospects, offering the Mets their choice of Alex Presley or Jose Tabata, Phillip Irwin, Nick Kingham, and Willy Garcia. That might be too little, but it's not a bad offer to put on the table to gauge the Mets interest.
A team could do worse than Clint Barmes, but they could also do much better at the shortstop position. Asdrubal Cabrera would fall in that "much better" category. The current Indians shortstop is allegedly on the block, but his price is supposed to be incredibly high. That high price is justified; Asdrubal Cabrera is currently one of the premier shortstops in baseball.
Cabrera just turned 27 years old in November, so he's in his physical prime and should be able to maintain his level of production for the next half decade or so. In addition, that production is quite good. Cabrera put up 2.8 WAR last year and 3.9 WAR the year before that, thanks to strong offensive production that offsets a questionable glove. In 2011, Cabrera put up a 118 wRC+ on the back of a .273 average and 25 homeruns. In 2012, Cabrera saw his power production drop thanks to only 16 homeruns, but that was still a solid number for a middle infielder. Despite that, Cabrera still managed to post a 112 wRC+ thanks to some OBP improvement.
Looking into the future, Cabrera projects to continue improving offensively, and if he can shore up his defensive game, he could become a perennial 5+ WAR shortstop. Considering Cabrera's reasonable contract - he's owed 16.5 million dollars over the next two years, and the Indians shortstop would be a nice commodity to add. To land Cabrera, the Pirates would have to part one of their elite prospects. I would try and keep the top four and offer the Indians a package centered around Luis Heredia and Josh Bell. To add some depth, I'd throw in Chase D'Arnaud or Jordy Mercer as a stopgap at shortstop and either Colton Brewer, Jason Creasy and Jake Burnette.
Dee Gordon is another shortstop option that should cost less than Cabrera in both financial cost and trade chip cost. Gordon also might have a higher ceiling, although he's substantially less proven than the Indians shortstop. The former Dodger's top prospect has incredible speed which allows him to wreck havoc on the bases. In addition, his athleticism gives him the potential to play plus defense at shortstop, although he's been unable to do that to date thanks to weak fundamental and mental errors.
In addition to defensive woes, Dee Gordon has also been unable to use his elite speed thanks to issues with getting on-base consistently. The young Dodgers shortstop has the ability to hit for average, but has not done so thus far in the major leagues. In addition, Gordon rarely walks, although his strikeout numbers aren't awful. One of the major positives for Gordon is that he would be under team control through 2017. At the young age of 24, he's still got substantial potential, although it's nothing guaranteed. With Hanely Ramirez in the fold, the Dodgers are actively shopping Gordon. Moving Joel Hanrahan for Gordon and a fringe prospect with some upside is a swap the Pirates should look for. Such a move could bring in the shortstop of the future and potentially the present if the Pirates choose to use Gordon over Barmes.