Rumors started flowing yesterday from two different sources about a possible trade the Mariners might make for Orioles left-handed ace Eric Bedard. It’s the kind of deal that might produce a flurry of action surrounding a possible Johan Santana trade for several reasons.
1) The rumored deals set a high standard for the quality of prospects that an ace is worth.
It’s hard to compare deals, because opinions on younger players vary so widely, but we’ll try giving each of the players a letter grade. Fox’s Ken Rosenthal suggests the Bedard deal might include center fielder Adam Jones (an ‘A’ prospect), catcher Jeff Clement (‘A’) and third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo (‘C’). Jason Churchill of ProspectInsider.com also include Jones, but includes shortstop Carlos Triunfel (‘B’) and left-handed reliever George Sherril (not a prospect, but with a 2.36 ERA last year and 56 K in 45.2 IP, we’ll call him a ‘C+’).
Either is quite a haul, similar to what the rumored deals are for Santana with the:
Red Sox: Ellsbury (‘A-’), Lowrie (‘B’), Masterson (‘C’) or
Yankees: Hughes (‘A+’), Cabrera (‘C’) and Jackson (‘B-’).
Got all those letters straight? No? I’ll help. Based on my completely subjective rankings, all of the deals are in the same ballpark, but the deals for Santana are towards the low end of what is rumored for Bedard.
2) If completed, it would represent a significant shift in power in the AL West.
Coming into the offseason, the Mariners finished six games behind the Angels, and eleven games behind them in the adjusted standings. While the Angels have added Torii Hunter and Jon Garland (and lost Orlando Cabrera) the Mariners have only added Carlos Silva. Meanwhile, the third best team in the division (Oakland) is completely dismantling itself. Is it any wonder that the Angels seem content to stand pat?
If the Mariners add Bedard, that could change considerably. Adding him closes the gap considerably, especially as he’ll end up pitching against the Angels a handful of extra times per year. For Twins fans who dream that the Angels and their deep farm system start to get interested in Santana, this is the perfect development.
3) If it isn’t completed, it shows the Mariners are in the market for a top shelf starter.
The Mariners have been mentioned before, but have never really been considered serious suitors for Santana. This shows the Mariners really are looking to acquire a top starter. And it shows that they’re willing to trade Jones, who is often compared to Torii Hunter, to acquire him. And it’s not like the Mariners have given any indication that they’re skittish about paying elite talent top dollars (see Suzuki, Ichiro). Or, for that matter, not so elite talents (see Beltre, Adrian).
It’s been widely speculated that the Mariners weren’t interested because the Twins had asked for Jones AND Brandon Morrow, who they claim they absolutely will not trade. The Twins likely don’t have much interest in the Mariners other top prospect, Clement, because he’s a catcher. Perhaps the Twins could send a power reliever, or another minor league pitcher in return to make them more willing to add Morrow.
Mostly what this does is fuel hope for those waiting for a Santana deal. It shows that the compensation in return for super-talented pitchers is significant. It shows that teams are still gauging themselves. And it shows that moves still are being made. Basically, it shows that the offseason is far from over.