SSTN Weekly Mailbag: Trade Proposals and Labor Stand-Off Predictions!
By Andy Singer
The SSTN Mailbag needed a week to re-charge and fill up with some more questions, but we’re back! On a macro level, it’s been a very strange couple of years for baseball. The pandemic delayed the 2020 season and gave foreshadowed how ugly labor negotiations would become this offseason. Now, ownership has once again proven that they are willing to jeopardize the sport by slow-pedaling negotiations and really squeezing the players when they do make an offer. For the diehards like myself and most of you, all this really means is that we have less of the sport we love to discuss. Frankly, it’s just depressing. Despite that, there’s still been some hints of baseball news. Multiple outlets have released updated prospect rankings for both the league and the Yankees; the Yankees signed a former top prospect to a minor league deal; and we’ve heard a lot from Jameson Taillon about his recovery and life in New York City. That’s all great, but I’m ready to get into the natural winter rhythm where I count down to pitchers and catchers. We’ll discuss it more below, but it’s going to be a bit before that happens.
As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. In this week’s SSTN Mailbag, we’ll discuss a couple of trade proposals for Bobby Miller and Nolan Gorman, and make some predictions about the endgame for MLB’s lockout! Let’s get at it:
Felix proposes the following trade: Aroldis Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Bobby Miller.
If I were to put a percentage on it, I’d say that 60% of the trade proposals I’ve received this offseason include Aroldis Chapman. To be honest, for all of the hand-wringing people do about the DJ LeMahieu signing and the Giancarlo Stanton trade, the Aroldis Chapman signing was one of the worst of the recent Cashman era. I am of the belief that it is wasteful and inefficient to pay big free agent dollars for relief pitching, and Aroldis Chapman is basically the peoples’ enemy #1 for that methodology. It’s not that Chapman is a bad pitcher; in fact, he is a valuable reliever (when healthy). However, relative to his cost, Chapman is not worth it, and the Yankees could likely find equivalent value by converting some of the high octane arms in the minors who are very low-probability starters to relief sooner (Luis Gil and Clarke Schmidt, for example). I’m sure that if Cashman could trade Chapman for real value, he’d do it yesterday.
Unfortunately, Chapman has very little value on the trade market right now. The only time that he may have some value is at the trade deadline if the Yankees are out of it, and a team that is one reliever short of a championship roster is looking for an upgrade regardless of financial cost. Chapman only has one year left on his deal, so at the trade deadline, it might be possible to find a taker.
However, even at that time, a prospect of Bobby Miller’s caliber is way out of reach. Miller has a high octane fastball, is a big body likely to be durable for years to come, and should be a fast-riser through the minor leagues given his D1 college experience. The Dodgers are going to hang on to Miller, and even if they didn’t, the trade would have to hurt a lot more than dealing Chapman. Miller is the type of prospect who is part of a package for a player like Aaron Judge, for instance. I definitely don’t advocate doing something like that, but you get the idea.
I am in favor of dealing Chapman at the trade deadline if the Yankees can find some relief pitching elsewhere in their system, but a player of Miller’s caliber will not be the target, nor will it happen before the season starts.
Joe asks: I’ve been following Fangraphs’ ZIPS projection series and I noticed that the Cardinals’ top prospect Nolan Gorman is blocked at 3B by Nolan Arenado. Is there a trade fit there?
I didn’t look at the Cardinals at all until Joe’s question, and he’s absolutely correct: Nolan Gorman, the Cards’ best prospect, is indeed blocked by Arenado. the Cardinals have been trying him at 2B, but he’s just not athletic enough to handle 2B with any regularity. In short, Gorman is a square peg in a round hole for the Cardinals, but he might very well be a fit for the Yankees.
Everyone wants a SS/1B this offseason for good reason, but there is reason to worry about 3B as well. Gio Urshela did not have a good season wrapped around injuries, and the reality is that we may have already seen the best his bat has to offer. Gorman has huge raw power, good hands, a solid arm, and enough hit tool to access power in games from the left side of the plate. All of that fits the Yankees needs.
The Cardinals have pitching at the top of the staff, and like the Yankees, they are firmly in the window for contention. However, their rotation lacks depth, and there is a significant drop-off after Dakota Hudson in the rotation. If they hope to contend in 2022, they need to add pitching in the worst way. In addition, while Tommy Edman provided excellent defense and speed at 2B in 2021, his bat doesn’t project to be even average moving forward, and is more likely best suited to a utility role.
Pitching is probably the one area in which the Yankees actually have depth and prospect capital from which they can deal. They also could likely find value by re-shaping the infield in 2022. The makings for a deal are definitely here.
Acquiring Gorman would take a big trade in terms of talent. Gorman is roughly equivalent to Anthony Volpe in terms of prospect value, so the Yankees wouldn’t get away with this cheaply. I think MLB Trade Values undervalues Gorman’s trade value, but that’s all I really have to go off of. I offered the following trade, and the trade simulator thought it looked pretty good:
(Click To Enlarge)
The Cardinals would get immediate upgrades to the rotation in the form of Gil and German, while Torres could try to rebuild at 2B for the Cardinals. The Yankees would slot Gorman at 3B, LeMahieu at 2B, unknowns at SS and 1B, and Urshela as a utility man. I could get behind that in a heartbeat, which means my trade is probably light.
I’m convinced: Gorman should be a real target for the Yankees.
Brian asks: Where does the lockout wind up and when does the season start?
I wish I had better news, but I think the season is going to start late. There will be nothing more than incremental changes, but it will take a monumental effort to get there. Sadly, I think the season will begin on May 1, 2022. I so hope that I am wrong.