We’re still a good ways away from trade season, but it seems like, every year, there are a handful of smaller moves in late-April/early-May. Deals that didn’t get done in Spring Training or that involve complementary pieces.
- Oh, and deals involving former megastars with huge contracts of which their current team is dying to be unburdened. Such is the story with Josh Hamilton and the Angels, who just sent the soon-to-be 34-year-old outfielder back to his former team in Texas. The Rangers will pay only a fraction of Hamilton’s salary, and the move was really about executing a divorce between the Angels and Hamilton – a relationship that never worked out. You can read more on the ugly situation here at USA Today. In terms of baseball impact, I’m not sure there will be a lot. The Rangers aren’t going to be competitive this year, and Hamilton isn’t going anywhere else but Texas. The Angels have Matt Joyce slotting into Hamilton’s spot in the outfield, though he hasn’t been producing yet. Perhaps the Angels consider an in-season upgrade in the outfield at some point. They wound up saving a reported $20 million in this maneuver, much of that coming from Hamilton sacrificing salary (something the MLBPA presumably would never allow except in the most extreme and unusual circumstances like this).
- The Cardinals will be without Adam Wainwright for the rest of the year, but they’re not going to immediately leap to acquire a new arm (StlToday.com), even without Marco Gonzalez or Jaime Garcia immediately ready to go. That said, I’d be shocked if they didn’t pick up a pitcher at some point this Summer. Considering that Carlos Martinez is a short outing guy, Michael Wacha has had shoulder issues, and John Lackey is 36, the Cardinals will need additional quality innings. They’ve got some fill-in types, but if they have serious playoff aspirations (and of course they do), they’ll need a good arm.
- Could it be the guy who just shut them down last night? That’d be Cole Hamels, whom we know the Phillies are willing to move, and whom we know the Cardinals were interested in before the season. Bob Nightengale says the Cardinals don’t have the pieces necessary to acquire Hamels (I highly doubt that), and that the Red Sox and Dodgers are “lurking.”
- Speaking of the Dodgers, who already could have stood to pick up an arm, given the back-end weakness and Hyun-Jin Ryu’s shoulder injury, they just lost Brandon McCarthy to a torn UCL. It’s still early in the year for a big name like Hamels to be on the move, but we’ll see if chatter picks up in the wake of these injuries (and the Red Sox’s rotation struggles).
- For the Cubs’ part, I’m not sure they’ll be as eager to jump at Hamels as they might have been last year when they claimed Hamels on waivers in August. For one thing, they now know the Phillies’ price, which is reportedly exorbitant. For another, the Cubs subsequently signed Jon Lester. For still another thing, the Cubs’ rotation looks good enough at this point to get them into the Summer, at which point, if a need arises, they could consider making a deal for a rental, and then head into a robust free agent market to pick up another long-term arm.
- The Marlins have designated catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment, and, although no team out there is going to take his whole contract, that doesn’t mean the Marlins can’t eat some salary and pull off a trade. Indeed, it looks like it’s going that way:
Marlins GM Dan Jennings has already talked to five teams on Jarrod Saltalamacchia who was DFA'D. Expects to trade him.
— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) April 27, 2015
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) April 27, 2015
- As a bat-first, poor-receiving catcher, Saltalamacchia’s availability on the market certainly impacts any efforts the Cubs may have been making on moving Welington Castillo. At this point, though, I’m not sure the Cubs haven’t just decided to keep riding their catching trio until a team overwhelms them with an offer, someone gets hurt, or the Trade Deadline approaches (and the Cubs decide they could fill a more pressing need with Castillo in the deal). In other words, I’m not sure the Cubs are shopping Castillo anymore anyway. The guy is currently hitting .227/.292/.545 despite a .188 BABIP – good peripherals, too – all while getting only sporadic starts and pinch-hitting opportunities.
- While you’re here, I’m going to point you in the direction of a free one-day fantasy contest tomorrow night – there’s a $5,000 prize pool. You can take a crack at it for nothing. Have some fun. I wouldn’t recommend starting any of Hamilton, Wainwright, McCarthy, or Saltalamacchia. Sign up here.