Nov
27

Taking a flier on Prior

By

This has been a frequent topic of conversation among Mike, Ben, and me: Would you sign Mark Prior if he isn’t tendered by the Cubs? Well, that question might change to: Who would you trade for Mark Prior? According to Buster Olney, the Cubs are considering trade proposals for the 27-year-old righty, who is seeking a multi-year deal from the Cubbies, rather than having to face another year of arbitration.

Now, we know Prior has never been the same since 2003, a year in which he absolutely dominated: 245 strikeouts to 50 walks in 211.1 innings, plus a decently impressive postseason that year (though he walked far too many batters in that short span). Many attribute this to Dusty Baker’s gross misuse of Prior. Or it could be that he’s especially fragile.

Earlier this year, Prior had surgery on his ailing shoulder. According to Andrews, he “performed a debridement of Prior’s rotator cuff and repaired labral and capsular injuries in the shoulder.” Not sure exactly what that means, but from what I’ve gathered the surgery entailed fixing a lot of small, nagging things that could have been affecting Prior’s performance as long ago as 2004. That’s not to say that he’s been injured since then, but it’s a possibility.

So this leaves us with two questions. First, what’s the highest you’d bid for Prior? I’d be reluctant to go as high as Alan Horne, since we have no clue as to Prior’s current abilities. But I’d still be willing to enter negotiations in a prospective trade. You just can’t ignore the talent Prior possesses.

The other question is, what role would Prior fill? He’s still looking to be a starter, and he’d probably be most valuable in that role. However, there have to be concerns about his endurance, after having pitched just 210 innings over the past three years. He could be valuable as a swingman, taking starts from injured and/or ineffective players (Mussina), or giving the young guys some extra rest.

As always, the issue comes down to price. What would the Yankees be willing to give up, and what are the Cubs looking for in return? There are probably 15 to 20 teams at least marginally interested in Prior, and although I don’t envision a bidding war erupting, it’s possible that another team comes in with a slightly better offer and the other teams aren’t given a chance to modify theirs. So it could amount to a crapshoot.

I think he’s worth the risk. What about you?

Categories : Hot Stove League

40 Comments»

  1. Mike A. says:

    Prior for Farnsworth. Do it.

  2. Nick-YF says:

    I definitely think he’s worth the risk, but my guess is that a lot of team will think that and the price for him will go up as a result. But yeah, he has sick stuff when healthy and he’s a worthwhile risk.

  3. randomize says:

    Take him definitely. He’s always had the stuff.

  4. mehmattski says:

    How about Brett Gardner? The Cubs have a thing for fast, no power CFs (see Pierre, Juan).

    The worst case, he’s on his butt next to Carl Pavano and it cost, essentially, nothing.

    The best case is that he’s Jon Lieber 2004: 170ish IP, 104 ERA+. He’s someone who can take innings from Joba and Hughes as the kids near their innings caps.

    I’d do it for Gardner or Horne. If he asked, I’d have Kyle Farnsworth on a plane before Hendry finished the sentence.

  5. Yankee Fan in Chicago says:

    Cubbies aren’t sold on Pie in cf, so . . .

    Bu-bye Melky. If the Cubs are willing to take Farnsy and cash, even better.

  6. Mike R. says:

    Sholder injuries are tricky. I would go with any of the plethora of AAAA starters we have. Clippard, Igawa, DeSalvo, Wright, Rasner, Karstens, etc. I wouldn’t give up more than that. Prior is a huge risk with a low probability of a return on investment.

  7. Mike R. says:

    Melky for Prior. No way! I respectfully disagree wholeheartedly with that proposal.

  8. Mike N (Stamford, CT) says:

    ” I would go with any of the plethora of AAAA starters we have. ”

    ************************************************

    Agreed Mike R. Given how well Lilly and Marquis pitched on the Junior circut a player like Clippard, Igawa, DeSalvo, Wright, Rasner, Karstens, etc. could actually be quite valuable to the Cubs.

  9. Jamal G says:

    I like the Clippard/Gardner proposal, that is as high as I would go also.

  10. Eric C. says:

    I’m all for taking a flier on Prior. But not for any of the following: The big 5 (Hughes, Joba, Kennedy, Cano, Melky), of course; AJax, Tabata, Montero, Betances, Sanchez, Melancon, Horne, Marquez, Ohlendorf, McAlister, Garcia, J.B. Cox, or the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

    If the Cubbies want to pick one or two from the Eric Duncan, Marcos Vechionacci, Brett Gardner, Kevin Whelan, Anthony Claggett, Steven Jackson, Steven White, Darrell Rasner, Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, Jeff Kennard, Juan Miranda, T.J. Beam grab bag, be my guest. And of course, it goes without stating that Giambi, Matsui, K-Farn and Bruney are always available.

    Prior has undeniable talent, but I will be upset if we deal any more than B-level prospects or overpaid bums for a guy who may never be healthy again. Prior is nothing more than an high-injury risk, single-year contract middle reliever… and I’d rather sign Troy Percival or Eric Gagne if I’m in the market for one of those. (I am, by the way.)

  11. Is it spring training yet? says:

    Alan Horne is way too high of a price.

  12. Mitchell's Eleven says:

    sorry….cut myself off…

    what’s with the love towards trading prospects around Yankee blogs? this is a bit too much.

  13. Barry says:

    I’d give up any combination of guys we have in the minors that have some decent potential but none of the prospects that we all think very highly about like the Trinity, Horne, A-Jax. I’m sure the cubs realize that Prior is a risk and that they already have decent starters backing up Zambrano, my guess is they’d take some of our lower prospects because they wouldn’t be loosing anything. too bad we cant get Rich Hill, I think that kids gonna turn into something big.

  14. steve (different one) says:

    someone like Clippard. not much more.

    the odds are VERY long that this guy is ever a good pitcher.

  15. steve says:

    didn’t the yanks draft prior out of high school? and they refused to give him the money and he went to USC instead? or am i making that up ?

    • Oui Oui says:

      Yeah, Steve, the Yanks drafted him in 98 with what must have been a sandwich pick. Sort of interesting to see the somewhat changed mentality regarding the draft; I really can’t imagine today’s Yanks targeting a player who might not sign.

  16. JMM says:

    Oh come on. People can talk all they want about his ability and what he’s done in the past, but the bottom line is, he has frustrated every Cub fan and fantasy baseball player that continues to believe that THIS TIME he’s going to return to his old self.

    Don’t buy into it, and don’t even trade a mid-level prospect for him. He’s not worth a few years of headaches.

    The Yankees can do better than Mark Prior by DEVELOPING young pitchers, not trying to fix them.

  17. Thomas says:

    No! Shoulder injuries are long lasting and he is from the National League!

  18. randomize says:

    I wouldn’t trade anyone of value. Maybe a Rasner or Karstens type.

    Gardner needs to stay. He’s a prototypical leadoff guy and will be better than Melky in my opinion.

    I’m looking forward to an outfield of Gardner (LF), AJax (CF), and Tabata (RF).

    And Horne is waay too much to give up.

  19. TurnTwo says:

    I’d take a flier… same as everyone else; you cant overpay, but taking Prior on now is the definition of high risk, high reward.

  20. Travis G. says:

    quick aside: i think it’ll be either
    Ajax LF, Gardner CF, tabata RF.
    or Melky LF, Ajax CF, Tabata RF.

  21. bill says:

    Gotta agree with the sentiment that Alan Horne is way too much to give up. I would love to see Prior in Yankee pinstripes though. Assuming the Cubs take some spare parts in a trade, there is little risk on the part of the Yanks; however, his upside is obviously tremendous.

  22. Ok, so the Yankees get Prior, hypothetically. Pettitte chooses to use his option.

    Wang
    Pettitte
    Prior
    Kennedy
    Chamberlain
    Mussina
    Hughes

    Who goes to the minors? To the bullpen?

    Really I like Prior and think he’s got potential, but the Yankees don’t have the need or room for him. Unless you’re adding an absolute ace, there’s no reason to mess with that pitching staff.

    • Joseph P. says:

      Well, we know that the youngsters are going to have innings caps. We also know that Mussina could totally tank. At that point, we might need another quality arm to eat innings. Better Prior than Tyler Clippard.

      • ceciguante says:

        agree that prior as a swingman (relief for innings-capped youngsters and aging mussina) is a good idea. of course, pettitte is not a lock to return either. what i think is an even better idea, though, is to convert prior to a 7th or 8th inning fireballer. fewer IP could reduce his chance of injury, and the setup role remains a huge weakness for the yanks. still, i agree that horne is too high a cost.

        and what’s the deal with kerry wood? is he potentially available, or did i hear a bad tip somewhere?

  23. ..... says:

    I’d trade a lower end prospect, but Prior wouldn’t be starting. I would convert him, like the Cubs converted Kerry Wood. Maybe that would relieve some stress on that fragile right side of his body.

  24. Bo says:

    How could you even say Horne in relation to Prior? He’d maybe be worth a B level prospect at best. Horne is a Grade A prospect.

  25. Al says:

    I’d give the Cubs a pair of lower tier guys… Clippard and Steven White sounds fair

  26. barry says:

    I would acquire Prior simply because he could be a great relief man, even a great closer one day.

  27. eddy b says:

    Give the Cubs Mussina + any one of the Rasner, DeSalvo, Clippard ilk. Mussina probably gives you maybe 15 more innings than Prior will give a team next year anyway. The Yankees get rid of Mussina’s contract to a team that has a healthy budget anyway and a team that desperately needs consistent starting pitching. Prior’s ceiling right now is so much higher than Moose’s will ever be again. And he won’t cost much because there’s no team in baseball who is going to give Prior anything than a make-good contract over no more than three years and that is littered with incentives.

  28. E-ROC says:

    I give the Cubs Clippard and Desalvo for Prior. It’s not as if Prior has a clean bill of health and he hasn’t been healthy for a few years now, so I think his stock is down.

    I think Mussina has a no-trade clause in his contract so he’ll probably say ”no.” I wish he would say yes, but my gut tells me he won’t.

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