Do the Yanks and A’s match up for a trade?

What Went Right: Curtis Granderson
Grapefruit League set for Feb. 26 opener

Last week I explored the possibility of the Yankees pursuing Japanese righthander Hisashi Iwakuma, noting that I wasn’t thrilled about his low strikeout, pitch-to-contact approach. I still implored the Yanks to submit a moderate bid, $8-10M or so, just in (the unlikely) case that he fell into their laps for a lower than expected price. With the bidding now closed, we know that three AL West teams – the Rangers, Mariners, and Athletics – submitted competitive bids, but it’s those small market A’s that won out. All they have to do now is work out a contract with the player.

Over the weekend Ken Rosenthal reported that the A’s, already flush with young pitching, were likely planning to move one of their excess starters for a bat if they landed Iwakuma. They desperately need offense, as their .315 team wOBA was fifth worst in the league. That’s what happens when you have and just four (!) guys who hit more than eight (!!!) homers. The Yankees, as you already know, are in the market for a starting pitcher or two. The younger the better, and that’s what the A’s have plenty of. Let’s break them down quickly…

(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Brett Anderson

The 22-year-old Anderson (23 in February) would be the guy to target in any trade talks with Oakland. Acquired from Arizona in the Dan Haren swap, his rookie year in 2009 featured a 3.69 FIP in 175.1 innings, good for 3.7 fWAR. He’s able to generate groundballs (52.4% career) with his low-90’s heater and miss bats with both a slider and curveball (7.70 K/9 in ’09), but Anderson spent two lengthy stints on the disabled list with a strained flexor tendon and inflammation in his throwing elbow this season. The injury complicates things, as does the four year, $12.5M contract they signed him to last April, but this is the most talented player on Oakland’s pitching staff.

Dallas Braden

Pretty much every Yankee fans knows Braden after his run-in with Alex Rodriguez earlier this year, but we have to acknowledge that the guy is a quality pitcher even if he is a tool. He’s pitched to a 3.77 FIP and 5.8 total fWAR over the last two seasons, but there are drawbacks. Braden is a fly ball pitcher (42.4% career) and doesn’t strike out many batters at all (5.30 K/9 over the last two years) despite a top-of-the-line changeup, and he also missed time with forearm and elbow issues this year. My guess is that this is who the A’s would like to move because his stock is at its high point (woo perfect game!), and also because he’s due for a considerable raise his first time through arbitration this winter.

Trevor Cahill

Cahill started the season in the minors after posting an ugly 5.33 FIP in his first season as a big league starter in 2009, but he came up in April and rebounded very well, finishing the season with a shiny 2.97 ERA in 196.2 innings. The problem is that his FIP (4.17, still good of course) doesn’t agree with the ERA because he only struck out 5.40 batters per nine. The 22 year old is a true sinkerballer (56% ground balls this year, fifth best in baseball), though as we know ground balls go for hits more often than their fly ball counterparts. Somehow Cahill managed to post a .238 BABIP this season, the best in baseball by nearly ten points. The chances of that being sustainable are somewhere between slim and none.

Gio Gonzalez

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Oakland’s workhorse this year, the well-traveled Gonzalez (he’s been traded three times already) logged a team high 33 starts and 200.2 innings this year, finishing with a 3.78 FIP and 3.2 fWAR. Gio turned 25 late in the season and missed bats at exactly the league average rate this year (8.5% swinging strikes) thanks to his big breaking curveball, but he’ll get himself into trouble with walks (4.13 BB/9) and can be homer prone (1.03 HR/9 career, but 0.67 this year). He’s going to qualify as a Super Two after 2011, so his days of being dirt cheap are numbered.

Vin Mazzaro

Born and raised in Hackensack, the 24-year-old Mazzaro was exactly replacement level (0.0 fWAR) in 122.1 innings this year thanks to his 5.13 FIP. He’s the least established starter on their staff but a case could be made that he has the best stuff of anyone besides Anderson, a lively low-90’s fastball and a wipeout slider, plus a nice little changeup. Mazzaro hasn’t figured out how to consistently strike batters out yet (5.81 K/9 both this year and last) and he’s very vulnerable to the long ball (1.31 HR/9), but the equipment’s there.

* * *

I’m assuming that Cahill (coming off a very good year) and Anderson (stock’s down after the injury, and they did just give him a new contract) are off limits, and none of the other three really stand out. The A’s might want to move Braden because of his upcoming arbitration case, but I’m certain that teams will show more interest in Gonzalez. Either way, no one outside of Anderson really fits what the Yankees need, a strikeout starter that an keep the ball on the ground.

Even beyond that, do the Yankees really have the bat to offer the A’s? A Jesus Montero for Anderson swap would a) be pretty cool, and b) make sense for both teams, but the lefty’s elbow issues make it too risky. Brett Gardner isn’t the answer to any team’s offensive woes, and both Curtis Granderson ($8.25M in 2011) and former Athletic Nick Swisher ($9M as part of a contract the A’s signed him too) are likely out of Oakland’s price range. Maybe Brandon Laird makes sense for them on some level, but it’s a stretch to call him MLB ready. Maybe Eduardo Nunez whets their appetite, or Juan Miranda. I wouldn’t get my hopes up though.

You guys get the point. Oakland has a bevy of young and cheap yet flawed (each in their own way) starters, and the Yanks don’t really have the bat to offer up in return anyway. Unless the A’s are willing to sell Anderson for pennies on the dollar (not happening) or the Yanks think they can maximize Gonzalez’s abilities, I just don’t see these two clubs matching up in a starter-for-a-bat trade.

What Went Right: Curtis Granderson
Grapefruit League set for Feb. 26 opener
  • AndrewYF

    I just wish the Yankees had Michael Bowden. No one could turn down that kind of arm in a trade.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    I’d love Anderson but it will cost Montero and as noted has elbow problems. Not sure if it’s worth the risk.

    I’d like Gio Gonzalez but only as a flier though and not a true answer. Burnett walk rates and Vazquuez HR rates? Yikes.

    • Lucas AA, aka don’t_bring_in_the_lefty

      “Vazquez HR rates”? How? Gio has a HR/9 of 1.03 for his career and it was at 0.67 last year.

  • bexarama

    Dallas Braden should come join the Yankees just so he can be all giggly with A-Rod in the dugout. You know it would happen!

    (I kid. I was thinking about a Montero/As starter swap a few days ago, it’s not a bad idea in theory at all, but the only one I’d be willing to give up Montero for is Anderson and I don’t think the As would be interested in trading him much. I also pretty much figure that players that got signed to extensions the year before aren’t going to get traded.)

    • Ed

      I also pretty much figure that players that got signed to extensions the year before aren’t going to get traded.

      Nick Swisher disagrees.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Interesting that Gio’s K/9, BB/9, FIP and xFIP were all better on the road than at home last season. I’d have thought it would be the other way around, given the A’s pitcher-friendly ballpark. Should Oakland put him on the block, the Yankees should inquire.

    • FIPster Doofus

      …And I just realized that last sentence is horribly written.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Montero for any of these guys, scares me. There is plenty of pitching coming up through the minors, not impact bats.
    I think Jesus is worth the risk to be wrong about.

  • It’s Always Sunny in….San Diego

    Not to nitpick, well yea I am, I was born and raised in hackensack and Vin Mazzaro didn’t go to my highschool. I believe he was raised in Rutherford and went to highschool there, which is still pretty cool

    • Nate

      Yeah he grew up in Rutherford and went to Rutherford High School

  • Matt Imbrogno

    The Yankees should always go for strikeout guys, but the balance between groundouts and fly outs is an interesting one. We always prefer grounders to fly balls since grounders can’t tun into home runs, but we also know that the Yankee infield defense is ‘meh’ on the left side. On the other hand, there’s an even more tenuous balance to be struck in the outfield.

    Obviously, the park the Yankees play in has the potential to be more friendly to homers but the OF defense is average at worst and one of the tops in the league at best.

    Focus number one should always be on pitchers that miss bats, but I wonder if the GB/FB debate is a little closer, given the roster construction.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      Hm, this sounded much better in my head.

      • Matt Imbrogno

        Because even with a “meh” 3B/SS, the best ground ballers can induce weaker contact than normal, which only helps the fielders.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      The Yankees defense is pretty meh on the left hand side. But it’s better than absolutely horrendous than it was like in 2006 and CMW still did a great job.

      He got a 3.60 ERA with Jeter’s -8 UZR and A-Rod’s -15.4 (!)

      Pretty awesome.

      • Matt Imbrogno

        Yeah, you’re right.

  • Reggie C.

    Can’t trade Montero for any of those starters. An inflammation in the throwing elbow-related DL stint is too big a red flag to trade perhaps the minor’s top hitter. Brett Anderson could be as promising as Matusz, but i couldn’t do it if the cost was Montero. Now if the cost was TWO of betances, banuelos, and brackman … i could get on board with that.

    • Mike HC

      No doubt about that. I guess it is not a horrible offer, but I don’t think Beane goes for that.

  • Johnny O

    Brett Anderson with no injury concern is worth Jesus Montero. But he does have injury concern so no dice.

    Any word on what the A’s posting fee was? Those poor small market teams….

  • larryf

    The greatest Yankee catcher of all time? fast forward to 2025 for any of these guys?

    I think not….

    • Thomas

      I think I’d trade Yogi Berra for any of these guys. His value on the field just ain’t what it used to be.

  • Kiersten

    I just don’t see only being willing to give up Montero for Halladay/Lee and then giving him up for Anderson. I’d only give up Montero for a Greinke, but I’m not running the Yankees.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Well Anderson is still a damn good pitcher. Not in Halladay’s league but he’s still crazy young being 2 years younger than Hughes.

      But since the Yankees will be in need of a catcher and a good, cheap and young power bat added with Anderson’s injury concerns makes him less deseriable.

    • steve s

      I agree 100%. Let’s stop trying to trade Montero especially for A’s pitching. Zito, Mulder and even Hudson were never the same once they left the confines of the Oakland Coliseum and they were all way better than the current crew. Also, what will it take for Greinke to Yanks talk to stop? This guy would quit baseball before ever pitching for the Yanks.

      • Thomas

        Zito, Mulder and even Hudson were never the same once they left the confines of the Oakland Coliseum

        Mulder posted numbers better than his final season with the A’s in his first season with the Cardinals (though worse than some of his other season with the A’s). Then he suffered serious injuries, which ended his career.

        Hudson has also had injury problems leading to his down years with the Braves. Even then most of his Braves seasons are on par with his A’s seasons.

        Zito was never as good as people thought. His FIP and xFIP were always high after 2003 and more importantly, he was clearly declining in Oakland with his ERA, FIP, xFIP, BB, and K all trending in the wrong direction. He was also clearly losing his stuff (lower velocity, worse control, breaking ball with less movement).

        I don’t think leaving the A’s and Oakland had anything to do with their respective declines.

        • Ted Nelson

          Total speculation, but the flip side of the “the Yankees ruined Joba’s life” argument everyone makes around here is that the As push their young pitchers. The As former Big 3 (Mulder, Zito, Hudson) all started pitching 200 innings about their 2nd seasons of pro baseball… all had injury problems or “lost their stuff”… Might not be a coincidence. Maybe the Yankees aren’t crazy for limiting their young pitchers’ workloads…

          So, there might be a trend where the As overwork young pitchers and it catches up to them at their next stop.

          • Nostra-Artist

            Yep. A team like the A’s doesn’t have to worry about how something will affect a pitcher down the road, because chances are they won’t be around if they’re any good.

      • Kiersten

        I gave Greinke as an example of an elite pitcher, along with Lee and Halladay.

        Anderson =/= elite. At least not yet.

        • MikeD

          I still don’t buy into the Greinke “elite pitcher” idea. He strkes me as a good pitcher who had an elite year in 2009. I don’t ask him to have another 200 ERA+ year, but he still has something to prove.

          King Felix proved that he deserves to be considered among the best in the game with his back-to-back campaigns, which were basically mirror images of each other, although 2010 was still even slightly better. Greinke’s has to step it up again, and I believe that after 2011 he’ll be firmly viewed as being in the good to very-good camp, but not elite camp.

      • JerseyDutch

        Also, what will it take for Greinke to Yanks talk to stop?

        Is there any particular reason it should?

        • bexarama

          He said he wouldn’t come to the Yankees. IMO that skewered it.

          • JerseyDutch

            I was actually wondering why he was so insistent that people stop talking about it.

            • steve s

              Well, since you asked, the short answer is it is sort of mindless to continue to discuss trade possibilities for a guy who, by all accounts, won’t agree to come to the Yanks. Typically, the discussions on this site rise above mindless chatter.

              • JerseyDutch

                You’re being somewhat generous in assessing the quality of the chatter. But point taken.

              • Ted Nelson

                I don’t really care to speculate, but what I’ve seen is more “anonymous sources” who say he “would never” accept a trade to NY. Not Greinke saying he would not. I have no idea his intentions or thoughts on the subject, but is the MSM really always right?

  • Andrew

    I wouldn’t mind the Yankees acquiring Craig Breslow to be the 2nd left handed reliever for the 2011 bullpen. He’s local, and he’s pretty good (has held lefties to a .576 career OPS, righties have also similarly not fared well).

    The starters all discussed, I feel as though the ballpark has helped all but Anderson, and while Anderson is the best of the bunch, his presumed cost (Montero plus more) doesn’t cover for the risk that he’ll need Tommy John or just miss a bunch of time with injuries during his time in NY.

  • YankeesJunkie

    I would consider trading a Montero for Anderson because Anderson has good control and great stuff. However, if the Yankees are going seriously pursue Montero as a guy who is will catch 80-100 games then give me Montero’s bad catching and awesome offense every day of the week. If A’s were willing to take a deal around Sanchez/Romine and Laird I would be down with that, but the chances of that are zero.

    • Ted Nelson

      I’d rather the Yankees take the chance of keeping Sanchez (as well as Montero). He’s got a chance to be really special. Maybe this is as good as it gets and his value just declines from here, but I think you give the kid a year in a full season league before moving him. Another year like 2010 and he starts to become a real top prospect.

      • Ted Nelson

        I mean I would be inclined to trade him for Anderson or someone, just not looking to dump him for any end of the rotation solution.

  • sleepykarl

    Gio feels kinda like a LH AJ; seems to either dominate or blow up without a ton of middle ground.

  • larryf

    Darn it-why can’t AJ have a monster year and then we wouldn’t have to worry about all of this!

    • Tom Zig

      AJ Burnett will put up a 3.50 ERA and 220Ks next year. book it.

      • larryf

        That would be nice. We have to find a way for this guy to be at his best.

        • Tom Zig

          Dave Island can be his life coach!1!

        • Betty Lizard

          I would sell my soul to the devil for AJ to have a great good year next year. Considering my past, my soul probably isn’t worth much but I wonder if we could get a bunch of RABbites together and get a group rate?

      • MikeD

        We’d have to go back to 2005 for 3.50 ERA on AJ, and considering he now pitchs half his games in Yankee Stadium and is a few years older, I’m not sure that’s in the cards. I’d be happy with an ERA right around 4.00.

        Expectations have always hurt AJ, but his ERA+ numbers from 2004-2009 were 112, 116, 115, 119, 104 and 116. Obviously a very solid pitcher. His knock was people expected that 150+ break-out season, and he was prone to injuries. He’s put the latter behind him to the point where no one even questions AJ’s durability anymore. What he needs to do is return to the AJ of ’04-’09 in 2011 and people will be quite happy.

  • Mike HC

    I’m not giving up Montero for anyone at this point. Offense fell off big time this year, making Montero all the more valuable. Hold him.

    • Nostra-Artist


      Not even King Felix, Josh Johnson or Ubaldo Jiminez?

  • S

    fuck and no

  • OldYanksFan

    It’s funny. When Big Papi was in his prime and killing us, no one said
    “ha ha ha, he’s only a DH”. Yet people seem to think little about trading Montero, who not only projects to be better then Papi, but can also BUC, or even BUBUC.

    It’s one thing to offer Montero for Lee. But I think people are fast to talk about trading him for non-stud players.

    Now I know he might not pan out, but the same could be said for our core 5 who did pan out, not to mention Cano. This team financially NEEDS some impact players that are cheap. We just can’t keep paying $20m+ for impact players and collecting some junk along the way for $16m.5/yr.

    If Montero fails, he fails. But I want to see this guy play, and I want the Yankees to give him every chance to succeed.

    • Nostra-Artist

      It’s not that, but being a DH hurts his value and isn’t a fit for a team with aging stars like Alex and Jorge. He’d have more value to a team that could play him at his natural position at 1B, so the idea would be to trade for equal value in an area we need.

  • JerseyDutch

    The more I learn about Montero, the more I think he should definitely not be traded for anyone but the top one or two elite pitchers in the league… if that.

    • JMK

      Let’s not go crazy here…

      • JerseyDutch

        Crazy in that I’m being too picky or that Montero shouldn’t be traded at all?

  • Joseph Cecala

    I would rather see Montero have his shot than be traded for one of these guys. Halladay and Lee are arguably two of the best pitchers in baseball. We have pitching depth in the minors and Montero could be a generational bat.

    • Nostra-Artist

      I agree 100%. I’ll deal him, but only for elite talent in return.

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I wonder if we could do a Laird/Romine/Betances or Brackman deal for Brett Anderson?

    • Plank

      Why would the A’s do that?

      • Kevin Ocala, Fl

        If Cashman trades any of those guys w/ the exception of Laird I, well, let’s just say that I’d have a strong urge to get to bathroom, and quickly

        • Plank

          I don’t understand what that means.

  • Kevin Ocala, Fl

    Trading Montero for one of those guys?! We are talking about a player with the kind of resume for a 20 year old that often goes to the HOF. As for Anderson, baseball history is filled with talented pitchers under 25 that blew their arms out. Strained flexor at 22=TJS at 23. Analysis over the years shows that you don’t give up a “great” young hitter for a “great” young pitcher until said pither(s) are over 25. Connective tissue does not fully mature until roughly age 25. It’s also why heavily worked young catchers rarely have long careers.

  • Lucas AA, aka don’t_bring_in_the_lefty

    Anderson’s a total stud, and I don’t imagine that the A’s would trade him so soon. I think Gio would be the most reasonable target. The walks are a little bit scary, but I like the ~50% GB rate and 7.7 K/9.

  • David

    You lost me at ” Jesus Montero for “

  • Jerome S

    It seems like the A’s had four #2 starters this year – everyone was above average, but no-one was shut-down. Still, if that team could hit…

  • Ghost of Scott Brosius

    At this point, having held on to Montero for so long, trading him for anyone short of franchise-level player seems like it would be foolish. The team has a definite upcoming need at catcher, and a need for a young impact bat in the lineup- give Montero the chance to be that guy. Even if he comes up and doesn’t tear up the majors right away, the talent and potential isn’t going anywhere for a 20 year-old with his skills-meaning that if needed or desirable, the option to trade him at a high value will still be on the table for a few years.

  • Brad

    Just because someone writes that he thinks Montero would have to be part of th package, why does everyone buy that conjecture as if it were fact? I would think the Yankees could put a good package together for either Anderson or Gonzales. For example, Nunez, Romine, Swisher and cash, and then get Werth or Crawford.

  • Chris

    why does everybody want to trade Montero? I want to see this guy first.


    What about trading Jorge Vazquez? Everyone says Montero has so much power, but Vazquez had better power numbers than Jesus in Trenton and Scranton. Plus, Jorge will get his shot in Oakland DHing, or 1b, and he is ML ready. He will be .280-.300 hitter/30hr/100rbi guaranteed!