Mailbag: Dodgers, Dodgers, Dodgers (& Buehrle)

Report: Yankees have contract offer ready to Sabathia
What Went As Expected: Brett Gardner

I promised a Jesus Montero-free mailbag last week, so here it is. Instead you get a whole bunch of Dodgers-related questions, which seems like nothing more than a coincidence. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Evan asks: With the ongoing drama regarding the Dodgers and Frank McCourt, it’s looking more and more likely that Matt Kemp will hit the open market following the 2012 season. What type of contract do you think he will receive? Could it be the largest in baseball?

Kemp’s season was basically Curtis Granderson‘s season plus another 10-15% on top of it. He hit .324/.399/.586 with 39 homers and 40 steals, which works out to a .419 wOBA. All that happened in one of the game’s best pitchers’ parks and in a lineup with zero protection (if you believe in protection). He was a monster this year, I think the obvious NL MVP and arguably the best player in all of baseball.

Reportedly, Kemp will not talk about a contract extension once the 2012 season starts. He can be a free agent after next season (MLBTR projects his 2012 salary at $16.3M), and his agent says he isn’t giving a hometown discount. If Kemp has another year like this one, which is very possible because he is that talented and just turned 27 in September, I think we’re talking Joe Mauer money on the open market (eight years, $184M). He’s not a Scott Boras client, which will cost him some money and likely prevent him from getting an Alex Rodriguez contract, but he’s so young and so productive that it wouldn’t surprise me if he got it anyway. Who will give it to him though? The Yankees with at least three $100M+ deals already on the books? The Red Sox? The Tigers? Maybe the Rangers since Josh Hamilton will be off the books? Someone’s going to pay Kemp huge money and deservedly so.

Reggie asks: What’s the chances that Hiroki Kuroda could be swayed from returning to the Dodgers or Japan with a lucrative two-year offer? Kuroda could simply be trying to gain some leverage in talks with east coast teams. How awesome would it be to have a rotation featuring both Kuroda and Yu Darvish!  The stadium would turn into lil Tokyo two days a week.

I think the economic impact of high-profile Japanese players is easy to overstate (we’ve seen studies about how revenue Hideki Matsui actually generated), but it’s definitely real. That’s neither here nor there though.

We’re Kuroda fans here at RAB, dating back to last offseason when we considered him the best Plan B behind Cliff Lee. The Yankees like him as well, judging by the fact that they wanted him in August 2010 and before the 2011 trade deadline. The 36-year-old right-hander (37 in February) still makes a ton of sense for New York on a short-term contract, but he likes Los Angeles so much that he took a below market contract to stay their last year and refused to waive his no-trade clause to come east at the deadline. Two years might be pushing it at Kuroda’s age, but I would much prefer that to five years for C.J. Wilson or four years for Edwin Jackson.

Mark asks: How would you feel about a deal for Chad Billingsley that centered around Eduardo Nunez and someone like Adam Warren or D.J. Mitchell? Given his mileage and down year, would that be too much?

No, I don’t think that would be too much at all. I like Adam Warren, but I’d drive him and Nunez to the airport myself if it meant getting a guy like Billingsley. He’s young (27), signed affordably through 2014 ($32M plus a $14M option for 2015), durable (at least 31 starts and 188 IP in each of the last four years), and really effective (3.52 FIP last four years). Even if that shoots up to a 4.00 FIP in the AL East, he’s still a really good pitcher.

My biggest concern is that Billingsley’s strikeout and swing-and-miss rates have declined every year since 2008 while his walk rate has hovered closer to 4.0 BB/9 than 3.0 BB/9. Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness dubbed him “a conundrum, consistently inconsistent” just yesterday. On the bright side, he is a ground ball guy (47.3% last four years) and has only been on the DL once (16 days for a groin strain in 2010). Definite pluses.

I look at Billingsley almost like another Ubaldo Jimenez, and I think it would take a similar kind of package to get him. Ned Colletti isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, especially when it comes to making trades (as he’s shown with Casey Blake, Octavio Dotel, etc.), so perhaps that makes it easier to acquire the right-hander. I’d include Dellin Betances in a package for Billingsley no questions asked, but not Manny Banuelos and certainly not Montero. Betances plus two lesser pieces (Mitchell? Brandon Laird?) would be ideal, but probably not realistic.

Nick asks: Could the Yankees trade for Scott Elbert?

Sure they could. I have no idea how open the Dodgers would be to moving the lefty, who emerged as a dominant late-inning reliever in 2011 after going back and forth to Triple-A for a few years. The 26-year-old held same-side hitters to a .191/.267/.250 batting line this year (75 plate appearances), though the 18 strikeouts don’t really blow you away. Elbert battled some serious arm problems in the minors, which is why he can’t start anymore, but he’s still a power arm with a low-90’s fastball and high-80’s slider capable of doing the lefty specialist thing. He’d be a fine trade target, but I hope the Yankees don’t overpay for a LOOGY.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Jon asks: What are your thoughts on Mark Buehrle?

Brad asks: What are the details of Mark Buehrle’s contract situation? If memory serves, he is a free agent this year. He’s a durable lefty with a proven track record. Would he be a viable signing for the Yankees?

Yep, he is a free agent this winter, and just to get this out of the way, I can only see Buehrle pitching in two places next season: with the White Sox, or for his hometown Cardinals. He’d made it known in the past that he would only waive his no-trade clause to pitch in St. Louis, and he’s also discussed retirement if the right deal doesn’t come along.

Anyway, I’m not much of a Buehrle fan. He’s the definition of a soft-tosser, keeping hitters off balance with a mid-80’s fastball (both two- and four-seamers), a low-80’s cutter, a high-70’s changeup, and a low-80’s curveball. The 32-year-old southpaw (33 in March) doesn’t strike anyone out (three straight sub-4.80 K/9 seasons) and doesn’t get a ton of ground balls (sub-45.7% last three years), but he is stingy with ball four (no worse than a 2.14 BB/9 since 2003).

Buehrle’s a classic wily ol’ veteran that just knows how to pitch and keep his team in games and [insert cliche here]. His value is in his innings (just finished his 11th straight year of 200+ IP) and veteran presents. Viable signing? Sure, but a) I don’t see it happening, and b) definitely not with the expectation of him being a number two starter. Buehrle’s had a great career, but you don’t want to be the one on the hook when the other shoe drops.

Dave asks: We all know about the weak free agent class for starting pitchers this year, but I’m interested in next year’s pitchers. Or more specifically, which of next year’s free agents (or the following year) might be made available at the trade deadline, a la Ubaldo. Cole Hamels probably won’t be made available, but maybe Clayton Kershaw? BTW, I still refer to this post for future free agent pitchers.

Next year’s free agent class is right here, and it’s loaded with pitchers. Hamels, John Danks, Matt Cain, Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke, Francisco Liriano … the list goes on and on. I think Cain is by far the most likely to sign an extension, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamels does as well. Danks and Liriano could definitely be on the block if the White Sox and Twins fall out of the race early, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers try to flip Greinke for something better than two draft picks if they struggle without Prince Fielder. I’d be surprised if Tim Lincecum or Josh Johnson, two guys that will become free agents after 2013, hit the trade market this summer. Heck, in Lincecum’s case, I’d be surprised if he ever hits the trade market. He’s the definition of a franchise pitcher.

Report: Yankees have contract offer ready to Sabathia
What Went As Expected: Brett Gardner
  • AndrewYF

    Man, the Yankees and Kemp are a perfect fit. Swisher’s deal expires after 2012, the Yankees need a new right fielder, Kemp is a below-average center-fielder but would be great with the short porch and his strong arm. Sure Kemp is a righty, but he’s so good it doesn’t matter.

    The Yankees do have a ton of commitments, but those commitments eventually end. Kemp would be an amazing number 3 hitter (sorry Cano, you get to be cleanup or fifth, Kemp is just that good) for the forseeable future.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Yeah, all things considered.. talent, age, open spot in the lineup.. I still like Kemp at the hefty price.

    • Reg

      I was thinking 2 kemp, 3 robby, 4 arod (cause he’s arod ugh) and 5 granderson/Tex. Either way it would be sick lineup with him around

      • Matt :: Sec110

        eh, only cause jeter will still be around, I’d go: Jeter, Grandy, Kemp, Cano, Jesus, Arod, Tex, Martin, Gardner.
        (wow, that’s kind of embarassing)

        • Reggie C.

          Would make 3 game homerless streaks near unbearable.

          Seriously, I wonder if that’s the master plan. Since there’s no OF in the minors remotely resembling Kemp or Granderson’s rspective offensive skill sets, a 9 figure investment in Kemp is a smart long play.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Grandy, Kemp, Cano, Jesus


          *mops up puddle of drool on the floor*

  • Matt :: Sec110

    I’ve been on Kemp’s jock for a few years, yeah…before Rihanna.

  • Plank

    Based on purely speculation, I think Kemp will sign long term with the Dodgers before next offseason. As soon as the Dodgers get sold, that will be the first order of business. I wouldn’t even be surprised if MLB made that a condition of the sale so that the fans could see the new ownership group is serious. MLB wants a strong Dodger franchise and signing Kemp long term is a huge step in repairing the damage done by McCourt.

    That being said, if he does make it to free agency, I hope he finds a nice penthouse near central park.

    • camilo

      conflict of interest

      • Plank

        Whose conflict of interest? Where?

        You just put three words down without punctuation.

  • Dan

    If the Dodgers do not think they will be able to resign Kemp, why would they even let him get to free agency? It would seem like they would trade him and try to get some top prospects back in return. I am sure they can find teams that will be willing to give up prospects if they are able to work out a long-term deal with Kemp before he hits free agency. If the Yankees really want Kemp, they should try to offer a major trade package now. They could also pick up Swisher’s option and trade him.

  • Holy Ghost

    I’d love to see Kemp in pinstripes. Given that the Dodgers play in a pitcher’s park, I thought maybe Kemp might have better splits on the road but his home/road splits are surprisingly close.

  • mike

    sign Swisher, offer him and Betances to SF for Cain ( both FA at end of the year) and either offer Beltran 3/30m or sign Sizemore for a 1+1 and platoon him with Jones for next year in RF.

    • Dan

      so you would trade a RF with a good injury history and very solid track record of success AND a promising pitching prospect for a guy who has outperformed my peripherals every year in the NL West in a great pitchers park… and THEN sign a RF who is older, has a longer injury history, and would cost more money (Beltran)? Really? That’s your plan…. ok…

      • Dan

        his peripherals. not mine. My peripherals aren’t that good…

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Don’t sell yourself short. I’m sure you’re peripherals are better than Lackey’s

          • Dan

            atleast a higher beer/9

            • The Big City of Dreams


      • mike

        I would trade a RF who has proven to be a solid everyday player with a horrific post-season track record that will be a FA after this season along with a nice pitching prospect whose stock has been lowered each year for a solid, durable top-of-the rotation pitcher who is under contract, and who would certainly be a Type A FA if on the market this year or next and who would immediately be the #2 starter on the staff…..

        I would replace my departed RF with either a potential low-risk / high reward platoon, or with a player who is superior to my current RF in every facet of the game, is an absolute pull hitter as a lefty so his power numbers will spike, is familiar with NY and who has consistantly demonstrated to raise his game in the playoffs.

        Either replacement for Swish will likely out-produce him in the regular season and couldnt be worse in the post-season, and if someone else has an idea how to spruce up the rotation without overpaying for Wilson or Jackson and keeping Montero I’m all ears….

        • Dan

          I get that Beltran is a dead pull hitter and would, in 162 games, probably hit 30+ HR playing half those games in Yankee Stadium III. BUT, the guy can’t stay on the field in his early 30’s so you want to give him 3 years when he is 34 years old. Paying Carlos Beltran at 37 is a mistake.
          Your point about Swisher’s PS numbers, in my eyes, is a silly thing to cite. The guy hits for power and gets on base all year. You are looking at, what, 100 ABs from the ’09-’11 post seasons and making a judgment and ignoring roughly 1600 ABs from the same time frame where he was a well above average RF who plays almost everyday (150 games with a .368/.486 OBP/SLG). The guy is one of the reasons you are IN the playoffs. don’t forget that.
          I like Matt Cain. I really do. But if you pitch in the NL West with those pitcher’s parks, you are guilty until proven innocent. And he is only on a 1 year deal essentially. You’d have to spend big for him to be a permanent fixture in the rotation anyway.
          How to fix the rotation? CC, post big on Darvish, and let the kids develop. Whats the point of having 2 B’s, Warren, Noesi, etc if you aren’t going to let them pitch. There… your problem is solved.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

      Your trade proposal… know.

  • whocarestom

    Kemp, Granderson, and Gardner in the outfield? My god.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

    It’s wonderful that Kemp will be a FA around the same time as Swish. I can absolutely the Yanks being all in there.

    This, plus the excellent pitching entering the market, really underscores the need for the team to develop some pitching to round out the rotation. At some point, money has to be saved somewhere, and that’s the most helpful place to do it.

    Insert retort about Sabathia being too fat to offer a long-term contract to below. I already know it’s coming.

  • Victor Tossas

    I heard that the Yankees might want to trade for Johan santana, just to take a chance and also they want Matt kemp so I came up with this three team trade! 

    Three Team Trade:

    NYY Gets: Matt Kemp(Dodgers), & Johan Santana(Mets Eat Up 30 million of what’s left on his contract or they eat up 20 million and they take soriano and take on his contract!)

    Dodgers Get: Angel Pagan(Mets), Gary Sanchez, Hector Noesi, Slade Heathcott, Greg Olsen, Ramiro Pena, Fransisco Cervelli & 2Million all from the Yankees.

    Mets Gets: Andrew Brackman, Dj Mitchell, Rafael Soriano, Eduardo Nunez, Melky Mesa and Chris Dickerson.

    • Plank

      Why would the Mets do that?

    • Dan

      And I’ll give my Charizard and Jorge Vasquez for your Pikachu and a Lemmiwinks… because that’s basically what the Dodgers get out of the deal for the best OF in baseball- spare parts and cartoon characters.

      PS it’s Golson, not Olsen.

      /Rizzuto “Holy Cow!” ‘d

    • danny tartabull

      this was so unbelievably hilarious, that i just got in trouble at work for laughing uncontrollably at my desk…oh my god…thank you for this trade proposal victor – please – i beg you – please continue to come up with yankees trade proposals throughout this offseason. thank you so much

    • Clint Holzner

      You can’t actually think this is good or real or…I don’t even know. Better idea: just don’t think about this kind of stuff.

  • Kosmo

    Billingsley´s career splits show he is about equal pitching home and away. 2011 his road peripherals were not so good.
    A rotation of
    would be at least on paper formidable.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    Yanks need to jump on Nieves as soon as he hits free agency next off season.

  • Victor

    Okays, the mets would do it because they need to take Johan off the books and no1 is going to eat up all his contract. & the dodgers are getting good players back instead o receiving one draft pick when the yanks sign him after the season. The dodgers aren’t going to sign him long term, they prefer to give it to kershaw. Just saying it was a suggestion, you guys don’t have to get at me like that geesh!