Thinking about Chase Headley


(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

When word got out that Alex Rodriguez suffered a broken bone in his left hand when Felix Hernandez hit him with that 3-1 changeup on Tuesday night, you couldn’t help but immediately dream up elaborate trade scenarios to plug the third base hole. Hanley Ramirez was dealt to the Dodgers a few hours later, taking that option off the table. Stopgaps like Marco Scutaro and Stephen Drew make sense but do not satiate our trade deadline appetite.

Aside from Hanley, the other big name on the market is Chase Headley of the Padres. San Diego has made it know that they’re willing to move their best player as long as they get a nice bounty of young kids in return, and a whole lotta teams have expressed interest. Yesterday we heard that the Yankees will at least entertain the idea of making a run at him, a guy who would more than capably replace A-Rod at the hot corner for the time being. Quite frankly he would be an upgrade.

Headley, 28, owns a 125 wRC+ this year and has you’d expect, he’s been substantially better away from Petco Park. The switch-hitter has a 103 wRC+ at home this season (91 career) compared to 147 on the road (129 career). He hasn’t hit for much power even away from Petco — career .148 ISO on the road — but he’s already hit a career-best 12 homers this year. Headley draws lots of walks (12.2%) and puts together lengthy at-bats (4.08 pitches were plate appearances), leading to strong OBPs. Move him out of San Diego and who knows, his offense may really take off just because his mind is clear of cavernous Petco. Plus entering his prime years won’t hurt.

Much of Headley’s value comes from his defense at the hot corner, which basically every metric agrees is above-average if not better. He played 196 games and nearly 1,700 innings in left field from 2008-2009 in deference to Kevin Kouzmanoff, but he’s not an outfielder. Not an everyday outfielder, I should say. Headley is making $3.475M this season and will be arbitration-eligible as a Super Two both next year and the year after. He’ll be a free agent after 2014. That’s nice and affordable, pretty much as good as it gets.

(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Acquiring Headley to replace A-Rod this year before shifting him to a corner outfield spot and using him to replace Nick Swisher is a bit of a stretch given his limited exposure to the outfield. It’s possible but hardly a slam dunk. There’s a chance that the position change — or worse, bouncing him between third, the outfield, DH, etc. — will negatively impact his production at the plate and overall value. These guys aren’t robots, changing positions on the fly at the big league for a contending team is very hard to do. The Yankees love to rotate their DHs, so sticking A-Rod there full-time next year and going forward seems unlikely.

If you want to play some fun fantasy GM games, the Yankees could acquire Headley to replace A-Rod this summer then flip him to the Diamondbacks as part of a Justin Upton package during he offseason. Arizona wants a third baseman but is very unlikely to deal with the Padres– not only are they division rivals, but there is still some bad ownership blood following the defection of Jeff Moorad. The Yankees would get their temporary third base fill-in and then a long-term corner outfielder. It’s perfect! … on paper.

Back in reality, the Yankees simply may not have enough to acquire Headley. The asking price is high as it should be — the third best market is barren and the Padres have the best available player to offer. Headley’s young, cheap, productive, and under control for a few more years. That guy will require a haul, likely three or four prospects with at least one stud and two or three other solid pieces. That’s just me spit-balling though, I have no idea what exactly the Padres are seeking.

I irrationally like Headley — I think he has star potential outside of Petco during his peak years — but the Yankees seem more likely to add a short-term stopgap at the hot corner. He’s a square peg they would have to force into a round hole once A-Rod returns, not to mention give up a healthy amount of prospects to acquire. Logistically it just doesn’t work not matter how much I would like it too.

Categories : Musings, Trade Deadline
  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    These guys aren’t robots, changing positions on the fly at the big league for a contending team is very hard to do.


  • MattG

    While we’re spit-balling…

    Alex Rodriguez to right field?

    • Cris Pengiucci

      That could be uglier than Headly in RF. Still I’d be quite happy if the Yankees could obtain him, then figure out the long term situation during the offseason.

      • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

        who would you be willing to give up?

        • 28 this year

          IPK + Melky – a trade package that used to be a joke and now include a one time cy young candidate and a MVP candidate. funny how that worked out. Not saying they would have reached that as Yankees, just to be clear

          • Dan

            I would think any conversation would probably start with Williams and Banuelos, but would probably need to include a couple other decent prospects as well, especially since Banuelos had injury problems this year.

            • 28 this year

              Yea probably. I would do one of Williams or Banuelos plus a AAA arm and one low lottery ticket. That’s probably not enough but I feel from the Yankees point of view, its not necessarily a bad package if they believe one of two things: Headley can play the outfield decently enough for next 2 years or so or that they can flip Headley in the offseason for a relatively cheap outfielder with a couple years of control. If they do not believe those things can happen, the cost isn’t worth it but if they can, the Yankees get a cheap outfielder for one top prospect and some depth plus for this year, a more than capable third baseman to fill in for A-Rod. Its a tough pill to swallow but I can certainly see the merit of the above situation, just don’t think the Padres would consider enough to trade Headley.

              • Cris Pengiucci

                I’d be willing to give up Williams, but think Banuelos might not be what the Padres are looking for. Maybe Phelps or Nova instead. Depending on their needs, Phlps or Nova might also lessen the others involved.

                • Cris Pengiucci

                  Forgot the obligatory “but my trade proposal sucks.”

                • Dan

                  I think a team like the Padres might be more willing to take players that are still in the minors, giving them more years of team control, because they aren’t expected to contend anytime soon.

              • Laz

                You don’t acquire Headley for 2 months and then shift him to the outfield. The biggest thing about Headley is that he is pretty good defensively at 3b, a position where defensive ability is important. Is like 10 years ago shifting Jeter to the outfield. Sure you can do it, but why waste his defensive abilities.

                • G

                  Moving Jeter to the outfield at any time would have been good. While he was certainly once better, he’s always been a bad defensive shortstop.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Shhhhh. Don’t ruin the joke.

      • MattG

        Maybe, but why do you think so? I feel he is still athletic and fast enough, and he does have a very strong throwing arm.

        • DM

          He’s 37 with hip and knee issues. He needs to save his all out dashes for baserunning. 3rd base to DH for him.

          • MattG

            Knee? Did not know about this.

            I would expect the hip to be more problematic at third base.

            Age seems kind of irrelevant, or again, more relevant at 3B. The current RF is 38.

            • DM

              I meant switching positions at that age (along with lower half issues), not the number itself.

              He had knee surgery last June (and got the special Kobe treatment to help the area during the off-season). And the hip problem hurts your movement at any position — but you don’t have to run full speed for yards into the gap when you play 3rd.

            • G

              The current RF played 161 games in 2011. Big difference between him and A-Rod.

    • pat

      Arod hates catching popups. Dunno about RF.

  • 28 this year

    If the Yanks could get Headley, that would be awesome for this year. I think if they do get Headley, they should try and trade him for an outfielder in the offseason. Headley would still have a lot of trade value so its not a bad plan.

  • Eddard

    We’ll be just fine with Nixy and Chavy. One of them was the hero yesterday. It just doesn’t make any sense to trade the farm, and it will take the farm for this guy, for a 6-8 week rental. As Cashman said, Nix and Chavez are the solution and they proved it yesterday.

    • Mike

      I agree .. Im good with Chavy and Nix … I’m just not ready to give the farm away for a guy like Headley…. Arod will be back soon.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’d like to see an upgrade from Nix for the stretch run, especially if it’s one without Alex. It doesn’t need to be Chase Fucking Headley, but this is the time you build your best possible bench, and the time of year when the team has done so in the recent past.

        I also don’t think Nix is a total zero, so I’d rather stick with him than overpay. That’s for sure.

        Headley’s a nice idea. So is every really good player in the major leagues.

        • BK2ATL

          I think the Chavez/Nix combo can hold us over until A-Rod’s back. Now, we must temper our expectations of them as well. They are stopgaps until our 3B returns from a freak injury. So, if they make an error here or there, we’re gonna have to eat that.

          Headley’s a headcase deal. He’s a good player, but his value to us would only be the length of A-Rod DL stint, and then possibly in trade for a Justin Upton. I still don’t think you give up what the Padres are seeking.

          No need for a kneejerk move to empty out the farm. I’d be cool with just getting the versatile Marco Scutaro to shore up the bench and IF defense.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Yeah, Scutaro’s definitely my bone to gnaw on right now. Where is my main man, Jerry Hairston, Jr., lately?

            Would I give up Mason for Headley? Not if there’s honest questions as to Headley as an outfielder.

            • BK2ATL

              I wouldn’t give up Banuelos, Sanchez OR Williams for Headley.

              Headley’s not an OF. He’s just a 3B who played OF, and sucked at it. He might solve our temporary 3B issue, but he’s not a long-term RF option.

              The only way I could see them doing this is getting Headley, then flipping him and Phelps, plus 2 B prospects (Marshall, Adams/Joseph) after the season for Justin Upton. But it would already cost too much to get Headley alone, then Upton….I’ll pass.

              Scutaro or Hairston Jr would be fine with me. Just a minor bench tweak needed. Nothing major. Still too early to tell on Ichiro as well.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                I’m not going to think that far ahead. Way too many things need to go right there.

                My biggest concern right now is giving Chavez the rest he needs without sacrificing too much. Jayson Nix is always as good as his last at-bat around here.

                • BK2ATL

                  My biggest concern and the lynchpin to this whole thing working is whether Chavez can stay healthy for these 6-8 weeks.

                  I see that George Kottaras just got DFA’d by the Brewers. Maybe the replacement for Stewart???

                  Just spitballing.

                  • Robinson Tilapia

                    Kottaras for random fodder as a DFA guy? Sure.

                    • Boomers Boy

                      Couldn’t be much worse than Stewart and Martin….

                  • Laz

                    I’d take him if they could get him cheap. The man has a .409 obp for the season. He isn’t hitting, but I’ll take that production anyday over stewart. Maybe have him catch 2 of the starters, and martin the other 3.

                    • BK2ATL

                      It’s all walks though. Better than outs of course, but a catcher talking walks….not sure how that helps us on the basepaths maybe if he had speed like Martin.

                      I have no idea on his defensive metrics, but can’t be worse than what Stewart’s doing.

        • MannyGeee

          “Headley’s a nice idea. So is every really good player in the major leagues”

          truer word have never been spoken… speaking of which, anyone call on Yadi Molina yet?

          • vin

            I wonder if Cashman asked the M’s about King Felix when discussing Ichiro…

            • Jacob

              you know he did

              • Get Phelps Up

                “You say Ichiro wanted to be traded and you would like to give him a chance to win a ring? Wouldn’t the same go for Felix?”

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    I love Headley. I think if you take him away from Petco and put him in Yankee Stadium in a much better lineup his production will be superstar level.
    I think it works either way whether they plan to flip him in the offseason or whether they plan to keep him for the OF.
    I don’t think Cashman will part with the prospects necessary to land Headley though. Cashman never deals elite prospects unless the guy is a perfect fit. (Pineda, Granderson) I think we’ll be seeing Nunez/Nix/Chavez/Pena out there for the next 4 weeks, if we do get somebody it will be a role player type.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I suspect that Cashman won’t be able or willing to pull of the deal, but I think Headly could work out quite nicely. Just a bit of versatility and he’s currently an inexpensive option for 3B for the remainder of this season (well, for the time ARod is out, anyway) and perhaps to take over for ARod once he’s unable to physically play 3B should that occur in ’13 or ’14.

    • MannyGeee

      ” I think if you take him away from Petco and put him in Yankee Stadium Fenway Paaahhhk in a much better lineup his production will be superstar level.”

      Adrian Gonzalez says hello…

  • MattG

    Fly ball Phil would be a monster in Petco…

    Just sayin…

    What else is fly-ball oriented in the prospect ranks? The Padres are one of the few teams that might want that sort of guy, who really can’t thrive in YSIII.

    • pat

      Gonna be too expensive for them.

    • Reggie C.

      I’m not sure if the Padres are going to ignore fly ball tendencies altogether, but its likely not a deal breaker especially if that pitcher is young, has decent K/9 ability, and relatively cost controllable.

      • MattG

        Agree, they would be dumb to ignore fly ball tendencies altogether, but conversely, they would be smart to try and acquire fly ball pitchers, since, in their situation, they could be undervalued.

        This is to say the Yankees may have pitchers that hold more value for San Diego than they do for the Yankees, or for any other team not Seattle or Oakland.

    • JohnnyC

      How about Nova then? He leads the league in giving up XBHs. He’s also a lot cheaper. They selected him in the Rule V draft a few years ago. Maybe they still want him.

      • MattG

        I thought about mentioning him to, but I think his current HR tendencies are flukey. He is supposed to be a ground ball pitcher.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Are we talking about giving up pitchers currently in our rotation for Headley? That’d be an immediate dealbreaker. Not robbing Peter to pay Paul here.

  • Preston

    I don’t like the idea of Headley in the OF, he was horrible there the last time he played and you don’t field better with age. If you acquire him, you’re either relegating A-Rod to DH or flipping him this off-season. I would also really don’t want to give up Banuelos, Sanchez or Williams for him, which definitely makes it tough to get him. A Phelps, Austin, Romine package or some other similar formation probably isn’t enough.

    • RI$P FTW

      I bet 28 year old Jeter was MUCH better than 2 year old Jeter.
      Just stop with these crazy statements.

      • Preston

        Sorry, didn’t know that you wouldn’t understand the concept, athleticism peaks at ages 24-28, I’m not saying that Chase Headley is going to start declining dramatically, but if he was a terrible defender in 2008-09, he isn’t going to be better after taking three years off and going back out there in 2013.

  • A.D.

    the Yankees simply may not have enough to acquire Headley.

    Definitely think the Yanks have the pure prospect talent to get it done, but lots of interest usually means inflated prices.

    Wouldn’t see it as bouncing Headley around positions, you acquire him, play him at 3rd, when A-Rod returns you either DH Headley or A-Rod. Then after the season you move him back to the OF and have him there as an OF for the year. It’s not exactly Nunez with a different position a day.


    • RI$P FTW

      They already have a TON of DH’s.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I agree with Mike. Your selling some aspects of the farm then another need will occur. Leave our starting pitchers alone. Phil Huges has pitched much better with a little patience and tough love from the organization.

    We can win with Chavez, Nix and or Laird. The end product is a healthy farm system which can produce when needed. How many guys want to package Phelps for some temporary or future need. The kid just goes out and pitches well of late. I believe should be starting in Garcia’s spot.

    We don’t know if Pineda,Pettite and Kuroda come back next year. At least the foundation of CC, Nova, Hughes is there. Add Phelps. The rotation looks pretty solid to me.

  • Jersey Joe

    I think this makes perfect sense, especially for next year. Since Headley is a switch-hitter, it doesn’t mess with the balance of the Yankees batting order.

    I think Headley would be one good acquisition, I think another would be Tyler Colvin. He’s blocked in Colorado and maybe next year he could platoon in right field with Andruw. Would the Rockies be shopping Colvin, maybe Warren and a C prospect could get it done?

  • jjyank

    Man if the Yankees got Headley, then flipped him in the off season as part of an Upton package…

    I need to go change my pants.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (former Manny’s BanWagon)

    With Arod likely to be back this season , it would be out of character for Cashman to go find a big name replacement. He’ll do what he always does, circle the wagons and try to get by with what they have, which is probably the smart move since the price for acquiring a 3rd baseman just shot up.

    • jjyank

      As much as I would love the scenario I referenced above, I know you’re probably right.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      CashNinja will do what he do.

    • Steve (different one)

      Yup, Cashman has zero leverage in a Headley trade.

      The demand for Headley coupled with the Yanks’ immediate need will make it impossible to make a good trade. You don’t have to “win” every individual trade to make your team better, but sometimes you have to recognize your partner has all the cards and walk away.

    • 28 in 2012

      Nor so sure Arod comes back this year.

  • Tim

    I would do, Banuelos/Campos, David Adams, J.R. Murphy, and Brett Marshall. Get er dun Cash!

    Next season pitching:


    • Frank

      I think your starting pitching is a bit presumptive for next season. Kuroda is a FA- who knows if he returns. Pineda had major surgery-his prognosis/availability is up in the air. Warren has shown nothing to even merit being mentioned as part of the rotation.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        He’s not being presumptuous at all. Those are the candidates, AFAWK, right now, as well as Andy. Dominoes will fall there.

        • TomH

          I’d say ROALT

    • vin

      That feels like too much. Which probably means its about right.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    Headly would be the move if not for:
    Alex Rodriguez-
    13:$28M, 14:$25M, 15:$21M, 16:$20M, 17:$20M

    Thanks Steinbrenner bros…but let’s get under 189 in 2014. Which I read is closer to 165 cause of benefits to players.

    • Jacob

      Hank says you are welcome

  • Ross

    Not that a trade will happen but, would this yield Headley:
    Phelps, Betances, Nunez, and Williams?

    • vin

      I don’t know much about the Padres’ needs… but from a talent perspective, it may be enough. That’s a projectable starting pitcher, starting middle IFer, a prized A ball talent, and a lotto ticket.

      That’s the kind of pain we should expect to feel. The question is – what are the Pad’s looking for? Young cost-controlled major leaguers (Nunez and Phelps), or the best talent possible, even if they are far away (Mason).

    • ProjectNeo

      I bet they would jump on it, I just hate the idea of selling our future for a few weeks of Headly. Its just not worth it, nix/Chavez/ Nunez or laird will be fine

    • http://projectneox.com ProjectNeo

      I bet they would jump on it, I just hate the idea of selling our future for a few weeks of Headly. Its just not worth it, nix/Chavez/ Nunez or laird will be fine.

      • FIPster Doofus

        It wouldn’t be a few weeks of Headley. He’s under team control through 2014.

  • Boys of Summer

    Anyone else agree that the Yanks should pursue Cliff Lee should he become available?

    • 28 in 2012

      F Cliff Lee.

      • BK2ATL

        MF Cliff Lee. Let him wallow in mediocrity in Philly.

    • fin

      No thanks. $75m is alot of money to take on for a 33yr old pitcher who is no longer pitching like an ace.

    • FIPster Doofus

      No. He’s overpaid and on the decline, and the Yankees’ pitching staff is more than fine. Lee had his chance to be a Yankee, but he fucked it up. That book is closed.

  • Mandy Stankiewicz

    Feliciano and Jimmy’s BBQ for Wright and their Shake Shack.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Comment of the day. Give this man a column, Axisa.

    • Joe R


      • Mandy Stankiewicz

        Your too kind, thank you.

  • Susan

    Is there a reason no one is mentioning Prado as a possible target? Seems like he’d be a good fit and didn’t the Braves have a ridiculous crush on Nunez? I know the Braves are still contending but any idea what it would take to get him?

    • Preston

      I think that the emergence of Simmons at SS has made Nunez irrelevant to the Braves plans.

    • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

      I think the Braves seem intent on keeping Prado as the long-term replacement for Chipper.

    • RI$P FTW

      I’m not into fashion.

    • BK2ATL

      Yes. He’s NOT available. They are trying to extend him now. He’s the heir apparent at 3B when Chipper Jones hangs it up.

      They don’t need Nunez now. That ship has sailed. It was before the season, when Simmons struggled in ST. Simmons will be back on the field before A-Rod. He’s their SS of the future. Can hit well, field, and run pretty well.

  • Virginia Yankee

    Slightly off topic, but related. The Brewers DFA’d George Kottaras. He’s got a line of .209/.409/.360 this year per MLB Traderumors. A guy hitting above the Mendoza line and getting on base at a .400 clip is a clear upgrade.

    • BK2ATL

      He stands and the plate and takes walks. Doesn’t hit well.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        But he’s better than Stewart, who most of the folks her bitch about.

        BUC to me is a defense-first job. Whatever you do on offense is good enough.

        • Ted Nelson

          Why does it matter whether the contribution comes on offense or defense if it’s the same overall? I think BUC are “defense first” players just because C are so scarce. If you can hit and C, they call you a “starting C.”

      • Ted Nelson

        That is a huge part of hitting.

    • FIPster Doofus

      He’s certainly better than Stewart.

  • Now Batting

    Phelps, Tyler Austin, CoJo, and Mark Montgomery for Headley. Git er done

    • Bigtime Timmy Jim

      Possible the dumbest trade suggestion ever made on this site.

      • Now Batting

        Ummm… “That guy will require a haul, likely three or four prospects with at least one stud and two or three other solid pieces.”

  • fin

    Someone with more knowledge than me can answer this question. Mlbrumors has an executive saying the Padres are looking for a Matt Latos type return for Headley. What prospects on the Yankees would approximate the value of the prospects given up in that trade?

    • Bigtime Timmy Jim

      I know Chase plays in a bad hitters park but his numbers do not warrant anything remotely close to top prospects in a trade.

      • Ted Nelson

        Uhhh… He’s 3rd in fWAR among 3B this season and 7th in wOBA despite Petco. He’s 5th in 3B fWAR since 2010 (ahead of ARod).

        He’s cheap and controlled for like 2.33 seasons.

        He’s young and should theoretically be entering his prime.

        If he’s not worth top prospects, who is?

        • Bigtime Timmy Jim

          Felix Hernandez would be worth it. Not a 3rd basemen who has never come close to 20 HR’s or 80 RBI’s. Pay what he is worth, not what he can be worth. Trading your top prospects should be reserved for top players. Shoot if you’re going to toss Banuelos and other top prospects in a deal then talk to the Rays about Longoria, not Chase.

          • Ted Nelson

            Again… he has been the 5th best 3B in baseball the last 2.5 seasons. That he should only get better is icing on the cake. Get real.

            It is all about paying what someone is worth. And a top player like Headley is worth a top prospect. Why would the Padres give him up for less? A truly elite player is worth several top prospects, not one. And ignoring the financial implications of a deal is not realistic.

            RBIs are a team stat. Not an individual one. You can’t control who is on base when you’re up. A weak ground ball can result in an RBI is a guy is on 3rd while a scorching 2B can result in no RBI.

            HRs are largely dependent on ballpark. A flyball can be a HR in one stadium and a lazy out in another. Petco is a huge stadium. If he played 1/2 his games in Coors and had 30 HRs… would you be more impressed?

          • Now Batting

            Possibly the dumbest comment ever made on this site

      • fin

        It may cost more prospects than hes worth. However, there are alot of intersted teams and if the Pads dont get what they want, they will just keep him. The Padres have all the leverage. I dont think the yankees make the move as their issue is not pressing enough to over pay but it wouldnt suprise me at all if someone does.

        • Ted Nelson


    • Ted Nelson

      Alonso was an MLB ready top prospect. Banuelos in that sense, but maybe Mason, Gary, and Austin have comparable value being further away with higher ceilings.

      Grandal was a top C prospects and MLB ready. Gary Sanchez. I don’t think Romine or Murphy has his value.

      Boxberger was a former 1st who was a strong MLB ready relief prospect. ERA of 2 across AA and AAA in 2011 with 13.5 k/9. Montgomery or Warren. Maybe Betances due to some control issues.

      Volquez was sort of a Phil Hughes type in terms of MLB experience, inconsistent results/health, and approaching FA, but his value was probably more at a low than a high. Maybe like Hughes entering the season.

  • Bill

    The Padres need OF, ML ready starting pitching, and maybe a 3B to replace Headley. From our system they’d probably have interest in Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Manny Banuelos, David Phelps, Eduardo Nunez, Adam Warren, and a few others. My guess is it would probably take: Williams, Phelps, and Nunez. A high price to pay, but worth considering when you factor in ability, cost and what he does away from Petco (great road splits). Ultimately I think the key question is can Headley play some OF next year. This year they probably don’t need him out there because you can always put Ibanez or Jones out there if you need to. But next year you’ll need to rotate people in at DH and get ARod in the field. That’ll require that Headley play some OF and possibly 1B. I haven’t seen Headley play OF but I don’t think he’d be worse than someone like Ibanez. But playing there inconsistently could have a negative impact.