Presidential candidates usually begin their public and media scrutinized campaigns with the - “I’m not running for President” line. It is something about politics, or it is something about the media, where every once in a while it is the exact opposite of what is said and printed that is most true. Baseball also has that same doublespeak culture. When a pitcher says he wasn’t trying to hit someone, it means he was trying to hit someone. Especially if they seem to be making a very very big deal out of not hitting them. So every time there are news reports saying, there are no trade talks happening, you know there are trade talks happening.
In my search for material to write about, I often Google the Padres for topics and content. I do this in general as I’m a fairly rabid Padres fan anyways. So when all of sudden there starts a trend of public news on the wire confirming that Chase Headley will not be traded, and that the Yankees have zero interest in trading for Chase Headley to replace suspended star Alex Rodriguez, it makes the Encyclopedia Brown inside of myself wonder if there’s actually something more than meets the eye here. What’s cooking, Josh Byrnes?
Now I don’t have any secret sources – no Eric Snowden-esque wire tapping or technology cheats. No Twitter trend smashing algorithm that shifts through the random madness. I don’t have any unnamed friends in the organization that want to speak off the record. Now I do have my common sense, some creativity, and publicly available information.
My gut feeing is that there are many trade talks and scenarios going on currently with Chase Headley and the Yankees right now. Especially after signing the arbitration deal and not committing to a multi-year contract. I gave it a 0% chance that a trade would have occurred prior to arbitration for Chase, as uncertain and unknown financial cost for the trading team would have be undesirable. As the Padres and Chase have now agreed to a sizable 1yr/$10.525M deal with the Padres, the trade talks can take a more serious angle as it is akin to a “put option” being placed on an asset, and limiting the financial downside liability to the organization. In a way, you know Chase would only give a discount to the Padres and no one else, he is loyal.
Trades occur either because a hand is forced, or because the organizations involved sincerely believe they are getting the better end of the stick. Right? The so called win-win trade. Chase Headley is a Gold Glove caliber defensive 3rd baseman that is a contact hitter with some pop and good patience and speed. He’s a shade above 30 and likely peaked in his development, but nevertheless in his prime output years. It is unclear what his full production capacity is, and in the last 3 years(only about 3 years is relevant) he’s had a really good year sandwiched by two average years. So let’s just summarize is by saying he is around a .780-.830 OPS hitter at Petco Park, and a possible .800-.880 OPS hitter at Yankee Stadium. Maybe a David Wright type player in New York, and for his intangibles, he gives a great interview and is a very clean cut no-nonsense type personality that would be a stark contrast to the sticking to my story to the bitter end player that Alex Rodriguez is. And Chase is a looker, the ladies would dig him. Think John F. Kennedy vs Richard Nixon. It is time for the Bronx to move on past all that ugly A-Rod nastiness.
What could the Padres get in return? Well I glanced over Baseball America’s list of top ten prospects for the Yankees and it is clear that it is heavily depleted without too many Major League ready or close to Major League ready prospects. Yet there were two prospects with San Diego connections that stood out to me, 18 yr old LHP Ian Clarkin who is clearly still a toolsy work in progress of the 10.82 ERA type from Madison HS, and also 18yr old 2B Gosuke Katoh, of a gaudy .924 OPS, of Rancho Bernardo HS.
So why would everyone win if Chase is traded to the Yankees? Padres currently do have a log jam on the 25 man roster, and a trade would open up a spot for some of the young talent on the Padres. I think the Padres, if this were to happen, would still compete in 2014. Jedd Gyorko could slot over to 3rd base, bulk up and get an improvement on his respectable 23HRs, including 13 at Petco Park. Logan Forsythe could switch back to 2B and allow the Padres to speed along the progression of former 1st round pick Corey Spangenburg to share the load. Forsythe is a beast against LHP. The Padres may lose Chase next year anyways, and could be willing to take a chance on young prospects. The Yankees get an affordable rental of Chase Headley, and the foot in the door to sign him to a multi-year contract if things pan out. The Yankees give up 2 top ten prospects, but both of which are first year prospects that are far from getting the “Major League ready” label. They get a potential star and a face to wash away some of that bad publicity hanging around 3rd base. With Chase in the wing, maybe Alex will finally get the hint. Chase finally gets his opportunity to shine on the big stage, and also an opportunity to finally play in a non-pitching park and see where his numbers go.
Maybe this could be a win-win-win, and maybe, just maybe, this is how rumors get started.
Headley might not be in camp with the team when spring starts, but you can by getting your San Diego Padres spring training tickets here.