- Trades and no-trades:
Michael Young has formally and publicly requested a trade from the Texas Rangers.
This is fine.
Getting past the wide range of assessments of exactly how useful Young is, the two major sticking points in dealing him are his salary ($48 million guaranteed through 2013); and his no-trade clause which only allows him to be dealt, without his consent, to the Cardinals, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Rockies, Dodgers, Angels and Padres (according to MLB Trade Rumors).
These are not small hurdles.
We saw a similar dynamic last year when Roy Oswalt finally asked out of Houston and appeared to be trying to shoehorn his way into a destination of his choosing; the Astros pulled him off the market before the frustration and absence of options got the better of him and he made drastic concessions to go to Philadelphia. Had he been in greater demand; had more options in where he could be traded, he might have been able to force the trading club to exercise his 2012 contract option as a precursor to waiving his no-trade clause.
This also happened with Jake Peavy as he refused to be traded to the White Sox, then did an about-face a few months later.
Neither Oswalt nor Peavy, with their hefty contracts, had much choice in where they were going if they wanted out of Houston and San Diego respectively.
If I were a club executive and negotiating a contract with a player, and the no-trade clause was a demand I was comfortable with, I’d have a precondition in the deal that if the player formally requests a trade, then the no-trade provision is null and void.
It works both ways. The player wants the no-trade to maintain some control as to where he plays; the club would prefer not to give that much power to an employee.
In certain cases, the no-trade clause with only certain teams on the list is seen as an admission of “fear” in going to a city like New York or Boston. Such was the case with Joakim Soria. But the truth is that a player like Soria—who took a shorter salary in a contract extension, essentially a hometown discount for the Royals—doesn’t want that team-friendly contract to be used as a weapon for his club to extract as much as possible via trade from a team like the Yankees or Red Sox.
The trading GM can use the contract and absence of no-trade protection as a hammer to say, “Look, he’s signed long-term at a pittance to clubs with your financial might; I want three blue-chip prospects for him”.
A player like Soria wants that protection in not being dealt to the Yankees/Red Sox and not getting a pay bump commensurate with their salary structure. It’s business and has little to do with a fear of playing on the big stage.
How badly does Young want out of Texas?
Supposedly he’s said he’ll expand his list of clubs to whom he’ll accept a trade on a case-by-case basis. If I’m Rangers GM Jon Daniels, that’s not good enough. If Young wants out, he wants out. The number of teams that can absorb his salary or have similarly pricey contracts to exchange for him is highly limited; he has to give a little if his true desire is to leave the Rangers.
We’ll see how this plays out; how toxic the relationship between Young and the Rangers gets because judging from his statements that he’s been “misled and manipulated”, it won’t take long for things to degenerate into a circumstance where they won’t simply want to move him, but they’ll have to move him; then they’ll really get nothing in return and pay a significant chunk of his salary to get him out of town.
And that’s the last thing they want.
- The Wright/Reyes debate:
On so many levels, I have no idea as to the purpose of this debate.
Wright is signed through 2013 and the absence of decent third basemen available make it senseless to trade him unless a bounty is coming back; Reyes is a free agent at the end of the year and is going to want Carl Crawford money if he’s healthy and on top of his game. Given the financial stakes involved, you can bet he will be.
Would the Mets like to keep Reyes? Of course. Will they bust the bank—a bank that’s currently staring at the Wilpons with arms folded and feet tapping waiting to see if their loans are going to be repaid? No.
Value is relative.
Reyes is one of the most dynamic players in baseball and can do anything and everything on the field, but this current Mets team has many holes and with the uncertainty of Reyes’s long-term future with the club, it’s insane to suggest that they “can’t” entertain trade offers for him especially if—as expected—the team is out of contention in the summer and new GM Sandy Alderson can bring in multiple pieces for Reyes.
This isn’t a self-indulgent, contrary Mike Francesa rant based more on pomposity and injecting one’s name into the public consciousness with an entreaty for the Mets to “break up ‘da core” for reasons other than what’s good for the club.
It’s pure, cold-blooded, realistic baseball assessment.
It’s objective truth.
And the objective truth for the 2011 Mets is a nightmarish division; an uncertain situation in ownership; waiting out the expiration of the onerous Oliver Perez/Luis Castillo contracts; hoping that Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t reach his 2012 contract kicker; looking towards the heavens for lightning with the likes of Chris Young and Chris Capuano; and altering the culture from the poisonous, factional and outright anti-social to one crafted with a coherent strategy constructed with a blueprint that creates a consistent pipeline of talent.
To argue endlessly over the merits of Wright vs Reyes is akin to decorating a beautiful and unfinished home with expensive furniture and priceless works of art—it’s missing the point. What good do Reyes and Wright do if the entire structure is crumbling around them?
One, both or neither: what’s the difference?