Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nationals Interested in Sizemore, Carmona

According to MASN’s Phil Wood, the Nationals are working on a “number” of trades, and have spoken to the Indians about possibility of trading for Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona.  While I see why the Nationals would be interested in making such a deal, I don’t see how the Indians would benefit, outside of a financial reprieve.

Despite two disappointing, injury riddled seasons, Sizemore is still the Indians best trade chip.  To trade him now, while he’s recovering from microfracture surgery, makes little sense because they’d be trading him at a point where his value is at its lowest point.  At 28, Sizemore has a pretty good chance of fully recovering and recapturing his elite status as a 5-6 WAR player.  If I was the Indians GM, I would give Sizemore an opportunity to prove he’s healthy and productive before engaging in serious trade talks.  While there is, of course, some risk to taking the “wait and see” approach, there’s also tremendous reward.  If he fully recovers and recaptures his status as an elite player, the Indians would be in the position of being able to name their price for Sizemore.  For a struggling small market club with a modest payroll, that’s a great position to be in.*  If Sizemore gets hurt or struggles out of the gate, his value would, obviously, take another hit; thus making a trade even more prohibitive for the Indians.  Still, the potential value gained by waiting is far greater than the potential value lost.  While waiting might be a risk, it’s a smart risk, and one the Indians should take. 
* Sizemore also has a very team friendly contract that would help improve his trade value, particularly if he's healthy and productive.  He's due to make $7.5M this season, and the Indians hold an $8.5M option for 2012.

Fausto Carmona enjoyed a bounce back season in 2010 after two dreadful seasons in which he struggled mightily with poor control.  Considering how "pitching poor" the Nationals are right now, it's not difficult to understand why the Nationals are interested in trading for him.  (By the same token, the Indians aren't exactly stacked with pitchers either, and would probably benefit from keeping him around for a few more years.)  At 27, he still has very good stuff, and could recapture his 2007 form if a few things break the right way for him.  He has a three pitch repertoire that features an above average two-seam fastball with heavy sink, an above average slider with good tilt, and a plus change up.  On the negative side, Carmona not only walks a few too many batters, but allows too much contact for my liking.  Still, he induces ground balls at such a high rate that his "negative" traits are almost forgivable.  Additionally, Carmona's contract is pretty favorable.  He has one more guaranteed season, at $6.1M, remaining on the four year $15M he signed prior to the 2008 season, plus options that could extend the deal out to 2014.  Considering the current value of a win (around $5M), the options are extremely team friendly:  2012 at $7M, 2013 at $9M, and 2014 at $12M.  While he is certainly an attractive trade candidate, it almost makes more sense for the Indians to hold on to him considering his age and relatively nominal salary. 

If I were the Indians, I'd stand pat for while.  As I see it the Indians could get substantially more in return for both players if they waited until the July 31st deadline to trade either player.  For starters, pitchers typically bring back more in return at the deadline when fringe playoff caliber teams are scrambling for useful starting pitchers.   Two, for the reasons I've already outlined for Sizemore.  Patience in this case is a virtue worth exercising.

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