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Yanks Could Deal Montero for Cahill or Gio

October 7, 2011

Today in the New York Daily News Yankees beat report John Harper wrote,

[Yankees GM Brian] Cashman seemingly remains convinced that top pitching prospects Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos will be elite major league pitchers as well. But he also knows that it could take another year or more, considering that both the 20-year-old Banuelos and the 23-year-old Betances had command issues in the minors this season.

So far all indications from Yankee people are that Cashman won’t be willing to trade either one, no matter the deal, which is why all trade talk comes back to [Jesus] Montero.

But is there a deal to be made? A survey of a handful of scouts yesterday suggested that the Yankees indeed could pry away a top starter for Montero.

Among the names that were mentioned as Montero-worthy possibilities were [Matt] Cain, the A’s Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill, the Padres’ Mat Latos and the Rays’ James Shields.”

Jesus Montero is a monster catching prospect who spent the majority of 2011 with Triple-A Scranton posting a .288/.348/.467 slash line with 18 home runs in 463 plate appearances adding up to an impressive 1200 wRC+. Once added to the MLB roster he was even better posting 0.6 WAR in just 18 games with a .328/.406/.590 slash line and four home runs in just 69 plate appearances. He is the real deal and he is the exact sort of impact bat that is under team control that the A’s desperately seek.

In the past there have been rumors of the Yankees being interested in Gio and why wouldn’t they? He is young, he is cheap (not that that ultimately matters that much to New York), under team-control and important in New York: left-handed. I would not trade Gio to New York or to anyone. He is the type of player you build a pitching staff around. This year – though at times inconsistent – he had a career high 3.5 WAR while posting a good 8.8 K/9, a still high 4.1 BB/9 with a good 0.8 HR/9 adding up to a good 3.64 FIP in 202 innings of work.

But unloading Trevor Cahill? That is a different story. Cahill had a masterful 2010 campaign, posting a 18-8 record with a 2.97 ERA, but behind the scenes the numbers told of a pitcher high on luck and a little lower on skill. Aided by a .236 BABIP he overcame poor peripherals (5.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9) to post that great ERA but posted a far less noteworthy 4.19 FIP. Come 2011, he posted a similar FIP (4.10), yet the ERA zipped up to a more inline with his FIP, 4.16 ERA. His 12-14 record didn’t turn heads (not that that measure is a fair one), but a climbing walk rate (3.6 BB/9) also spelled trouble for Cahill. If the Yankees were willing to trade Montero for Cahill I am all ears. An upgrade at catcher to Montero would enable the A’s to deal Kurt Suzuki for more offensive firepower in the outfield and the A’s have the rotation depth to absorb the loss and also frankly Cahill is at best a third or fourth starter. If Cashman calls Billy Beane with this deal, I’d hope Billy would quickly say yes.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Genaro permalink
    October 8, 2011 2:14 am

    Not really a fan of Montero in the respect that he’ll be overpriced. This offseason is going to be amazing in the amount of trades that should happen as the quality will be fairly high. There will be a fair number of winners and losers in the FA market alone that will help drive the prices on the tradable pieces the A’s have.

    • October 8, 2011 11:20 pm

      I think the A’s pitching will be very valuable because there just isn’t much available on the FA market. First there is C.C. then, Wilson, then… Edwin Jackson? Chris Capuano? In that sense Trevor Cahill has a ton of extra value that despite the fact he realistically is a #4 at best #3 starter type he can get a lot in return. While Montero will surely be overpriced, he is appealing because offensive types like him can’t be signed in Oakland. The value of Montero that makes him so valuable to a team like the A’s is the team-control the club would acquire over such a young talent. So just as the Yankees overvalue pitching that is unavailable on the free-agent market, we too overvalue young talent that is not yet arbitration eligible. Match made in heaven?

      It will certainly be an interesting offseason because the FA market is pretty barren which ought to make some interesting trades take place.

  2. October 8, 2011 2:16 pm

    Simply Yes.

  3. October 13, 2011 10:10 pm

    Cahill is going to get better, but that’s not the important point.

    Important Point 1) The Yankees are going to want Gio over Cahill for all the reasons you just listed.

    Important Point 2) Montero is a great bat who isn’t good enough behind the plate to be a starting Catcher. Realistically he’s a 1B/DH who could also back-up behind the plate. The bat should be plenty good enough to handle the position switch but the glove ain’t gonna let you move Suzuki.

    Important Point 3) There are a couple teams that would probably jump at the chance to trade for Suzuki but alas, those teams aren’t going to provide the A’s with an immediate OF upgrade. Therefore, if you do swap Gio for Montero and Suzuki for prospects you’re going to need to find a new starting Catcher for Oakland. Donaldson ain’t it, Powell isn’t built for full time work and Recker is a nice story but a spot player.

    • October 14, 2011 10:08 am

      Grover –

      Thanks for commenting. Why are you so assured that we haven’t seen all Cahill is? His walk rates in MiLB (3.7 BB/9) were comparable to his walk rate this year. The one big difference was his strikeout rate. If you think his K/9 rate can approach his MiLB totals (9.9 K/9) then perhaps he becomes a much better pitcher. If this year’s 6.4 K/9 is about where he tops off he likely won’t be much more than about a 4.00 FIP pitcher for his career. Which is fine ultimately, if you rely upon him to be a fourth starter and if you expect him to be a fourth starter who gives you 200 innings and a decent chance at winning every night. Which is why I think any team willing to be second starter value in a trade for fourth starter quality that is something to take advantage of – which sort of speaks to “Important Point 1”.

      Regarding, the second point he is a terrible catcher from all I have read. I think there have been lots of great hitting catchers who have been much maligned for their work behind the plate, Mike Piazza and more recently Mike Napoli and Victor Martinez. I am personally fine trading some catching quality for some stick at this point. I don’t think he can’t do, I think he represents a downgrade, so I’d see Suzuki as still moveable.

      I agree wholeheartedly with point three that we will not receive an MLB-ready OFer from trading Suzuki. I just don’t see a strong outfield for us until the likes of Michael Choice make it up from Stockton. If we could get a guy who projects to be ready in 2013 I’d be totally fine with that. We need to replenish, replenish, replenish a pretty barren farm system.

      Personally, the take for Gio would have to be sky high for me even consider it. I think he is a good pitcher whose utility to the team goes beyond what he does on the mound – so any discussions surrounding Gio would likely be a non-starter for me. Thanks for reading! I appreciate hearing your take and would love to hear why you think the best is yet to come for Cahill.

      • October 15, 2011 6:31 pm

        Cahill is 23 years old. Check out Tim Hudson’s BB/9 from ’99 – ’01 (aka Age 23 – 25 seasons.)

        Cahill is still so young that to assume this is as good as he’s going to get is, in my humble opinion, batshit insane.

        Piazza did struggle defensively, especially early in his career. But the big knock on him, Martinez and Napoli had to do with their general inability to control the running game. Martinez was fairly solid moving behind the plate. Napoli has started fewer than 70 games behind the plate each of the last two years. Piazza got better as time went on but that level of offense is what Montero would need to provide to overcome the defensive issues. Montero struggles vs. the running game AND behind the plate. I’m not saying he can’t improve to the point of acceptability and start but no one, not even the Yankees, are betting on it.

        Napoli might be (defensively) the best case scenario for Montero. He should hit well enough that you’ll find him 60 or so starts behind the plate.

        Knowing that (opinion, obviously) if you still want Montero it’s going to cost the A’s Gio. Oakland would get more than just Montero but he’d be the centerpiece.

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