Monday, March 16, 2009

Trading Nick J.?

It's the topic of this semi-literate exchange.

You earn the sobriquet semi-literate when you a) forget that Willingham is on the team and 2) regret that Bonifacio was the price to be paid.

Nevertheless, the question is an increasingly valid one.

Nick will be 31 by the end of this season and a free agent. Those two facts alone make him obvious trade bait for a team who's future is lengthening by the day.

What everyone seems to consider in re: Nick J. is his record of brittleness.  Granted.  But look at the numbers!  And that's just on offense.  Check the fielding stats.  Even though it's not a primary position, he bring a lot of positive value on that side of the game too.

What I fear in a Nick J trade is not getting full value.  For a team with either a black hole at first base or a team with a good hitter but terrible fielder at first, Nick could represent a significant win boost even as a three month rental.  And that's without considering that he'd only cost less than $3m to the team getting him (not an insignificant fact based on the direction baseball revenue is going).

Basically, my argument is: yes Nick J. is an obvious and valuable trade chip.  But, I would not make a deal just to make a deal.  To open a spot in the lineup.  The deal would have to involve significant future value.

Worst case scenario, keep NJ and offer him arb at the end of the year.  Maybe he decides not to risk the FA market and takes you up on it.  Since he'd be unlikely to come anywhere close to his actual value in arbitration, he'd be an undervalued (with the standard NJ caveat if healthy) asset.

Take a page from the late JimBo's book . . . ask for the moon and stars and go down from there.


  1. What is "full value" for a guy made of glass?

    The team needs young prospects, and if NJ can get them in return, make the deal.

    NJ is not "the future." Yes, he's a great fielder, has a good eye, etc., etc. but barring miracles, he's not going to be here next year or down the road.

    I want to see them play Milledge, Dukes and Dunn every day and Willingham adds more than others seem to think. Harris needs and deserves plenty of playing time. And unless they just DFA Kearns, we're stuck with him.

  2. Does the team need more Bonifacio level prospects or does it need more Dukes level prospects? I'd argue that it needs more Dukes's.

    I agree that Nick J. is the one who could go to clear some of the roster jam. But, I'd rather keep him (and his potential to have a massively profitable season) instead of dealing him just to clear space on the roster.

    If I were a rival GM with a hole at 1b either offensively or defensively, I'd be after Nick J. And I'd be hammering Rizzo with the "he's always hurt" line to drive his price down.

    I just don't want to see that happen, where the Nats treat NJ like a subprime mortgage and sell him for .25 on the dollar.

    Kearns is another matter. He's paid almost twice as much and doesn't have the offensive profile NJ does. He'd have to have a near career year to justify his salary and that's not likely. So, him I could see selling at a subprime discount. Or at least treating him like the NBA does an expiring contract . . . take larger future obligations in exchange for the expiring obligation. Think the Tigers wouldn't do a Kearns for Dontrelle Willis deal in a second? It'd cost the Lerner's $12 million to take DW for a test drive to see if RsC could fix him up and make him road worthy agian.