Rangers Get McCarthy
The Chicago White Sox pulled a page out of the New York baseball spin book, drumming up unreal interest for an unknown quantity, then turning it into something else. Usually, though, the Mets will flip an Alex Escobar and Billy Traber for Roberto Alomar, or the Yankees will deal Jason Anderson for Armando Benitez.
No, instead of trading hype for established star, the White Sox traded Brandon McCarthy for more suspects … er, prospects. The seemingly untouchable McCarthy — the guy whose spot in the rotation was paved to and earmarked as a result of the departure of Freddy Garcia — has now bee dealt to the Texas Rangers for 2003 first-rounder John Danks, reliever Nick Masset, and Jacob Rasner. Essentially, the ChiSox obtained a lefthanded McCarthy in Danks, a guy who should be ready to contribute in 2008 — after Mark Buehrle and/or Jon Garland leave the team via free agency or trade.
This trade directly affects the Mets on two planes. First, it may well represent a white flag on the part of Texas in its pursuit of Barry Zito. Oh sure, getting a young, cheap, well-regarded pitcher should make the Rangers stronger, and would not affect their pursuit of Zito financially, and it might show Zito that Texas is serious about contending. However, it may also signal that the Rangers are not going to budge on their offer to Zito, which has been reported to be in the same 5-year/$75M range as the Mets’. Understanding that an equal offer means Zito goes to New York, Rangers GM Jon Daniel needed to find a more creative way to bolster his pitching staff.
The second way this affects the Mets, is in that GM Kenny Williams most likely is done dealing starting pitching, having already sent away the aforementioned Garcia for another young question mark, Gavin Floyd. Unless the White Sox are really high on the possibility of Danks and Floyd being ready to make significant contributions in 2007, they’ll probably stand pat from here on in to spring training. Though they might still consider trading Buerhle, Garland, and Vazquez, it would have to be for a Major League bat, in addition to a prospect along the lines of Mike Pelfrey. The Mets are not likely to trade Pelfrey and probably don’t have the bat the ChiSox are looking for.
So, on the one hand, the possibility of Barry Zito becoming a Met has just become more likely, with the Rangers all but announcing that they’ve gone to another avenue and made their highest bid. On the other hand, if Zito signs elsewhere, the Mets may have lost a trading partner for starting pitching — or at least, their main potential partner’s price has just gone up.
I don’t see the Mets trading away prospects for Garland or Vazquez, but I can see them dealing for Buehrle, who is a legitimate innings-eater and a potential #1 or #2. Other than the White Sox, there aren’t too many teams with starting pitching surplus — though many times the biggest deals are the most surprising. For all we know, Omar Minaya is a phone call away from extracting Johan Santana from the Twins. Or maybe the Marlins are hot to rid themselves of their newfound convict. It wouldn’t be the first time a huge deal came seemingly out of nowhere.
One way or another, Omar Minaya will find another starter. This deal between the White Sox and Rangers may have made the target a little closer.