Thoughts on potentially trading Joba Chamberlain to the Texas Rangers, other notes

Elvis+Andrus

Last week we heard that the Texas Rangers were scouting Joba Chamberlain and considering the Yankees have a lot of needs in their lineup right now it is possible that a trade is brewing.

The Yankees biggest needs right now are obviously at the corner infield positions. With Adrian Beltre firmly in place and Mitch Moreland poised to start at first base for the Rangers that leaves Mike Olt as the most likely to be dealt if the two teams can work out a trade.

Olt would make a lot of sense for the Yankees. He can play first, third, and right field. He’s only 24-years-old, he is the No. 22 best prospects in baseball according to Baseball America and he’s coming off a .288/.398/.579 campaign down in Double-A last season.

The Rangers meanwhile are looking for starting pitching which is why it makes sense that they scouted Joba. We know that the Rangers are not afraid to turn a reliever into a starter. They did it most successfully with C.J. Wilson, but have also done it with both Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz in the past.

I’m not entirely sold on the idea that the Rangers would trade Olt though, especially to the Yankees. One other interesting name that has been out there as potentially on the trade block is 24-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus.

Now the Rangers have denied interest in trading Andrus, but the rumor is that with top prospect Jurickson Profar ready for the majors and Andrus, who is a Scott Boras client, set to hit free agency after the 2014 season the time could be right for a deal.

It’s hard not to like Andrus. He’s not a big time slugger, he has averaged a .286/.349/.378 line in his career, but he comes with speed and exceptional defense that makes him a 3-4 WAR player each year.

Mark Teixeira might not play at all this year, but he will be around for three more years after this. Alex Rodriguez is a total question mark, but has four more years on his contract after this season as well. That’s why Olt may not be the best fit for the Yankees long term.

Derek Jeter, however, is technically in the final year of his deal (he has a player option for next season). A healthy Jeter is currently one of the worst defensive players in all of baseball. Throw in a lingering ankle injury and Eduardo Nunez may be their best option at shortstop right now. That’s a scary thought, especially if you have season tickets behind first base.

The thing is, Jeter and Nunez are going to get a lot more at bats in 2013 than Teixeira or A-Rod. Trading for a shortstop now is not as necessary, for the immediate future, as getting a corner infielder. For the long term though it seems like shortstop is the much bigger need though.

Now the big question to me is how much do the Yankees believe their own hype? Right now their chances to make the playoffs, even with a strong pitching staff, seem iffy. The front office still insists that this is a championship caliber team. That’s likely just rhetoric meant to keep fans buying tickets. If they realize the truth though, a deal with Joba as the headliner, that would obviously require more prospects, for a shortstop could be best for the long term health of this club.

Either way, the Yankees seem intent on keeping Joba in the middle relief role which, let’s face it, isn’t very valuable one way or another. With him talking about wanting to be a starter one year away from free agency and the Yankees unlikely to make Joba a qualifying offer that would net them a draft pick when he leaves. It seems to me that, as unlikely as it is, they should be aggressive in finding out if Texas is willing to make a deal for Andrus or Olt.

• Derek Jeter got a cortisone shot in his ankle and he might miss Opening Day. It sounds like a DL stint might even be possible.

• Alex Rodriguez remains a target of MLB’s Biogenesis probe. The newspaper that broke the Biogenesis story won’t turn documents over to MLB though so it seems like a long shot that anything will come of this.

• Chien-Ming Wang will tryout for the Yankees later this week where he will throw a couple of bullpens. Brian Cashman pretty much ruled out a major league deal for him though.

• Relievers Mark Montgomery and Matt Tracy have been cut from camp. They are down to about 45 players now.

• CC Sabathia threw 92 pitches in a spring game yesterday. He’ll make one more start and then will be ready for Opening Day.

• Robinson Cano will be back from the WBC tonight and could even play for the Yankees.

• Ronnier Mustelier is still banged up from last week and had to be scratched from the lineup yesterday.

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12 Responses to Thoughts on potentially trading Joba Chamberlain to the Texas Rangers, other notes

  1. Mike Baker says:

    do you think the yankees could trade joba,almonte,phelps or banuelos,bentances and nunez for olt and ogando

    • No. Teams generally want quality not quantity. Just piling up mediocre prospects like Almonte and Betances into a deal doesn't make it better. Plus nobody wants a pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery. Most likely a deal would have to include at least one of the following: Heathcott, Williams, Sanchez, or Austin.

  2. Mike Baker says:

    out of those guys id give up sanchez

  3. thurmanmantle says:

    I do not believe Chamberlain will be traded.

  4. Tanned Tom says:

    Very nice article. Regardless of what one thinks of Chamberlain, it's hard to imagine a team making less of a player who had a brighter future after his first year in the bigs. They couldn't figure out how to develop him and now they've given up on him, whereas they kept believing in Hughes. They got that wrong I think. In any case they shopped Hughes, Chamberlain and Nova this off season.
    I'd trade Joba for Olt in a heartbeat, but I think they'd have to sweeten this deal. But who knows? I remember hearing about the Swisher trade a few years ago and being convinced that I had misunderstood it, that we couldn't have gotten that guy for next to nothing. Maybe Cashman can pull another rabbit.

  5. Michael R. says:

    I suspect Joba will be relied upon heavily as the season progresses (due to injuries mostly), therefore it would seem to me that he will be more valuable than the needed OFer or 1Bman. I would agree that the Yanks missed the boat in the handling of him. Also, there is no way on this earth I would give up Sanchez. He is a star waiting to happen..

    • Tanned Tom says:

      Rob's point on the worth of middle relievers is key here, Chamberlain is not that important because of the role he plays. I doubt the club sees him as potential starter or closer, no matter how many injuries pile up. If they see him this way then of course they should trade him. Nobody hoards middle relievers, well except Kevin Towers.

  6. bottom line says:

    Texas is very smart to be looking at Joba now. I am convinced he is poised to have a great season. Throwing 95 and his br4eaking ball has looked sharp.
    Ordinarily, I would resist trading someone whose market value is currently far lower than the real value he will bring this year. His salary has also lagged in arb so he may be relatively cheap re-sign. That said, I am of the school that believes the Yankees will face a very long drought — unless they act proactively, give up on one or two seasons and begin to rebuld now.
    Trading Joba, Grandy (when he's healthy) and even Cano would all yield rebuilding assets. Highly foolish to keep them if they won't be re-signed. But Yankee management IMO has been almost unbelievably short-sighted in refusing to admit the obvious — this team needs to rebuild. And the sooner the better.

    • mikefoxtrot says:

      the Yankees have 3 outfield prospects and possible 2 catchers ready to hit the majors in the next two years, Cano will probably be resigned and that leaves only the left side of the infield that will require rebuilding. pitching ain't gonna be a problem if'n Sabathia doesn't fall over and Pineda is healthy.

  7. John says:

    Joba is a free agent after this year no?
    Wouldnt a guy like Phelps who is under club control longer make more sense for Texas?

    • It depends really on what their payroll plans are like and how much they like either Joba or Phelps. They were looking to spend big this past offseason and didn't so I think they have money to spend. If they like Joba enough it might not matter to them.

  8. Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland are both good players. My support are with them. Good luck to their games.