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Nine Deadline deals that need to happen

A list of trades that would make sense for all parties
07/24/2009 11:39 AM ET
By Jonah Keri / Special to YESNetwork.com

Veteran Jon Garland would help stabilize the back end
of the Dodgers' rotation. (AP)
Enough with the rumors and innuendo about which MLB players are going where. Let's talk about where they should be going.

With the trade of Matt Holliday to the Cardinals, here are nine remaining trades we'd like to see, scuttlebutt aside. Some of these trades are already rumored, others not at all.

9. Jon Garland to Dodgers. For all the Roy Halladay to L.A. talk, and as great as Doc is, the Dodgers don't need a new ace so much as they need a decent innings eater to take the load off their dynamic young duo of Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. Garland's on a one-year deal with about $2.5 million left on it, and won't cost a mint in prospects. With the Dodgers primed for a possible deep playoff run and well ahead in the NL West, having Garland give Kershaw and Billingsley extra regular-season rest could help preserve their young arms, while providing an upgrade over back-end dregs like Jason Schmidt at the same time.

8. Jason Frasor to Phillies. Here's another team often linked to Halladay rumors that can surely manage fine without him. The Phils won the World Series last season with Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation and some able wingmen backing him up, so why can't they do it again this year? A commanding six-game lead in the NL East also lessens the urgency to make a pillage-the-farm-system deal. Instead, Philly can focus on rebuilding its bullpen to rival the elite level it reached last season. Closer Brad Lidge, lefty set-up man J.C. Romero and others have taken big steps back in 2009. Frasor's a hard thrower with good secondary stuff and a sparkling 2.59 Fielding Independent ERA (FIP) this season. He'd be a great fit and wouldn't cost the Phils anything close to the Kyle Drabek/Michael Taylor-caliber names that have been bandied about.

7. Jhonny Peralta to Twins. Andy Marte is raking for the Indians' Triple-A club. Meanwhile, Jhonny Peralta is having a down year and appears to be in the organization's doghouse, but has a track record of being a plus offensive player. The Twins' incumbent third baseman, Joe Crede, has a barking shoulder that's so bad, he's headed to Dr. Lewis Yocum to get checked out. The pointless objections to intradivision deals aside, a pair of B prospects could get a trade done. The Tribe and Twinkies could also piece together a larger deal involving another player needing a change of scenery, like, say, Twins lefty starter Glen Perkins.

6. George Sherrill to Tigers. Remember when the Tigers were going to be a 1,000-run powerhouse that rivaled the '27 Yankees? Instead, we've got a team that's found success by upgrading its pitching and defense, and getting just enough offense from unexpected sources like Brandon Inge to succeed. Detroit has faltered lately, though, and could use an upgrade. The team hopes Carlos Guillen, due back soon from injury, provides the offensive lift it needs. Sherrill gives Detroit another solid lefty to complement underrated southpaw Bobby Seay, and also gives Detroit another option at closer, where Fernando Rodney and his high walk rate still sent Comerica denizens diving under their seats in terror.

5. Jarrod Washburn to Brewers. The Mariners are a great story, going from 88 wins in 2007 to a dismal 61 last year to an apparent run at contention in 2009. But the numbers don't lie: The M's were five games out in the AL West and 4.5 games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card chase entering Thursday's games.

Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik is the man responsible for building the Brewers' stable of young talent, and he can see that young slugger Mat Gamel is a needed power threat better suited for AL play, or that Angel Salome could resolve a woeful catching situation in Seattle. Or if the Mariners simply want to move a pitcher two months from free agency without giving up on the season, Mariners blog extraordinaire U.S.S. Mariner has been stumping for a deal involving Washburn (and more) for underachieving Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy (Milwaukee could call up top prospect Alcides Escobar to take Hardy's place).

The Brewers wouldn't match the CC Sabathia blockbuster of 2008, but they would get a pitcher who's been one of baseball's biggest surprises this year, justifying one way-out April prediction that he'd be this year's Cliff Lee.

4. Victor Martinez to Red Sox. The Sox reportedly turned down a deal that would have seen V-Mart head to Fenway in exchange for mega-hyped pitching prospect Clay Buchholz. Even with that deal scuttled, and even with Boston picking up lefty swingers Andy LaRoche and Chris Duncan to augment a suddenly faltering offense, this trade makes too much sense not to happen. Jason Varitek's fading and has trouble hitting righties. And after an injury-plagued 2008 that squashed Martinez's production, he's back to being a top-three threat at catcher, hitting a robust .295 AVG/.371 OBP/.475 SLG this year. If Buchholz won't be moved, how about next-best SP prospect Michael Bowden headlining a deal for one of the biggest difference makers on the market?

3. Chad Qualls to Yankees. Sure, Halladay or Cliff Lee would be a sexier move. But Qualls would give the Yankees an excellent strikeout-and-groundball machine who can provide a bridge to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning (and hopefully serve as a stopper in earlier innings, if Joe Girardi will stop being so hung up on roles). But what's this, you say, Phil Hughes is already a lights-out set-up man? Too true. But Hughes offers more value if he can settle in as a strikeout-throwing starting pitcher to replace DL'd Chien-Ming Wang and complement CC Sabathia and company.

The Yankees wisely have Hughes — like Joba Chamberlain — ticketed for the rotation long-term, knowing it's much harder to find effective starters than useful relievers. Qualls would ensure the Yankees don't have to ship out elite prospects like Jesus Montero to upgrade the big-league roster, while also giving Hughes a chance to stretch into a five- or six-inning starter now, and a potential rotation star later.

2. Roy Halladay to Rangers. Buzz has it that Halladay might not want to waive his no-trade clause to accept a deal to Texas. But such matters are swept aside in the deals that should happen discussion — there is no better fit for Hallday than the Rangers. Texas owns the deepest stable of prospects in baseball — hitting studs like Justin Smoak, pitching gems like Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Martin Perez, a carousel of good, young catchers, and much more.

The Rangers are also in the thick of a playoff race, having just swept the Red Sox to draw closer in the Wild Card chase, while also staying within striking distance of the front-running Angels. A vastly improved defense has made all of Texas' pitchers look better. But with apologies to surprise performances by relative no-names Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter, Dustin Nippert and company, Halladay could single-handedly change the course of history for this long down-trodden franchise.

1. Cliff Lee to Rays. Speaking of franchises that are changing their identity, the Rays went from the butt of a decade's worth of jokes to pennant winners last season, thanks to a roster bursting with young talent. But after dropping of three out of four to the White Sox this week and seeing their offense slump so badly that they were the victims of a Mark Buehrle perfect game (!), the Rays have arrived at a crossroads. Both the Yankees and Red Sox will be tough to catch, and a little tweak here or there probably won't do it.

So should Tampa Bay offer up some of its premium young talent for a shot at the big one? A package centered around, say, premium pitching prospect Wade Davis and excellent young middle infielder Reid Brignac could entice the reloading Indians without damaging the Major League roster or leaving the farm system bare. Lee's contract is a favorable one, with about $2 million left to be paid this year, and an option worth $9 million in 2010. Lee may not generate the same buzz that Halladay does, but he's the defending AL Cy Young winner having a top-10 season again, his misleading 6-9 record aside. Lee to the Rays could be the ultimate win-win deal.

Jonah Keri is a writer for the Wall Street Journal and numerous other publications. He's also writing a book about the Tampa Bay Rays, their climb from worst to first and their Wall Street approach to baseball (ESPN Books/Ballantine, Spring 2010). Send your trade deadline thoughts to jonahkeri@gmail.com.
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