BrandonLeagueSad

Is It Possible To Trade Brandon League?

BrandonLeagueSadI was browsing over at River Ave. Blues a while back, and came across a post about whether the Yankees would be able to find a trade match for Ichiro Suzuki. And why not? Ichiro was once the best player in baseball, but he’s now 40, he’s got a .302 OBP over the last two years, and he’s still owed $6.25 million in 2014. The Yankees don’t want to cut him out of respect, but with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, and Alfonso Soriano, they don’t really need him. Brandon League was brought up as a possibility, but I can’t really see the fit; The last thing the Dodgers need is yet another outfielder at this point.

Yet the mere thought of being rid of League is appealing, because as we’ve been over so many times, he’s been terrible for most of the last two years — save a well-timed run of six weeks in late 2012 — and the Dodgers signed every reliever and have young ones on the way. Were it not for his contract, he wouldn’t be here right now. And remember, someone has to not be here in a little over a month when the season starts, because if the Dodgers go with their usual seven-man bullpen…

1) Kenley Jansen
2) Brian Wilson
3) J.P. Howell
4) Jamey Wright
5) Chris Perez
6) Paco Rodriguez
7) Paul Maholm or League

…someone with a big-league contract has to go, and I haven’t even included the far more deserving Chris Withrow or Jose Dominguez or the intriguing Seth Rosin yet. Now sure, maybe Maholm’s sore elbow is a great way to get him onto the disabled list, or the team shockingly takes advantage of Rodriguez’ remaining minor-league options, or — most likely — someone either in this group or in the rotation gets hurt over the next few weeks, and the problem isn’t a problem. Maybe it’s League himself, if the team hires someone to keep poking him in his strained lat long enough to gin up a DL stint.

But until that happens, we’re going to wonder how the bottom of the bullpen shakes out.  So.. is it possible to trade League at all? Remember, the conditions here are specific. The goal of this is not to find value or a useful part, because his trade appeal right now is zero. It’s less than zero, really, since you couldn’t give that contract away for free. You’d have to take on someone else’s problem, with the appeal here being A) to get rid of League without the embarrassment of cutting him, B) to maybe save just a bit of money, or C) to hope that “someone else’s problem” just needs a change of scenery.

League has $15m coming to him over the next two years — you can forget that 2016 vesting option, there’s just no chance — so let’s start there. In reality, this probably means that a trade would be “League and $14.5m for two low-level Single-A space fillers,” but that’s no fun. Let’s have fun.

Busted expensive second basemen

Hey, have you heard that second base is a potential issue for the Dodgers? I feel like this is a thing you might have heard about. Alexander Guerrero is far from a sure thing, and there might even be a platoon! Except, you know, that doesn’t make any sense at all.

My position is the same as it’s been for months: Guerrero will be fine, but it’s not fair to him to expect that he’s 100 percent ready to go on Opening Day. Remember, he didn’t play last year, and he’s never been a second baseman before, so if he needs a few weeks or months in the minors to start the year, I have no problem with that. You’ve signed him for years to come, not just for 2014.

We’ve been over the Dee Gordon and Brendan Harris and Justin Turner-shaped solutions there, and if that’s not appealing, there’s two formerly-good second baseman who are now just terribly expensive (and terrible) second basemen: Dan Uggla (2/$26m) and Rickie Weeks (1/$11m). Both have young players behind them (Tommy La Stella in Atlanta, Scooter Gennett in Milwaukee); both are coming off brutally awful seasons (.209/.306/.357 and 86 wRC+ for Weeks; .179/.309/.362 and a 91 wRC+ for Uggla). Both are below-average defensive players, but both were three-win players as recently as 2011 (Weeks) and 2012 (Uggla).

Remember, you’re not trading League for something shiny. If you can trade him, it’s for someone else’s scuffed-up broken parts, and gaining back a bullpen roster spot.

Totally useless pitchers

Remember Ricky Romero (2/$15.6m)? From 2009-11, he was a productive young lefty, tossing 613 innings of 3.60 ERA ball in the AL East, so Toronto signed him to a five-year extension. In 2012, he completely lost his control; in 2013, he spent most of the year being awful in Triple-A, walking 5.0/9 with a 5.78 ERA. In October, he was outrighted off the 40-man roster. Is Albuquerque the right place for him to fix that? Uh… no. It is not. But still. League was a 2001 Toronto draftee and spent the first four years of his career there.

The money doesn’t match up quite so well with John Danks, who was a very good pitcher from 2008-11 and still has $42.6m coming over the next three years. Since then, he’s had two awful seasons while battling shoulder woes. There’s probably not a fit here, because it’s not like the Dodgers have anywhere to put him either, but you can bet Chicago would be happy to unload that contract.

***

…and that might be it. There’s guys who make way too much money to fit — your B.J. Uptons, your Albert Pujolses, etc. — and overpaid guys who still have too much value to match up, like Jonathan Papelbon. And so as disappointing as that might be, the end result here just might be: no, probably not. The Dodgers are stuck with League, at least until they decide the embarrassment of cutting him is worth swallowing.


Mike

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Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.


273 comments
capnsparrow
capnsparrow

So Aroobadooby scuttled sellers and goat says were are getting Diaz who gets scuttled then?

DBrim
DBrim moderator

My platoon idea no longer exists.

 Kyle
Kyle

Via @Dodgers, it's pronounced Arr-ru-eh-BAHR-ena.

Barney (Not Darwin)
Barney (Not Darwin)

@Hoze I'm kind of surprised that they'd DFA Sellers since the depth chart is pretty thin at short even with Arruebarruena. I figured they'd put Billingsley on the 60 day DL to make room for Arruebarruena.

 Kyle
Kyle

@Barney G @Hoze  Doubt anyone will pick him up. He's replacement level and it's spring. Nobody really has room on their rosters for a guy like that.

Barney (Not Darwin)
Barney (Not Darwin)

@Sir Catfishin, Esq. @Barney G@Hoze Hopefully he ends up back at Triple A to be organizational depth. If it came down to Gordon and Sellers at SS, I might lean to Sellers. Both don't hit enough but Sellers is unlikely to make three errors in a game.

 Kyle
Kyle

Apparently Arruebarruena won't fit on a custom jersey ordered through the MLB.com store. Arruebarrena will.

Barney (Not Darwin)
Barney (Not Darwin)

@ABSmileBunch @Hoze Not likely. They didn't learn their lesson last year when this new compensation rule went into effect and guys like Lohse, and Bourn had trouble getting signed. Agents will always tell their clients to turn it down and look for a multiyear deal.

Barney (Not Darwin)
Barney (Not Darwin)

@PagansOedipalComplex @Hoze He really didn't want to go to Seattle unless it was a last resort. It makes sense. He can put up good power numbers in Baltimore and then hit free agency again after this season and try for a better deal.

Barney (Not Darwin)
Barney (Not Darwin)

@PagansOedipalComplex @Barney G@Hoze The QO and PED bust hurt him, he might be able to get a two year deal from a desperate team next offseason if he puts up decent numbers. Even as a 34 year old, if he can hit dingers, some team desperate seeking a DH will give him a shot.

MScottEiland
MScottEiland

Pull--the--chain.  The money is gone, wasting a precious spot on the 25 man roster due to unwillingness to admit failure just compounds the blunder.

Hoze
Hoze

@MScottEiland  i see it as the longer that he is around, the longer Withrow is prevented from joining the roster. Thats not fair to Withrow or a smart decision on the team's part 

MScottEiland
MScottEiland

My dire prediction--if League is left on the roster he will be to the 2014 Dodgers what Dave Goltz was to the 1980 Dodgers:  a mistake that management fails to dispose of until he deals catastrophic damage to the team in a crucial situation.  And yes, I know that Goltz remained on the roster in 1981 and was awful then, too--it will mortally offend me if League sucks all year *and* gets a World Series ring out of the deal.

PagansOedipalComplex
PagansOedipalComplex

@MScottEiland He still was nowhere near as bad as League was last season, and unfortunately, that's the worst case scenario, being just mediocre enough to not be DFA'd with a huge amount of money owed to you, but not bad enough to completely shoot you into the sun