MLB Trade Deadline 2013: Why Not Trade For A Non-Rental?


Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Fast forward to the off-season between 2013 and 2014 for the Colorado Rockies. Among the key stories will be whether or not Todd Helton retires, whether or not the team picks up Jorge De La Rosa‘s option, and, like it is every single year, what the Rockies will do to upgrade their starting rotation.

Something will be different this time around. Regardless of how the rest of this season goes in terms of overall record, the Rockies now have a foundation for a decent starting rotation. Jhoulys Chacin, De La Rosa, and Tyler Chatwood are three guys who can be counted on, health pending, to carry a rotation.

After those three guys, though, won’t we be asking the same questions then that we are asking now? As in, who is going to fill the other two spots in the rotation? Can the Rockies realistically expect to go anywhere if they don’t know the answer to that question? Pending a miracle from Roy Oswalt, Drew Pomeranz, Collin McHugh, or somebody else I’m missing (Aaron Cook?) the same questions will loom after the season that loom now during the season.

The Rockies will need another starting pitcher. In that context it always sense to stay away from “rental” situations. No tears were shed in Colorado, not even by Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla, when the Rockies were non-factors in the Matt Garza sweepstakes. Before that Ricky Nolasco went to the Dodgers, despite the fact that the Rockies supposedly offered a better package of players. The Marlins instead chose a trade partner who would foot the entire bill for Nolasco’s salary, and that probably worked out best for the Rockies as well.

But what about a non-rental? Why not trade for a guy who is under team control beyond this year? Isn’t it at least possible that a trade for a non-rental player, specifically a starting pitcher, would be the best of both worlds? You hope the newly acquired pitcher helps bolster the team back into this year’s race. If he doesn’t, then you have him in the fold and ready to go for your fresh new season in 2014. Jake Peavy is no longer an option, as he was traded to the Boston Red Sox tonight. What about some other options?

Lucas Harrell was a name thrown about at one point, but given his recent demotion to the Houston Astros bullpen, there would seem to be no rush there. Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers, struggling this season, might have been a target if not for his hamstring injury this week. Kyle Lohse? Meh…

The name that we know is in the center of heavy trade talks is Bud Norris of the Astros. Bud and his nasty slider have a 6-9 record this year with a sub-4.00 ERA. What is concerning is the decline in his strikeout rate, down to 6.4 K/9, but he still has proven swing and miss stuff. More importantly, he is under team control through 2015. If the Rockies could put together a deal for him, couldn’t that simultaneously be a deadline deal for 2013 and a trade for the future?

Norris was scratched from his start Tuesday night amid reports that the Astros are pushing hard to move him before Wednesday’s deadline. A number of teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, and Arizona Diamondbacks, are said to be involved. The Rockies are not reported to be involved, so unless they are a #MYSTERYTEAM, it does not appear they have a shot at Norris. Given the presence of more legitimate playoff teams in the mix, the price in terms of prospects will probably be much too high for them anyway.

That actually probably leads us to the answer to the question: why not trade for a non-rental at the 2013 trade deadline? Because the urgency of the other teams in the league, the buyers, drives the prices up too high. That’s why sellers wait until now to make the trades, after all. But philosophically, in their status as neither buyers or nor sellers, it would behoove the Rockies to take a serious look at at deals for non-rental players.

If no such trades exist, that is one thing. The Rockies might end up standing pat because the asking prices for impact players got way too high. That’s fine too.

But if a team like the Rockies, a team that is one winning streak away from being smack in the middle of a playoff race, is only out on those trades because of an arbitrary need to be compartmentalized as either a “buyer” or “seller,” that is another thing entirely. As the needs of the Rockies currently attest to, a team need not be one or the other to stand to benefit from a deadline deal.