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Plausible Vargas Trade

I won't make a habit of theoretical trade proposals, but one popped in my head today that makes enough sense to actually happen. Jon Morosi reported this morning that the Cardinals might have interest in Jason Vargas. Take that rumor for what its worth, given the trade deadline is near, and the Mariners never say much about their discussions with other teams. It certainly makes sense that the cardinals would be looking for starting pitching, and it makes equal sense for the M's to shop Vargas. He has been a valuable starter for the Mariners, but he is due a pay raise in the offseason, and several young hurlers in the farm system are close to the big leagues.

My proposed deal: Jason Vargas for Matt Adams, straight up or with some other players involved.

Adams is a first basemen that slugged his way through AA in 2011, and slugged enough in AAA to warrant a few call-ups to the Cardinals when injuries mounted. He is 24 years old, which does not make him a premium prospect, but young enough be a potential useful piece of the longer term future. The Cardinals do not need Adams to compete this year, and do not appear to value him as one of their top prospects. There isn't the buzz and roster maneuvering that teams tend to make when they see a player as a top prospect.

You probably already figured this out, but I would plug Matt Adams in as the starting first baseman, and likely demote Justin Smoak to AAA. The Mariners have an everyday first basemen with a sub-.600 OPS, and that has to stop. Adams is a left-handed bat with some power, so he might be a nice fit in Safeco Field. His odds of improving on Smoak's performance this year are quite good.

If the Cardinals want to maintain first base depth, I would be willing to ship Smoak to them as part of the deal, provided that the Mariners get another prospect in return. This is where I think the deal could really take shape. There are several players in the Cardinals farm system that catch my eye to varying degrees. Here they are, listed in order from most to least desirable:
  • Oscar Tavares, OF - The Mariners have a glut in the outfield, but they could still use hitters. Tavares just turned 20 years old and is raking in AA with 14 home runs and a .976 OPS. He is left-handed as well, making him a better fit for Safeco. My hunch is that Tavares is too good to include in this deal. I'd let the Cardinals say no though, and not limit myself.
  • Anthony Garcia, OF - Garcia is a 20-year-old outfielder slugging away in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. This is his first season in a full-length league, although he put together a great performance in short-season A ball last year. Garcia is a long ways away from the majors, but he has surprising power for his 6'0" frame that has shown up in multiple leagues. He also could be a bit more expendable because of the presence of Tavares higher up in the system.
  • Tyrell Jenkins, RHP - I remember watching some video of Jenkins when he was a high-schooler, and I really liked his arm. He has struggled early in his pro career, but he is young with a decent K/BB ratio, a good K rate, and a good home run rate. The Mariners reportedly scouted Jenkins, so his name might pop up more if rumors progress. I question if the Mariners really need more young, projectable arms as they go about trades. They need to bring in some hitters. Value-wise this might be a really good match in the trade though.
  • Tyler Rahmatulla, 2B - Rahmatulla is probably somewhere between organizational depth and a quality utility guy. He was a 34th round draft pick last year out of UCLA. However, all he has done is hit so far in his career. His first month in hi-A ball has been tough, but we are talking about 81 at-bats. Second basemen that can hit have deceptive value, and Kolten Wong is the future in St. Louis. Rahmatulla is a throw-in that I wouldn't mind having in a deal.
  • Sam Gaviglio, RHP - I like Gaviglio, an Oregon State product, when he got drafted last year. He does not project as an elite starter, but I think he could develop into a back-end starter or middle relief. He's a long way from the majors with an alarming ERA for the pitcher-friendly Midwest League, but he generates lots of ground balls with decent control. I'd be happy to have him as an extra piece to round out a deal.
I haven't looked around every team, but my hunch is that the Cardinals and Mariners match up well for what I would call a "secondary" trade. They don't have the pieces to pull off a blockbuster deal, but I think their areas of depth compliment each other nicely. Time will tell if that's enough to bring about a trade.