I’ve been talking over the past few weeks about how Ted Lilly is probably our most valuable trade chip heading down the stretch. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and is owed less than $6 mil for the rest of the season. He’s a very valuable commodity now that Cliff Lee is off the market. I decided to shop him to a few team bloggers and have them serve as mock GM’s. They’ve submitted the following offers for you to consider.
Myron Logan (Friar Forcast) – San Diego Padres
As a Padres fan, Cubs lefty Ted Lilly is an enticing option for a trade deadline addition. The Padres rotation has been strong thus far, led by the likes of Mat Latos, Clayton Richard, John Garland, and Wade LeBlanc, but Latos’ innings are going to be cut down the stretch and the staff in general is expected to regress some.
So with a starter as a major need, how much is Lilly worth and what are we, as Padres fans, willing to give up for him? Though Lilly’s peripherals have dipped a bit this season, I’ll estimate him as a 3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) pitcher for a full season. If acquired on July 31, he’d be expected to contribute about 1 WAR for the remainder of the season. On the free-market, this season, 1 WAR is worth about $3.5 million. Lilly makes $12 million this season, and would be expected to earn about $4M post-deadline. So, basically he is being paid around what he’s worth – in other words, he has no surplus value right now.
Not so fast. One, Lilly will likely be a type-A free agent after this season, so the Padres would pick up two draft picks if he walks for free agency. The draft picks received from a type-A free agent are worth something like $5-6 million. Secondly, the Padres are not in an average situation here. They are leading the National League West, and Lilly’s 1 win added could help vault them into the playoffs. With that in mind, they may be willing to pay a bit more for a marginal win right now then they would have, say, at the beginning of the season, when they weren’t expecting to compete.
Who would we be willing to give up for Lilly’s services? I’d be comfortable trading one B and maybe a throw-in a C prospect, per John Sickels ratings. So, for example, one of either 2B Logan Forsythe or 3B Edinson Rincon and a standard Grade C prospect (maybe a Dexter Carter or Craig Italiano, both RHPs).
Nick Nelson (Nick’s Twins Blog) – Minnesota Twins
Now that the Twins have missed out on Cliff Lee, who was clearly the most desirable deadline target, they’ll turn their gaze to other pitchers who might be able to help fill a need at the top of their rotation. Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano have been pretty much doing it alone over the first half of the season, as the contributions from the Twins’ other three starters have been inconsistent at best.
Ted Lilly is a player the Twins could potentially covet. Much like Pavano, he brings the ability to deliver quality innings in bunches. He’s also a left-hander who could provide balance in a rotation that currently features four righties.
However, because they already have a pitcher of similar profile pitching out of the bullpen in Brian Duesning, I don’t think the Twins would be willing to part with any of their top prospects for Lilly. Names like Wilson Ramos and Ben Revere may have been on the table for Lee, and could still be made available in exchange for a star-caliber player like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren, but won’t be given up for Lilly, whose current 4.08 ERA hardly looks like the dramatic upgrade the Twins currently need to jolt their starting pitching corps.
I couldn’t see the Twins forfeiting much more than a couple mid-level prospects, and even then only if the Cubs pick up a chunk of Lilly’s remaining salary. There just doesn’t appear to be a great match between these two clubs. Personally, I’d prefer it if the Twins pursued Tom Gorzelanny.
Joe Janish (Mets Today) – NY Mets
Ted Lilly’s offseason knee and shoulder surgeries are a major concern, particularly since Lilly has been looking godawful lately. Even if Lilly can pitch near to what he was before the surgeries, will he remain healthy enough to finish the season?
The best we can offer you is a package including 24-year-old righthander Dillon Gee — who is sporting a 1.27 WHIP in AAA right now; AA slugger Zach Lutz, who plays both corner infield positions and has an .896 OPS; and RHP Brandon Moore, who has a nice running two-seam fastball and has established himself as the top pitcher in the South Atlantic League.
Or, we’d be happy to offer you Oliver Perez straight up — and we’ll pay the remaining salary on both contracts. All Perez needs is a change of scenery — and look at how well things turned out with Carlos Silva!
Jason Rosenberg (It’s About the Money) – NY Yankees
Disclaimer: I really like Ted Lilly.
That said, if I were GM of the Yankees, I’m only going to offer piece parts for his services this year. With AJ Burnett rounding back into form (last two starts with pitching coach Dave Eiland fixing his mechanics, Burnett has posted a 1.32 ERA) and Javy Vazquez now thriving (3.23 ERA in June, 0.64 ERA in July), there’s very little room for Lilly. Much has been made about Hughes (11 wins at the break) and his Hughes Rules, but I’m not eager to bump Hughes (and further delay his no-IP-limits year) for Ted Lilly. For Cliff Lee, perhaps!
Throwing names at you won’t do much since clearly there will be better offers to evaluate and to do so might be construed as insulting to Lilly and the Cubs organization. There’s just not a match right now, especially if I’d have to digest his $6m left this year. Lilly might be a target of the Yanks in November, but in July, Lilly won’t be in pinstripes.
Jon Weisman (Dodger Thoughts) – LA Dodgers
If I were the Dodgers, I’d be very reluctant to make a big play for Lilly (whom the Dodgers happened to draft 14 years ago). He’s 34 years old in the midst of a fairly unimpressive season. Los Angeles has been hit and miss in the performance it has been getting from its No. 5 starter, but it’s not as if Lilly provides that much assurance of taking that problem away. The Dodgers already have two potential free agent members of their rotation in Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla – Lilly would be a third, so I definitely would be wary of trading any minor-league pitching for him. And the trade of Tony Abreu for one month of Jon Garland last year doesn’t sit well, either. Add in the impending departure of Manny Ramirez from the outfield after 2010, and the presumption that the Dodgers would be paying Lilly’s remaining salary, and I just don’t see this deal as a win for the Dodgers unless they’re giving away a B-level prospect. The Dodgers just don’t have the depth to make a big move for a rental player that might not be a difference maker.
I did this project with the assumption that there would be a lot more interest than there was. Hopefully these guys don’t feel the same as their respective GM’s. If they do, we better be keeping Ted Lilly and letting him walk for draft picks. A big thanks to all the bloggers who contributed on short notice, a few of which helped contribute to the Trade Deadline Primer that is available for purchase. If you’re not sure if you want to spend the $9.95, consider starting with the 1/4 version that is free to download. Consider purchasing the full version. It’s always appreciated. Let’s here your thoughts. Does this change your thinking on what we should be doing with Ted?