Monday, November 14, 2011

Outside The Box: Franky G back to Cleveland?

When it comes to internet rumors during the Hot Stove league it is best to take each one with a grain of salt. With full disclosure I am writing this trade proposal as a winter conversation starter and not something that I think is probable but rather something that is a little outside the box thinking.

The Cleveland Indians send Travis Hafner and 2.75 million cash (or prospects) to the Seattle Mariners for center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. 

According to Cot's: 

Travis Hafner is due 13 million in 2012 and a 2.75 million dollar buyout in 2013 (or an additional year at 13 million). Hafner does have a limited no trade clause to specific teams. For our purposes let's assume 15.75 million due to Hafner.

Franklin Gutierrez is due 5.5 million in 2012, 7 million in 2013, and a 500K buyout in 2014 (or an additional year at 7.5 million). Gutierrez salary increases to 7.25 with 600 PAs in 2012. For our purposes let's assume 13 million for Gutierrez.

Player Evaluations
We'll look at each player through a 3 year window which is standard for player evaluation and we'll keep it to the basic statistics of average/on-base/slugging OPS, home runs, and stolen bases for Gutierrez.

Franklin Gutierrez has seen a decline in his numbers over each of the past 3 seasons. 
Played 153 games in 2009 and posted a slash line of .283/.339/.425 an OPS of .764 with 18 HR & 16 SB. 
Played 152 games in 2010 and posted a slash line of .245/.303/.363 an OPS of .666 with 12 HR.& 25 SB.
Played  92  games in 2011 and posted a slash line of .224/.261/.273 an PS of .534 with 1 HR.& 13 SB.

Travis Hafner has seen a flattening out of his numbers over the past 3 seasons.
Played   94 games in 2009 and posted a slash line of .272/.355/.470 an OPS of .826 with 16 HR.
Played 118 games in 2010 and posted a slash line of .278/.374/.449 an OPS of .824 with 13 HR.
Played   94 games in 2011 and posted a slash line of .280/.361/.449 an OPS of .811 with 13 HR.

After having a breakout season in 2009, Gutierrez signed a 4 year 20.25 million dollar extension (with a 5th year option). And as the 2010 season rolled into June Gutierrez was making GM Jack Zduriencik look like a brilliant man as he posted a .294/.388/.439 slash line with 5 homers while playing gold glove caliber center field.  As the calendar flipped to July he began to struggle and saw his numbers nose dive the remainder of the season. From June 1st to the end of 2010 he posted a slash line of .222/.261/.327 with 7 homers in 420 PA. Gutierrez was plagued in 2010 with a stomach ailment that had doctors searching for answers. The mystery ailment sidelined him for spring training and the first 41 games of the 2011 season. He struggled to regain the form he displayed in 2009 and early 2010 and his 2011 season ended on September 4th due to an oblique strain.

Travis Hafner had a section of seats at Progressive Field named Pronkville in his honor. He bashed his way to 46 homers and an OPS of 1.027 in 2006 before signing his contract in July of 2011. His power dropped to 24 homer in 2007 and due to a rare shoulder problem he only played in 57 games in 2008 a season in which he only mustered 5 homers in his 233 plate appearances. Hafner underwent shoulder surgery to clean out muscle that had deteriorated. Hafner has never regained the power stroke that once tormented pitchers and has had trouble staying off the disabled list. 

Why This Trade Makes Sense
For Cleveland: The Indians receive a gold glove caliber center fielder who has a cannon of an arm, a right handed bat, and another speed threat on the bases. The Indians also free up approximately 4.75 million in salary on the 2012 payroll since Hafner currently sits at 13 million and Gutierrez accounts for 8.25 million (5.5 million plus the 2.75 sent to Seattle in deal).  These savings  may enable the Indians to pursue other players to bolster the 2012 team. Additionally, if Gutierrez (who will be 29 in February) could return to his 2009 form the Indians gain the benefit of a cost controlled player for 3 full seasons.

For Seattle: The Mariners receive a consistent hitter with some power to hit in the middle of the lineup which  would provide protection to some of their younger hitters. Travis Hafner would certainly provide some veteran leadership to a young Seattle club and provide Eric Wedge with one of his guys in the clubhouse. Additionally, moving Franklin Gutierrez to Cleveland opens up center field and the front office may pursue Grady Sizemore (who wants to sign where he can play center field). The Mariners could work with the Indians and obtain a young prospect or two in lieu of the additional 2.75 million that Cleveland would send along with Hafner. 

Both teams share the risk that the player obtained will fall victim to injury once again. The Mariners have the leverage in terms of Gutierrez contract situation, his youth, and he carries a gold glove with him to center field. This could allow Seattle to leverage him for more prospects in lieu of cash. The question Seattle has to ask themselves is Franklin Gutierrez a movable part right now or would they be selling low on him?  

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