Trade Bartlett????

That was the content of a tweet today directed at myself and DRaysBay.com editor-in-chief @trancel. On the surface, just the mere thought of talking about trading Jason Bartlett seems like foolish talk because he is coming off a second straight solid year for the Rays. In 2008, it was his glove that earned him the MVP award from the local press but his bat in 2009 is what has him in the running for that award a second straight season (although I’d be stunned if Zobrist did not get it). That said, could his value ever be higher than it is right now?

Bartlett made 1.9 million in 2009 but with his excellent overall year, that figure could possibly double in arbitration this off-season. Even at $4,000,000, he would be an affordable option for a team looking to upgrade the shortstop position via trade rather than free agency as Bartlett would be under team control for another two seasons. Consider the following names make up the free agents this off-season at shortstop (courtesy of Cot’s):

Orlando Cabrera MIN
Juan Castro LAD
Alex Cora NYM
Bobby Crosby OAK
Adam Everett DET
Alex Gonzalez * BOS
Khalil Greene STL
Ramon Martinez LAD
John McDonald TOR
Marco Scutaro TOR
Miguel Tejada HOU
Jack Wilson * SEA

Cabrera and Scutaro are almost certainly going to be Type A free agents which will cost a team their first round draft pick once they sign them. Cabrera is coming off a year in which he made $4,000,000 while Scutaro made $1,100,000 this year. After that, the market drops sharply with risky players such as the enigmatic Khalil Greene or the aging Miguel Tejada. That thin crop makes it a seller’s market at the shortstop position and if the Rays think that Reid Brignac is the shortstop of the future, the club is at a nice crossroad. They have a current shortstop who is at his peak value and his replacement coming off a second consecutive year at AAA with meaningful major league experience. That same shortstop was also rumored to be the break point in trade talks in 2008 with the Pirates involving Jason Bay. If he was valued that much just 15 months ago, certainly the organization sees a promising future for Brignac. If that truly is the case, the Rays owe it to themselves to shop Bartlett while his value is at its peak to improve the overall fortunes of the team’s future. The organizational needs that immediately come to mind are a long-term solution at catcher, an eventual replacement for Carlos Pena, and the bullpen could always use strengthening.

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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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One Response to Trade Bartlett????

  1. Pingback: [THE HANGOVER] The One Where We Discuss Pat Burrell For Milton Bradley | Rays Index

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