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Fake trade: Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman to Mets for Ike Davis

May 14, 2010, 7:00 PM EDT

Mets acquire RHP Roy Oswalt, 1B Lance Berkman and cash from the Astros for 1B Ike Davis, LHP Oliver Perez and SS Ruben Tejada.
Why it works for the Mets:
First, let’s get this out of the way: there’s no way the Mets would trade Davis straight-up for Berkman. Even ignoring salaries, I can imagine a number of Mets fans writing in and saying Davis is the better player right now. After all, the soon-to-be 23-year-old has hit .292/.402/.472 in 72 at-bats since being called up, while Berkman has needed a few strong games in a row to get up to .239/.357/.479 for the year.
Berkman, though, has never finished a season without an OPS better than that current 874 mark for Davis. He’s likely on the decline at age 34, but I think he’s a pretty good bet to come in at around 900 for a couple of more years.
And, Davis isn’t really being traded for Berkman here; he’s the price for getting Oswalt and dumping Perez’s contract. The Mets probably couldn’t just swallow the contracts of Berkman and Oswalt whole. Those two are making $29.5 million this year (about $6 million of which has already been paid out), and Oswalt is guaranteed $16 million next year. Oswalt also has a $16 million option with a $2 million buyout for 2012, while Berkman has a $15 million option for next year with the same $2 million buyout.
Perez is making $12 million this year and $12 million again next year, so this deal, as is, would cost the Mets about $21.6 million, once the buyouts are factored in. I think the Astros would still have to throw in some cash to make it work.
Why it works for the Astros:
Houston GM Ed Wade can’t expect much in return for his stars, given their salaries and the fact that they wield no-trade clauses. If ownership forces him to simply dump the contracts, then the Astros will have to settle for less-than-stellar prospects. If, however, Wade has the flexibility to take a bad contract or two in return, then he could do quite a bit better. There aren’t many teams out there that can just take on Oswalt’s $16 million salary, but if they can shed an $8 million-$10 million player in the process, it becomes more palatable.
That’s the idea here. Davis would immediately step in for Berkman and give the Astros the long-term first baseman they don’t currently have in their system. Tejada is no future star, but I can see him serving as a regular shortstop for 10 years. He’d also play at second base in the event that Tommy Manzella turns into a player or if 2009 first-round pick Jiovanni Mier develops.
Why it won’t happen:
Big contracts and no-trade clauses make trades much more complicated, and this has plenty of both. Plus, the Mets and their fans have taken quite a liking to Davis. And it’s for good reason. Still, I think he’s expendable; he’s going to be an above average regular if he’s not one already, but he’s just a first baseman and one without 35-homer potential.
So, this deal isn’t happening. The Mets may well try for Oswalt alone at some point, with the Astros likely to ask for Jon Niese or Jenrry Mejia in return.

  1. Eric - May 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    Ridiculous. (a)If Astros trade Oswalt it would be solely for prospects. 72 at bats does not establish Ike Davis as an average major league player, never mind a star. It would be Oswalt for something like Ike Davis and Jenrry. (b) Acquiring Oliver Perez is like throwing in $23.2 million, as he’s worse less than the last guy in a bullpen. The Astros wouldn’t throw in $23 million for the right to trade Oswalt. (c) Berkman would net the Astros two legitimate prospects at least as good as Ike Davis.

  2. Joey B - May 14, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    “(c) Berkman would net the Astros two legitimate prospects at least as good as Ike Davis.”
    There’s no chance you’d even get one prospect like Davis. Even if Berkman outhits him this year, why would anyone trade a minimum wage 1B who might have an OPS of .850 and is 23 with 6 years of control for a 35 y.o. 1B making $14.5M?

  3. Carl - May 14, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Must be written by a Mets fan. Oswalt hates New York

  4. jon - May 14, 2010 at 10:13 PM

    no 35 homer potential for ike? pretty strong assumption there bud. 20 homeruns in his only season in the minors.

  5. Nick - May 15, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    i started thinking about possible Oswalt situations myself. In the case of Berkman getting dealt as well, that leaves a large void to fill at first base. I started wondering about what team has an expendable first base prospect and a need for a starting pitcher…enter: Texas Rangers. Justin Shas done so much more with his time in the big leagues than Chris ‘crash’ Davis ever did. At this point, Davis has actually gone from 1st baseman of the future to being blocked by Smoak. if there is one thing the Texas rangers(and pretty well any team in the hunt for the playoffs) could use, it’s a strong starter, and one with playoff experience is even better. So maybe Oswalt could mosey on over to Arlington and the ‘stros could acquire Davis? To me, it seems like the perfect fit, especially if the Astros deal Berkman to a team like the Giants and get a pitching prospect. Maybe it is too much of an ideal solution and course there would be more to the deal than just the two players, but I think it could really work.

  6. Dai - May 15, 2010 at 2:46 AM

    If you want to make the case that this “works” for the Astros, then you need to say only one thing: Ed Wade is dumb and he’ll believe that it’s a good deal. But that’s not to say that it actually works; it’s to say that it’s something that Ed Wade might do.
    Your actual justification is: the Astros need to dump their valuable players and rebuild, and trading Berkman and Oswalt for Ike Davis would help that cause. But on your proposal, the Astros would trade two legitimately excellent players for basically a single prospect. Unless your point is that Ed Wade is a moron, I can’t see this happening. Ike Davis is a fine prospect, but it would be a stretch to see him traded for Berkman alone. But Oswalt too?
    Part of the problem with this scenario is that Oswalt is having an excellent year. He should be able to command Davis by himself…
    Love the analysis in general, but this isn’t the most insightful post I’ve seen lately.

  7. Morgan Ensberg - May 15, 2010 at 3:28 AM

    It surprises me how much you value Ike Davis. He is a good player, but it is still too early to tell if he will be great over a career. Another factor to consider is that teams who rebuild have to find talent at the C, SS, and CF positions as well as starting pitching. First baseman are easily replaced defensively. So you wouldn’t want to rebuild around that position.
    My guess is that the Mets will not be a good fit for the Astros because I don’t believe they will be in playoff contention with the Phillies. My guess is that the wild card will come from the NL West.

  8. Alexander the Pretty Good - May 15, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    This is the worst proposal I’ve ever heard.

  9. jeff - May 15, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    The fact oswalt has waived his no trade clause just tells me he’s been contacted by management of a serious trade proposal and asked if he’d be interested in said team (my guess is somewhere in the AL). I think he’s all but traded already and would bet the astros will get a #5 pitcher, middle of the road prospect (maybe two), and some cash for him. Its roys salary houstons trying to dump and not the player so don’t expect a great return. As far as berkman, expect even less. The astros farm system is horrible, prospects now are whats of value. Its not good times for astros fans, pirates fans can tell ya what you can look forward to for the next decade.

  10. jeff - May 15, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Another reason why houston won’t package oswalt and berkman to the mets or anyone else is they’re after prospects and as many as they can get (if they’re waking up which is debatable). I can actually see berkman going for a couple high A prospects and cash while houston picks up Delgado on the cheap. I know it doesn’t sound like much but when your desperate you don’t get much…

  11. Alexander the Pretty Good - May 15, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Jeff, the Astros could get more than a middle of the road prospect and a #5 starter for Oswalt. He has value.

  12. .... - May 17, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    The best possible solution for Houston and Berkman would be if he was willing to move to LF opening a trading partner with Atlanta. Atlanta could include in this trade a couple of young arms and possibly one position player. The trade would look something like, Berkman for J. Chavez, Dunn, Cabrera and JoJo Reyes.

  13. Jack - May 31, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    wow, simply wow. so this guy wants oswalt, cash and berkma for 1 prospect who may never do anything. you have to have good prospects. teams like detroit, dodgers and washington could pull off the trade. not the team with the worst farm system and, apparently, the most dumbest fans… wow

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