Fake Trades: Kurt Suzuki To Rays; A's To Get Tigers Prospect

OAKLAND, CA - Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Oakland Athletics hits a broken bat RBI single in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at O.co Coliseum (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

There's an interview with Billy Beane over at Athletics Nation, and the A's GM breaks down the team's constant cycle of building and rebuilding. If you're wondering why the A's traded away a chunk of their young pitching, only to turn around and spend the bulk of the savings on players like Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes, Beane offers this:

No one tries to be terrible, and I guarantee you had we not made the moves we did, we would've been terrible.

Rebuilding while not being terrible. It's a fine line. That's what makes this an interesting rumor, from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

The Rays have been trying hard to get (Kurt Suzuki), but Oakland isn’t crazy about Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann in return. As one National League GM pointed out, "The Davises and Niemanns are the type of pitchers that Billy [Beane] winds up trading. He wants a higher grade of pitcher.’’ Right now, the Rays aren’t willing to go there.

On the surface, it looks like a perfect match. The A's received catcher Derek Norris in the Gio Gonzalez trade. The Rays signed veteran Jose Molina in the offseason, and they're also looking at Jose Lobaton, who is still unproven. Maybe the Rays are looking for a little more security and offense behind the plate, or maybe they're just scared that Lobaton sounds too much like a Godzilla nemesis, and that he'll get into all sorts of scraps with Hideki Matsui if they should meet. Either way, Suzuki is probably an upgrade.

Well, he's not exactly an offensive juggernaut, though his stats would look better just about anywhere else … except for Tampa.

But the A's are right to hold out for a lot for Suzuki. Losing him would make the team worse, and disrupt that fine rebuilding/not-being-horrible line. And Suzuki is not only under contract for a reasonable amount through the next three years; he's popular with the fans and the players.

Note that Buster Olney's tweet contradicts the rumor from Cafardo. Which means that the rumor is over. Go home, folks. Nothing to see here.

Except that wouldn't make for a fun Fake Trades post. The point of these things is to make a trade that annoys fans on both sides. And Cafardo's right that the A's probably wouldn't have a lot of use for Davis or Niemann. Those are the kinds of pitchers that the A's usually flip. But all that sets up is a rarely attempted, rarely successful three-way Fake Trade:

To the Rays
Kurt Suzuki

To the Tigers
Wade Davis
Collin Cowgill

To the A's
Nick Castellanos
Brandon Gomes

If you buy that Beane is against a complete rebuild, he probably isn't trading anyone else. But I think a prospect like Castellanos -- a B+ prospect ranked #2 in the Tigers' system according to John Sickels -- would make Beane do it. The Derek Norris Era might not start right away, but this might be the chance for the A's to get peak value for Suzuki. Gomes is a 28-year-old reliever with limited big-league experience, but his strikeout rates in the minors suggest that he could have a great future with the A's as a future piece of trade bait.

The Tigers give up a lot, but they'll also receive two cost-controlled pieces in Davis and Cowgill that also help immediately. Davis solves the Tigers' fifth-starter dilemma, and Cowgill would be the right-handed hitting complement to ostensible starters Andy Dirks and Brennan Boesch, also removing the temptation to play Delmon Young in the field ever again.

The Rays get Suzuki, who isn't going to solve all of their problems, but who'll hit and field with the best of the second-tier catchers for just $11.5 million over the next two years. If the Rays don't want to pay him $8.5 million in 2014, they can trade him to someone who will, or they can decline the option for $650,000. And they'll still have several hundred starting pitchers in reserve.

Oh, get over it, Tigers fans. You know that Castellanos was just going to be blocked by Brandon Inge in four years anyway.

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