The GM Game: Package of Youth to Montreal?
The trade idea: How about Chase Utley, Keith Bucktrot, and Travis Chapman for Javier Vazquez?
Not only does Montreal save money by moving Vazquez, but getting Utley allows them to trade Vidro and his salary for some good young players that can help them in the future; otherwise Vidro walks as a free agent next year. Chapman is more of a throw in player because the ‘spos have no third baseman and none in the minors that look to contribute soon. Bucktrot gives them a nice AA pitcher to groom for the future.
Obviously, the phils do this because they need a top of the rotation starter and with Polanco already here, they don't really need Utley.
The GM says: Javier Vazquez would be a great addition to the Phillies staff. At 27, he is young and can give you a lot of quality innings. Of all the pitchers that are available through either free agency or trade, Vazquez is probably the most attractive.
One thing to consider though is that Vazquez is eligible for free agency after the 2004 season. You could be basically renting him for a season if you can't re-sign him to a long-term deal. The Phillies would at least need to get Montreal's permission to talk to Vazquez before the deal to gauge what he is looking for long-term. It's not impossible that they would be able to sign him now and know that they have him locked up for a good long time.
Does it work for Montreal? Possibly. There are a couple problems though. First, they would have to decide that they definitely do want to trade Vidro and find a deal that they know will work for them. Secondly, they do have Scott Hodges coming through their system and the Expos seem to really like the kid. Basically, he seems pretty comparable to Travis Chapman, so they may not really be quite as interested in Chapman. Third, they probably would want a pitcher that could step somewhere into their rotation right now if they're going to move Vazquez. Still, the thought of saving a bunch of money and finding a potential replacement to make dealing Vidro more likely would be an attractive situation.
Does it work for Philly? Maybe. Again, signing Vazquez is the key. Ed Wade is slow to give up prospects and wouldn't be likely to give up Utley and Bucktrot with the risk of Vazquez leaving after one season. Unless the Expos would accept a lesser package, everything in this deal would hinge on Vazquez committing to the Phillies long-term. One possible idea would be to substitute Placido Polanco for Utley. Polanco will have a higher price tag, but he could play third base for now. Plus, if the Expos are out of things by the trade deadline, Polanco and Vidro could both conceivably be moved. Polanco will make less than Vazquez, so the Expos still save a good chunk of change.
Can it get done? No. Too much doubt in this one. If the Phillies were to offer this package, the Expos would likely want someone for their rotation now and wouldn't want Chapman. They might respond with either: Brett Myers, Chase Utley and a lesser prospect. Or, Ryan Madson, Keith Bucktrot and Chase Utley. The Phillies would be slow – very slow – to give up Madson or Myers. They might dance back and forth a little, but it doesn't seem like it could get done.
Keep in mind that the Yankees are said to have offered Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and AAA pitcher Jorge DePaula, who seems ready to step into a major league rotation somewhere. Montreal would be more likely to accept that deal since they have an outfielder (Vladimir Guerrero) and their first baseman (Wil Cordero) who are on the free agent market, plus, they get a rotation ready pitcher.
As for Vidro, the Expos may decide to try to keep Vidro and Orlando Cabrera together as a strong middle infield combination.