The GM Game: A Philly, Houston, Oakland Swap

There are a lot of teams looking for a way to rip Barry Zito away from the Oakland A's. One way for the Phillies to do it could go through their friends in Houston. Former GM Ed Wade wasn't known for three-team deals, but new GM Pat Gillick may be more adept at the theory.

Greg has an idea on how to get Barry Zito away from the Oakland A's... If Oakland covets cheap hitters with some pop, the Phillies could send Abreu to Houston (the only other team he's played for), while Houston sends Jason Lane and a prospect to Oakland, who would send Zito the Phillies way. This could get very tricky, though, if the Rocket doesn't come back, the Astros might as well get Zito for themselves. But, it wouldn't hurt to ask.

Would Oakland deal Barry Zito? Well, there were a lot of people who didn't think they were serious about dealing Mark Mulder or Tim Hudson, but they did both of those deals. It doesn't appear that there is anything that would stand in the way of them dealing Zito this year.

The A's have said that they want a right-handed power hitting outfielder as the cornerstone of any deal involving Zito. The Phillies don't have such an animal and Jason Michaels, who comes closest to fitting the description, won't get the deal done. So, the Phillies would need to find a way to either get the A's thinking in a different way or find a right-handed hitter to send to the coast. Jason Lane had a breakout season in 2005 and would certainly fit the bill for what the A's would be looking for.

If I'm Oakland GM Billy Beane, I say...

Let me see who the prospect is coming our way from Houston. There are some players in the Astros' organization that would be of great interest for Oakland or other teams for that matter. The Astros have young Jimmy Barthmaier who fits the bill of the kind of pitchers that the A's love to have in their system. He's still a couple seasons away from the majors, but the A's are known for having some patience. You have to figure that there would be other prospects that the A's and Astros could agree on. Another possibility would be to expand the deal and have the Phillies get a prospect from Houston and send one of their prospects to Oakland if the A's found someone in the Phillies organization that they liked better.

The bottom line is that if I'm Billy Beane, this may be one of the better deals that I figure to find. Nick Swisher can play first base to open a spot for Lane and you're getting a young player that you can plug in somewhere down the line. I'm definitely interested and would have my finger on the trigger.

If I'm Astros GM Tim Purpura, I say...

Count me in as interested as well. Again, without specifying the prospect to be involved, there may be some work to do there, but it could certainly be worked out. As Greg pointed out in his proposal, the Roger Clemens situation could make the Astros interested in Zito for themselves and if Clemens does return, they may need young, inexpensive players like Lane and may be unable to afford Abreu.

There have been some rumors about Houston being interested in Abreu, so that's not out of the question. Again, the finances and the "Clemens Question" could be the main sticking point in getting this deal done.

If Clemens isn't back, I figure that I can find someone to fill at least part of his shoes in the rotation and I've got the money to upgrade my offense with Abreu. Count me in. If Clemens is back, the finances become a lot trickier. Perhaps I could send a prospect to the Phillies to get them to share in the expense of paying Abreu, but the deal may actually be trickier if Clemens does return to the Astros.

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