So the deal is apparently Soriano for Wilkerson, Sledge, and minor league pitcher Armando Galarraga (who should come over once the Rule 5 draft is over).
I know there are people bitching about this deal, complaining that the Rangers shouldn't have traded Soriano without getting pitching in return. Those people are idiots.
I love this trade, as I've made clear. Wilkerson is a better player than Soriano -- they are about even offensively, but Wilkerson:
* is much more of an asset defensively,
* will make about $4.5-5 million in 2006, versus the $10 million Soriano will get,
* is two years away from free agency, versus one year for Soriano, and
* is a year younger than Soriano.
Wilkerson can play any of the three outfield positions, and will fill either the gaping right field hole or the almost-gaping centerfield hole, representing a big upgrade to one of those positions.
Meanwhile, you have Ian Kinsler -- who Will Carroll said today would be one of the 5 best prospects in baseball next season -- ready to step in at second base, where his overall contributions, factoring in both offense and defense, should be pretty close to what Soriano would provide. Part of the reason Soriano needed to be dealt was to make room for Ian Kinsler, who folks have referred to as a Mike Young Starter Kit.
You've got Terrmel Sledge, sort of a lefty Kevin Mench in terms of his skill set. With him here, you've got all sorts of options available in the outfield and DH slots. You can put Mench in left, Wilkerson in center, let Sledge and GMJ split time in right, let Dellucci and Botts DH, and let Nix get a full season at AAA. You can trade Mench for pitching, put Wilkerson in the outfield, and let Sledge, Nix, GMJ, Botts and Dellucci fill the other two outfield slots and the DH spot. You can trade GMJ to the Yanks for...I don't know, something, and let Sledge be the 4th outfielder. You can trade Dellucci to one of the various teams that have expressed interest in him, make Botts your regular DH, and let Sledge take over the lefty-hitting 4th outfielder role Dellucci would fill.
Or you could get really creative and aggressive, spend some of the money you are saving by not paying Soriano on Milton Bradley, trade Mench for pitching, and roll with a Wilkerson/Bradley/Nix outfield, which would give you one of the best defensive outfields in baseball, along with pretty solid offense from them as a group.
You've got all those options, and on top of that, and you still have Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Mench available to use as trading chits for a deal for pitching, if you want. And you've added another good young live arm to the farm system, as well. You've got a lot of ammunition left with which to make a deal for pitching.
And on top of everything else, you are paying Wilkerson about $5 million less than you would be paying Soriano for 2006, meaning you've got that much more in the budget to spend on the free agent market.
So while the Soriano trade didn't bring pitching in here directly, it gives you the freedom to make other moves to add pitching, and it frees up additional payroll room to spend money on pitching.
Outstanding deal. Great job by Jon Daniels. I give this trade an "A".