June 17, 2010

Trade Possibilities: Octavio Dotel

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / June 17, 2010

So I was on hand to watch the Pirates lose again last night. They've now lost ten games in a row and are 23-42. If it weren't for the necessity of redoing the meticulously crafted banner at the top of this page, I'd say it's time to give up on the 2010 championship.

All this means that the Pirates will no doubt be selling at the trade deadline once again. Yesterday I considered the possibility of trading Ryan Doumit, concluding that the Pirates should keep him. Today let's take a look at Octavio Dotel.

Why Trade Octavio Dotel?
Octavio has done a decent job this year, saving 12 of 15 chances, and is one of my favorite players on the team. He's been overpowering at times and averages 12 strikeouts per nine innings.

That being said, he also has a 5.84 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. Next year will be his age 37 season. Dotel's contract has a $4.5 million option for 2011 but it seems likely that the Pirates will buy him out for $500,000.

The stats make it unlikely that a contending team would add Dotel as a closer. However, his ugly ratios are inflated by a couple of blowout gaemes. He's shown enough stuff to be a valuable piece in a playoff bullpen. There should be a market for Dotel since as a general rule, all teams need bullpen help all the time.

Moving Dotel would also allow the Pirates to give Evan Meek a look at closer. Meek has been nothing short of great, with an 0.72 ERA and an 0.85 WHIP. However, we have all seen pitchers who are great in a setup role but can't close to save their lives. By giving Meek a tryout this year, the Pirates still retain the option of returning him to the setup role and signing a new free agent closer. That wouldn't be possible if he's given the job in 2012 and bombs then.

What would the Pirates get?
Most likely another reliever, either an AA or High Class A prospect or a young, low leverage major league guy. There's no reason to dump Dotel for nothing, but other clubs also aren't looking at him as a blockbuster target to put a team over the top.

Who Would Want Dotel?
Octavio flamed out for the Yankees in 2006 to the tune of a 10.80 ERA and 2.90 WHIP. It's difficult to imagine the Yankees adding him again. The Padres bullpen looks set. Almost any other contending team would be a possibility. The best matches look like:

1. The Los Angeles Angels bullpen has been a minor disaster. Righthanders Scot Shields (6.23 ERA, 2.03 WHIP), Matt Palmer (6.26 ERA, 2.04 WHIP) and Brian Stokes (7.31 ERA, 2.50 WHIP) have all been awful yet are still on the active roster. There's no excuse for a contending team to have three pitchers with WHIPs above 2.00. Dotel would be a clear upgrade over any of the three.

2. The Toronto Blue Jays might look to upgrade their bullpen as Scott Downs and Shawn Camp have really been the only reliable options. Toronto manager Cito Gaston also has a notable love of veterans. The Jays don't have as much money as their divisional rivals New York and Boston but will need to do something, other than for Jose Bautista to hit home runs, to stay within shouting distance.

3. The Philadelphia Phillies have a couple of questionable arms in their bullpen in Antonio Bastardo and David Herndon. Dotel would be an upgrade over either. The Phillies might like to add a pitcher with closing experience since Brad Lidge has already been on the DL twice this year.

The Verdict
Trade him. I like Dotel, but he's unnecessary considering the emergence of Evan Meek. Unless the Pirates plan on picking up his option which is doubtful, there is really no reason to keep Dotel around if a younger reliever can be had for him. He'll still be remembered for his sweet scoreboard video.

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