The Dontrelle Willis trade rumors are beginning to surface. Ken Rosenthal, of the Sporting News, threw some fuel on that fire a week ago when he raised legit arguments for the Marlins to unload the fiery lefty this summer. Afterall, the team is in the midst of a firesale and the D-Train earns about one third of the Marlins payroll (albeit at slightly above $4 million). Plus, Willis is in line to potentially double and triple his salary in 2007 and 2008 arbitration hearings. And without a stadium, or even a city as a certainty, wouldn’t it be a wise idea for Florida to pre-empt the rising costs of Willis, while simultaneously stockpiling their already loaded farm system with some more can’t miss prospects?

Rosenthal mentions the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, and Mets as distinct possibilities. However, the price tag would be very steep for each of them. Would the Red Sox really consider shipping prized lefty Jon Lester AND future starting second basement Dustin Pedroia when their rotation is already deep enough for the next few years? The Yankees would love Dontrelle, but simply do not have the players to trade unless they are willing to package Robinson Cano, Cheing Ming Wang, AND a prospect (Philip Hughes). That’s just too much to give. Same for the Cubs.

What about the Mets? Dontrelle would seemingly be ideal for their starting staff. He could slot in right behind Pedro Martinez and before the other 4 number 3 and 4 starters on the Mets. But a package for Willis would have to include prized prospect Lastings Milledge as well as young fireballer Mike Pelfrey. Again, too much. Minaya would most certainly send Milledege, but both of them? Even he couldn’t do that.

So what am I getting at here? Well, what other stud left handed pitcher could be available as we speak and whose GM will most likely not deal him unless he gets blown away with an offer? Yup, you guessed it. Barry Zito, the object of Omar Minaya’s dreams for a few months now, and the cash cow that Billy Beane has been sitting on for years. I think a three way trade involving the Mets, Marlins and Athletics makes so much sense.

The Mets would receive Bary Zito, satisfying their dire need for 200 more innings pitched by a legitimate ace who would be reunited with pitching coach Rick Peterson.

The A’s would receive Dontrelle Willis, who would be under their control for two more years, at which point they can trade him then for more great prospects. Oakland would save money, and get better for the next two years. It would be a classic Billy Beane deal.

The Marlins? Well, they’d get a sure thing player from each team. Definitely Milledge from Minaya. This would be the tough part. Would Minaya swap Milledge for Zito? I think he would do it, as long as the Mets stay as competitive as they are now. But maybe a DL stint by Pedro or Glavine would be what it takes to get Minaya in on this.

As for the A’s, how about if they send Joe Blanton to Florida. He could pitch at the Major League level and he is very effective. He could slot in atop their rotation and be fine. Blanton and Zito for Willis? Too much? If not Blanton, perhaps a single A or AA prospect? I think it makes sense. What about you?

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Tue 04/18/06, 5:53 am EST


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