Fake trade: Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman to Mets for Ike Davis

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Mets acquire RHP Roy Oswalt, 1B Lance Berkman and cash from the Astros for 1B Ike Davis, LHP Oliver Perez and SS Ruben Tejada.
Why it works for the Mets:
First, let’s get this out of the way: there’s no way the Mets would trade Davis straight-up for Berkman. Even ignoring salaries, I can imagine a number of Mets fans writing in and saying Davis is the better player right now. After all, the soon-to-be 23-year-old has hit .292/.402/.472 in 72 at-bats since being called up, while Berkman has needed a few strong games in a row to get up to .239/.357/.479 for the year.
Berkman, though, has never finished a season without an OPS better than that current 874 mark for Davis. He’s likely on the decline at age 34, but I think he’s a pretty good bet to come in at around 900 for a couple of more years.
And, Davis isn’t really being traded for Berkman here; he’s the price for getting Oswalt and dumping Perez’s contract. The Mets probably couldn’t just swallow the contracts of Berkman and Oswalt whole. Those two are making $29.5 million this year (about $6 million of which has already been paid out), and Oswalt is guaranteed $16 million next year. Oswalt also has a $16 million option with a $2 million buyout for 2012, while Berkman has a $15 million option for next year with the same $2 million buyout.
Perez is making $12 million this year and $12 million again next year, so this deal, as is, would cost the Mets about $21.6 million, once the buyouts are factored in. I think the Astros would still have to throw in some cash to make it work.
Why it works for the Astros:
Houston GM Ed Wade can’t expect much in return for his stars, given their salaries and the fact that they wield no-trade clauses. If ownership forces him to simply dump the contracts, then the Astros will have to settle for less-than-stellar prospects. If, however, Wade has the flexibility to take a bad contract or two in return, then he could do quite a bit better. There aren’t many teams out there that can just take on Oswalt’s $16 million salary, but if they can shed an $8 million-$10 million player in the process, it becomes more palatable.
That’s the idea here. Davis would immediately step in for Berkman and give the Astros the long-term first baseman they don’t currently have in their system. Tejada is no future star, but I can see him serving as a regular shortstop for 10 years. He’d also play at second base in the event that Tommy Manzella turns into a player or if 2009 first-round pick Jiovanni Mier develops.
Why it won’t happen:
Big contracts and no-trade clauses make trades much more complicated, and this has plenty of both. Plus, the Mets and their fans have taken quite a liking to Davis. And it’s for good reason. Still, I think he’s expendable; he’s going to be an above average regular if he’s not one already, but he’s just a first baseman and one without 35-homer potential.
So, this deal isn’t happening. The Mets may well try for Oswalt alone at some point, with the Astros likely to ask for Jon Niese or Jenrry Mejia in return.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.