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.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.