Peter Gammons floated a trade rumor about a Barry Zito-for-Lastings Milledge trade in his latest column:
One interesting decision for Beane? Whether to trade Barry Zito if the Mets offer a package including Milledge. Problem is, while the A’s have positional players coming, they do not have any more pitching.
Now what’s this rumor really about? It’s probably just Beane using Gammons as a messenger, letting people know what he wants for Barry Zito: another Mark Mulder trade. Another Barton and another Haren.
Gee, I’d love to give you Zito for Milledge, but gosh, what am I going to do about my pitching if I do that? Maybe if I give you one of my many hitting prospects in the deal (like, say, Nick Swisher: he’s young, and he’s gonna be solid, really he is, and he plays a really good defensive first base, which I believe you may also need) perhaps you would be so kind as to give me one of your pitching prospects (like, oh, say, Yusmeiro Petit) to help me fill the hole that Zito would leave on our roster.
The free agent market is quite thin this year, so Beane might just be able to get that kind of price for Zito. Perhaps not from Omar Minaya, but from some other sucker. It’s probably a good year to be a seller. Not that I want to see Zito go, but the A’s have several starting pitcher options. They really really need some monsters in the lineup, a 1.000 OPS hitter or two. They have solid hitting prospects, .800-.900 types, but besides Barton, no real monsters. Milledge has a shot at becoming one.
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The A’s picked up Jay Payton’s option, but not Keiichi Yabu’s. Neither move is terribly surprising. Yabu is replaceable. Payton’s salary is reasonable, and even if they didn’t want to pay him $4 million next year, they probably could find someone who might. The Yankees need a centerfielder, for example. The Yanks would probably be better off trading for Payton than blowing a wad of cash on Johnny Damon.
1. Better off? Sure. Actually going for the cheaper option that might help their overall position more? No way.