Courting the King: Dealing for Felix Hernandez

Could this finally be the year? The year that I hoist the championship trophy in my 14 team keeper league.  I have been on an incredible roller coaster ride since joining the league.  I have dealt away my fair share of talented players in search of ways to rebuild my roster.  Having finished 2013 in second to last place on record (7-18) and last in points scored, after finishing 2012 17-8 and just missing a playoff spot due to the points tie-breaker, I knew I needed to make some changes.

Holding the #2 pick in the 2014 draft was a nice piece, with Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu available.  I started the season off with a blast by trading 3 of my keepers (David Wright, Jason Kipnis and Justin Upton) and my first round pick for Mike Trout and Jason Heyward.  In Trout I added arguably the best player in fantasy baseball and with Giancarlo Stanton on my roster I had a young and formidable outfield.

My pitching staff had a few questions, especially when it came to durability.  Stephen Strasburg and Mat Latos would be considered my aces, with Michael Wacha showing the potential to be a very good starter.

As I sit in 4th place based on points scored and our league trade deadline approaches, I have turned my attention to acquiring Felix Hernandez for my playoff run.  The Felix owner has been eliminated from playoff contention and recently admitted that now is the time for a fire sale.  So, how do you go about inquiring for one of the top arms in baseball?


The introduction

I started with an email to the owner.  I simply stated that I would be interested in exploring a deal that would land me Felix, and I thought I had the young talent to help his roster improve that could get a deal done.  When he appeared to be open to discussions, I sent over my first offer.

Michael Wacha and Carlos Correa for Felix Hernandez

The dance

A second iteration of the deal included Matt Barnes with Wacha and Correa, as well as an early round pick.

Another iteration of the deal included Nate Eovaldi as well as a deal with Mike Minor.  While the owner rejected my overtures, we continued to keep an open dialog.  I certainly understood his trepidation at dealing off his most valuable piece.  However, I recognized that we get 12 keepers per team, plus 4 minor league keepers, so he could improve the stock of his keepers by making a deal.  Neither one of us would be without risk if we made a deal. He could see Felix continue to be dominant for the next 3-5 seasons.  I could see Felix suffer an August like he had in 2013, with an ERA approaching 6.

My final offer

Yadier Molina, Starlin Castro, Mike Minor, Michael Wacha, Carlos Correa and my first round pick in the 2015 draft for Felix and Alexei Ramirez.

Interestingly, on the day I sent him this offer, he accepted a deal to send Chris Young to another team for Matt Cain.  My first thought was that this was a move that would help me land Felix.  If he went into 2015 with a rotation including Cain, Wacha and Minor, that would not too bad.

The verdict

Ultimately, even after several weeks of discussions, we have not yet reached a deal, and it looks as though we will not.  The owner, rightfully so, has reservations about trading one of the best arms in baseball who is still in his prime.  I would feel the same way if someone was going to try pry Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton away from me, and I know that it took 3 very good keepers plus a high pick to land Trout (and Heyward), a package of similar bulk would certainly be required to land Felix.  With a few days remaining until the deadline I am turning my attentions elsewhere and continuing to look for ways to improve my playoff roster.  Not all trade overtures end in a deal, and even those that are rejected can be useful lessons for owners.