Nats Should Look To Move Coffey Quickly

Steve O Speak

Yesterday’s Bill Ladson reported that the Texas Rangers inquired with the Nationals about the availability of reliever Todd Coffey. The Rangers who are in a tight race out west, could really use an arm to setup for Neftali Feliz, as their bullpen has thus far been their biggest weakness. The Nats meanwhile would be trading from their biggest strength, as Washington has a solid foundation with Tyler Clippard, Henry Rodriguez, Sean Burnett and closer Drew Storen. Coffey has been a nice surprise for the Nationals as in 19 innings he has a 1.89 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Coffey was signed this offseason for $1.35 million and is a free agent after this year. Washington should have no qualms trading an impending free agent like Coffey, so now the question remains, what can they expect in return?

Given his relatively minor profile, and lack of future team control, the Nats can’t expect a lot in return for Coffey. But given his cheap contract and extremely good numbers he should net the Nationals something positive in return. The deal I’d propose to the Rangers if I was the Nationals would be Todd Coffey for 1B Chris Davis (AAA/MLB) and LHP Kasey Kiker (High-A).

Kiker was a first round pick for the Rangers back in 2006, but he hit a wall as a starter last season in Triple-A. The Rangers on now trying him out in a relief role that has had pretty rough results. While the production isn’t there he could just need a change of scenery to get his career going as a LH reliever. He at one time had a major scouting profile and at 23 is worth the risk.

The major piece of this trade for Washington would be 1B Chris Davis. Davis is a 25 year old 1B for the Rangers. He at one time looked to be one of the top prospects in their system, and even hit .285 with 17 HR’s in a midseason call-up in 2008. Since then though he has struggled through parts of two seasons, and has been more of a bench player this year. Davis though could make a lot of a sense for the Nationals who are likely to be without Adam LaRoche for the rest of the season.

While Michael Morse has done a good job filling in for LaRoche, he could just as easily go back to the outfield (especially if the Nationals move Laynce Nix as well). Davis could be a nice cheap option for Washington as he is under team control for 4 more seasons after this year. While his major league numbers leave a lot to be desired, he has shown a decent ability to hit right-handers, and has actually slightly better numbers away from home. Now i realize the odds are still stacked against him ever being a major run producer, but I’m not ready to write him off just yet.

I believe his bat still has the potential given a change of scenery and a new approach. He’s still relatively young, and if the Nationals can give him regular work, while minimizing his exposure to tough lefties, they could be happy with the results. Given his contract status and the lack of much in the pipeline when it comes to first basemen, the Nationals could at least get a solid cheap backup for the next couple of years, if he doesn’t workout as a starter.

The other question that needs to be asked is would the Rangers make this deal? I truly believe the answer is yes. The Rangers appear to be set at 1B with Mitch Moreland there for the foreseeable future. By trading Davis and Kiker, the Rangers would keep their ‘war chest’ of a number of top prospects intact. While Davis could be a useful backup or a 3rd or 4th piece in a major trade, the Rangers will likely be able to absorb his loss. And while Coffey is just under control for this season, the Rangers have a really good team and should make a serious run at the World Series, so I think it is well worth it.

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