There are rumblings out there that as many as seven whole Major League baseball teams could be interested in making a trade in order to acquire San Diego’s Chase Headley. That’s a pretty impressive number of teams. For the last couple of seasons, Headley has been in the running for the title of Most Underrated Baseball Player, so perhaps this recent bump in interest will garner him the attention he deserves. Maybe it’s the bad baseball team he’s on, or maybe it’s where they play their home games, or maybe it’s that being able to take a walk is still somewhat of an underrated skill, but whatever the reason, Headley gets overlooked. He’s not even the his own team’s All-Star representative this year. The Padres are sending that relief pitcher named after a city and a road. Austin Lane, I think it is.
I don’t want to toot my own horn (I do), but before the season, on these very pages no less, I predicted Headley would flirt with a 5-win season. I also predicted that Justin Upton would win the NL MVP, but never you mind that. You’ll be happy to know that Headley is the starting third baseman for both of my fake baseball teams, so I most definitely put my money where my mouth is. At this point, 5 wins may be on the conservative side. As of this writing, Headley has already accrued 3.4 fWAR, good for second in the league amongst third baseman and setting a pace for a truly elite season. Sure, we may need to regress his BABIP a bit, and the jury is still out on his defense, but even after accounting for such things there’s no denying what Headley is capable of. Thanks to his hitting ability, decent speed, and the dimensions of his home park, there’s also no saying that a .340 BABIP is unsustainable, so there. Headley combines power (8 homers this season, and remember, Petco), speed (10 stolen bases) and the ability to get on base (.372 OBP), all while manning the somewhat scarce third base with decent glove skills. Add all that up and you have an All-Star really good baseball player.
At least seven teams see it that way, at least. And who could blame them? Not only is Headley a talented baseballer, he’s also criminally underpaid. Still arbitration eligible, Headley is making less than $4 million this season (he’s already produced value at least 3 times that) and should make around $5 million next season. He won’t be a free agent until 2014. I know this, you know this, all the other teams know this, and the Padres know this, so I have to imagine that while trade interest is nice and exciting, the Padres are going to have to be blown away in order to deal Headley away. And while a move to a better team might raise the profile of Chase Headley: Good Baseball Player, at least a bunch of teams asking about him is starting the conversation. It’s all about starting the conversation, you guys, that’s how learning works!