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LET'S MAKE A DEAL
You don't have to be another Branch Rickey to figure out that all four of the division races could be won by the contenders that make the best trades for a starter. The Giants are shopping, as are the Reds, who last week released Jerry (0-5) Reuss. The Mets hoped to solve their troubles by signing Tom Seaver but will probably get back in the market. The Yankees and Blue Jays are looking, too, although the Yankees gave the Twins a much-needed starter in Joe Niekro. In one scout's opinion, Niekro "is throwing as well as when he won 20 games in Houston [in 1980]."
The Home Shopping Network doesn't carry pitchers, so here is our buyer's guide to available starters:
1) Richard Dotson, White Sox righty. "Almost all the way back from his '85 shoulder operation," says one scout, "and he'll be as good as new next year." Dotson is an extraordinary athlete and a potential No. 1 starter. He has a high price tag, though, beyond his $1.1 million salary for 1987 and 1988. To get him, the Yankees may part with lefty pitching prospects Al Leiter and Rich Scheid.
2) Mike Moore, Mariners righty. None of the Seattle brass can figure out how Moore could win 17 games in 1985 and be in such a rut now (2-8, 5.17 ERA). He may never be a stopper, but he throws 90 mph and is a 250-inning horse who could develop outside the Kingdome.
3) Floyd Bannister, White Sox lefty. O.K, he's 18 games under .500 for his career, but he has a great curve. "He pitches to the level of his team," says one baseball man. "If the team's good, he'll pitch well; if the team stinks, so does he." Bannister has the right to reject a trade, and he said no when the White Sox asked if he would go to the Giants last week. So the price may be more than his $930,000 contract.
4) Rick Reuschel, Pirates righty. His 4-3 record is deceptive; six times he has left games with ties or leads that didn't hold. The Pirates have seven players under the age of 27 to show for the Tony Pena, Bill Madlock and Rick Rhoden deals, and G.M. Syd Thrift is counting on adding two or three more building blocks in exchange for Reuschel and/or veteran reliever Don Robinson, who is also available.
5) Dave Dravecky, Padres lefty. To start with, San Diego can't really be this bad. Even though he has lost a little zip, Dravecky has the most value of the four available San Diego pitchers because he's lefthanded and can relieve. Trader Jack McKeon's job is apparently safe with new club president Chub Feeney, and he is trying to get some power and young pitchers to join Benito Santiago, Shane Mack, Randy Byers, Shawn Abner, Sandy Alomar Jr. and the rest of the Padre prospects, who should be blossoming by the end of next year. McKeon has offered Dravecky to the Yankees (for Dan Pasqua) and to the Reds (for Kal Daniels and Nick Esasky), but so far has been rebuffed.
7) Bob Knepper, Astros lefty. When he throws his fastball inside, he breaks more bats than any lefthander with the possible exception of Kansas City's Charlie Leibrandt. He also wins. This year, he's throwing breaking balls and pitching away—and has been crushed.