Trades that can provide a big shift.
With a strong free agent class, the landscape of MLB figures to change dramatically this offseason. But there a number of trades we’d like to see that can provide a big shift, as well.
For contenders like the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers, landing a top-tier starting pitcher has to be a goal. Other postseason teams, like the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves, can use some late-inning security. The Houston Astros should give strong consideration towards bringing an MVP candidate back to where he grew up. The Philadelphia Phillies should try to do the same and hook the biggest fish in the pond.
We can see a number of stars getting traded during what promises to be a highly active MLB offseason.
This is where they should end up.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire Jacob deGrom from New York Mets
New GM Brodie Van Wagenen has a heck of a task in front of him. The Mets have gone 147-177 over the last two seasons. Worse, the farm system is barren. That needs to be changed. In looking at the roster, the man that can attract the biggest return is deGrom, Van Wagenen’s now former client.
As we just saw with a seven-game NLCS defeat, the Brewers are very close to championship caliber. The Milwaukee offense and bullpen are fantastic. The starting rotation is deep, but lacks a true ace. deGrom would be that guy. Acquiring deGrom would require a few prospects. The primary one New York should covet is Keston Hiura. Hiura, one of the best prospects in baseball, is largely blocked in the Brewers’ organization. With the Mets, he’d likely be the Opening Day second baseman. If not, he’d be up shortly thereafter. These two teams coming together would make a lot of sense.
Houston Astros acquire Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks need to either extend Goldschmidt this winter or trade him. Having him on the Opening Day roster as a pending free agent just doesn’t make any sense. The logic behind extending him is that Goldschmidt hasn’t shown any significant signs of slowing down. On the other hand, he’s 31. Trading him could bring a wealth of talent to the organization. Given that Arizona isn’t all that well equipped to contend in 2019, acquiring the extra assets is more sensible.
The Astros are pretty close to an ideal trade partner. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are both set to be free agents after 2019. George Springer, meanwhile, will become a free agent following the 2020 season. So, while the 2019 season may not be the final stand for this Houston team, a sense of urgency has to exist. Bringing in a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate like Goldschmidt (who’s also from the Houston area) would make the Astros quite hard to beat.
Oakland Athletics acquire Corey Kluber, Atlanta Braves acquire Blake Treinen in three-team deal with Cleveland Indians
The A’s have a deep bullpen. That’s not to say that replacing Treinen would be easy. But Oakland has the relievers to make that a loss like that hurt far less. This is especially true if it means getting an ace like Kluber, who’s posted a 2.85 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and a 10.1 K/9 rate over the last five seasons. The Braves have a very good young team. The one thing that they lack is a dominant closer. Treinen recorded 38 saves in 2018 while posting a 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 80.1 innings. He qualifies.
As far as the Indians go, we’re not totally sure why they’d want to deal Kluber. But regardless, he seems to be on the block. If Cleveland is looking for a proven MLB guy in this trade, Mike Foltynewicz would represent a solid place to start. If the Indians are looking to go into more of a full rebuild, Oakland and Atlanta both have the farm systems to help get that going. Cleveland doesn’t need to deal Kluber. But if it’s going to happen, this would be a very enticing avenue to explore.
Washington Nationals acquire J.T. Realmuto from Miami Marlins
Realmuto was reportedly close to being sent to the Nationals at the trade deadline. It makes sense. Washington catchers hit .214/.304/.320 with 12 home runs in 2018. Realmuto — who hit .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs — would be a vast upgrade. Additionally, the looming possibility of losing Bryce Harper in free agency means that Washington will need to retool the offense. Realmuto is a good centerpiece for that.
The Nationals should not sit on their hands with this one. Realmuto wants out and not surprisingly, has reportedly drawn a great deal of interest. The Braves, a division rival, are one of the interested teams. Miami is looking for young, controllable talent. A package centered on Erick Feede and Luis Garcia is a good place to start. Dealing Victor Robles or Carter Kieboom would be harder for the Nats. But even then, the deal should be strongly considered. The chance to land a catcher like Realmuto doesn’t come around too often.
Los Angeles Dodgers acquire Whit Merrifield from Kansas City Royals
While Merrifield’s contract is desirable for a small-market team, he’ll be 30 on Opening Day. Keeping Merrifield only makes sense if the Royals think that they can contend again by the 2021 season at the latest. Realistically, contending by 2021 feels like a more of a best-case scenario. Dealing him and loading up with more young talent is just more sensible. As luck would have it, the Dodgers have a lot of young talent. Additionally, they can really use someone like Merrifield.
As talented as the team is, Los Angeles is a little too dependent on the long ball. The Dodgers hit their share of home runs in the playoffs. But they’re very dependent on the solo homer. It’s one thing to make that work in the regular season. In the playoffs, it’s a different story. To make those home runs really count, guys need to be on base. Merrifield posted a .367 OBP in 2018. He’s also stolen 79 bases over the last two years. So, he’s more than capable of scoring runs even without the long ball.
New York Yankees acquire Madison Bumgarner from San Francisco Giants
Given that Bumgarner is entering the final year of his deal, an offseason felt like a possibility even before Frahan Zaidi was hired as President of Baseball Operations. He didn’t exactly shoot the notion down after being hired, either. Much like Goldschmidt in Arizona, San Francisco could reach an extension with Bumgarner. But the Giants are coming off of consecutive losing seasons and have a farm system that desperately needs to be rebuilt. So, a trade needs to at least be heavily explored.
New York is a good trade partner. Given that he is a pending free agent, Bumgarner only makes sense as a trade target for a team that can realistically win the World Series in 2019. The Yankees are absolutely a legitimate contender. In return, the Giants could reasonably ask for a package centered around Miguel Andujar (or less likely, Gleyber Torres). Bumgarner for Andujar may not work as a straight trade. But that’s certainly a strong place for both teams to start.
Chicago Cubs acquire Scooter Gennett, Minnesota Twins acquire Kyle Schwarber in three-team deal with Cincinnati Reds
The feeling of agent Scott Boras that Addison Russell will return to the Cubs following completion of his 40-game suspension doesn’t do anything to keep us from liking this trade. There are good, non-baseball reasons to want Russell replaced. Here’s one related to baseball and nothing else. The Cubs need to upgrade the offense. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant will occupy the corner infield spots. We like the duo of Gennett at second and Javier Baez at short much better than Russell at short with Baez at second. Gennett is a much better hitter.
Schwarber has a lot of power but unfortunately, doesn’t have a natural position. That’s a problem in the National League. He’s basically been a super-sub for Chicago. Now that Schwarber is in arbitration, he’ll be too expensive for that role. He needs to be a DH in the AL. The Twins are a fit. Minnesota’s DHs hit .240/.316/.373 with 15 home runs in 2018. Schwarber hit .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs.
The Reds need pitching. While Jose Berrios from the Twins would be ideal, getting him for a pending free agent like Gennett is not likely. But a package involving Chicago’s Mike Montgomery or Jose Quintana along with Minnesota prospect Stephen Gonzalves would be a reasonable return.
Tampa Bay Rays acquire Nicholas Castellanos from Detroit Tigers
The Tigers have lost 98 games in consecutive seasons. Castellanos will be a free agent after 2019. Barring an extension, keeping him around makes no sense. Now, Castellanos will be only 27 on Opening Day. So, an extension would make some sense. But this team is also really just beginning a rebuild. Getting some pieces back for Castellanos would be more beneficial in the long term. That has be what Detroit is looking towards.
Tampa is a logical fit. The Rays won 90 games in 2018. So, they’re capable of contending. But they’re also well behind both the Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Tampa’s right fielders hit .239/.330/.383 with 16 home runs. That’s obviously a place to improve. Castellanos (.298/.354/.500, 23 home runs) would be a significant improvement. As far as who the Tigers would get, a prospect like Jesus Sanchez or Brett Honeywell would be a good place to start. Additionally, if Tampa regresses and doesn’t contend in 2019, cutting the losses and shipping Castellanos out at the deadline would be very much in play.
Colorado Rockies acquire Edwin Diaz from Seattle Mariners
Early offseason rumors said Mariners are open to a fire sale this offseason. That’s largely been backed up by the activity we’ve seen thus far. If Seattle is really open for business, Diaz will be 25 on Opening Day. He could be a part of the future. But Diaz could bring in a major haul. He saved 57 games with a 1.96 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and a staggering 124 strikeouts in 73.1 innings for the Mariners in 2018. Colorado’s top prospect, Brendan Rodgers, would probably be too much. But we can’t say that about a package with Ryan McMahon and either Colton Welker or Peter Lambert.
Wade Davis struggled in his first year in Colorado. He did save 43 games, but also had a 4.13 ERA. Some of that can be attributed to Coors Field. But that’s not the kind of regression we like seeing from a 33-year-old. Davis is making a lot of money and normally, that would complicate things. But Diaz has one year of team control left. That would take the sting away from paying Davis $18 million to be an eighth inning. On top of that, with Adam Ottavino in free agency, there’s a late-inning hole to fill in Colorado.
Philadelphia Phillies acquire Mike Trout from Los Angeles Angels
The Angels clearly don’t want to trade Trout. We get that. Nobody is suggesting that this deal would be easy to make. Trading the best player in baseball (who’s only 27) would be an immense challenge. That’s undeniable. But when we really assess the situation, the Halos have made the playoffs only once in his career and have had three consecutive losing seasons. Los Angeles needs a significant overhaul. The cold reality is that right now, trading Trout is the best way to make that happen.
Figuring out how Philadelphia would make this work is not easy. It would start with either Rhys Hoskins or Odubel Herrera. Top prospect Sixto Sanchez would probably need to be involved. Mickey Moniak — 2016’s No. 1 overall pick — would likely head to the Angels, as well. Even that feels like a lowball offer for someone like Trout. It would be an expensive trade, for sure. But the Phillies also have to do something drastic. They haven’t had a winning season since 2011 and really don’t stack up to the Braves in the NL East. Making a deal for the best player in baseball would change that in a big way.