The trade of Kelvin Herrera to the Washington Nationals signals the real start of trade season in baseball. Herrera is the first major domino to fall this season and many more are sure to come by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Teams across baseball are now finding their path as buyers or sellers this offseason. The focus is often on the buyers, contenders who could pull off this year’s Justin Verlander trade or add a big bat to their lineup.
Every team should be considered though. They all prepare for this time of the season with ideas and goals for how to improve their team either for the immediate season or the long-term future.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at one trade each team should make by the trade deadline.
Boston Red Sox: Trade with the Orioles for Adam Jones
Boston will certainly explore the market for a premium bat to plug in as its designated hitter. Unfortunately, a depleted farm system due to injuries and suspensions limits its means of acquiring such a bat. Boston can offer pitching prospects Mike Shawaryn and Bobby Poyner, filling an area of need for Baltimore to help address the need.
Instead, the Red Sox can upgrade their lineup through the addition of an outfielder. While center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is a wizard defensively, he carries a .171/.270/.279 slash line since May 1 and a .677 OPS since the start of last season.
Jones, whose contract ends after this season, has been dramatically better at the plate. Since May 1, the 32-year-old carries a .328/.361/.483 slash line with a .843 OPS. Boston could move him to the corner and allow Andrew Benintendi to cover center field.
New York Yankees: Trade with the Mets for Noah Syndergaard
While the Mets may not want to deal Syndergaard to their crosstown rival, the Yankees have the pieces to make them think otherwise. The Yankees boast one of the deepest farm systems in baseball with the strongest depth within their top-10 prospects.
Brian Cashman gets to keep Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, but it will cost them serious depth. Fortunately, New York’s outfield depth allows them to trade its No.1 prospect Estevan Florial for an ace-caliber pitcher.
While fellow top-10 prospect Thairo Estrada is blocked by numerous infielders at Yankee Stadium, right-handed pitcher Luis Medina would give the Mets some pitching back for the future.
Thor is the perfect target for New York given his talent, age and team-friendly contract. He can pair with Severino to give the Yankees one of the best 1-2 rotation combos in baseball.
Toronto Blue Jays: Trade J.A. Happ to the Mariners
The Blue Jays would love to trade Josh Donaldson before he walks in free agency and they receive next to nothing. Unfortunately, Donaldson’s frequent trips to the disabled list this season prevent Toronto from landing any substantial return right now.
Happ will draw interest from several contenders, but teams with deep systems will focus on high-end names first. The Blue Jays should find a nice fit with Seattle, who has just enough talent in its farm system to land Happ.
Outfield prospect Braden Bishop gives Toronto a player with the upside to hit near the top of the order and provide above-average defense in the outfield. At worst, he becomes a high-end fourth outfielder. Teenage infield prospect Juan Querecueto offers raw tools but needs years to develop.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trade Wilson Ramos to the Nationals
The Rays’ decision to take a chance on Ramos after he tore his ACL in 2016 is going to pay off. The 30-year-old is having a great season at the plate with a .288/.337/.447 slash line. Combine an expiring contract and he makes the perfect target for teams in need of a catcher.
Tampa Bay will get plenty of calls but the best fit might be a return home for Ramos. Washington can offer southpaw Nick Raquet, the No.13 prospect in the organization’s farm system, who offers mid-rotation upside and would develop nicely with Tampa Bay.
Additionally, outfielder Armond Upshaw offers a superb athlete who can develop into a top-15 prospect in Tampa Bay’s farm system if he can turn his athleticism and tools into production.
Baltimore Orioles: Trade Manny Machado to the Cubs
The Orioles possess arguably the most-coveted player on the trade market in years. In the last year of his deal before he walks in the offseason, Baltimore will certainly trade Machado by July 31.
There will be plenty of offers to choose from but the best trade package will likely come from Chicago. Shortstop Addison Russell needs a change of scenery and would plug in immediately at shortstop for Baltimore for a few years.
Meanwhile, right-handed pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay should be ready to make his MLB debut and could give Baltimore a high-end, mid-rotation starter in a couple years if he stays healthy beyond 2018. Pitching prospect Jeremiah Estrada would add depth and a future MLB arm to Baltimore’s farm system.
Cleveland Indians: Trade with the Reds for Raisel Iglesias
While Cleveland no longer has the worst bullpen in baseball, it’s still a massive area of need. According to FanGraphs, Cleveland’s bullpen entered the week with the third-worst ERA (5.42) in the majors.
Enter Iglesias, who has been outstanding for Cincinnati since they moved him from the rotation to the bullpen. In 30 1/3 innings, the 28-year-old carries a 2.37 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 11 saves.
Cleveland may have to part with starting pitcher Shane Bieber, given Iglesias is an elite reliever and under contract control for multiple seasons. Even with the price, the chance to add a premium arm in the late innings is worth it.
Detroit Tigers: Trade Francisco Liriano to the Yankees
Detroit’s offseason addition of Liriano should return a decent reward this trade season. The veteran southpaw has given the Tigers quality innings as a starter with a 3.90 ERA in 10 starts.
We saw Liriano work as a lefty reliever for the Houston Astros last season and New York could target him as a utility pitcher. He could step in when the team needs a sixth starter or be brought in against left-handed batters.
Detroit can target right-handed pitcher Ben Heller. According to MLB.com, the 26-year-old possesses a 70-grade fastball on the 20-80 scale. If Detroit can iron out his command, he could turn into an excellent late-inning reliever for the Tigers.
Minnesota Twins: Trade Brian Dozier to the Diamondbacks
Minnesota is close enough in the race for a playoff spot where they won’t sell off any assets under contract control for multiple seasons. However, Dozier is in the last year on his deal and now is the time to deal him.
While there aren’t a lot of teams that will need a second baseman, the Twins should be able to find a match with the Diamondbacks. Arizona will likely hang on to their top-five prospects, but still have plenty of talent to offer Minnesota.
A trade package centered around catching prospect Daulton Varsho, the 68th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, would give Minnesota a catcher for the future. Pair him with relief prospect Jimmie Sherfy, who could step into Minnesota’ bullpen immediately, and it would be a return the Twins would be very happy with.
Chicago White Sox: Trade James Shields to the Angels
While Chicago will forever live to regret the day they traded for Shields, they now at least have the chance to get something back for him. While he isn’t the caliber of pitcher we saw in May when he recorded a 3.38 ERA, he is still a solid innings eater.
The White Sox may need to eat some of the remaining money on Shields’ deal, but that should help draw a little more interest. Given the numerous injuries to the Angels’ rotation this season, the fit is easy.
In exchange for Shields, the White Sox land a prospect with at least one MLB-ready tool. According to MLB.com, outfield prospect Trent Deveaux carries 80-grade speed and has plenty of time to develop his baseball skills as an 18-year-old.
Kansas City Royals: Trade Mike Moustakas to the Indians for Brady Aiken
Simply put, Kansas City once again found itself hurt by timing. After Moustakas’ market dried up and wiped out the team’s chances of receiving draft compensation, he is now hurting his trade value.
Since May 1, Moustakas owns a .236 batting average and .721 OPS for Kansas City. As the potential return for the Royals drops, the organization will now want to just get something for the veteran third baseman.
Aiken, who was twice drafted in the first round, has seen his own value drop dramatically. He is now ranked 30th by MLB.com in Cleveland’s farm system but could be a reclamation project for Kansas City.
Houston Astros: Trade with the Padres for Brad Hand
Houston’s bullpen is slowly turning things around after a slow start. According to FanGraphs, the Astros’ relievers have the second-best ERA (2.72) in the past 30 days. Yet the opportunity to add a premium lefty with elite stuff may be too hard to ignore.
Hand is under contract control through at least 2020, with a $10 million team option for 2021. Pair that with his 0.97 WHIP and it’s understandable why he will cost Houston a sizable return.
Houston can afford to trade infield prospect Freudis Nova, ranked No. 5 in its farm system by MLB.com. A package of Nova, first baseman Yordan Alvarez and pitching prospect Corbin Martin could be the package San Diego needs to move Hand.
Seattle Mariners: Trade with the Reds for Billy Hamilton
The Mariners will focus their efforts on starting pitchers, but don’t be surprised if the front office digs into the outfield market. Dee Gordon will play second base if Seattle makes the postseason and in that scenario, it will want a weapon on its playoff roster.
At the plate, Hamilton is no longer an everyday player. He is barely hitting above the mendoza line and with a sub-.300 OBP. He just isn’t a reliable contributor. What he can bring is speed on the base paths and is a phenomenal defense in center field.
For a top-20 prospect in their farm system, the Mariners can add an excellent weapon for the postseason.
Los Angeles Angels: Trade with the Padres for Tyson Ross
Los Angeles entered the week with three of its starting pitchers on the disabled list, so adding depth will be a major area of focus. While the front office has the farm system to pursue a front-line starter, the better value can be found with a player like Ross.
For the cost of someone like Stiward Aquino, it’s possible for the Angels to land a reliable starter to plug into the back of the rotation. In 89 innings this season, Ross has registered a 3.34 ERA with a .222 opposing batting average. He is a cheap rental who won’t cost Los Angeles a high-end prospect and fills a major area of need.
Oakland Athletics: Trade Blake Treinen to the Phillies
Under the circumstances, Oakland must be quite happy with their success this season. While a playoff chase might be a little outside the realistic probability, sitting above .500 will prevent a major sell-off.
The market for relievers is always strong with contenders and Treinen will attract plenty of interest. The 29-year-old is arbitration eligible for the next two seasons, which should further boost his value.
In return, Oakland can land a pair of pitching prospects with right-handed prospect Enyel De Los Santos and southpaw Cole Irvin. Together, the duo will further add to Oakland’s farm system and make it one of the best in baseball.
Texas Rangers: Trade Cole Hamels to the Braves
It’s a full-on rebuild in Texas. The Rangers will shop most of what they have, but Hamels is likely the top chip they have to offer.
The decision of where Hamels lands will be aided by some teams with deep farm systems. A natural fit develops between Atlanta and Texas.
The Rangers will want to center a deal around a pitching prospect like Max Fried. He can be in the Rangers’ rotation by September. Meanwhile, catching prospect Alex Jackson would provide an immediate upgrade for the future at the position for Texas.
Atlanta Braves: Trade with Rays for Chris Archer
Atlanta will explore both short-term and long-term options on the starting pitcher market. Given the talent it possesses in the farm system, there’s no reason to think the team can’t land an ace like Archer.
A trade package centered around pitching prospect Luis Gohara, outfielder Cristian Pache and catcher William Contreras could certainly attract Tampa Bay. Given Archer is under contract control for multiple seasons and can slide in as a front-line starter, it would be the perfect fit for both teams.
Washington Nationals: Trade with the Padres for Clayton Richard
Having already landed their setup man, the Nationals turn their efforts shift to addressing their pitching depth. Stephen Strasburg isn’t cleared to throw a pitch yet and could be on the disabled list for awhile.
For the cost of someone like catching prospect Taylor Gushue or Tres Barrera, Washington can kill two birds with one stone. Richard can serve as a lefty out of the pen to eat innings or step into the rotation when injury strikes. It’s these small moves that can make the difference in the standings.
Philadelphia Phillies: Trade with White Sox for Joakim Soria
The Phillies bullpen is starting to run into some serious problems. According to FanGraphs, Philadelphia’s bullpen carries a 5.15 ERA in the past 30 days.
Manager Gabe Kapler likes having Seranthony Dominguez to use in multiple roles. He can do the same with Soria, who has a 1.15 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched. With experience as a closer and set-up man, he fits into the modern bullpen strategy used by Philadelphia.
As for a return, it will likely be manageable given Soria carries a $1 million buyout in 2019 to avoid a $10 million team option. Philadelphia could send right-handed pitching prospect J.D. Hammer, a fair price to pay to fill an area of need.
New York Mets: Trade Jeurys Familia to the Dodgers
A complete tear down is coming. While the Mets would love to unload outfielder Yoenis Cespedes’ contract, no team wants it. Instead, New York must look to trade off its pitching.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Los Angeles made a serious push for Herrera before he was dealt. New York can now swoop in and provide the Dodgers with another chance to land a high-end reliever.
In a deal, New York can improve its farm system with the addition of catching prospect Connor Wong. According to MLB.com, he is the No. 14 prospect in the Dodgers’ system but their third catcher. Given their depth, he would be the perfect target for New York.
Miami Marlins: Trade J.T. Realmuto to the Diamondbacks
Miami will be busy this trade season with teams calling about relievers, starting pitchers and of course Realmuto. Fits are easy to find with the Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals, and Atlanta Braes all fits. In the end, the best fit is with Arizona.
The deal can be centered around right-handed pitcher Jon Duplantier. The 23-year-old has excelled at the Double-A level this season and could be ready for Triple-A. If so, he could join Miami’s rotation by 2019.
In addition, the Marlins can ask for shortstop Jasrado Chisholm. The 20-year-old is showing flashes with the bat in the minors but will need more time. Miami can be patient with him and eventually see him become its shortstop of the future.
As the final main piece, Miami lands Taylor Widener. A right-handed pitching prospect who is also enjoying success at the Double-A level, could become a staple in Miami’s future rotation along with Duplantier.
Milwaukee Brewers: Trade with the Reds for Scooter Gennett
As a team, Milwaukee’s second basemen have a collective .663 OPS and .295 OBP this season. Given the Brewers are receiving even less production at shortstop, something must be done.
A reunion with Gennett, who enjoyed a career transformation in Cincinnati, could be the answer. The 28-year-old leads the N.L. in batting average (.335) and all second baseman in OPS (.907).
Milwaukee would have him under contract control for the next season and a half. As a result, it would likely cost them a top-10 prospect like outfielder Tristen Lutz or infielder Mauricio Dubon. It’s a price worth paying given how much it would help their lineup.
Chicago Cubs: Trade with the Orioles for Manny Machado
The best trade for Chicago really is Machado. While Addison Russell may still turn into a very capable shortstop, the Cubs need an impact bat at the position.
Chicago can package Russell with Adbert Alzolay and a few other prospects to entice Baltimore on a deal. A lineup with Machado, Bryant and Rizzo would give them an elite trio. With one of the best lineups in baseball, the Cubs would be favorites in the NL once again.
St. Louis Cardinals: Trade with the Blue Jays for Ryan Tepera
Among the numerous reasons for the team’s struggles this season is the bullpen. The Cardinals’ relievers have the eighth-worst ERA (4.31) in baseball and things don’t seem to be improving.
The market is loaded with relievers to choose from, but Tepera is a name who is often forgotten. The 30-year-old owns a 2.70 ERA in 36 2/3 innings this season and is under contract control through 2021.
Tepera’s age and salary will limit the cost the Cardinals have to pay. A potential package of pitching prospects Jake Woodford and Derian Gonzalez could land St. Louis the much-needed bullpen help.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Trade Starling Marte to the Indians
Pittsburgh faces a bit of a logjam in the outfield with Marte, Austin Meadows, Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson. Meadows is this team’s future and they would receive a limited return for Dickerson or Polanco.
In the end, trading Marte is the most valuable decision. It opens up center field for Meadows and can net Pittsburgh the greatest return for its farm system.
A deal can center around Francisco Mejia. While he’s no longer a top-50 prospect, he can take over for Francisco Cervelli if Pittsburgh trades him. Pair Mejia with shortstop prospect Aaron Bracho and it will be the perfect scenario for the Pirates.
Cincinnati Reds: Trade Raisel Iglesias to the Angels
Cincinnati’s best chance to further deepen its farm system this season will come by trading Iglesias. In a trade market with teams desperate for premium relievers under contract control, the Reds possess a highly-coveted trade chip.
The pairing of Blake Parker and Justin Anderson has been productive, but Los Angeles needs more. A return centered around top-60 prospect Jahmai Jones paired with pitching prospects Jose Soriano and Jerryell Rivera could fill multiple needs for Cincinnati.
A future infield pairing of Nick Senzel and Jones, with further pitching depth, is an excellent foundation for Cincinnati’s future.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trade with the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto
Arizona sits atop the NL West with the slimmest of leads. If it wants to finish the season with the crown, it will need to make a major move like trading for Machado or Realmuto.
The Diamondbacks have talked with Baltimore about Machado, but catcher might be an even greater need. Arizona’s catchers have a collective .611 OPS and a .185 batting average this season. Realmuto would fit in perfectly with their core and help the pitching staff.
A trade package would need to be centered around right-handed pitcher Jon Duplantier, Arizona’s No. 1 prospect. Pair him with shortstop Jasrado Chisholm and right-handed pitcher Taylor Widener and it would give Miami three of Arizona’s top-10 prospect. It would still leave Arizona with additional prospects to address other needs in July.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trade with the Orioles for Dylan Bundy and Zach Britton
This would take quite the swing by Los Angeles, but it has the farm system that could handle what it would cost to land two of Baltimore’s best pitchers.
Bundy would provide stability for a team with numerous starters on the disabled list. He is under contract control via arbitration through 2021, which would help Los Angeles stay under the luxury tax threshold. Britton would give the Dodgers a top left-handed reliever who could work as a set-up man for Kenley Jansen and solidify this bullpen.
Los Angeles would likely need to bid farewell to its No. 1 prospect, outfielder Alex Verdugo, along with catching prospect Will Smith and right-handed prospect Yadier Alvarez. While it would drain them of three of their top-10 prospects, the Dodgers can afford to move each of them given their depth.
San Francisco Giants: Trade with the Red Sox for Jackie Bradley Jr.
If Boston lands another outfielder, it could very well look to trade Bradley Jr. They explored trading him this offseason and if it happens again, San Francisco should absolutely get involved in the negotiations.
While the 28-year-old is unlikely to ever repeat his breakout 2016 season when he posted a .825 OPS, he isn’t quite as bad as this season’s .570 OPS. More importantly, he would be a defensive savior in center field for San Francisco and help San Francisco’s pitching with his range.
He is arbitration eligible for the next two seasons and his contract would line up fairly nicely with relief pitcher’s Tony Watson’s deal. That would then help both teams stay under the luxury tax threshold.
Colorado Rockies: Trade with the Marlins for Dan Straily and Kyle Barraclough
Colorado invested heavily in its bullpen this season and it resulted in the second-worst ERA (5.15) in baseball. As the Rockies try and keep in the thick of the chase for a playoff spot, they will need to vastly improve their pitching.
A package of Straily and Barraclough could solve multiple problems for Colorado. Barraclough, who has a 1.11 ERA and 0.77 WHIP this season, could step in as a set-up man for Colorado and provide a major upgrade. Meanwhile, Straily will replace Chad Bettis or German Marquez in the rotation.
In return for both pitchers, who are under contract control for two additional seasons, the Rockies will need to send a top-10 prospect. A deal can be centered around shortstop Ryan Vilade, Colorado’s No .5 prospect by MLB.com, and right-handed pitcher Will Gaddis.
San Diego Padres: Trade Brad Hand to the Astros
It’s the natural fit for both teams with San Diego needing young, positional prospects and Houston in need of one of the game’s best relievers to join its bullpen.
Nova would give San Diego a future middle infield duo with Fernando Tatis Jr. for years to come. While Alvarez would provide a future middle-of-the-order bat who the team could plug into left field at Petco Park.
Add in Martin, a right-handed pitcher ranked as a top-100 prospect, who could help give San Diego the best farm system in all of baseball. Given Hand’s pitching this season and his contract, San Diego will have no trouble negotiating.