The 2019 MLB winter meetings are in the books and the four-day extravaganza provided plenty of movement across baseball. Now with many of the top free agents off the board, our attention shifts to this offseason’s top trade candidates.
There is more MVP-caliber talent available this winter than in many years prior. Meanwhile, the market could also see several All-Star pitchers moved in the weeks and months to come before spring training begins.
From Chicago Cubs stars Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras to Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, impact talent at baseball’s most important positions are available. For teams looking for pitching, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price or Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader could be the answer.
Here are five blockbuster trades we’d love to see MLB teams make before the winter ends and players report for spring training.
Yankees trade for Josh Hader to build dominant bullpen
Deal: Josh Hader for IF Miguel Andujar, OF Clint Frazier, RHP Luis Gil, RHP Clarke Schmidt
The Yankees could easily relax after re-signing Brett Gardner and landing Gerrit Cole on a record contract. Of course, that’s not the way this front office operates anymore as it eyes becoming the “Evil Empire” once again.
New York would certainly benefit from adding one more trusted reliever in the bullpen. There’s no better option than Hader. The 25-year-old southpaw is simply one of the most dominant closers in baseball. He struck out 47.8% of the batters he faced in 2019 with 37 saves and a 2.62 ERA in 75.2 innings.
The Yankees could package Andujar and Frazier, two players who can start for Milwaukee immediately, along with Gill and Schmidt. The two right-handed pitcher, both top-five prospects in New York’s system, give the Brewers high-upside arms for the future.
Padres strengthen rotation with trade for David Price
Deal: SP David Price for OF Wil Myers
San Diego needs a veteran pitcher with postseason experience and Boston desperately wants to shed payroll. While the Padres might require the Red Sox to take Myers’ contract back, a fit exists for both sides to be happy.
Price pitched extremely well in 2019 before injuries ruined his year. He posted an 82/15 K/BB ratio early in the year with a 3.24 ERA in 83.1 innings before the All-Star Break. While the southpaw would cost San Diego an additional $9 million per season, compared to Myers, he’d have a far greater impact for the money spent.
As for the Red Sox, this move saves them nearly $10 million per season and they don’t need to sacrifice prospects or Andrew Benintendi to get out of Price’s deal. Boston could then attach prospects, a lower long-term cost, with Myers’ contract to shed further salary in a trade.
Braves fill void at the hot corner with Kris Bryant
Deal: 3B Kris Bryant for RHP Ian Anderson, OF Ender Inciarte, C William Contreras
Atlanta will certainly want to wait for Donaldson to pick his team and Bryant’s contract grievance against the Cubs to be settled, but the former NL MVP can take this team to the top.
Bryant’s short-term deal – two years if he loses his case, one year if he wins – fits into Atlanta’s preference for keeping its long-term payroll free. Bryant brings championship experience, versatility and a bat that fits perfectly into this lineup.
Meanwhile, Chicago lands a potential front-line starter in 2021 with Anderson. Inciarte can play in center field immediately to keep the team competitive, while Contreras can develop and take his older brother’s spot. All of this, for a player who the organization knows it will lose the moment he becomes a free agent.
Astros land long-term fix at catcher with Willson Contreras
Deal: C Willson Contreras for IF Freudis Nova, 3B Abraham Toro
The Astros watched as each of the top free-agent catchers came off the board this winter. It’s surprising for a contender to miss on so many opportunities, unless its eyes are set on an even bigger name.
Contreras shouldn’t be available. He’s an All-Star catcher that is arbitration-eligible for the next three seasons. Yet, Chicago wants to move him and that’s great news for Houston. While Contreras isn’t great behind the plate, his .888 OPS makes up for it. He is everything the Astros need, especially with its desire to stay competitive and get under MLB’s luxury tax.
Toro gives Chicago a replacement for Bryant. He posted a .906 OPS in Double-A for most of the 2019 season before earning a promotion and posting a 1.112 OPS at the Triple-A level. Nova is further away from reaching the majors, but could develop into a 20-20 player and play second base.
Dodgers swing blockbuster for Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger
Deal: SS Francisco Lindor, SP Mike Clevinger for SS Gavin Lux, RHP Dustin May, C Keibert Ruiz, RHP Tony Gonsolin and IF Omar Estevez
It would be the magnitude of deal that baseball fans remember for years to come. Los Angeles badly wants Lindor and views a front-line pitcher as an need. There are few organizations that could pursue a deal of this magnitude, but the Dodgers can.
Clevinger, who is arbitration-eligible for three seasons, would give the Dodgers three aces at the front of their rotation. Meanwhile, it would add the best leadoff hitter in baseball and a Gold Glove Award winner at shortstop. This is exactly the deal that skyrockets the Dodgers to become favorites for the World Series.
Lux is a top-two prospect in all of baseball who can step in and start at shortstop immediately. May can step into Cleveland’s rotation in 2020 and be an impact starter for years to come with Ruiz starring at catcher. Meanwhile, Gonsolin is also ready to slide into the rotation and Estevez could become the team’s future at second base. A win-win deal for both sides.