Now that the excitement of Opening Day has come and gone, we now must look ahead to the rest of the season. How can the best teams improve? How can the worst teams load up with young talent and prospects. Trades tend to happen in MLB at a higher frequency that any other sport.
If teams are smart, the 2016 season should be no exception. Even the best teams have holes. Fortunately, there are ways to plug those holes.
Logically speaking these are five MLB trades that must happen in 2016.
Pablo Sandoval to the San Diego Padres
Barring a pretty sharp change in fortune, it seems like the Pablo Sandoval experiment in Boston has been a complete bust. In Sandoval’s first year with the Red Sox, he had the worst year of his career and got himself benched.
That news was not taken well by Sandoval’s agent Rick Thurman.
Panda, agent rick thurman of @BHSCouncil met today. Thurman: "if you want to win, why leave the ferrari in the garage?'
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 1, 2016
Unlike many hitters, Sandoval has a great history at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. His 10 home runs in San Diego’s home park is second only to the 52 that he hit at his former home stadium, AT&T Park. He’s also produced a very respectable .284/.355/.487 slash line in a decent sample size of 220 plate appearances.
Perhaps most importantly, San Diego would bring far less scrutiny than he used to face in San Francisco and certainly more than he faces in Boston. The Padres’ expectations aren’t anywhere as high as in either of those places, the media spotlight isn’t as bright and the average fan is not as unforgiving.
The best chance that Sandoval has at reviving his career would be in a city like San Diego. Since the Padres are reportedly interested, this deal really needs to happen.
James Shields to the Boston Red Sox
The more observant readers are no doubt thinking that Sandoval and Shields can be involved in the same trade, which is awfully convenient.
The Padres have a potentially strong pitching rotation, but their offense is poor. They may be a bit better than some of the National League’s other rebuilding teams like the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Colorado Rockies are, but San Diego is a long way from competing for a playoff spot.
With that in mind, they have very little need for a 34-year-old pitcher who’s a potential free agent at the end of the season.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, have many of the parts they’d need to compete in 2016. Something that they lack is a really solid No. 2 pitcher behind David Price. Rick Porcello or Clay Buchholz could both conceivably be that guy, but they’d have to show far more consistency than we’ve seen so far to be the second pitcher on a playoff team. Even if they develop that consistency, no team can have too much starting pitching.
Shields may be on the downside of his career, but he’s still been one of the more consistent arms in baseball over the last five years. He might not be an ace anymore, but he can certainly be a second starter on a playoff contender.
The Red Sox would likely need to give the Padres more than just Sandoval if they’re getting Shields back. Still, these two do provide a nice start to a trade that should certainly happen.
Carlos Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals
In the offseason, the Nationals and Colorado Rockies were in talks about a potential trade for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Nationals continuing dialogue with Rockies re: Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon. Nats want a LH-hitting outfielder, Rox have 'em to deal
— Pete Kerzel (@masnPete) December 12, 2015
It’s been a few months now. So, what’s changed?
Nothing at all. Washington still needs another power bat to compliment Bryce Harper in their lineup.
The Rockies might have a potential stud in Trevor Story, but they’re still a rebuilding team. Gonzalez is owed $35 million over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He’s also 30. As such, he does very little good for a team that won’t likely be winning for a few years. Better yet, the Nationals also have the young players that Colorado should be looking to stock its roster with.
If the two teams were talking in the offseason, they now need to resume those talks and make this trade happen. It makes too much sense.
Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians
With their pitching staff, the Indians have a team that could potentially be one of the American League’s best. Something that they lack is great power, especially in the outfield. The return of Michael Brantley will help that a little, but they still need some pop from the corners.
Jay Bruce would supply that. Even in a down year in 2015, Bruce still popped 26 homers. He’s also hit 30 or more bombs three times in his career and is only 29.
As is the case with the other proposed trades on this list, one team is rebuilding and the other is built to contend this year. Bruce’s age is perfect for Cleveland’s window, but questionable (at best) for Cincinnati’s rebuild.
Given how good they already are, Bruce’s 25-30 home run potential would vault the Indians from playoff contender to playoff favorite and a legitimate World Series threat.
That jump makes him worth the risk and cost.
Coco Crisp to the Los Angeles Angels
While Coco Crisp might not seem like the biggest name out there, he would do wonders for the Angels.
First of all, he would provide a stabilizing force at the top of the Los Angeles batting order. It’s true that Crisp has been injury prone throughout his career, but both Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry are good enough players to temporarily play in Crisp’s stead to keep him fresh.
The problem is that right now Nava and Gentry are in a platoon which realistically gives both players way too much playing time. Certainly neither man is good enough to hit in one of the first two spots of the lineup, and the early season lineups indicate that they’re going to do just that.
Also, while Crisp is not as fast as he was in his younger days, he’s still a source of ample speed and a genuine stolen base threat any time he reaches base. In 2015, the Angels stole fewer bases than any team in the league with the exceptions of the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles.
With Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles has one of the best 3-5 trios in all of baseball. Unfortunately, even the best hitters provide a minimal threat when nobody is on base. With Crisp, those three run producers would be given more opportunities to hit with men on base.
The Angels are one of many teams who should be in contention for an American League playoff spot. For that to happen, they need to improve in a few areas. Crisp’s speed and top of the order skills would go a long way towards solving a few of those issues.