With the free agent market being so dull this year, teams will have to make some creative trades to improve on their goals, here’s a few ideas that may make sense or happen.
Analysis: This deal was supposedly discussed before the trade deadline and it had momentum but time ran out before the deal could be completed. The point of the deal is obvious for both sides, the Dodgers want to challenge the Cubs next season and add a proven bat as Justin Turner likely leaves in free agency. The Brewers want some financial room to work as they get younger and would get back a very talented player that could break out for them, similar to what Carlos Gomez did a few years back. The Dodgers would have to dump one contract, but McCarthy could help the Brewers young staff anyways and is way cheaper than holding onto Braun. Now trading Braun for a few question marks could make you wonder, but the Brewers aren’t going anywhere for the rest of Braun’s prime seasons and they’ll get some interesting names while freeing up that money. Braun could fit right in the middle of the Dodgers line-up and fill in as the right fielder. Braun will be 33 but he had his best season since 2012 last year. He’d be a huge pickup for the Dodgers, a team that could also afford his contract. Sborz and Buehler both figure to be middle of the rotation arms in a year or two for the pitching starved Brewers and Gatewood has interesting power that makes him intriguing for the Dodgers.
Analysis: The Blue Jays are probably going to lose Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista this offseason but why not replace them with a really good hitter who has aged better than Bautista and is a better first baseman than Encarnacion. The Jays are in a situation similar to the Dodgers. They have a core of Donaldson, Stroman, Osuna, Tulowitzki, Martin and Pillar but they need a guy that’ll put them over the edge. This type of deal could make them favorites in the AL. The Reds would get the same flexibility that the Brewers would in the deal above. If the Reds pay some of Votto’s deal, it may make the Jays more willing to make it. The prospects that the Reds would be getting a very good, I have a hard time believing Toronto would trade their top guy, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. because of the salary they’d be picking up in Votto, but the Reds would get Sean Reid-Foley who I think could be a borderline ace. Rowdy Tellez is a power hitter who also can hit for a little average and he’d replace Votto. Greene lost stock this year but he could be a solid number three. Harold Ramirez reminds me of a less powerful Christian Yelich from the right side. D.J. Davis is an interesting throw in, a former first rounder with tools but hasn’t shown more than glimpses of what he can do. Overall, the Reds would get a nice haul.
Analysis: It seems as if the Rays are going to trade Archer this offseason, so we have to find a match for them. I think Miami is the perfect fit. They’re prepared to trade some offense for starters. Of course, the Marlins lost a Hall of Fame talent and one of the biggest athletes in the Miami community in Jose Fernandez. Archer won’t replace Fernandez but he’s capable of being an ace and he’s another leader in the community. He’s exactly what the Marlins need. Archer is coming off a down season but he’s also better than the numbers suggest. The fly balls he gave up flew out of the park at an unusual rate and he’s more than likely to rebound to somewhere around his 2015 numbers. He’s truly a good pitcher and easily the best option for the pitching starved Marlins. The Marlins have a surplus of talent on offense and are ready to trade that to get pitching. Ozuna is an all-star and he’d be a very welcome addition to hit behind Evan Longoria in the line-up. He’s got three years of team control left and is one of the more valuable bats on the trade market. Dietrich would be coming back to the team that drafted him. He can play all over and he gets on base, something Tampa has always valued. Garrett and Kolek are raw prospects, but they have the highest ceilings of any prospect outside of Braxton Garrett that Miami has to offer. I think that may be enough to get Archer, but Braxton Garrett may be substituted in for Kolek too.
Analysis: The Cubs let Jason Hammel hit the open market so he could make more money. So, why not upgrade your rotation now? Quintana has been an underrated starter for years now and has kept a FIP 3.56 or below the past three seasons. He had a spike in homers last season that should go back down a little too, so in reality the Cubs could probably expect Quintana to have an ERA around 3. Can you imagine Lester-Arrieta-Hendricks-Quintana-Lackey? That is a rotation with experience, talent, and numerous ways to get hitters out. They’d keep offenses guessing for days. Combine that with the Cubs line-up and bullpen that they may upgrade and they are the scarier in 2017 than ever. They’d have to give up Jeimer Candelario, but with Bryant and Baez there isn’t really be room for Candelario. He figures to be a good offensive contributor who has a chance to break out and be someone more. Pena looks like he could be a good late innings arms too. The White Sox need to add young offensive talent, so Soler being the centerpiece makes sense. Williams is a bottom of the rotation starter, but his floor is pretty good and he’s close to major league ready. Zangunis is an underrated prospect who profiles as a left fielder with average power and the ability to hit. Young could fill out a roster and is another guy with a high floor that could be useful as a utility man.
Analysis: The White Sox will be starting to rebuild this offseason. They could grab a good prospect from David Robertson if they eat some of his contract. Robertson is starting to decline it seems, but on a two year remaining deal he’s still an attractive option. The Giants are still contenders and Robertson would be a massive upgrade over what they had in the late innings last season In Santiago Casilla. The Giants don’t have the farm system to go all out for anyone, but they wouldn’t need to Robertson. They have Chris Shaw who is blocked by Brandon Belt. Belt has been a consistent 4 WAR over the past four season with the exception of 2014. Shaw really is good trade bait with his power and he could use it well in Guaranteed Rate Field. He may be a future DH but the White Sox just need to stock up on bats, and they don’t have a sure guy at DH right now, so if Shaw were to end up there it could be like what the Sox did in 2015 with Adam LaRoche and Jose Abreu.
Analysis: The Royals are going to want to give Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and possibly Alcides Escobar extension all after this season and they need to shed payroll to do so. Moustakas will probably not be retained into his free agency due to Cheslor Cuthbert’s emergence. Moose is good, but there’s a cheaper option that has a bat that produces just as well. The Royals will likely try and move Moose this offseason. The Giants should be very interested in him. They’ve had some third base troubles over recent seasons and if they miss out on Justin Turner, their fallback might just be Pablo Sandoval, a huge liability at this point. They can stay cheaper and take less of risk on Moustakas, despite him coming off injury. That would also allow Eduardo Nunez to platoon with him against lefties and play all over the field on other days like he has most of his career. Moose has always been a reliable defender and he broke out offensively in 2015 along with hitting 7 homers in his first 112 plate appearances last year before a freak collision ended his season very early. He is an impending free agent coming off injury so he won’t get a Top 100 prospect back, but Suarez has a high floor and an array of pitches from the left side almost assuring that he could one day be a reliable three or four for the Royals.
Analysis: This would be a blockbuster, but why not? Dozier has power that would play very well in Yankee Stadium. He’s better than Starlin Castro whom could be shopped for some pitching too. It would take a huge package, but the Yankees could make it work. They have Gleyber Torres which makes Jorge Mateo expendable in this situation as I’m sure the Yankees would pursue an extension for Dozier at second base. Mateo is a top 20 prospect with speed to steal 70 bases and his relationship with the Yankees has soured recently. He could headline a deal with Kaprielian, the Yankees top draft pick from 2015 whom has a lot of hype surrounding him and could be the future of the Twins staff that they are looking for. Sheffield and Montgomery are both projected two or three starters that would also supply Minnesota’s pitching need. Dozier’s stock may never be higher and the Twins need more to contend and probably can’t afford him beyond his current deal that runs through 2018. It makes a lot of sense to trade him now because the Twins have such a small likelihood of contending in these two years and why wait and risk his value dropping? Teams will still pay a premium for him this offseason. Dozier would also be a nice veteran to have as guys like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Clint Frazier come up and mature as hitters.
Dodgers Acquire: 2B Brandon Phillips
Reds Acquire: OF Mitchell Hansen
Analysis: The Dodgers love veteran middle infielders, they had Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley the past few years. Now that they traded Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley is a free agent, they have a hole. Phillips wouldn’t cost much in prospects and the Reds would probably eat a little bit of the final year of his contract so they can give Dilson Herrera the job and nab a half way decent prospect with some upside. Phillips has still produced an average WAR of 2 over the past three seasons and is a veteran presence. If he can hit for a decent average his still has value and it wouldn’t cost the Dodgers a ton. Hanson was a second rounder for the Dodgers last year who got his career off to a good start at the lower levels. He can do everything pretty well and he projects as a solid corner outfielder with some patience and grooming. He’d be a good upside prospect for the Reds to take.
Analysis: The Tigers are looking to get younger and cheaper. That’s quite the combination. Their best trade piece is J.D. Martinez who is one of the better power hitters in the game today. The Blue Jays still have a fairly competitive team but are unlikely to re-sign their top hitters, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, their right fielder for almost the past decade now. Martinez is a free agent after 2017 but he’s pretty affordable for the Blue Jays this season as they try and make a final push for the World Series. This deal would cost them Anthony Alford, he’s the key to it. The Tigers dealt Cameron Maybin and they have almost nobody down the pipeline besides Derek Hill who is still years away at the center field position. Alford is close to major league ready, coming off a good showing in the AFL and is toolsy. Max Pentecost is a catcher that is an advanced hitter and projects to be at least average behind the plate. He could be a good guy to partner James McCann with in 2018. Jon Harris I got to see pitch early on in 2016 in Lansing and he looked very advanced, he earned a promotion to High A ball and continued his success. He’s a great number three for the Tigers in a few years. This deal would replenish the Tigers system again and they already have a nice young core going with Fulmer, Norris, Boyd, Castellanos and Iglesias. J.D. is probably not coming back after 2017 and he could really help propel the Jays. His swing would work so well in the Rogers Centre, he could challenge 40 homers easily and bash with Josh Donaldson all season. This deal would be like the Granderson deal in 2009 for the Tigers on lower scale when after winning 86 games in 2009 (they won 86 in 2016) they traded some veterans for good young guys (Scherzer, Jackson) and ended up starting a stretch of winning divisions just a year removed from that deal.
Analysis: The Rays are probably going to trade a few arms this offseason and Odorizzi seems like a good bet to be moved. He’s been a pretty consistent middle of the rotation arm for a few years now and pretty much any team could benefit by having him round off their staff. I choose Philly here because they have a young staff with a lot of upside, but they don’t have many veterans outside of Jeremy Hellickson, who likely will only remain in Philly through 2017. Odorizzi will give Philly a veteran arm and they could get him for less than the big name pitchers out on the market. Odorizzi is 27 and has been consistent and can succeed if he keeps his K rate of almost eight per nine around that number. Knapp would give Tampa a solid catching prospect and could solve their long issue with catching. Knapp has gotten great reviews on the defensive side and also projects out to be above average with the bat. He strikes me as the type of prospect to age into his bat like some catchers do. Medina and Lively are both prospects with some upside. Medina is further away but has the higher ceiling. He excelled in 13 minor league starts last season. Lively is a good end of the rotation arm who has seen success recently and is close to the majors. He may be able to help Tampa as soon as 2017.
Analysis: Cozart isn’t flashy but he’s actually been a consistent 2 WAR player. He even started to break out in 2015 before getting hurt and he wasn’t quite as good last season. For the Padres, Cozart provides the chance for a consistent shortstop, something they did not have with Alexei Ramirez last season who was one of the worst players in the league. The Padres WAA (a stat that correlates WAR to wins above average on Baseball Reference) at shortstop was actually worst in the league by a lot. Cozart is a free agent after this season but the Padres could try and lure him back. He wouldn’t cost them a premium either. Cozart probably won’t be re-signed by the Reds and it’ll give Jose Peraza a shot finally. Paddack has had an impressive start to his career but he is still a bit a raw. He’s 20 and has a great strikeout rate along with his impressive stuff. His size is a big advantage too. He could be a very solid three or even number two if he reaches his potential.
Analysis: McCutchen is probably going to be traded and Washington is the most logical destination for him. He could hit second in between Trea Turner and Bryce Harper and will likely bounce back from a lackluster 2016 season. The former MVP could be the last piece of the puzzle for the team that has Max Scherzer, Stephen Starsburg, Harper, Turner, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and one of the top prospects in baseball in Lucas Giolito. The return for McCutchen would probably have to include Victro Robles, who is young but seems like he could be up and playing center field at an all-star level sooner rather than later. This deal would also give Pittsburgh two really good pitchers to team up with Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, and Jamieson Taillon in Reynaldo Lopez and Erick Fedde. Both Fedde and Lopez project out as number two or three guys and have good stuff and record of success. They’re both almost major league ready too. Drew Ward is an intriguing third base prospect with power and Andrew Stevenson is a great natural hitter and has a good ceiling as an outfielder. The Pirates would get a good haul, Austin Meadows could replace McCutchen for now and Robles could later with Meadows possibly moving to a corner and the Pirates would get payroll flexibility.
Wrote these up then the actual trades happened:
Cubs Acquire: RP Wade Davis
Royals Acquire: 3B Jeimer Candelario and RP Felix Pena
Analysis: The Cubs are going to need a closer with Aroldis Chapman hitting the open market, and the Cubs more than likely going after retaining their lead-off man in Dexter Fowler. This will leave them with a gap at closer. They want to make their team as good as possible to defend their title. Davis could be cheaper and the Cubs can trade blocked prospects for him. I also think he’d have a good chance at signing an extension with Chicago. His cutter is still really good. Kansas City probably won’t be able to retain him and they’d get another relief pitcher with potential and a guy that could be their starting third baseman soon. With a lot of contracts coming up, the Royals may not be able to retain some of their infielders. Candelario has really good potential and I could see him fitting right into Kansas City’s offense. Davis makes the Cubs even stronger than they already are and keeping the back end of their bullpen very strong with the 1-2-3 of Strop-Rondon-Davis.
Rangers Acquire: SP Chris Sale
Analysis: The Rangers are in the market for another starter and they’ve shown in the past that they aren’t afraid to pay for one. The bottom of their rotation is lacking depth, so getting Sale would be smart and help them take the leap and possibly win in the ALDS. It’ll take a lot to get Sale but he’s consistently been an elite starter in the AL over the last five seasons, which is pretty rare. Imagine a healthy rotation that goes Hamles-Darvish-Sale. Moving to Texas shouldn’t affect Sale much and he’d be with another lefty with an illustrious career in Cole Hamels, which couldn’t hurt either of them. The cost would be high but Texas has the pieces. Jurickson Profar is blocked at every position but has shown that he can hit well and be at least some of the player that was the top prospect in baseball a few years ago. He could definitely fit at second for the White Sox. Gallo has some of the best power in the minors and his power would play well in Chicago, he’s blocked by Adrian Beltre right now and a position change to the outfield could happen but Texas has Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo. Gallo could easily make the shift to left field in Chicago. Mendez could be solid number two and is major league ready and Jurado made a huge leap forward in 2016 as an intriguing prospect and he could fit in Chicago’s future rotation. This deal would give Chicago some young pitching and some of the offense that they are craving. All of these guys
can make an impact by 2018 too. It’d be a blockbuster but it could work for both sides.