Seven Blockbuster MLB Trades That Should Happen
Following the blockbuster Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler trade, I am rooting for more trades of that magnitude to take place because, honestly, blockbuster trades are a lot of fun. In that spirit, I've constructed offers featuring star players, top prospects, and other seemingly untradable players that could make sense or at the very least, should be worth discussing. The likelihood of any of these trades occurring is very low, but if Fielder for Kinsler worked perhaps one of these could too.
Mariners Receive: 1B Chris Davis, RP Jim Johnson, SP Miguel Gonzalez and P Zach Britton
Orioles Receive: SP Taijuan Walker, SP Hisashi Iwakuma, 2B/SS Brad Miller, and OF Michael Saunders
Why it works for the Mariners: They need offense and Chris Davis will provide it. The Mariners’ quest to add offense has largely failed as free agents have been hesitant to play at Safeco Field and the contributions of young players such as Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero have been limited thus far. Trading may be their best route to acquiring offense and reigning home run champion Chris Davis would represent a huge upgrade. Jim Johnson gives the Mariners the proven closer that they seek while Miguel Gonzalez and Zach Britton could fill the vacated spots in the 2014 Mariners rotation.
Why it works for the Orioles: Davis is two years away from free agency and the O’s can’t afford to lose him for nothing more than a draft pick. As a Scott Boras client, an extension seems unlikely to be within the Orioles price range so it is makes sense to trade him now when his value is highest. Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker would instantly turn the Orioles rotation into one of the best in the league especially in the long term as the 2015 rotation could consist of Iwakuma, Kevin Gausman, Walker, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Tillman, with Bud Norris moving to the bullpen.
Losing Jim Johnson and his high arbitration salary shouldn’t hurt much as Darren O'Day and Tommy Hunter could be capable, cheaper replacements. Brad Miller could fill the hole at second base while Michael Saunders could be the left handed part of a platoon in left field as a cheaper version of the recently departed Nate McLouth.
Cardinals Receive: 3B Evan Longoria and RP Joel Peralta
Rays Receive: 1B Matt Adams, 2B Kolten Wong, OF Oscar Tavares and RP Trevor Rosenthal
Why it works for the Cardinals: Following the departure of David Freese, the Cardinals plan to move Matt Carpenter to third base and insert Kolten Wong as the full time second baseman. A different option could be packaging Wong in a deal for Evan Longoria to allow the Cardinals to keep Carpenter at second while putting Longoria at third, giving the Cardinals all stars at both positions.
Matt Adams is blocked at first base by Allen Craig while Wong will be blocked by Carpenter remaining at second base, so no holes will be created by their departure. It should be noted that the Cardinals could move Craig to right field and start Adams at first, but the recent addition of Peter Bourjos means that Craig could man first while Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Bourjos would start in the outfield.
The biggest loss to the Cardinals is Oscar Tavares, a top-10 prospect who draws comparisons to Vladimir Guerrero and has a clear path to the majors now that Carlos Beltran has become a free agent. Closer Trevor Rosenthal could be replaced by Carlos Martinez or Jason Motte, while Joel Peralta gives the Cardinals another late inning relief option if they want to shift Martinez to the rotation
Why it works for the Rays: Longoria is best position player on the roster, but he is also the most expensive. The Rays have been able to maintain competitive thanks to bold trades of proven stars for young, controllable players, which is essentially what this trade would be. The Rays’ offense remains a concern especially with the loss of Longoria, but I think a young offensive core of Wil Myers, Oscar Tavares, Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, Matt Adams and Kolten Wong would be just fine in the short and long term.
Adams would immediately start at first and Wong at second with Tavares likely debuting midseason as Myers did this year. Rosenthal would replace the departed Fernando Rodney as closer while Alex Torres and Jake McGee would become the primary setup men.
Nationals Receive: OF Mike Trout
Angels Receive: SP Stephen Strasburg, SP Jordan Zimmermann, and CF Denard Span
Why it works for the Angels: Mike Trout is considered untradable, so why not try to construct a trade involving Trout that could make sense for the Angels? The Angels’ rotation behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson is very weak and this trade would instantly transform their rotation from one of the worst in baseball to one of the best in baseball.
Offensively, the Angels will survive as Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are unlikely to repeat their poor 2013 seasons, and when combined with Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Denard Span and Erick Aybar the Angels should still be able to score plenty of runs.
Why it works for the Nationals: Having Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in the same outfield is a general manager’s dream come true and could be worth the price of Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nat’s two best starters. Gio Gonzalez would take over as the staff ace, with Ross Detwiler and Taylor Jordan also occupying rotation slots.
This leaves two spots to be covered with by free agent pitchers or through subsequent trades, and though free agent pitching is not cheap the Nationals do have reasonable options. Bringing back Dan Haren and signing Bartolo Colon or Scott Feldman would be among the best of those options, as these pitchers are effective and will not require copious amounts of money to sign. This move would certainly weaken the rotation, but an outfield of Harper, Trout, and Jayson Werth would be the best in the game.
Rockies Receive: SP Yu Darvish
Rangers Receive: OF Carlos Gonzalez and RP Rex Brothers
Why it works for the Rockies: Similar to the Mariners’ quest for offense, the Rockies quest for pitching is well documented, but has been largely unsuccessful to this point. Free agent pitchers have been hesitant to sign in Colorado and experiments with ground ball pitchers and a humidor have yielded mixed results, leaving trades as the best option to add impact talent to the staff.
Yu Darvish is certainly an impact talent, a true number one starter who could lead the Rockies staff for a long time and provide balance to this one sided team. Losing Carlos Gonzalez will certainly hurt, but trading offense for pitching is something that the Rockies should always be open to doing. LaTroy Hawkins was recently signed to close for the Rockies which makes Rex Brothers expendable.
Why it works for the Rangers: Following the departures of Nelson Cruz and David Murphy, the Rangers’ outfield is rather weak. Alex Rios will continue to man right field with Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin sharing time in center, leaving left field open for Gonzalez. Gonzalez will replace the offense lost with the departure of Cruz, and when coupled with recent trade addition Prince Fielder and 3B Adrian Beltre, this lineup will have three of the league's top power threats .
Rex Brothers can immediately become the premier setup man or closer for the Rangers depending on how Neftali Feliz fares in his return. The loss of Darvish will certainly hurt the rotation, but this is a deep rotation that will still feature Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Nick Tepesch.
Red Sox Receive: RF Giancarlo Stanton
Marlins Receive: 3B/SS Xander Bogaerts, C Blake Swihart, SP Anthony Ranaudo and 1B Travis Shaw
Why it works for the Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton's name has surfaced in many trade rumors the past few years and I still believe that it would be wise to move him as soon as possible while his value is highest. The Marlins’ farm system is very strong on the mound, but weak in position players so this trade balances their system by giving them star power in Xander Bogaerts and other quality pieces at current positions of weakness in catcher Blake Swihart and first baseman Travis Shaw.
Bogaerts could immediately start at third base and the departure of Stanton does not leave a gaping hole in the outfield since internal options Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Jake Marisnick are all ready for full time jobs. Anthony Ranaudo enjoyed a breakout year on the mound and gives the Marlins another arm likely to debut in 2014
Why it works for the Red Sox: The arrival of Giancarlo Stanton would provide a huge boost to the already potent Red Sox lineup and more than replace any lost production resulting from Mike Napoli's departure. Shane Victorino could slide to his natural position of center field (assuming Jacoby Ellsbury signs elsewhere) with Stanton moving to right. The only hole that is widened by this trade is at shortstop, so this trade essentially fills a hole by creating another, but filling any hole with Stanton is worth that price.
Dodgers Receive: 3B David Wright
Mets Receive: OF Andre Ethier, 3B/SS Corey Seager, and OF Joc Pederson
Why it works for the Dodgers: Losing Juan Uribe to free agency leaves a void at third base and the Dodgers have the prospects and money to fill it with one of the elite players in the game. Dealing from a strength to address a weakness is generally a good idea and would be the case with this trade as the Dodgers are loaded with outfielders.
Even with the departure of Andre Ethier, the Dodger outfield would consist of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, who are all under contract for a long time. This effectively blocks outfield prospect Joc Pederson, making him expendable, and Corey Seager would be behind Hanley Ramirez and eventually David Wright (if Seager makes an eventual, expected move to third base), making him expendable as well.
Why it works for the Mets: The Mets will not be contenders in 2014, especially since ace Matt Harvey is injured, thus it makes sense for the Mets to make moves for 2015 and beyond. David Wright is under contract well beyond 2015, but since he is beginning his decline phase, it makes sense for the Mets to move him now and maximize their return.
In return the Mets would receive Andre Ethier to shore up their outfield along with top prospects Pederson and Seager who have long term star potential. Neither Pederson nor Seager are currently blocked at the Major League level and Pederson could solidify a starting spot as soon as next season. Third base would be filled by Wilmer Flores in the short term, but Seager would certainly be the long term answer at the position.
Royals Receive: SS Starlin Castro, RF Nate Schierzholz and RP James Russell
Cubs Receive: SP Kyle Zimmer, P Yordano Ventura, and SS Alcides Escobar
Why it works for the Royals: The Royals are finally in full win now mode, but are weak at shortstop and in right field, so this trade addresses both of these needs without trading any major league talent. Starlin Castro will be a huge offensive upgrade over Alcides Escobar while the underrated Nate Schierholtz will take over in right field, moving David Lough back into a fourth outfielder role. James Russell gives the Royals a premier left handed setup man to pair with Tim Collins.
The future cost is high, former first round pick Kyle Zimmer has a future as a number two or three starter while power arm Yordano Ventura has a future near the front of a rotation or at the back end of a bullpen. The rotation is currently full following the signing of Jason Vargas to a four year deal so despite debuting last season and ranking as the number one prospect in the Royals' system, Ventura would likely begin the season in the minors or in middle relief.
Why it works for the Cubs: The Cubs farm system is loaded, but almost all of their top prospects are position players. Zimmer and Ventura would add impact talent and balance to their system which arguably would become the best in baseball. Ventura could earn a full time spot in the Cubs rotation this season while Zimmer is likely to do so in 2015.
Schierholtz is not signed beyond 2014 and therefore is expendable, but Castro was considered to be the long term answer at shortstop. Despite signing Castro to a substantial extension, the Cubs could move him due to his disappointing 2013 campaign and the emergence of top infield prospect Javier Baez as a capable and perhaps more favorable long term solution. Due to the volatility of relief pitchers, rebuilding teams should always be open to moving them for future help elsewhere. This move is consistent with the Cubs rebuilding plan and will make them a better team in 2015 and beyond.