MLB Trade Rumors: Best Trade Options for Next Season's Contenders

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2012

The Major League Baseball hot stove has cooled off in recent weeks, but there are still plenty of moves that have to be made this offseason, like figuring out where Prince Fielder is going, but it is never too early to start looking at potential trades that might be out there for some of next season's contenders. 

We are hearing rumblings and grumblings surrounding potential moves for some of the top teams and great players, so it is perfectly reasonable to assume that at least one big deal will go down before spring training arrives next month. 

Here are some of the best trade options for World Series and playoff contenders right now. 

 

Detroit Tigers Acquire Matt Garza from Chicago Cubs

The more rumors you hear about Garza, the more it sounds like the Tigers are the leader in the clubhouse to strike a deal for him. What exactly that means, no one knows, because until a deal is official anything can happen.

David Kaplan of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago reported two days ago that the two sides are "down the road" in trade talks that would send Garza to Detroit in exchange for a package of prospects. 

Right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner, who is the Tigers' top prospect, would likely have to be included in the deal for the Cubs to do it, according to James Schmehl of MLive.com.

Turner does have ace potential, but the Tigers have shown in the past that they are willing to make a big deal if they think it will bring them a championship immediately. Putting Garza in the same rotation as Justin Verlander would give them one of the best one-two punches at the top of a rotation in baseball. 

 

Tampa Bay Rays Acquire Daniel Murphy from New York Mets

The Rays are desperate to find an option at first base, and Daniel Murphy could be a great fit for the Rays because he is cheap, gets on base and has upside. 

Buster Olney of ESPN speculated that if the Rays were willing to deal from their plethora of young pitching, they could strike a deal with the Mets, who are in the market for pitching. 

Murphy would be terrific as a complementary piece in the Rays lineup. They already have Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings, so they don't need a middle-of-the-order bat. He hits for average and has good plate discipline. He also plays solid defense at first base. 

Considering how strong the Rays pitching staff is going to be, they don't have to make a lot of big upgrades on offense to compete in the American League East. 

 

Cincinnati Reds Acquire Seth Smith from Colorado Rockies

The Reds have been very active this offseason, acquiring Mat Latos from San Diego and signing Ryan Madson, but they are still missing a few pieces before they can be put among the National League's elite. 

One area that they are desperate for help is in left field. Chris Heisey isn't going to get the job done, so they should find a way to make a deal with the Rockies for Seth Smith. 

Buster Olney also wrote on this deal late last week, saying that Smith would go from Colorado to Tampa Bay, then be flipped to Cincinnati for Ryan Hanigan. 

Smith would fill one of the few weak areas that the Reds have on offense, and he has been a solid defensive player for most of his career.

He does have a wide home/road split—.257, 20 home runs in 677 at-bats on the road, .290, 31 home runs in 608 at-bats in Colorado—so there is risk, but he just has to be a complementary piece in the Reds lineup. 

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