MLB Trade Scenarios: 1 Blockbuster Deal to Make Each Contender the Favorite
With MLB teams roughly 10 games into the 162-game season, there's no true way of telling which teams will be in the playoffs. Sure, the Dodgers are 9-1 now and the Angels are 4-6, but who knows which one will represent Los Angeles in the playoffs—it could even be both or neither.
For those that have been regarded as contenders this season, however, the trade deadline is going to be important, as it always is. There is likely to be a blockbuster move by that fifth or sixth team in the standings to try to not only get in the playoffs but to become league favorites.
Here is a potential blockbuster deal for each team, limited to those generally accepted as being in contention this season. I'm aware there may be different teams than these listed in contention this year. I'm not taking records into account, though; really, is Baltimore going to be first in July? Certainly not.
Boston Red Sox
The weakness of the Red Sox, even with the injury to Jacoby Ellsbury, is clear. It's the starting pitching depth after Jon Lester and Josh Beckett—or, more accurately, the lack of it.
Gavin Floyd has always been the subject of trade rumors, and John Danks is apparently on the market. Why not acquire both? The depth would be vastly improved, and if they are willing to take a poor depth piece along with prospects (likely Dice-K, as Lackey's contract is too much), then that works even better.
New York Yankees
While the Red Sox have a clear weakness to fix heading forward, the New York Yankees don't really have one, since they greatly boosted their pitching staff this past offseason. The only real weakness of note is perhaps the DH-by-committee, especially with Raul Ibanez clearly showing his age so far.
As unlikely as a contender trading to a contender may be, Bobby Abreu could be a great DH stopgap. Even in his advanced age, he has great enough plate discipline that would suddenly give the Yankees a 1-9 lineup without any clear issues, unless Russell Martin continues to struggle.
Besides, rejoining a former team nearly always seems to create a spark in a player.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays, like the Yankees, are stocked on starting pitching, so that's not an issue for them.
Their lineup, on the other hand, does seem to have some weaknesses, especially in the middle infield.
This is an extreme long shot, but if the Reds were to collapse and Brandon Phillips were to ask to be traded, then the Rays acquiring him—even for half a season—would make their offense far more potent and would put it on par with the Yankees and Red Sox.
The Detroit Tigers have become so dominant with their addition of Prince Fielder that everyone has accepted they'll win the AL Central. How does one build on top of that?
The only thing I could really see Detroit doing is picking up a solid starting pitcher, and that's only if the young pitchers fail down the stretch, or Max Scherzer doesn't bounce back from a poor start to the season.
It's tough to pick any blockbusters since the Tigers already made that sort of move this offseason.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels, like the Tigers, made their blockbuster moves this past offseason. They are 4-6 now, though, and if they are stuck in second place behind Texas at the All-Star break, it's likely they'll make a move.
If Alberto Callaspo doesn't improve, which he should after he had a nice 2011, then perhaps the acquisition of David Wright would help. The Mets are rebuilding anyway, and that move makes the lineup even more potent, perhaps on par with Texas.
And, with a better rotation, the Angels would suddenly become the favorites.
The Texas Rangers are 9-2, and after winning the American League two years in a row, they're naturally going to be one of the favorites again.
So, how do they push themselves over the edge?
Joe Nathan has been struggling so far, and if this remains the case, then making him the setup man would be the best option. Who do they get as a closer? If the Milwaukee Brewers fall out of the pennant race or if K-Rod continues to struggle, then he could be available.
It's a stretch since the Brewers are contenders in the National League, but if it makes both teams better, then the deal could very well happen—especially since K-Rod is a free agent after this season.
The Atlanta Braves were a team on the rise last season before a September collapse. This year, they are getting off to a slow start, but they could still make a run in the difficult NL East.
Because of their reliance on the team as a whole, a blockbuster move would probably hurt the team more than it would help. The best bet would be bringing in a playoff veteran who's been there before. Chipper's the only holdover from the perennial NL East titles, so adding in a second could rally the team down the stretch.
The Miami Marlins are a team that could potentially finish in any of the five spots in the NL East, simply because they acquired so many pieces and their roster is so modified.
The problem is, some struggles can't be fixed via trade, such as Heath Bell's since they invested so much into him. A trade would have to involve both getting a lot and giving up a lot, such as trading Carlos Zambrano or Anibal Sanchez since both are free agents.
The Philadelphia Phillies are easy to figure out when it comes to any trade market. Their rotation and bullpen are great, but their lineup has been decimated by injuries.
Taking a risk on Carlos Lee would be a blockbuster move. I'm not sure if he can play left field these days, but he can spend some time at first base if Ryan Howard doesn't bounce back well from injury this season.
It might be the riskiest move on here, but if the Phillies want to win, then it's an option.
The Washington Nationals were the surprise team that many picked as a contender this season, and it's the one I'll include in that regard since that idea is paying off so far.
The Nats' weakness is obviously the outfield, with Jayson Werth being the only real firepower. Marlon Byrd is not necessarily a blockbuster move, but he is available. B.J. Upton would be a big blockbuster move that could be made if the Rays fall apart near the trade deadline, though it's a very unlikely scenario.
The Cincinnati Reds traded away all their top prospects to acquire Mat Latos, so if they are mired in third place around the All-Star break, they will need to think outside the box to make a blockbuster trade.
Right now, the team is playing poor on all fronts, so it's really too early to tell if a blockbuster trade needs to be made.
The Reds no longer need to immediately win with Joey Votto's super long-term deal, so they could very well make another risky move if they think it'll bring them a World Series without having to worry about having time to fix it if it goes wrong.
The Milwaukee Brewers had the best record in the NL Central last year, but they seemed to falter down the stretch.
They have mostly the same cast, sans Prince Fielder, so what kind of move can they make?
It's risky, but sending Nyjer Morgan out and bringing in B.J. Upton could further boost their lineup. If Morgan bounces back, then they don't need to worry. Milwaukee's outfield is generally fine already, but it would certainly be a blockbuster move.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals not only won the World Series last year but they also have one of the best records in the majors despite losing Albert Pujols.
With a lineup near the top of the league and a pitching staff not far behind, the blockbuster move to make the Cardinals the favorite is no move at all. The fact that they haven't lost a step at all without their franchise player tells the whole story.
The Arizona Diamondbacks shocked everyone by winning the NL East this past season, and as a result, the biggest enemy they really have this year is every team now ready to face them instead of underestimating them.
J.J. Putz has been struggling so far this season, and if the Diamondbacks were to make a marquee move, it would probably be in the bullpen. There's always a gamut of big names available for the bullpen, so that can be fixed and would turn them back into favorites; bringing in a veteran with playoff experience would be nice as well.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have their rotation further locked up and ready to go with Matt Cain's extension and Madison Bumgarner's possibly forthcoming, which is great since that's their strong suit.
However, first base has been a struggle for them since Brandon Belt hasn't been producing and Aubrey Huff has slowed down. Carlos Lee may be a better Huff who's out there, and a straight trade with an extra prospect or two could give the Giants the boost they need.