Ideal Companions: 10 MLB Trades That Would Create Perfect Teammates
Two wise men once said, "It takes two to make a thing go right; it takes two to make it outta sight..."
While Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock certainly weren't rapping about baseball, their theory has been proven to be accurate, time and time again.
Dynamic duos have littered the baseball landscape for nearly 100 years, from Ruth and Gehrig to Gehringer and Greenberg to Berra and Mantle. We've had the Big Three with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in Philadelphia. The Yankees had the Core Four.
Sometimes, the piece a team adds doesn't necessarily strike fans as a big acquisition—that is, until things turn around upon his arrival. The point is, when players mesh together, a team is bound to be successful.
Getting there is the hard part, especially in today's game, where the talent is spread out among 30 teams, and the cost of doing business is higher than ever.
But that doesn't mean that acquiring those players, the ones that GMs consider to be the missing piece, is impossible to achieve.
With that being said, let's take a look at 10 trades that could not only only create these perfect combinations, but change the landscape of the game for the rest of this season and perhaps years to come.
*All of the big-name players listed have either been the subject of trade rumors or speculation at one point or another this season.
The Dodgers Acquire Zack Greinke
Dodgers Acquire: RHP Zack Greinke
Brewers Acquire: RHP Zach Lee, RHP Garrett Gould, 1B Scott Van Slyke
Perfect Teammates: Greinke and Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw
Back when the Dodgers were trying to work out a deal for then-Astros first baseman Carlos Lee, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that they were also trying to acquire Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie—and that the Dodgers were willing to pay to make a deal happen:
Dodgers are talking to Astros about a trade that would send Jed Lowrie to the Dodgers,with minor-leaguers Zach Lee and Garrett Gould to HOU.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 30, 2012
It stands to reason that the team is still willing to move both prospects in the right deal, and acquiring Zack Greinke is just that—the right deal.
Pairing Greinke with Kershaw atop the Dodgers rotation not only gives the team a dominating starting pitcher from either side of the rubber, but it takes pressure off of the rest of the pitching staff while also easing the workload for the bullpen.
Not only would adding Greinke create a perfect pair of aces at the front of the rotation, but it would push the Dodgers ahead of the San Francisco Giants in their ongoing battle for NL West supremacy.
The Indians Acquire Alfonso Soriano
Indians Acquire: LF/DH Alfonso Soriano
Cubs Acquire: IF Tony Wolters, RHP Tyler Sturdevant, 1B/OF Matt LaPorta
Perfect Teammates: Soriano, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana
Alfonso Soriano's albatross of a contract shouldn't be much of an obstacle as the Cubs try to move him over the next few weeks, if what CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reported months ago is true:
Not surprisingly, Cubs are telling teams they will eat almost all of Soriano $$ (maybe all but $3 mill) if they can dump him.
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) May 31, 2012
The Indians desperately need a veteran right-handed bat with some power in their lineup, and Soriano is just that. While he's been a terrible fielding left fielder for the most part, Soriano has been solid in 2012 and would be a major upgrade over Johnny Damon.
A "Big Three" of Kipnis, Soriano and Santana would give teams matchup problems as games wear on, and when you throw Travis Hafner into the mix—who can still get on base—it allows the Indians to extend innings and perhaps get into the opposition's bullpen earlier in games.
Whether the Indians put Soriano in the cleanup spot behind Kipnis or slotted him fifth ahead of Santana, Soriano immediately makes the Indians lineup that much more potent.
With the team holding a hefty $13 million option on Hafner for 2013, Soriano could slide into his DH spot while allowing the Tribe to spend that money elsewhere.
The Red Sox Acquire Ryan Dempster
Red Sox Acquire: RHP Ryan Dempster
Cubs Acquire: 3B Garin Cecchini, LHP Cody Kukuk
Perfect Teammates: Dempster, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Felix Doubront
While some, myself included, think that the Red Sox would be better off becoming sellers at the trade deadline, MLB Network's Peter Gammons reports that isn't something that GM Ben Cherington is considering:
A couple of weeks ago, an NL GM says he called Ben Cherington to inquire on Jon Lester and was told the club is in it to win in 2012— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 12, 2012
With that being the case, the Sox need to add a quality veteran starting pitcher to try and solidify what has been a mess of a starting rotation over the first half of the season.
Dempster is a seasoned veteran who not only brings stability to Boston, but some real leadership for a rotation that desperately needs one. The influence that he could have on Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and, to a lesser degree, Jon Lester could be as valuable as his contributions on the mound.
The Rangers Acquire Justin Upton
Rangers Acquire: RF Justin Upton
Diamondbacks Acquire: SS Elvis Andrus
Perfect Teammates: Upton and Rangers LF Josh Hamilton
While Justin Upton is available for the right deal, Arizona GM Kevin Towers told the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro that doesn't mean that the team is giving up on the season: "We're not looking for prospects. We're still in win mode. We're certainly not in sell mode at all."
While third base is an obvious area of need for Arizona, Texas could offer a different solution to their problem, according to Piecoro:
Another thing the Rangers have is shortstop depth. With prospect Jurickson Profar coming fast, could it make Elvis Andrus available?
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) July 11, 2012
Andrus would allow D-Backs skipper Kirk Gibson to play Stephen Drew at third base while maintaining a high level of play at the shortstop position.
For the Rangers, batting Upton in the cleanup spot between Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre would virtually ensure that he'd see plenty of pitches to hit and would likely do so with runners on base in front of him.
The trio would easily comprise the most lethal middle of the lineup in all of baseball.
Signed at a reasonable price through the 2015 season, Upton also gives the Rangers a level of insurance should Josh Hamilton sign elsewhere this winter as a free agent.
The Tigers Acquire Cole Hamels
Tigers Acquire: LHP Cole Hamels
Phillies Acquire: 3B Nick Castellanos, OF Avisail Garcia, SP Jacob Turner
Perfect Teammates: Hamels and Tigers RHP Justin Verlander
The Phillies continue to try and work out a contract extension with Hamels, but Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has identified a handful of teams who have the pieces that he would want in return should he decide to move his talented left-handed starter.
Giving up three of their best prospects is a steep price to pay for someone who could walk out the door at the end of the season, but the Tigers are built to win now.
Pairing Hamels at the top of the starting rotation with Justin Verlander gives Detroit two aces and the best one-two pitching punch in the American League—maybe in all of baseball.
The Pirates Acquire Carlos Quentin
Pirates Acquire: RF Carlos Quentin
Padres Acquire: OF Starling Marte, RHP Bryan Morris, RHP Clay Holmes
Perfect Teammates: Quentin and Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen
With the Pirates teetering on the fence as to whether they are truly contenders or merely pretenders, bolstering an offense that sits in the bottom half of baseball in run production is a must.
NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen simply cannot do it all by himself.
Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Bucs have already spoken to the Padres about trading for Carlos Quentin, and the combination of McCutchen and Quentin would dramatically change things for the Pirates offense, which sits in the bottom third of the league in runs scored.
Pairing the two would not only make the middle of the Pirates lineup more difficult for the opposition to pitch to, but it strengthens the team's outfield defense as well.
While acquiring Quentin is not cheap, adding a legitimate Robin to McCutchen's Batman could be the move that puts the Pirates over the hump and into the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
The Orioles Acquire Matt Garza
Orioles Acquire: RHP Matt Garza
Cubs Acquire: INF Jonathan Schoop, 3B Nick Delmonico, RHP Brian Matusz, RHP Robert Bundy
Perfect Teammates: Garza, Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen
Baltimore won't trade Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado in any deal, but it has a number of other players that could be intriguing to the Cubs, all with significant upside.
It was only two weeks ago that ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that the O's were in the mix for Garza, and while some might not think that they have a legitimate chance of remaining in contention, the team would beg to differ.
Adding Matt Garza to lead their starting rotation would go a long way in proving the Orioles right. His previous experience and success pitching in the AL East can only help Hammel and Chen down the stretch, and he certainly takes pressure off of both pitchers.
Nationals Acquire Denard Span
Nationals Acquire: CF Denard Span
Twins Acquire: RHP Alex Meyer, LHP Daniel Rosenbaum
Perfect Teammates: Span and Bryce Harper
The Nationals have been looking for a permanent solution in center field for more than a year, and while phenom Bryce Harper has more than held his own at the position, the team seems to believe that he's best suited for a corner spot (and who could blame it with his cannon of an arm?).
Span plays outstanding defense and knows how to get on base. He can certainly help young Harper on defense, showing him some of the tricks of the trade.
Leading off for the Nationals, Span could get on base consistently for Harper to drive him home from the second spot in the Nationals lineup.
The Blue Jays Acquire Felix Hernandez
Blue Jays Acquire: RHP Felix Hernandez
Mariners Acquire: C Travis d'Arnaud, OF Jake Marisnick, OF Anthony Gose, RHP Deck McGuire
Perfect Teammates: King Felix and Ricky Romero
Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik maintains that the Mariners will not trade Hernandez (per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal), but the Blue Jays can offer the Mariners more in the way of quality big league-ready prospects with upside than virtually any other team in the league.
Giving up four of the 10 best prospects may be a steep price to pay, but Felix Hernandez changes everything in the AL East.
With a combination of Hernandez and Romero at the front of their rotation, the Jays would have as good a one-two punch as any team in the AL East, and with their solid lineup, they'd have an excellent chance to win their first division title since 1993.
The Braves Acquire Carlos Gonzalez
Braves Acquire: LF Carlos Gonzalez
Rockies Acquire: IF/OF Martin Prado, RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Sean Gilmartin, RHP Randall Delgado
Perfect Teammates: Gonzalez, Jason Heyward and Freddy Freeman
Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd tells CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that Carlos Gonzalez is not going to be traded, but with the team nearly 20 games under .500, and with little help coming from its minor league system, there's no guarantee that O'Dowd will ultimately be the one to make that call.
Adding Gonzalez to their lineup gives the Braves a tremendous young trio of impact bats to build around. Gonzalez, the most established of the three, would unquestionably take pressure off of both Heyward and Freeman, something that can only help their continued development.
While CarGo is most certainly not a leadoff hitter, his combination of power and speed would help the Braves deal with the loss of Chipper Jones' power and (potentially) Michael Bourn's speed after the season.