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MLB Trade Rumors: Three Deals That Make Sense for Both Teams

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MLB Trade Rumors: Three Deals That Make Sense for Both Teams
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The Hot Stove is a bonfire, but we might still see some big moves with the Winter Meetings set to begin on Monday.

The free-agent market is quickly drying up, but the trade market has remained steady, and there are some game-changing names still floating around in rumors.

Here are three blockbuster trades that, based on reports and looking at the fallout of the flurry of recent activity, I think make sense for both sides.

 

Mariners get: OF Matt Kemp
Dodgers get: IF Nick Franklin

In this deal, the Mariners would follow up on their splashy signing of Robinson Cano by acquiring Kemp, another expensive, MVP-caliber player.

Kemp is coming off an injury-wrecked 2013 season and also missed time in 2012, though he was still productive in the latter campaign in 449 plate appearances. Of course, what the Mariners are paying for is the hope that Kemp can recapture his 2011 form, when he racked up 8.4 fWAR.

Kemp has six years and $130 million remaining on his contract, according to Cot's; although I've taken the liberty of assuming the Dodgers will eat about $30-40 million, bringing down the cost to about $90-100 million. That's still not cheap, but it's more palatable, and clearly the Mariners are willing to spend, as evidenced by the Cano deal.

Kemp's defense in center field has long been the subject of debate—Fangraphs pegs him as below average to horrendous out there—and with Dustin Ackley manning center in Seattle, the M's can slide Kemp into a corner, probably right field.

I'm not a scout, but Kemp looks more like a right fielder than a center fielder anyway; certainly athletic but with a very big frame. Plus, moving him to right might help keep him healthy, as he'll have to cover less ground there than in center.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

From the Dodgers' perspective, they would get a promising, potentially versatile and cost-controlled infielder in Franklin who has become a valuable trade chit for the Mariners now that he's been displaced by Cano.

Franklin played second base for the M's last season because of the presence of Brad Miller at shortstop. But Franklin split time in the minors between second and short, so I wonder if he'd get another crack at shortstop in the Majors.

Franklin, 23 in March, showed promise in 412 PAs in 2013, slugging 12 homers and drawing walks at a good rate. He struck out too much but made more contact in the minors, so I would expect him to cut down on the whiffs as he gains more experience.

The Dodgers' infield situation is murky as of now. They need a third baseman and perhaps a second baseman, with Alex Guerrero, whom they signed out of Cuba this offseason, tentatively slated to man the keystone.

Franklin is a great insurance policy at second if Guerrero needs time in the minors or is a bust. If Guerrero is ready, Franklin could play short, bumping Hanley Ramirez over to third, thus taking the Dodgers out of the market for a third baseman, which is thin.

In addition to moving a lot of money off the books, trading Kemp would also alleviate the Dodgers' outfield logjam, leaving things to the still-formidable trio of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig.

 

Angels get: Brett Anderson, SP
Athletics get: Howie Kendrick, 2B

Intradivision trades aren't easy to pull off for obvious reasons. But the Angels and Athletics set aside their differences as recently as September to pull off a swap, so I don't see why they couldn't do it again.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

In this deal, the Halos would get some much-needed help in the starting rotation, which has reportedly been their primary focus this offseason.

Anderson, a lefty, comes with major injury concerns, having missed significant time in each of the past four seasons due to a variety of ailments. But he's a highly regarded pitcher, with many teams having been linked to him since it became clear that the A's are willing to trade him.

The Angels' everyday lineup looks good on paper—assuming Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols rebound to some degree. But their starting rotation is in shambles after Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.

Anderson hardly makes for a plug-and-play No. 3 because of the injury concerns. But his upside is such that he could pretty easily surpass Wilson as the Angels' second-best pitcher if everything falls into place for him—i.e., if he stays healthy.

Anderson is owed $8 million in 2014 with a $12 million club option for 2015, so paying him for 2014 and then reevaluating for 2015 would be of no concern for the deep-pocketed Angels.

Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the A's could still use a second baseman despite having several options there because none of them is optimal.

Eric Sogard is decent defender but a zero with the bat. Alberto Callaspo, who was acquired from the Angels in the aforementioned trade, can't handle the position defensively and is better suited to a utility role; and Nick Punto is similarly a utility/bench guy, albeit a glove-first one.

Kendrick is a solid, well-rounded second baseman whom the A's could plug in without having to deal with the platoon hassle. The Angels reportedly expressed a willingness to entertain trade offers for him earlier this offseason in hopes of landing a pitcher.

If they do in fact deal Kendrick, Grant Green could then step in at second base, which is a big risk considering it remains to be seen whether he's an everyday player. But perhaps the Halos are willing to risk getting little out of second base in order to improve their rotation.

Kendrick is owed about $19 million over the next two years, so this is close to an even-money swap, assuming Anderson's 2015 option is picked up.

 

Dodgers get: David Price, SP
Rays get: Zach Lee, SP; Joc Pederson, OF

This is a proposed deal I came across from ESPN's Jim Bowden (subscription required), and it makes a lot of sense.

The Dodgers are rumored to be interested in another top-tier pitcher, and Lee and Pederson make sense as a suitor for Price, since the Rays are a win-now team that may be willing to part with their top prospects to acquire him. And, the Dodgers have the financial wherewithal to re-sign him when he hits free agency in two years (or before then).

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Dodgers' rotation is a strong 1-3 with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but things get a little hairy after that.

Dan Haren looks like a good rebound candidate after a strong second half in 2013, but that's far from a sure thing. Josh Beckett or Chad Billingsley will round out the rotation, but they're both coming back from serious injuries. Sure, many teams' rotations are in worse shape than that, but the Dodgers are aiming to win a World Series, so adding Price could be the difference.

Price, a left-hander, is under team control for two more years, but he could make as much as $30 million through two more rounds of arbitration, so he won't be dirt cheap—although that's still a bargain relative to what pitchers of his ilk typically command on the free-agent market.

Certainly, the Dodgers would be able to afford his next contract, whether that would be a long-term extension or if he were to reach free agency.

For the Rays, this package would represent a strong return of cost-controlled talent, which is exactly what they need to continue thriving.

Lee is a well-regarded pitching prospect, a premium athlete whom the Dodgers drafted and signed in 2010 in what was something of a coup, as he had committed to Louisiana State University to play quarterback there.

Lee has moved through the minors with little difficulty, posting great peripherals in Double-A last season at the age of 21. And, while most scouting analyses I've read about him suggest he probably won't be a knockout ace in the vain of Stephen Strasburg, his floor is thought to be very high because of his athleticism, mechanics, and feel for pitching.

Elsa/Getty Images
Joc Pederson

Pederson, an outfielder, has also performed very well throughout his minor league career. He hit .278/.381/.497 with 22 homers and 31 steals last season in Double-A at age 21. He appears pretty much ready to join a Major League outfield, except for the fact that he too is blocked in Los Angeles.

Neither Lee nor Pederson has even a day of service time in the Majors, so the Rays would have both for six years at cost-controlled salaries.

It may seem like giving up a proven star like Price is a lot, and it is, but if they get 12 combined years of cheap production out of Lee and Pederson (or any other package), they won't regret flipping their ace.

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