MLB Trade Speculation: 4 Deals That Are Starting to Look Possible

Matthew SmithCorrespondent IIIApril 28, 2014

MLB Trade Speculation: 4 Deals That Are Starting to Look Possible

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    Jeff Samardzija may never have greater value.
    Jeff Samardzija may never have greater value.Nam Y. Huh

    Who would have thought that roughly one month into the Major League Baseball season, 21 teams would be within two games of .500 or better? Talk about parity.

    To be sure, it’s unrealistic to think that each of them has legitimate shot at postseason baseball, but it’s never too early for teams to best position themselves by adding a player to shore up an area of weakness.

    And with the glut of injuries across MLB—think Kris Medlen, Avisail Garcia, Bryce Harper, Ivan Nova and Jarrod Parker—a franchise’s fortunes can change on a dime, adding value to each victory. So with team needs becoming clearer after one month, trades that were simply speculation are suddenly becoming not only more realistic, but necessary.

    Let’s take a look at four moves that are starting to look possible.

     

    All statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of game time on Sunday, April 27. In-game information and standings are courtesy of MLB.com. Salary figures taken from Cots Contracts.

4. Nick Hundley to the Texas Rangers

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    Lenny Ignelzi

    The rumors involving San Diego Padres catcher Nick Hundley have been swirling for a while now, but they recently gathered steam when the San Diego Union Tribune’s Dennis Lin bluntly noted that the club is “in active discussions with teams regarding” the veteran.

    Now considering that the Padres’ future behind the plate is Yasmani Grandal, moving a backup catcher with a $4 million price tag this season and an option for next year is a prudent decision. The team that makes the most sense as a trade partner is the Texas Rangers.

    Consider that entering play Sunday, J.P. Arencibia and Robinson Chirinos have combined to produce a .167/.244/.282 slash line with two home runs, nine RBI and three doubles in 78 at-bats for the Rangers, via ESPN.com. And with Geovany Soto on the 60-day disabled list, there is no relief in house.

    Lin also wrote that the Padres could be looking for a reserve infielder in return for Hundley. That doesn’t seem too high a price for his services, though San Diego would likely have to cover some of Hundley’s contract in any deal.

3. Gordon Beckham to the New York Yankees or Minnesota Twins

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    Carlos Osorio

    It didn’t take long for the trade speculation to begin once Gordon Beckham returned from the disabled list last week. ESPN.com’s Doug Padilla, for example, noted that the White Sox would love for the second baseman to produce not just to justify his contract, but also to increase his value “as a potential asset for any trades that could come along down the road.”

    Moving Beckham makes sense. In fact, trading him may actually be a wise decision since the White Sox “are flush with second-base prospects,” according to Padilla. Including Marcus Semien and Leury Garcia, who are on the 25-man roster, the organization has Micah Johnson, Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez biding time in the minor leagues.

    Now the demand for Beckham’s services include teams like the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins. The Yankees are only getting a .569 OPS out of Brian Roberts and, according to Mike Berardino from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has made it clear that “they aren’t about to stop looking for upgrades” following the acquisition of Sam Fuld.

    To be sure, Beckham just returned from the disabled list, but the White Sox should know what they have by now. Namely, he is a career .248 hitter with a .693 OPS that is not part of the team’s long-term plan. That doesn't mean, however, that he isn't valuable elsewhere.

    With bullpen help at a premium on the South Side, the second baseman may be the most practical chip general manager Rick Hahn has at his disposal.

2. Jeff Samardzija to the AL East

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija may never have more value. Consider that in five starts he has a 2.77 FIP (fielder independent pitching), 1.104 WHIP, 27 strikeouts and has only walked nine batters in 35.1 innings pitched.

    And make no mistake, Samardzija’s time on the North Side is likely coming to an end. For Cubs general manager Theo Epstein, it is a matter of finding the right trade partner, and that team could be in the AL East.

    Take the New York Yankees, who have a rotation that is thoroughly unsettled, as one example. The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff had this to say last week:

    Maybe the Yankees can get by the rest of the year with a makeshift fifth starter. However, they face questions in their front four with Michael Pineda, who will be held to an unspecified innings limit after returning from right shoulder surgery; with CC Sabathia, still trying to find a groove for over a year now; and with [Masahiro] Tanaka, just because he’s a rookie.

    To be fair, Tanaka is more than a rookie and appears to be worth every cent the Yankees gave him this offseason, but the rest of Davidoff’s thoughts are on point. Add in the partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament Ivan Nova recently suffered, and it's clear the Yanks need another pitcher.

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman went for broke this past offseason, throwing contracts at Tanaka, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury. Why stop now?

    They could include catcher Gary Sanchez in a package to make a deal happen. After all, they have McCann behind the plate for the foreseeable future, and Samardzija could be the pitcher that puts the Bronx Bombers over the top in the AL East.

    Another team to take into consideration from the AL East is the Toronto Blue Jays, who CSNChicago's Patrick Mooney noted are routinely involved in the rumors surrounding Samardzija.

1. A First Baseman to the Milwaukee Brewers

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    The Milwaukee Brewers need a first baseman in the worst way. Simply put, Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay have not been what general manager Doug Melvin hoped they would be when he signed them this past offseason.

    Reynolds, in particular, has been a massive disappointment after a rather nice start to the 2014 campaign. In 65 at-bats heading into Sunday, he had a .215/.282/.477 slash line and had 26 strikeouts. Not exactly the type of production the Brewers need to augment the hitting of Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez.

    Like Reynolds, Overbay’s production has been dismal. So bad, in fact, that Brew Crew Ball’s Noah Jarosh called him “dreadful.” Sure, he hit a home run against the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, but his play is largely uninspiring, and again, he does not compliment the rest of the batting order in any meaningful way.

    If the Brewers are serious about winning the NL Central, an upgrade over both players is certainly in order. Now Hunter Morris, who is playing for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds is an option, but given the fact that Melvin was in active discussions this offseason with the New York Mets for Ike Davis, the confidence in Morris may not be where it needs to be.

     

    All statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of game time on Sunday, April 27. In-game information and standings are courtesy of MLB.com. Salary figures taken from Cots Contracts.