1 Potential Trade Idea for All 30 MLB Teams Heading into June
While baseball's trade market is slowly developing and the trade deadline is still two months away, it's never too early to take a look at some potential moves that teams could look to make.
What follows are deals that each team should at least think about, and while I believe them all to make sense for the clubs involved, I make no promises (and provide no odds) as to whether they'll actually take place.
Some of these moves would be made with 2014 in mind, while others have an eye toward the future. They're all based on what a team's current needs are, but it's important to remember those can—and will—change as we get deeper into the regular season and closer to the deadline.
While I've tried to include a different trade on each team's slide, some of these proposed deals make enough sense (or involve a big enough name) that it was worth looking at more deeply for both teams involved.
For example, the New York Mets finally addressing the gaping hole which exists where a shortstop should be is a big enough move for both clubs involved that we'll break it down on each team's slide. A deal that involves a middle reliever, however, only requires us to look at it from both sides once.
Again, these are only ideas of deals that teams should consider. Nothing more, nothing less.
Let's get to it.
Arizona Gets: RHP Jacob deGrom (pictured), LHP Jack Leathersich
New York (NL) Gets: SS Didi Gregorius
Why It Makes Sense For the Diamondbacks
Didi Gregorius is either No. 3 or No. 4 on Arizona's depth chart for shortstop, depending on where you want to put utility infielder Cliff Pennington into the mix.
He's expendable, and he's a valuable trade chip that Kevin Towers Tony La Russa can use to acquire some much-needed pitching depth.
It just so happens that an old pal of his, former Oakland and current New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson, is in need of a shortstop—and has some live arms to spare.
In Jacob deGrom, the D-Backs get a 25-year-old who is ready to contribute to a major league rotation right now. He's not a prospect on the level of Archie Bradley or Braden Shipley, but deGrom projects to be a serviceable, innings-eating mid-rotation starter.
Jack Leathersich isn't a name many are familiar with, but the 23-year-old southpaw misses bats as well as any minor league reliever around, averaging a whopping 15.3 K/9 over his four-year career. He's a bit wild, however, with an equally whopping 5.1 BB/9 mark, drawing comparisons to the infamous Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn of Major League fame.
But the Diamondbacks have a guy named Dave Duncan bouncing around the minors to work with the team's young arms, and if anyone can get Leathersich's command under control, it's him.
Atlanta Gets: LHP Joe Thatcher
Arizona Gets: RHP Aaron Northcraft
Why It Makes Sense For the Braves
In a perfect world, Atlanta would be able to trade for its second baseman of the present (and future). But they're not a match with Seattle for Nick Franklin, and it's a stretch to call Emilio Bonifacio a major upgrade over Tyler Pastornicky.
So the Braves turn to their bullpen instead, picking up a veteran southpaw in Joe Thatcher. A free agent after the season and historically strong against left-handed batters (.222 BA, .618 OPS), Thatcher gives skipper Fredi Gonzalez another left-handed option out of the pen.
More importantly, he provides insurance for the inevitable end of the Aaron Harang experiment (we're starting to see cracks in the armor now), which will require Alex Wood to return to the rotation.
A 10th-round pick in the 2009 draft, 24-year old Aaron Northcraft has slowly worked his way into the conversation as one of the team's better pitching prospects. But he's ultimately a back-of-the-rotation arm, a commodity the Braves can afford to part with.
Baltimore Gets: 2B Rickie Weeks
Milwaukee Gets: RHP Tyler Wilson
Why It Makes Sense for Baltimore
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal recently pondered whether Baltimore would make a move for Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, and it's an idea worth exploring.
Jonathan Schoop has struggled at the plate and in the field, perhaps needing more time at Triple-A to refine his approach at the plate. He's drawn a total of four walks on the season, which, when compared to his 38 strikeouts, makes for an ugly stat line.
Boston Red Sox
Boston Gets: OF Alex Rios
Texas Gets: C Ryan Lavarnway, RHP Anthony Ranaudo and a player to be named later
*Note: The groundwork for this deal was originally laid by B/R's Matthew Smith, but I've tweaked his original proposal.
Why It Makes Sense for Boston
WEEI's Rob Bradford reports the Red Sox are on the hunt for outfield help, specifically a player who can help take some of the pressure off of Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field.
Not only can Alex Rios do that (though he's not played the position regularly since 2011), but he's also versatile enough to play all three spots in the outfield.
Between Shane Victorino's continued trips to the disabled list, Bradley's struggles and Grady Sizemore's disappearing act, what once appeared to be a deep outfield mix suddenly looks quite thin—and in desperate need of a player like Rios.
He's no slouch at the plate either, hitting .322 with 20 extra-base hits (including a AL-leading five triples) and an .831 OPS. His combination of power and speed would be a welcome addition to a Boston lineup that could use a boost.
As for what the Red Sox are giving up, Ryan Lavarnway is clearly no longer part of the team's long-term plans and has become expendable.
While Anthony Ranaudo still has the potential to develop into a solid mid-rotation arm, the Red Sox are loaded with young pitching in the upper levels of the farm system, so they can afford to move a talented piece like him to improve the major league roster.
Chicago Gets: LHP Sean Nolin, CF Dalton Pompey, RHP Marcus Stroman (pictured) and a player to be named later
Toronto Gets: RHP Jeff Samardzija
Why It Makes Sense For the Cubs
As much as the Cubs would like to keep Samardzija into their projected improvement, as much as they love his arm (an upper-90s thrower with very limited wear and tear), his competitiveness and his youth (he's only 29), it's fair to conclude he's much more valuable to a number of others teams now.
Despite Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos' comments to Peter Gammons, where he indicated the Blue Jays wouldn't be making a run after someone like Samardzija, it can't hurt for Cubs GM Jed Hoyer to pick up the phone and have a chat.
The Cubs not only need to add young talent with upside, but they also need young talent with upside that isn't too far off from contributing in the big leagues.
They accomplish that here.
The last three innings of Marcus Stroman's short stay with Toronto earlier this month weren't pretty (eight earned runs, 11 hits), but that doesn't change the outlook for the 23-year-old, which still finds him developing into a very good No. 2/No. 3 starter or a dominant closer.
The Cubs can use both.
Sean Nolin figures to be a solid mid-rotation arm, one that is close to a finished product and can help Chicago immediately. The 24-year-old has been consistent at the upper levels of the minor leagues, pitching to a 2.61 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9 and 9.2 K/9 over 30 starts between Double-A and Triple-A.
Dalton Pompey isn't nearly as close to contributing as Nolin or Stroman are, but the thought of the uber-athletic center fielder anchoring a future Cubs outfield alongside Albert Almora and Jorge Soler is an exciting one if you're among the Wrigley faithful.
A switch-hitter with good plate discipline and gap power, Pompey is an excellent defender (he won the Minor League Gold Glove in center field last season) and a threat to run whenever he gets on base.
Pompey doesn't have the bat to stick in a corner outfield spot, but Almora does. Between the pair's above-average defense and Soler's cannon of an arm, Chicago's outfield would not only be incredibly athletic, but also one of the best defensive groups in the game.
Chicago White Sox
Chicago Gets: RHP Dillon Gee
New York (NL) Gets: SS Alexei Ramirez
Why It Makes Sense for the White Sox
Marcus Semien is Chicago's shortstop of the future, and he'd be the team's shortstop of the present if Alexei Ramirez wasn't blocking his path.
The White Sox shopped Ramirez around as the trade deadline approached last year, as noted by then-CBS Sports' scribe Danny Knobler, and with the 32-year-old enjoying the best season of his career (.324/.357/.483), chances are they'll look to move him once again.
Chicago could use some immediate help in the rotation, and they could do far worse than Dillon Gee from the New York Mets.
Gee, 28, isn't an overpowering pitcher, but he does an excellent job of mixing his pitches to keep batters off-balance. He's shown improvement each year that he's been in the majors and currently has the National League's eighth-lowest WHIP (1.06) and 11th-lowest ERA (2.73).
The Mets need a shortstop, the White Sox need a starting pitcher.
It's a deal where both teams walk away happy with their return.
Cincinnati Gets: SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Cleveland Gets: RHP Josh Smith and a PTBNL
Why It Makes Sense for the Reds
Cincinnati has one of the premier defensive shortstops in baseball in Zack Cozart, but the 28-year-old offers absolutely nothing offensively.
By adding Asdrubal Cabrera to the mix at a relatively nominal price, the Reds get a massive upgrade at the position offensively while retaining the ability to bring Cozart in as a defensive sub late in games.
Cleveland Gets: LHP Kyle Lobstein and a PTBNL
Detroit Gets: SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Why It Makes Sense for the Indians
The last time Cleveland and Detroit did business together, the Indians shipped Jhonny Peralta to the Tigers in exchange for LHP Geovany Soto, who has yet to crack the majors. So it'd be understandable if the Indians were leery of dealing with their division rivals.
But Cleveland isn't going to extend a qualifying offer to Asdrubal Cabrera after the season, so rather than lose the former All-Star for nothing, it makes sense for the Tribe to move him while he's still playing at a high level.
With no long-term commitment attached to Cabrera, who has re-established his value as a productive member of a major league lineup, the Tigers would get the upgrade at shortstop they desperately need.
For the Indians, they land 24-year-old Kyle Lobstein, ranked as Detroit's 23rd-best prospect. While his ceiling is no higher than a back-of-the-rotation arm, he's been solid in 10 starts for Triple-A Toledo (3.71 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 9.1 K/9) and could help Cleveland immediately.
At the very least, he'd be quality organizational depth, giving the Indians someone to call upon in a pinch while filling a rotation spot at Triple-A Columbus.
Colorado Gets: RHP Greg Holland
Kansas City Gets: RHP Daniel Winkler and a PTBNL
Why It Makes Sense for the Rockies
If the Rockies are going to remain a contender, Colorado needs to address the back end of the bullpen.
While he's successfully converted 11 of 12 save opportunities, LaTroy Hawkins leaves much to be desired, and the likes of Rex Brothers, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino are too valuable in their current roles to slide into the ninth inning on a permanent basis.
Greg Holland has become one of the better closers in baseball, but the 28-year-old, who is under team control for another two years, is quickly becoming too expensive for Kansas City. With Wade Davis looking more and more capable of holding down the ninth inning for the Royals, Holland could be expendable.
Daniel Winkler has outplayed Eddie Butler and Jon Gray at Double-A Tulsa (1.34 ERA, 0.73 WHIP), garnering more attention than he ever has before. While the 24-year-old could factor into a future Colorado rotation, his value is so high right now that it would behoove the Rockies to move him.
Young pitching is always in demand, and while Winkler may ultimately be nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation arm, his numbers this year indicate that his ceiling could be higher. That could intrigue a team like Kansas City, which could lose James Shields as a free agent this winter.
Landing a closer of Holland's caliber could be the final piece the Rockies need to ensure they are playing meaningful baseball in October.
Detroit Gets: LHP Wesley Wright
Chicago (NL) Gets: PTBNL
Why It Makes Sense for the Tigers
Detroit needs a second left-handed reliever to pair alongside Ian Krol—the Phil Coke experience needs to come to a merciful end—and the Chicago Cubs have a veteran arm who fits the bill.
Wesley Wright isn't flashy, but he's highly effective against left-handed batters, holding them to a .237/.316/.341 slash line over his seven-year career.
A left-handed specialist isn't going to command a significant return, but the Cubs need some young arms, and the Tigers have a handful of fringe prospects (Endrys Briceno, Wilsen Palacios, Kyle Ryan and Warwick Saupold) that could be of interest to Chicago.
Houston Gets: PBTNL
Detroit Gets: LHP Tony Sipp
Why It Makes Sense for the Astros
Houston GM Jeff Luhnow has done a pretty solid job when it comes to unloading his veterans for additional pieces toward the team's rebuilding process. That's left him with only a handful of trade chips to play as the deadline approaches, the most valuable being his veteran relievers.
Of the group, Tony Sipp could be the most intriguing to contenders, though he's not going to bring back anything other than organizational depth. He's been tough on left-handed batters throughout his six-year career (.219 BA, .714 OPS), and left-handed relief is always in demand.
Sipp has been stellar in his first season with the Astros, allowing two batters to reach base (one hit, one intentional walk) over 8.1 innings of scoreless relief, striking out 12.
Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Gets: 3B Will Middlebrooks, RHP Allen Webster and a PTBNL
Boston Gets: RHP James Shields
Why It Makes Sense for the Royals
Kansas City is faced with the prospect of losing its second front-line starter in as many years this winter as James Shields heads to free agency.
If the Royals come to the conclusion that they aren't going to contend in 2014—and that they aren't going to be able to re-sign Shields—then they need to trade him. A compensatory draft pick isn't going to help the major league roster anytime soon.
Boston needs an established veteran to shore up its rotation, and the Red Sox have as much young pitching talent on the farm as any team in baseball. While inconsistent, Allen Webster may have the best stuff out of that group, as noted by Baseball America (subscription required):
Webster’s stuff is outrageous, suggesting top-of-the-rotation potential, but his inability to command his fastball and questions about his confidence raise real concerns about whether he’ll reach his ceiling.
The chance to land a young pitcher with that kind of upside who isn't too far from contributing in the big leagues is something the Royals can't pass up.
As for Will Middlebrooks, while he's been incredibly inconsistent (and is currently injured), the 25-year-old gives Kansas City another long-term option at the hot corner aside from Mike Moustakas, who has all but worn out his welcome.
While only over a small sample size (five games), Middlebrooks has performed very well at Kauffman Stadium hitting .412 (7-for-17) with four extra-base hits (two home runs), seven RBI and a 1.327 OPS.
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Gets: RHP Kyle Kendrick
Philadelphia Gets: 2B Alex Yarbrough and a PTBNL
Why It Makes Sense for the Angels
The Angels need help in the bullpen and the rotation but lack the prospects to land a big-time starter such as David Price or Jeff Samardzija.
Trading your No. 8 prospect for a rental is typically a bad idea, but Alex Yarbrough is blocked in the big leagues by Howie Kendrick and sits behind Taylor Lindsey on the organizational depth chart. Not athletic enough to serve as a utility player, he doesn't have much value for the Angels.
Philadelphia needs to begin planning for life after Chase Utley, and Yarbrough's bat is solid enough (.300/.336/.435 in 50 games for Double-A Arkansas) to intrigue Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Kendrick has been solid enough for the Phillies (4.04 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) that multiple contenders are sure to be working the phones trying to get a deal done. Including Yarbrough in the deal could be enough to put the Angels over the top.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Gets: C Kurt Suzuki
Minnesota Gets: RHP Victor Arano
Why It Makes Sense for the Dodgers
When a team has used four catchers through the first two months of the regular season, it stands to reason they could use an upgrade behind the plate.
When Drew Butera's .226/.296/.355 slash line is the high watermark for offensive production at the position, there's no reasonable explanation why an upgrade isn't being actively sought.
Kurt Suzuki can't control the opposition's running game, but he's an excellent defensive catcher and game-caller. That he knows how to get on base consistently and has been swinging a hot bat (.299./.366/.410) makes him all the more attractive.
There's no consensus on Victor Arano's stock—Baseball America ranks him as the Dodgers' 29th-best prospect, while Baseball Prospectus has him at No. 10.
What isn't debatable, however, is that Arano is buried behind a slew of talented young arms with no guarantee of ever taking the mound at Dodgers Stadium. Los Angeles needs a catcher, and dealing a talented youngster with an uncertain future is a reasonable price to pay for an immediate upgrade.
Miami Gets: 1B C.J. Cron
Los Angeles (AL) Gets: LHP Adam Conley, LHP Brian Flynn or RHP Jacob Turner
Why It Makes Sense for the Marlins
Miami has more young pitching than it knows what to do with, and at some point, the Marlins are going to need to move some of those arms to shore up holes elsewhere on the roster.
One gaping hole is at first base, where the Marlins don't have a big-time prospect working his way through the farm system. Garrett Jones has done a fine job, hitting .268 with eight home runs and an .823 OPS, but he's not a long-term answer.
C.J. Cron could be.
While he's done well as a designated hitter for the Angels, hitting .300 with three home runs in 50 at-bats, he's blocked at first base by Albert Pujols.
Jacob Turner still has tons of potential, but he's out of minor league options and could be pushed aside by the likes of Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino, two of Miami's best young arms. Adam Conley and Brian Flynn don't have as much upside as Heaney and Nicolino, and could be more valuable in a trade than in Miami's bullpen.
Los Angeles needs some young arms to plug into the rotation, and any of these three could be attractive enough to motivate the Angels to make a deal.
Sign 1B Kendrys Morales
Why It Makes Sense for the Brewers
Yes, I'm cheating here, but there isn't a trade to be made for Milwaukee to solve its one short-term issue: production from first base.
The Brewers have used four different players at the position this season, primarily Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds. Even with Reynolds' 12 home runs and 25 RBI, Milwaukee still ranks near the bottom of MLB when it comes to production from the position.
Prospect Hunter Morris has shown signs of life at Triple-A after a dreadful 2013 campaign, so there's hope that he can still become the team's first baseman of the future.
But that doesn't help Milwaukee today, so the Brewers turn their attention to the lone impact free agent left on the market, Kendrys Morales.
On June 5, the draft-pick compensation that has kept Morales on the market disappears, making it simply about finances. While a small-market club, the Brewers aren't likely to face significant competition to sign the veteran, who you'd imagine would want to join a contender.
By adding Morales, the Brewers would get themselves a player who gets on base more consistently than their current options and allows the team to cut ties with the underachieving Overbay while strengthening the bench with Reynolds, who could serve as a powerful pinch-hitting weapon.
Minnesota Gets: RHP Victor Arano
Los Angeles (NL) Gets: C Kurt Suzuki
Why It Makes Sense for the Twins
Kurt Suzuki has done a phenomenal job in Minnesota this season, providing some surprising offense (.299./.366/.410) while expertly handling the team's pitching staff.
But Josmil Pinto (pictured) is the team's catcher of the future, and the future is now. It's time for Pinto to take over as the starter, and Suzuki's value is never going to be higher than it is right now.
It's tough to gauge Victor Arano's ceiling, given that Baseball Prospectus named him Los Angeles' 10th-best prospect, 19 spots ahead of where Baseball America has him slotted.
Only 19 years old, Arano has a lot of work to do before he's ready to make an impact at the major league level. Whether he winds up as a back-of-the-rotation starter or a powerful middle reliever, Arano has the stuff to be a success when he does finally arrive.
New York Mets
Arizona Gets: RHP Jacob deGrom, LHP Jack Leathersich
New York (NL) Gets: SS Didi Gregorius
Why It Makes Sense for the Mets
According to the New York Daily News' Andy Martino, New York continues to search for an upgrade over Ruben Tejada at shortstop and is monitoring Arizona's Didi Gregorius.
The 24-year-old hit .252/.332/.373 with 26 extra-base hits in 103 games last season, producing at the plate as well as in the field, where he provided excellent defense at a premium position.
With Chris Owings now starting in Arizona, Gregorius has become expendable, relegated to Triple-A (and second base) for much of the season.
He's still producing, hitting .317/.399/.467 with 20 extra-base hits in 51 games, and would serve as a significant upgrade over Tejada, an automatic out at the plate and a mediocre defender at best.
Neither of the pieces the Mets would surrender, Jacob deGrom or Jack Leathersich, are major pieces in the team's long-term future.
New York Yankees
New York Gets: RHP Jason Hammel
Chicago (NL) Gets: RHP Bryan Mitchell
Why It Makes Sense for the Yankees
It's no secret that New York's rotation is being held together with duct tape, as CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are sidelined indefinitely and Ivan Nova is out for the season.
Reinforcements are needed, and while the Yankees could absorb the contract of a high-priced veteran like Cliff Lee, they don't have the minor league pieces needed to get a deal done.
While Jason Hammel isn't a sexy choice, the veteran does two things relatively well: He keeps the ball on the ground (41.7 percent ground ball rate), and he keeps the ball in the park (7.1 HR/FB rate). Both are important attributes for any pitcher that's going to call Yankee Stadium home.
At this point, the Yankees need to add reliable innings-eaters to the mix. Hammel fits that bill, and as a free agent after the season, he doesn't require a lengthy commitment.
Bryan Mitchell has talent and could develop into a solid mid-rotation arm, but he's got a lot of work to do before he reaches that point. His secondary pitches need work, he struggles to find a consistent release point, and his command is erratic, evidenced by a 4.4 BB/9 over his five-year minor league career.
Why It Makes Sense for the A's
Could Oakland use upgrades at some positions? Sure.
But when you're 10 games above .500 and have baseball's largest run differential (plus-99), you simply don't make a move for the sake of making a move.
Billy Beane (pictured) continues to prove why he's on a different level than every other general manager in the game, with nearly every decision he's made proving to be the correct one. That includes his choice of headgear.
I've made the mistake of questioning the almighty Beane before, calling Jesse Chavez's spring training numbers a mirage and stating that he'd be the team's long reliever come Opening Day. All he's done is pitch to the American League's seventh-lowest ERA (2.61) and ninth-lowest WHIP (1.13).
I'm not about to make that mistake again. Oakland is in terrific shape, and until Beane says otherwise, no potential deals need to be considered, much less verbalized.
Philadelphia Gets: RHP Rubby De La Rosa
Boston Gets: OF Marlon Byrd
Why It Makes Sense for the Phillies
While the shine from Rubby De La Rosa's star has faded since cracking Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list heading into 2011, the 25-year-old could be a shrewd acquisition for Philadelphia.
Boston is looking for an outfielder who can spell Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, according to WEEI's Rob Bradford, and while he hasn't played the position regularly since 2011, Marlon Byrd can do that. Additionally, he'd provide Boston with insurance in the outfield corners if and when a need arose.
Philadelphia would have to eat some of the money left on the 36-year-old's deal, which runs through 2016, in order to get a quality pitching prospect in return, but it'd be worth it to land De La Rosa.
The 25-year-old has been solid for Triple-A Pawtucket (3.04 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 8.8 K/9), and he could serve as a quality back-of-the-rotation arm for the Phillies going forward. More importantly, De La Rosa does not surrender the long ball, having allowed only 14 home runs over nearly 370 minor league innings.
In a bandbox like Citizens Bank Park, the ability to keep the ball in the field of play is something that cannot be overlooked.
Pittsburgh Gets: SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Cleveland Gets: LHP Joely Rodriguez
Why It Makes Sense for the Pirates
Pittsburgh desperately needs an offensive boost at shortstop, where Jordy Mercer and Clint Barmes have combined to hit .198 with nine extra-base hits (one home run) and eight RBI. But that upgrade can't come with a long-term commitment attached, as the Bucs don't want to block prospect Alen Hanson from taking over, perhaps as early as 2015.
Enter Asdrubal Cabrera.
A free agent after the season, Cabrera would provide the Pirates with a significant boost at the plate. While his defense leaves much to be desired, the Pirates would still have Barmes to take his place as a defensive replacement late in games.
Joely Rodriguez could develop into a solid mid-rotation arm, but Pittsburgh has better pitching prospects than the 22-year-old southpaw, who has been decent at Double-A Altoona (4.11 ERA, 1.35 WHIP).
San Diego Padres
San Diego Gets: 2B Alex Yarbrough and a PTBNL
Los Angeles (AL) Gets: LHP Troy Patton and RHP Dale Thayer
Why It Makes Sense for the Padres
It's far too early to begin speculating about a possible Chase Headley trade, but the Padres do have an area of strength from which to deal—the bullpen.
Dale Thayer has been excellent in relief for the Padres, pitching to a 2.22 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while proving to be tough against batters from both sides of the plate. Under team control through the 2017 season, he's got more value than your typical middle reliever who gets moved around at the trade deadline.
Troy Patton is also under team control for awhile—through 2016—and he'd provide the Angels with a second left-handed reliever if Sean Burnett's elbow checks out to be healthy—and their primary southpaw out of the pen if Burnett is lost for a significant period of time.
Landing Yarbrough would allow the team to move Jedd Gyorko back to his natural position at third base, where there's going to be an opening given Headley's pending departure, as early as next year.
San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Gets: 2B Rickie Weeks
Milwaukee Gets: RHP Chris Heston
Why It Makes Sense for the Giants
Brandon Hicks has done a fine job defensively as the fill-in for Marco Scutaro at second base, but he offers little in the way of offense, hitting only .186 with a .687 OPS. His eight home runs are nice to look at, but they don't atone for what has been a season of minimal production.
As for Scutaro, Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged the team has no idea when—or if—the veteran infielder will be getting back on the mound. Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle:
You’ve got to be honest. At some point, what are you going to get from him? At some point you’d like to get him out there every day, but if it’s a couple of days, or pinch-hitting, yeah, that works. But he’s not close to being at that point yet. We would be a better club if we had him to do that.
While Milwaukee is paying Rickie Weeks as a starter ($11 million), the veteran has been relegated to part-time duty for the Brewers, with Scooter Gennett getting most of the playing time at second base. Moving the veteran (and his salary) makes sense for the small-market club.
That Weeks bounced back from a miserable 2013 to hit .300 (21-for-70) with five extra-base hits and a .784 OPS makes accomplishing that easier, even with his below-average defense.
He'd be an upgrade offensively for the Giants, who, by taking on nearly all of his remaining salary, wouldn't have to surrender much in the way of a prospect.
Chris Heston, a 26-year-old right-hander who serves more as organizational depth than anything else, has put together a nice season for Triple-A Fresno (3.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 7.1 K/9), his second full season at the highest level of the minor leagues.
Even if Weeks winds up splitting time with Hicks, it'd be a worthy investment for the Giants to make considering the rather nominal cost—player-wise, anyway.
Seattle Gets: OF Steven Souza
Washington Gets: 2B/SS Nick Franklin
Why It Makes Sense for the Mariners
According to ESPN's Jim Bowden (subscription required), Seattle is looking for a corner outfield bat with power in exchange for Nick Franklin.
While Washington doesn't have an immediate need for Franklin's services, he could become a starter in our nation's capital as early as 2015, especially if the Nationals part ways with Adam LaRoche and slide Ryan Zimmerman over to first base.
Steven Souza opened eyes this spring, hitting .355 with seven extra-base hits (three home runs) and five RBI in 17 games, and he's carried that performance over into the regular season. The 25-year-old outfielder is hitting .351 with 12 extra-base hits (five home runs) and 20 RBI in 31 games for Triple-A Syracuse, but he's blocked in the big leagues by Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper (when he's healthy).
He'd be an immediate upgrade for the Mariners in a corner outfield spot, satisfying the team's desire for a slugging outfielder to help get their moribund offense going.
St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Gets: LHP Ross Detwiler
Washington Gets: SS Pete Kozma
Why It Makes Sense for the Cardinals
St. Louis doesn't necessarily need more pitching, but it wouldn't hurt the Cardinals to pick up an experienced arm to serve as the team's long reliever.
Washington's Ross Detwiler could be on the move, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who notes that some teams may view the versatile southpaw as a starter who just needs to be stretched out.
While the Cardinals rotation is stacked, Detwiler could slide into that long relief role fairly easily.
Pete Kozma, who has spent the better part of the season in Triple-A and was available during spring training, according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, offers little with the bat but brings an above-average glove to a premium position.
Washington's shortstops have been among the most inept when it comes to making plays in the field, and Kozma could interest the Nationals as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Gets: RHP Zach Lee, OF Joc Pederson (pictured), LHP Tom Windle, RHP Zachary Bird
Los Angeles (NL) Gets: LHP David Price
Why It Makes Sense for the Rays
Los Angeles doesn't need David Price, and Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (via Hardball Talk) reported back in December that while the Dodgers had some interest in Price, they weren't going to deplete their farm system to get him.
But the Dodgers are one of the few teams with the minor league assets to put together the kind of deal that Tampa Bay will be seeking—and one of the few with the financial resources to lock Price up to a long-term deal.
It would behoove Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman to at least kick the tires on a deal like this, one that's similar to what the Rays got from Kansas City in exchange for Wade Davis and James Shields before the 2013 season.
The centerpiece of the deal is Joc Pederson, a big-time hitting outfielder who is ready to contribute immediately. An outfield configuration of David DeJesus/Desmond Jennings in left field, Pederson in center and Wil Myers in right would be exciting to watch, especially if Jennings ever plays up to his level of talent.
Zach Lee and Tom Windle, two of the Dodgers' top pitching prospects, both project to be quality mid-rotation arms who could be ready to contribute by the end of the season. Zachary Bird is a project, but the 19-year-old has tons of ability, and few teams do a better job of developing young pitchers than the Rays.
Texas Gets: C Ryan Lavarnway, RHP Anthony Ranaudo (pictured) and a PTBNL
Boston Gets: OF Alex Rios
*Note: The groundwork for this deal was originally laid by B/R's Matthew Smith, but I've tweaked his original proposal.
Why It Makes Sense for Texas
To swallow this trade, you first have to get on board with the theory that, given the rash of injuries to strike Texas, the Rangers should give up on 2014. It's something that ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) discussed recently, and it makes a lot of sense:
This organization, which has been in win-now mode for the past six seasons, twice made it to the World Series and came within one strike of winning a championship, could use this time to have a makeover, to gain more payroll flexibility, to add some young talent. The Rangers can find an opportunity in their misfortune, because they're in a position to send out a mass email to the other major league teams and inform them that they are open for trade offers.
It could be a seller's market, because there are very few teams willing to market players at this time of the season; most clubs will cling to the hope that they'll contend for a playoff spot. But the rash of injuries gives the Rangers a "get out of jail free" card. It's a logical course of action for them to trade some of their veterans in what looks to be a lost season.
Call it retooling on the fly, if you will.
Alex Rios has been fantastic for the Rangers, but moving him serves three purposes.
- It frees up some cash, as he's making $12.5 million this year and the Rangers hold a $13.5 million option ($1 million buyout) on him for 2015.
- It gives the Rangers a chance to see what they actually have in Michael Choice, who has struggled as a full-time DH (.198 BA, .590 OPS).
- It brings back two pieces that can contribute immediately.
In Ryan Lavarnway, the Rangers get an immediate upgrade behind the plate. A right-handed hitter with some pop in his bat and the ability to get on base consistently, he's also worked his way into becoming an excellent defensive backstop.
The 26-year-old is a perfect placeholder for the Rangers until prospect Jorge Alfaro is ready to take over behind the dish, which is at least two years away.
An imposing presence on the mound (6'7", 230 lbs), Anthony Ranaudo projects to be no worse than a solid, innings-eating mid-rotation arm, with a shot at developing into an excellent No. 2 starter. While his secondary stuff can be shaky at times, Ranaudo's mid-to-high-90s fastball can be an overpowering pitch.
Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Gets: RHP Justin Masterson
Cleveland Gets: RHP Kyle Drabek, RHP Deck McGuire
Why It Makes Sense For the Blue Jays
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo says Toronto is convinced they can win the AL East if they add a front-line starting pitcher to the rotation. With the way the AL East is shaping up, it's hard to argue against that train of thought.
But GM Alex Anthopoulos recently told Peter Gammons that making a move for a top-flight starter probably isn't in the cards:
We are pretty much maxed out in terms of payroll, but more important, we cannot keep trading our young pitchers (like Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris). We also have to be realistic about whom we can extend if we make a trade for him.
We have been feeling out teams and doing background work. I think we’d probably look at something where we have a pitcher for the rest of this season. That makes sense.
That sure sounds like Toronto won't be making a run at Chicago's Jeff Samardzija, Philadelphia's Cliff Lee or Tampa Bay's David Price.
But bolstering the rotation is a must for the Blue Jays if they have any chance of taking home the division crown for the first time since 1993.
So they take a flier on Justin Masterson.
Sure, it costs the Jays a pair of young arms, but it's a risk worth taking. Playing in one of the game's most hitter-friendly parks, a pitcher who can keep the ball on the ground is a valuable addition. Few do a better job of that than Masterson, whose 59.4 percent ground ball rate is the fourth-highest in MLB.
Both 26-year-old Kyle Drabek and 24-year-old Deck McGuire have battled injury and inconsistency over their careers, but they have talent and are still young enough to develop into quality arms in a major league rotation, even if it is at the back end of one.
Washington Gets: 2B/SS Nick Franklin
Seattle Gets: OF Steven Souza
Why It Makes Sense for the Nationals
As noted on Seattle's side of the deal, the Mariners are looking for a corner outfielder with power, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden (subscription required). Steven Souza fits that profile, and he'd be nothing more than a fourth outfielder for the Nationals.
He's far more valuable to them as a trade chip to bring Nick Franklin into the mix. Why do the Nationals need Nick Franklin?
Stay with me here.
As CBS Sports' Mike Axisa reported last month, Ryan Zimmerman has a degenerative shoulder condition, making a move across the diamond from third base to first base an inevitability. While Adam LaRoche is currently occupying first base, the Nationals can get out of his contract after the season for a $2 million buyout.
Paying that $2 million would free up first base for Zimmerman and allow Anthony Rendon to stay at the hot corner. That leaves the Nationals with the underwhelming Danny Espinosa at second base.
Enter Franklin, who just so happens to be a better second baseman than he is a shortstop.
The 23-year-old is crushing minor league pitching, hitting .376 with a .481 on-base percentage, 14 extra-base hits (seven home runs) and 26 RBI in 30 games for Triple-A Tacoma. He'd be a major upgrade over Espinosa, who could serve as either trade bait or the team's utility infielder.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs and are current through games of May 27 unless otherwise noted. All prospect rankings courtesy of Baseball America's 2014 Prospect Handbook.