MLB Trade Ideas Based on the Latest News, Rumors and Speculation
With the 2014 MLB first-year player draft behind us, it's time to set our full attention on the upcoming July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
This is, after all, when teams put their full focus on improving the current roster via trade in hopes of reaching the postseason. And with 20 teams within three games of .500 heading into Monday, the potential trades are nearly endless.
Some clubs will be looking to add depth or to fill a hole on their 25-man roster. Others will look to get a slew of top prospects in return for a star.
Here are four MLB trade proposals based on actual need and published rumors from the week ending Sunday, June 8.
As a standard note, the following trade proposals are nothing more than postulation. They are balanced deals that are fair for each team, taking into consideration each franchise's strengths and weaknesses.
The Boston Red Sox Acquire Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red Sox Get: RHP Brandon McCarthy
Arizona Diamondbacks Get: LHP Brian Johnson and cash
That is simply not going to get the job done in the AL East, and if they intend on making up what is now a 5.5-game deficit for the second wild-card spot, Jon Lester and John Lackey are going to need some support.
And the cost to acquire McCarthy shouldn’t be all that prohibitive. A deal for Double-A left-hander Brian Johnson and cash, for example, could be enough to satisfy both parties.
Johnson (3-1, 2.04 ERA, 1.019 WHIP) is currently ranked as the organization’s No. 12 prospect and has a four-pitch repertoire that should translate well to the big leagues, per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. And with an expected arrival in 2015, he could be helping the Diamondbacks as soon as next season.
It must be noted that McCarthy is 6-19 with a 4.75 ERA since signing a two-year, $18 million contract in advance of the 2013 season. Looking at his production that narrowly would be a mistake, though.
He has a 3.77 FIP over that same stretch, meaning there is real value in what he does. True, he gives up too many hits (10.5) and home runs (1.4) every nine innings, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.14) has never been higher.
Pointing out some serious concerns with the location of the fly balls opposing batters are hitting against McCarthy, the Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg wrote that he “might be better than his record reflects, but I’m not sure he would be the right fit for Boston.”
Given his already high home-run rate and the short porch in Fenway, that is a fair point. The Red Sox would benefit from adding a veteran like McCarthy, though.
The San Francisco Giants Acquire Chase Utley from the Philadelphia Phillies
San Francisco Giants Get: 2B Chase Utley
Philadelphia Phillies Get: RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Chris Stratton, RHP Edwin Quirarte
The day before the 2014 MLB first-year player draft, Peter Gammons made an appearance on CSN Philly’s Philly Sports Talk. He cited an unnamed general manager who said that “he thought the National League would be decided by whether or not the [Los Angeles] Dodgers or the [San Francisco] Giants got Chase Utley.”
Well if that’s the case, who makes the play?
Well, the Giants are cruising with a 42-21 record going into play on Monday and have a 9.5-game lead on the Dodgers. Unfortunately, they are only getting a .178/.267/.319 slash line from second baseman Brandon Hicks and company, per splits over at Baseball-Reference. An addition like Utley could make them the class of MLB—if they’re not already.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have a second baseman in Dee Gordon who is performing at an All-Star level. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t add Utley just to keep him away from the Giants. And make no mistake, if the five-time All-Star is on the roster, manager Don Mattingly will surely find a spot for him in the lineup.
Seeing as how pitching prospects will likely determine who would be able to pull off a trade for someone like Utley, the Giants have to be the team. Via CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman, Gammons added:
In terms of Utley, again, to me, he is the model player, but a team like the Giants, every scout I've talked to tells me they might have the best pitching in Double A of any team in baseball. If you get three pitchers for Chase Utley out of that Giants organization, you have a chance to be -- two years from now -- restore that pitching to where it should be.
Crick (4-1, 3.46 ERA, 1.513 WHIP) would be the hardest sell to the fanbase in San Francisco. Not only is he the organization’s top prospect (No. 43 overall), but he is destined to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, featuring a fantastic fastball and a slider with potential, per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
Stratton, the only one not at Double-A, has been having a rough go of it this season at High-A, but he has a wealth of talent. Featuring a four-pitch mix, he projects well as a starter.
Quirarte (4-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.144 WHIP), on the other hand, can pitch in long-relief or be a late-inning specialist. More of a contact hurler, the 2008 fifth-round selection is just waiting for a chance to prove he belongs.
The price is steep for the Giants, but Utley, who has a .314/.371/.498 slash line this season, is a difference-maker. He could be the piece that keeps the surging offense moving forward. It is, after all, going to be hard to keep the momentum going at the plate with one spot in the batting order contributing next to nothing.
To be sure, trading Utley isn’t a forgone conclusion. He is rightfully revered in Philadelphia, and he would have to waive his no-trade rights for any deal to be made.
The New York Yankees Acquire Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs
New York Yankees Get: RHP Jason Hammel
Chicago Cubs Get: RHP Chase Whitley, LHP Manny Banuelos
The genesis for this iteration comes courtesy of NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty who wrote that the right-hander "could be a not-so-bad fallback plan for the Yankees should they not land [Jeff] Samardzija, and the feeling is they probably won't."
So if Hammel ends up being the guy the Yankees target, a package that includes Chase Whitley and left-hander Manny Banuelos should be enough for Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer. After all, their farm system needs to stockpile starters with potential in advance of any return to competitiveness.
Now, Whitley has been admirable since being promoted, compiling a 2.42 ERA and a 1.115 WHIP in five starts. For as solid as he has looked, however, he’s barely averaging five innings per start and will have to be stretched out into full-time starter. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they don’t have that kind of time.
Banuelos is currently ranked as the Yankees' No. 8 prospect and “has the chance to have three above-average pitches in his fastball, curve and changeup and has shown the ability to have average command in the past," per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
It must be noted that he was recently "shut down with what appears to be arm fatigue," per Jason Cohen over at Pinstripe Alley, but that shouldn’t preclude Hoyer from adding the lefty. He has the potential to be quite good.
And don’t think for a second that Hammel isn’t worth it.
After a rough outing against the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of May in which he gave up five earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched, he’s turned it on, going 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA in his last four outings. More impressively, he’s only allowed opponents to compile a meager .195/.260/.230 slash line against him during that same stretch.
The Yankees were only two-and-a-half games out of the second wild-card spot when play began on Monday. Adding a guy like Hammel without leveraging the entire farm system for Samardzija is likely the play for general manager Brian Cashman.
The Detroit Tigers Acquire Jim Johnson from the Oakland A's
Detroit Tigers Get: CL Jim Johnson and cash
Oakland A’s Get: 2B/SS Hernan Perez
So it appears that Jim Johnson’s time with the Oakland A’s is already coming to an end. Not only that, but general manager Billy Beane is willing to own up to his mistake and cover what’s left of the closer’s $10 million contract.
That is if you trust (we do) Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:
Rival exec: #Athletics willing to pick up rest of Jim Johnson's salary, offering him around to multiple teams.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 4, 2014
The question now becomes, who is in the running for the right-hander’s services? According to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, one of three options is the Detroit Tigers, and looking at the numbers, it is easy to see why.
Cumulatively, the group had a 4.77 ERA going into Monday night's matchup with the Chicago White Sox and had already lost nine games. Of particular note are the struggles of closer Joe Nathan. Some nights are worse than others, of course, but on the whole, the situation is reaching critical mass.
For Beane to actually pick up the rest of Johnson’s salary, the Tigers are going to have to send something of value over, and Hernan Perez is that piece.
After all, the second basemen for the A’s have combined to produce a .218/.292/.259 slash line, per splits taken from Baseball-Reference, and have been largely underwhelming in almost every statistical category. Perez could, in theory, jump in and provide a boost to the offense.
The only hiccup in this proposal is that the Tigers are struggling at the position themselves and have moved Perez from second base to shortstop at Triple-A in order to get him some playing time. They have plenty of other options, however, as Tom Gage from the Detroit News noted in a recent article.
And if there is a team with a chance of getting the most out of Johnson, it could be the Tigers. As SB Nation's Kurt Mensching noted, they are doing a fine job with Joba Chamberlain. Why couldn’t pitching coach Jeff Jones do the same with Johnson?
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate as of game time on Monday, June 9. Transaction, injury, scouting reports, prospect rankings and game information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information was pulled from Cot’s Contracts.