MLB Trade Ideas Based on the Latest News, Rumors and Speculation
With less than four weeks remaining until the MLB July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the action around the league is starting to pick up.
First, the Chicago Cubs sent starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s for a package that included Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily. Then, relief pitcher Joe Thatcher and outfielder Tony Campana were acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks by the Los Angeles Angels for minor league pitcher Joey Krehbiel and outfielder Zach Borenstein.
In other words, the stakes in the American League West were raised. But what about the other players rumored to be available?
Here are four MLB trade scenarios based on actual need and published rumors from the week ending Sunday, July 6.
As a standard note, the following proposals are nothing more than postulation. The point here is to build a trade based on someone else's written or spoken word.
They are balanced deals that are fair for each team, though, and take into consideration each franchise's strengths and weaknesses.
Detroit Tigers Acquire Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres
Detroit Tigers Get: RHP Joaquin Benoit
San Diego Padres Get: 2B Hernan Perez and a player to be named later
The Detroit Tigers need to add one arm to the bullpen.
To be sure, the need isn’t as great as it was a few weeks ago, thanks to a resurgent Phil Coke and the eventual return of Joel Hanrahan, but it is still there. Well, word came out over weekend that general manager Dave Dombrowski is actively looking at one option currently with the San Diego Padres.
From Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi:
Tigers interested in bringing Joaquin Benoit back via trade with Padres, sources say; 0.701 WHIP, 1.26 ERA this year.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 5, 2014
Since Morosi tweeted this out on Saturday, Benoit’s WHIP has dropped to 0.682, and his ERA has shrunk to a diminutive 1.23. In addition to that, he is only issuing 1.7 walks every nine innings and has a 5.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Flat out, Benoit is a beast.
In return for the right-hander, the Tigers would send the Padres second baseman Hernan Perez and a player to be named later.
Perez can play either middle infield position and can hit. Going into action on Monday, he had a .284/.325/.398 slash line with 22 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 33 RBI in 352 at-bats. Pretty impressive production.
Perez's greatest strength is his ability to "make consistent line-drive contact to all fields," per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. And it is that knack for putting the ball in play that will serve him and the Padres well in the years to come. He will need to develop more patience at the plate but is still in his age-23 season, meaning there is a lot of value in what he brings.
Now the Tigers could look to target any number of bullpen arms, including Oliver Perez, Chad Qualls and LaTroy Hawkins. If they choose to go after Benoit, though, this is a fair deal for each side.
New York Yankees Acquire Cliff Lee from the Philadelphia Phillies
New York Yankees Get: SP Cliff Lee
Philadelphia Phillies Get: C Gary Sanchez, RHP Rafael De Paula
That is if you agree with Brendan Kuty from The (N.J.) Star-Ledger.
“Philadelphia,” Kuty opined, “might be willing to take what little the Yankees are perceived to have to offer to shed his contract.”
In other words, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would agree to accept less in exchange for payroll flexibility during what is going to be a dramatic roster overhaul once the decision to sell is made.
Currently on the disabled list, Lee is 143-90 over the course of his career, with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.192 WHIP. This season, he was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA, a 2.67 FIP and a 1.279 WHIP in 10 starts before going down with a flexor strain in his left elbow.
The No. 1 prospect in the Yankees’ farm system, Sanchez is hitting .275 with a .784 OPS, nine home runs and 44 RBI in 269 at-bats at Double-A. Now, whether or not that stat line translates to success in the big leagues is another story, but he would have to be included in any deal. There is no getting around it.
De Paula, a hard-throwing right-hander at High-A, is 4-5 this season with a 4.71 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 17 games. He has started 14 times this season, but given the life on his fastball and slider, he projects better as a reliever “unless he can add a lot of polish,” per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
Yes, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman just acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but that does not mean that his work is done, especially since there are doubts about the long-term health of CC Sabathia.
George A. King III from the New York Post noted that “depending on what Dr. James Andrews finds in [Sabbathia's injured] right knee, his career could be in jeopardy.” The examination, scheduled for July 14, will determine if Sabathia needs to undergo microfracture surgery, and if he does, the recovery will be extensive—if not career-ending.
Even if Sabathia does not require the surgery, the situation in New York is at a critical point. There are many holes on the roster, but finding another starter is at the top of the to-do list.
Seattle Mariners Acquire Josh Willingham from the Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners Get: LF Josh Willingham
Minnesota Twins Get: SP Tyler Pike, RF Gabriel Guerrero
Going into action on Monday, the Seattle Mariners sat in third place in the American League West, 7.0 games behind the Oakland A’s, who just got a whole lot better following the July 4 acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs.
Now, while the pitching staff has been on point all season, Lloyd McClendon’s offense simply isn’t getting the job done, ranking 15th in the AL in OPS, ninth in runs scored and 14th in walks. And a large part of the reasons why the unit has performed so poorly is that the outfield doesn’t have enough punch.
That makes a trade for Minnesota Twins left fielder Josh Willingham an avenue general manager Jack Zduriencik should pursue. After all, if the Twins “aren’t contending later this month they’ll make” him available in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
Willingham, who was on the disabled list for 41 games after breaking the pisiform bone in his left wrist on a Justin Masterson heater, is slashing out at .224/.378/.448 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in only 134 at-bats.
Overlooking the batting average, he brings a lot to the table for the Mariners, including a .154 IsoD (difference between batting average and on-base percentage) and a .224 IsoP (difference between batting average and slugging percentage). An improvement in those metrics would surely go a long way toward improving their performance at the plate.
Pike is a high-ceiling guy that struggled a bit at High-A (2-4, 5.72 ERA, 1.663 WHIP) before getting promoted to Jackson. Since his arrival there, he has only given up seven hits in 12.1 innings pitched, but he has also walked 11 batters.
His control issues shouldn’t dissuade the Twins from acquiring him, though. According to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Pike has “a combination of a feel for three pitches, deception and athleticism” which gives him “the chance to be a solid big league starter.”
Guerrero is an intriguing prospect for two reasons.
First, he can hit for both power and average, compiling a .301/.344/.439 slash line at High-A with nine home runs, 17 doubles and 60 RBI in 335 at-bats. True, he hasn't seen a pitch he won't swing at, but he has all of the tools needed to be successful at the plate.
Secondly, he would be an asset in the field, possessing “about as strong an outfield arm as you’ll find in the major leagues,” per Mayo. Simply put, outfielders with howitzers that can swing the bat don’t come around often. Guerrero would fit in well with the other prospects in the Twins system.
Acquiring Willingham comes with a bit of inherent risk. As Heyman added, “he tends to be streaky, but he has been pretty productive, even playing home games in Oakland and Minnesota, two pitchers parks, as he's averaged 23 home runs over the last eight seasons.”
Regardless of Willingham’s uneven play, the Mariners need a bat in the lineup, and a deal like this could be enough to land him.
Is it a lot to give up? Sure. With offense in short supply at this season's trade deadline, however, it is the price they will have to pay.
St. Louis Cardinals Acquire David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays
St. Louis Cardinals Get: SP David Price, IF Sean Rodriguez
Tampa Bay Rays Get: SP Carlos Martinez, OF Stephen Piscotty, SP Alexander Reyes and a player to be named later
Citing the surgery that ended Jaime Garcia’s season and the uncertain status of Michael Wacha, he put a couple of names out there that could be enough to secure Price’s services. He also added Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez to the package, which makes sense. The Cardinals can use the depth, and it justifies the package of prospects the Rays are sure to demand.
Now, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has a choice to make here. He could include Oscar Taveras or add another top-flight prospect to the proposal. We’ll go with making the trade deeper, versus including MLB’s No. 2 prospect.
Piscotty is having a fine season at Triple-A Memphis, posting a .307/.365/.442 slash line with six home runs, 25 doubles and 49 RBI in 85 games. It isn’t just about his stats, though.
From MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo:
Piscotty has a mature approach at the plate and has the chance to be a .300 hitter in the Major Leagues. His swing is more geared toward hitting line drives than home runs, but he should be able to supply average power along with his high average.
Piscotty has hit everywhere he's gone, and his polish could have him in the Major Leagues soon.
Yes, the Rays have Wil Myers on the roster, but if this season has proven anything, it’s that the organization needs more in the outfield. And given Piscotty’s athleticism, he would be able to play left field in addition to right, so finding a spot for him won’t be an issue.
As far as Martinez is concerned, he would immediately settle into the rotation. In 30 relief appearances this season, he is 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA and 28 strikeouts. In four starts, however, he is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP.
Reyes (6-5, 4.23 ERA, 1.394 WHIP) has an incredibly high ceiling and looks to be a legitimate candidate for the front end of the rotation. He won’t be ready for another couple of years, but his addition would make up for the fact that Taveras is not part of this deal.
Not long ago, it could have been argued that the Cardinals didn’t need to add another starting pitcher. They had depth, after all, and the statuses of both Wacha and Garcia hadn’t been determined.
That has all changed. It would be in Mozeliak’s best interest to do whatever he needs to do to land the premier pitcher on the trade market. Another thing to consider is that Price (8-7, 3.48 ERA, 1.088 WHIP, 159 K) isn’t a free agent until after next season, meaning the Cardinals will get roughly 45 starts out of his left arm.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate as of game time on Monday, July 7. Transaction, injury, scouting reports, prospect rankings and game information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information was pulled from Cot’s Contracts.