4 Most Realistic Blockbuster MLB Trades That Could Go Down This July
This summer is the perfect time for MLB clubs to think big.
Every single division race and both of the wild-card hunts are still up for grabs. That means that a blockbuster swap could send any number of squads off on an October run. That was the logic behind the Oakland Athletics' decision to part with top prospect Addison Russell (among others) in order to land Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs.
While that deal took two of the top starters off the market, there's still David Price to be accounted for. Plus, the Tampa Bay Rays left-hander isn't the only prominent pitcher who could find himself at the center of a major trade between now and the end of the month.
The St. Louis Cardinals Acquire Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox
St. Louis Cardinals Receive: SP Jon Lester
Boston Red Sox Receive: OF Stephen Piscotty and SP Tyrell Jenkins
The 33-year-old right-hander isn't the Boston Red Sox pitcher whom the Cardinals should be targeting. Instead, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak should be focused on Jon Lester. Adam Wainwright and Lester would provide the Cardinals with a tremendous one-two punch, which would help separate the underwhelming club from the rest of the pack in the congested NL Central.
With the left-handed ace set to become a free agent at season's end, the Red Sox have the motivation to listen to offers—especially strong ones. The Cardinals have the farm system to do just that.
Outfielder Stephen Piscotty was recently ranked the 49th-best prospect in the minors by Baseball America. Piscotty could quickly become a viable option in a Red Sox outfield that has been remarkably unproductive in 2014.
Meanwhile, Tyrell Jenkins is a 21-year-old right-hander who could one day claim a spot in Boston's rotation.
The Oakland Athletics Pick Up Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays
Oakland Athletics Receive: 2B Ben Zobrist and RP Jake McGee
Tampa Bay Rays Receive: SP Tommy Milone, SP Bobby Wahl and RP Nolan Sanburn
The switch-hitting Ben Zobrist would fit right in on the Oakland Athletics.
Manager Bob Melvin's roster is stocked with versatile players, and Zobrist definitely checks that box. The 33-year-old could take over at second base but also sub in around the infield and outfield.
As for Jake McGee, there might not be an obvious need for the talented left-hander considering that Oakland's bullpen is already one of the best in baseball. Then again, a team can never have enough quality arms in the bullpen—especially during the second half of the season.
For the Tampa Bay Rays, Tommy Milone also makes a lot of sense. The lefty, who is suddenly out of a job in Oakland, represents a cost-controlled starter whom the Rays could immediately plug into their rotation.
Bobby Wahl and Nolan Sanburn are both highly touted minor league pitchers. Wahl and Sanburn rank No. 5 and No. 8, respectively, on the club's top 10 prospects list, per MLB.com. Wahl is a starter who can hit 97 mph on the radar gun, and Sanburn projects as a future late-innings reliever.
The Detroit Tigers Restock the Bullpen
Detroit Tigers Receive: RP Huston Street and RP Joaquin Benoit
San Diego Padres Receive: 2B Devon Travis and SP Jake Thompson
Even though it's been improving as of late, the bullpen has been a major weak spot for the Detroit Tigers in 2014.
That's where Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit enter the equation. Both veterans bring closing experience and could also be utilized in high-leverage situations for the Tigers. Adding Street and Benoit would require Detroit to take on payroll, but it would also turn one of the team's most concerning vulnerabilities into one of its biggest strengths.
For the San Diego Padres, dealing Street and Benoit would take them off the hook financially for a couple of relievers who are luxuries for a team that is buried in the NL West. Plus, second baseman Devon Travis could be MLB-ready by as soon as early 2015. Jake Thompson, whom the Tigers selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, has the potential "to pitch near the front of a rotation," per MLB.com.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Land David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers Receive: SP David Price and RP Brad Boxberger
Tampa Bay Rays Receive: SS Corey Seager, OF Joc Pederson and SP Zach Lee
Adding David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers' already-loaded rotation would just be unfair.
That's also exactly why GM Ned Colletti needs to make the deal happen. The NL West club still has a lot of work to do before punching its ticket to October, but a starting staff headlined by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and David Price would be utterly devastating in a short series.
Of course, acquiring the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner would come at a steep cost. Shortstop Corey Seager (No. 16) and outfielder Joc Pederson (No. 18) both made the cut on the Baseball America midseason top 50 prospects list. Starter Zach Lee has struggled in Triple-A this season but has also shown up on an array of top prospects lists while working his way through the minors.
The addition of Brad Boxberger to the deal would make it easier for Los Angeles to part with that kind of talent. The right-handed reliever owns a 13.1 K/9 ratio in 2014 and would help to shore up a shaky Dodgers bullpen.
Note: All stats and videos courtesy of MLB.com.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.
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