MLB Trade Ideas Based on the Latest News, Rumors and Speculation
With the All-Star festivities upon us, general managers across this grand game are finalizing their action plans in advance of the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
For the next 16 days, Bleacher Report, Twitter, HardballTalk and almost every major sports publication will be alive with potential trades and speculation. In fact, the mayhem has already started as this past week saw a dramatic uptick in the number of players being discussed.
For the sake of brevity, we will keep it simple. Here are four MLB trade scenarios based on actual need and published rumors from the week ending Sunday, July 13.
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.
Pittsburgh Pirates Acquire Huston Street from San Diego Padres
Pittsburgh Pirates Get: CL Huston Street
San Diego Padres Get: OF Josh Bell, OF Willy Garcia
Since then, the club has interviewed the likes of A.J. Preller and Kim Ng for the vacant position, extended the contract of outfielder Seth Smith and tried to maintain a level of accountability during the time leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And while there are several names on the 25-man roster that could be available, the one that attracts the greatest buzz is Street’s.
Surprisingly, one team that just added a reliever appears to be in the market to take another stab at it. According to Trib Live’s Rob Biertempfel, “one possible bullpen target” for the Pittsburgh Pirates is Street, who has a $7 million team option for next season.
Make no mistake, the Pirates need some help in the relief corps. As a unit, the bullpen has a 3.46 ERA with a 1.294 WHIP and 253 strikeouts in 299.0 innings pitched. To be sure, those numbers aren’t horrendous, but they certainly won't be enough to propel the Pirates into the postseason.
It must be noted that Mark Melancon has done well since taking over for the since-departed Jason Grilli, but Street’s arrival would allow him to return to his former role of setup man, making the ‘pen that much deeper.
Bell, who is ranked as the Pirates' No. 6 prospect, has all of the tools. True, he is not the fastest player on the field, but as Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com noted, “He covers ground well enough” that he projects admirably as a corner outfielder.
Offensively, Bell is a beast, compiling a .333/.380/.495 slash line with 20 doubles, nine home runs and 51 RBI in 327 at-bats at High-A Bradenton. He has also legged out three triples and scored 44 runs.
Garcia isn’t ranked as highly as Bell is, but he could reach the major leagues sooner. In 306 at-bats at Double-A Altoona, he is slashing .248/.283/.469 with 12 home runs, 41 RBI and 17 doubles.
One area of concern for Garcia is his impatience at the plate. On the season, he has drawn only 13 walks and struck out 97 times, but his ability to find the gaps and put the ball over the wall is an attractive commodity. Defensively, his fielding and arm are ready for the big leagues.
While the cost is certainly high, there are two things that make this a good deal for the Pirates.
First off, Street has the option that was mentioned earlier in place for next season. In essence, GM Neal Huntington would lock someone down for the closer’s role through 2015. And if the Pirates aren’t competitive next season, he could flip the former All-Star at next year’s trade deadline.
The other reason why this deal makes sense is that the Pirates already have Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco in the major leagues and five other outfielders among their top prospects. Simply put, there is a glut of talent at the position that should be used to acquire players.
Toronto Blue Jays Acquire Joakim Soria from Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays Get: CL Joakim Soria
Texas Rangers Get: 3B Mitch Nay, LHP Jairo Labourt and a player to be named later or cash
After reaching high-water marks of 14 games over .500 and a six-game lead in the AL East on June 6, the Toronto Blue Jays have fallen on hard times, losing 23 of their last 34 games heading into the All-Star break.
To be sure, there are several reason for the club's struggles. At the top of the list are a series of injuries that have befallen the roster, and the starting rotation has not been as effective as it was at the beginning of the season. It would be shortsighted, however, to overlook the bullpen.
As a result, general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been looking to add to the relief corps, and one of the latest names associated with the team is Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria, per SB Nation’s Nick Bond.
Soria is having yet another dominant season, posting a 2.67 ERA with a 0.791 WHIP and 16 saves in 32 appearances. Most impressive, he has a 10.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 0.90 FIP (fielding independent pitching).
Needless to say, his addition would go a long way toward protecting the leads the offense and starting rotation hand the bullpen in the seventh inning, and beyond.
Now before any objections are made because the Rangers already have Joey Gallo in the minor leagues ready to take over at third base, consider that Nay may end up as a corner outfielder or at first base.
After all, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo noted that he has “fringy range.” Now Mayo thinks there is a chance Nay could stay at the hot corner, but since the outfield and first base are areas of need moving forward for the Rangers, he may be best served learning a new position if traded.
Regardless, he has a wealth of talent offensively, possessing quick hands and the ability to drive the gaps. On the season, Nay has a .287/.347/.384 slash line with 21 doubles and 47 RBI in 341 at-bats.
Labourt is a flame-throwing left-hander with a nice slider who has some control problems, but projects well as a “durable starter,” per Mayo. Yes, he was demoted early this season after compiling a gaudy 2.500 WHIP in six games at Lansing, but he responded well, putting up a 1.083 WHIP in six starts at Vancouver.
Labourt’s quickest path to the big leagues is as a reliever. He will be able to eat plenty of innings, however, once he becomes a starter thanks to his size and delivery.
There are other options for Anthopoulos to pursue, of course, but giving up two players below Double-A for a former All-Star with a 2015 team option is a fine avenue to go down. This deal will depend entirely on how saturated the trade market is.
Detroit Tigers Acquire Koji Uehara from Boston Red Sox
Detroit Tigers Get: CL Koji Uehara
Boston Red Sox Get: OF Steven Moya and a player to be named later
Perhaps that is because many thought the Red Sox would turn things around and become competitive in the AL East. Well that didn’t happen, and with the club sitting 9.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles at the All-Star break, it is time to reconsider Uehara’s status as one of the better trade pieces on their roster.
On the season, he is 5-2 with 18 saves in 20 opportunities and has a 1.65 ERA with a 0.756 WHIP in 42 games. He's been dominant.
Jesse Spector from Sporting News had this to say about Uehara’s value:
His stats this year aren't quite as mind-blowing as last year, but Uehara remains arguably the best closer in baseball, and a proven playoff performer as the 2013 ALCS MVP.
A team acquiring Uehara might only get 30 innings from him, but those would be 30 important innings put into good hands. For teams in close races, that could be the difference between playing baseball in October and playing golf in October.
That’s just it. Uehara has immense value as a closer with World Series experience, making him an ideal target for Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.
So while Spector suggests that the Red Sox package Uehara with starting pitcher Jon Lester, a trade that nets Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington Double-A outfielder Steven Moya and a player to be named later would be a very nice haul.
Moya is hitting the cover off the ball at Erie this season. In 347 at-bats, he has 22 home runs, 75 RBI and 24 doubles. He has also scored 53 times and stolen 12 bases. Most importantly. he has room to grow.
It must be noted that Moya has walked only 14 times and has 100 strikeouts. The disparity—or rather, the lack of walks—needs to improve as he advances, but all of the other tools are there. He is also a capable defender who would fit into the Red Sox’s long-term plan as a corner outfielder.
As far as the player to be named later is concerned, Cherington could take that in a couple of different directions. He could look for a Low-A starting pitcher to develop, or he could grab a reliever. Either way, the guy will likely have a lot of upside, but need some time to realize his potential.
To be sure, this is a go-for-broke proposition. Adding Uehara will not solve the Tigers’ bullpen woes long term. He could, however, be the piece that turns the relief corps in Detroit from question mark to capable this season.
Seattle Mariners Acquire Marlon Byrd from Philadelphia Phillies
Seattle Mariners Get: OF Marlon Byrd
Philadelphia Phillies Get: OF Austin Wilson, RHP Carson Smith
To say that the Seattle Mariners need offensive support is an understatement.
After all, they went into the All-Star break ranking 11th in the American League in runs scored, 13th in doubles, 14th in batting average and last in both on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging. Even with the ineptitude on offense, they are somehow seven games over .500 and in the thick of the playoff race.
Just imagine how good they could be if they added another bat to the lineup.
Source said that #Mariners have had serious discussions with Phillies about Marlon Byrd. Said he is willing to waive his no trade clause.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 13, 2014
Backing up Divish’s claim that Byrd is willing to move if the Phillies wish, the right-handed hitter said that “he does not view his no-trade clause as ironclad,” per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury.
With the potential roadblock out of the way, what type of a package would the Mariners have to put together to persuade Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to trade his outfielder?
Wilson, who is ranked as the organization’s No. 12 prospect, has a ton of upside and was having a fine campaign before landing on the disabled list at the end of June. On the season, he has a .298/.385/.523 slash line with 11 home runs and 52 RBI at Single-A Clinton. He is still a season or two away from contributing, but the wait will certainly be worth it considering his ability.
Regarding Wilson's injury, MLB.com's Greg Johns tweeted that he "hurt his leg," but couldn't be more specific, and the organization hasn't released any other details. We'll operate under the belief that it isn't serious.
Smith, on the other hand, could be ready to go right now. According to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo:
Smith isn't just a guy who throws from a low three-quarters angle. From that slot, he can crank his fastball up into the mid 90s, sitting in the 91-93 mph range. His heater has plus sink to generate a ton of ground ball outs. He has one of the best breaking balls in the system, a sweeping slider with early break. He's especially tough on right-handed hitters and he went over a month at the end of 2013 without giving up a run. Because of his arm angle and especially that slider, he reminds some of former reliever Jeff Nelson.
All told, Byrd is likely on his way out of Philadelphia, and this is a fine takeaway for the Phillies. Expect to see some movement on this trade in the coming days. The players that end up changing teams may be different, of course, but the odds are that Byrd ends up with the Mariners.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate through Sunday, July 13. Transaction, injury, scouting reports, prospect rankings and game information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information was pulled from Cot’s Contracts.