MLB Trade Ideas Based on the Latest News, Rumors and Speculation
The July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline was almost two weeks ago, but that doesn't mean there aren’t still plenty of rumors and ample speculation regarding possible trade scenarios.
It’s just that moving forward, clubs will look to improve their playoff chances by pulling off an August waiver trade. For an explanation of the process, see this post by Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter.
For the sake of brevity, though, we will keep it simple.
Here are three MLB trade scenarios based on actual need and published rumors through the end of Monday, Aug. 11. 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 Brendan Ryan from the New York Yankees
Pittsburgh Pirates Get: IF Brendan Ryan
New York Yankees Get: RHP Adrian Sampson and a player to be named later
George A King III from the New York Post noted last Thursday that New York Yankees shortstop Brendan Ryan had been placed on waivers. And as of press time, he had not been pulled off, meaning that he is now available.
There are plenty of teams that would love to have a guy like Ryan on the roster, including the Pittsburgh Pirates. Flat out, they have been looking for someone to take over as the reserve infielder for some time.
They even went so far as to sign Jayson Nix to a minor league deal at the beginning of August. He quickly made his debut for manager Clint Hurdle’s club and has put together a .176/.222/.176 slash line over the course of 19 plate appearances. Not exactly inspiring.
Ryan, who has another year and a player option left on his contract, would provide at least some (albeit not much) consistency at the plate and is a definite upgrade in the field. It is that combination, though, that would go a long way toward solidifying a playoff spot.
As Mike Axisa from River Ave Blues correctly noted, however, “middle infielders are hard to find though, especially good fielding ones.” In other words, he doesn't think Ryan is going anywhere.
He may be correct, but for the right price, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would at least have to listen.
As such, a package that included right-hander Adrian Sampson as the centerpiece could be enough.
Sampson (10-5, 2.55 ERA, 3.30 K/BB) is one heck of a young pitcher with the talent to succeed in the Yankees rotation, perhaps as soon as next season. Regarding the Pirates’ No. 19 prospect, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo wrote:
He has the chance to have three at least Major League average offerings, with a fastball that can touch 93-94 mph, a very good breaking ball and an improving changeup. He throws strikes and is still learning how to refine his command within the strike zone.
The improvement Sampson has shown -- from fastball command to his secondary offerings -- has the young right-hander headed in the direction of having a mid-rotation-starter-type ceiling.
The crux of Sampson’s value in this deal rests in his ability to cover a rotation’s back end while simultaneously not being so highly rated that his value overshadows Ryan’s.
The player to be named later could be any number of players but would likely be a young infielder who will take plenty of development to reach the major leagues.
Someone else has to be included to give Cashman just enough reason to trade away an asset like Ryan. Not deciding on the final piece of the trade will also give Cashman time to evaluate his farm system after what is sure to be an eventful month of August.
All of that said, a trade like this is not going to happen unless the Yankees slip out of contention. With the eventual return of Michael Pineda and the resurgence of Brandon McCarthy, however, the pitching staff seems primed for a run, and the offense tends to do just enough to keep them relevant.
It will take a lot for the Yankees to consider moving Ryan, but if they do, this is a deal that satisfies both ends.
San Francisco Giants Acquire Alex Rios from the Texas Rangers
San Francisco Giants Get: OF Alex Rios
Texas Ranger Get: RHP Chris Stratton and a player to be named later
Texas Rangers outfielder Alex Rios is the topic of conversation across much of MLB.
After all, he is the only legitimate offensive force that has cleared waivers to this point. And even if a club was interested in acquiring his services, there is no guarantee that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels would part with him.
Consider that if Daniels' 40-man roster remained essentially intact going into the 2015 season, a case can be made that they are, at minimum, wild-card contenders. Another thing to keep in mind is that as ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted, the return may not be that impressive considering the precipitous drop in Rios' power numbers.
Yes, center fielder Angel Pagan recently returned from the disabled list, and right fielder Hunter Pence is playing good baseball. After that, however, the depth and production in the outfield is limited.
Michael Morse, for example, went from ripping the cover off the ball at the beginning of the season to being rather unproductive in a matter of two months. In his 49 games since June 11, for example, he has a pedestrian .272/.324/367 slash with two home runs, 10 RBI, 10 doubles and has only scored nine runs, according to splits over at Baseball-Reference.
True, Gregor Blanco is a fine fourth outfielder, but the roster improves greatly with the addition of Rios, who would have to play left field. Morse could cover at first to get more playing time, and Rios would also be able to give Pagan and Pence days off. In other words, there is plenty of playing time available.
In order to add a player that would make the Rangers a better ballclub next season, the Giants would send over Double-A starting pitcher Chris Stratton.
Stratton is right-hander with established stuff. Per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo:
Stratton was overpowering at times at Mississippi State, where he worked at 91-93 mph, and hit 95 mph consistently. Last year, his fastball sat at 89-92 mph, though it remains effective because he can spot it on both sides of the plate and impart it with some run and sink.
Stratton uses four pitches, with his quick slider being the best of his secondary offerings. He also has a curveball he can throw for strikes and a changeup with more deception than movement. With Stratton's stuff and command, he could become a No. 3 starter.
If No. 3 is where Stratton tops out in the Rangers rotation, and that should be just fine with Daniels. He would be a nice complement to Yu Darvish and Martin Perez, who figure to open up next season as the No. 1 and No. 2 starters, respectively.
Finally, let’s not forget that the Giants were one of the clubs rumored to be interested in grabbing Rios prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
Any way this deal is dissected, it fills a need on each team.
Whether or not the return is sufficient for Daniels is another story. If we consider, however, that the cost to acquire Rios from the Chicago White Sox was utility infielder Leury Garcia, this represents a significant return on his investment.
Seattle Mariners Acquire Ichiro Suzuki from the New York Yankees
Seattle Mariners Get: OF Ichiro Suzuki
New York Yankees Get: OF Xavier Avery, RHP Stephen Shackleford
Along with Brendan Ryan, who was previously featured, Ichiro Suzuki is another player the New York Yankees have that is available for an August trade, and he’d be a perfect fit for the Seattle Mariners.
Frankly, if general manager Jack Zduriencik added Suzuki, who is scheduled to hit free agency at the end of the season, the M’s are a much better club.
In 253 at-bats going into action on Monday, he had a .277/.326/.324 slash line with seven doubles, 10 stolen bases and 14 RBI. Not exactly overwhelming stuff, but considering the state of the Mariners outfield, those numbers represent a rather significant upgrade.
Yes, the Mariners have Dustin Ackley playing very well right now and recently added Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia. Outside of them, however, the unit is in disrepair, and since his acquisition, Denorfia is only slashing out at .176/.263/.176.
Now given Suzuki's value and the Mariners' need, Zduriencik will have to send a couple of prospects to the Yankees to complete the trade. Outfielder Xavier Avery and right-handed reliever Stephen Shackleford should suffice.
Avery (.278/343/.404, 8 HR, 29 SB at Triple-A Tacoma) has all the tools but hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since a 32-game stint with the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo provides a detailed synopsis:
Avery still has intriguing tools, starting with his outstanding speed that allows him to be a base-stealing threat and to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. If his bat can continue to develop, the left-handed hitter could be a top-of-the-order type. He'll need to make more consistent contact and improve his on-base skills to truly profile as a leadoff hitter.
Avery has the ability to play all three outfield positions, something he's done over the past few seasons after mainly playing center early on his career. A future as a fourth outfielder might be in the cards.
While the term “fourth outfielder” may not inspire the most excitement, Avery has enough speed and upside to put him toward the top of the prospect list in the Yankees system at the position. Either way, the depth will surely help the organization moving forward.
Shackleford has found success in the past and has a live arm. Currently at Double-A Jackson, he is 5-2 with a 3.29 ERA and is averaging 9.7 strikeouts every nine innings. To be sure, his command needs to improve, but there is no mistaking his ability.
Another reason adding Suzuki makes sense for the Mariners is that this could be his final season. What better place to end it than with the franchise that he called home for parts of 12 seasons.
Zduriencik doesn’t make this move for ceremonial purposes, of course, but it is a nice byproduct.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of game time on Monday, August 11. Transaction and injury information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information pulled from Cot's Contracts.