MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest News, Rumors and Speculation

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2015

MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest News, Rumors and Speculation

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    After a short hiatus, we're back playing general manager, formulating deals based on the latest chatter from the rumor mill.

    Much of this week's wheeling and dealing is based on a forward-looking piece by Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Based on what those with the Colorado Rockies have said, Saunders opines that Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Morneau and Troy Tulowitzki could all be playing elsewhere by the time August comes around.

    But the Rockies aren't our only focus this week, as a pair of National League teams reportedly continue to talk about a deal involving one of the game's most polarizing figures.

    Keep in mind that these deals are independent of each other and pure speculation—in many cases, there's no indication that any of them have actually been discussed between the teams involved. The goal is to keep these trades balanced, with each team ultimately better for having made the swap.

Carlos Gonzalez Gets Traded to the Texas Rangers

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Rangers Get: OF Carlos Gonzalez

    Rockies Get: IF Travis Demeritte, RHP Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez and RHP Keone Kela

     

    Globe Life Park in Arlington isn't quite as hitter-friendly as Coors Field, but Texas' home field is a perfect landing spot for Carlos Gonzalez and his powerful left-handed swing, and it just so happens that the Rangers have a gaping hole in left field that he can fill.

    While adding another left-handed bat to a lineup that's heavy on them isn't ideal, and both his contract (three years, $53 million remaining) and injury history (he hasn't played in more than 140 games since 2010) are issues, CarGo is the kind of talent that the Rangers simply can't afford to pass up the chance to acquire, especially if they've got plans on contending in an improved American League West.

    To get him, they'll have to surrender their best pitching prospect, Alex Gonzalez. While he's not a flamethrower, Gonzalez is armed with three plus offerings (including a nasty low-to-mid-90s fastball that moves all over the place) and reached Double-A in his first full professional season.

    His ceiling may not be quite as high as Noah Syndergaard's, but he's nearly ready for the majors and gives the Rockies another high-upside arm to build their future rotation around.

    Travis Demeritte is still a few years away from impacting a major league roster, but he's got tremendous raw power (he hit 25 home runs in his first full minor league season) and makes hard contact with the ability to spray the ball all over the field. Drafted as a shortstop, he's ultimately headed for second base, third base or a corner outfield spot.

    Keone Kela is your prototypical power reliever, armed with a fastball that hits triple digits and a curve that, when it's on, makes batters look foolish. His command needs some refinement, as he's been prone to issuing more walks than you'd like, but he's a potential shutdown, late-inning reliever who can help Colorado's bullpen this year.

Justin Morneau Gets Traded to the San Diego Padres

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Padres Get: 1B Justin Morneau

    Rockies Get: RHP Tayron Guerrero and RHP Brandon Maurer

     

    The last time Colorado and San Diego got together on a deal, the Padres fleeced the Rockies, acquiring Huston Street for Nick Schmidt, a right-handed starter that lasted two years in their minor league system before being released.

    In landing a pair of young arms in Tayron Guerrero and Brandon Maurer, this deal should work out well for both clubs this time around.

    Guerrero has a terrific fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and a slider that has flashed as a plus offering as well. He may ultimately be a setup man, lacking the consistency to be a closer, but those kinds of pitchers are valuable in their own right.

    Maurer, acquired by the Padres from Seattle in the trade that sent Seth Smith to the Mariners, could still fit into Colorado's rotation but, as U-T San Diego's Jeff Sanders notes, might have found his groove in relief:

    In 29 appearances, he fashioned a 2.36 ERA over 34 1/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .226/.252/.308 batting line.

    Maurer’s strikeout rates, in particular, soared from 4.7 per nine innings as a starter to 9.2 as reliever last season. Factoring in the five walks he issued out of the bullpen, Maurer’s 7.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio out of the bullpen shot right past the major league average last year (2.67).

    As for the Padres, Morneau represents a major upgrade over their current first base platoon of Yonder Alonso and Tommy Medica, and his left-handed bat brings some needed balance to a lineup that is heavy on right-handed bats.

Jonathan Papelbon Gets Traded to the Milwaukee Brewers

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    Brewers Get: RHP Jonathan Papelbon and $13 million

    Phillies Get: OF Gerardo Parra and RHP Tyler Wagner

     

    Despite reports to the contrary, talks about a deal that would send closer Jonathan Papelbon from Philadelphia to Milwaukee are still ongoing

    Here's what Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash told Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee) about the potential trade: "I don't think it's dead. I don't think anything is imminent. We've got a number of things going. It's just a matter of trying to ascertain the best approach and what makes the best sense from a lineup point of view and financial point of view."

    Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn't name names but echoed similar sentiments in a recent conversation with CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, saying, “Things are still alive. We’re still having discussion—and not just with one club.”

    We know that the Brewers want to add an established closer, and we know that the Philles want something of substance in exchange for Papelbon, especially if they are picking up some of the money left on his contract.

    This deal satisfies both clubs.

    Papelbon, for all of his baggage, remains one of the better closers in baseball. Among relievers who have made at least 180 appearances since 2012, Papelbon ranks seventh in saves (106) and 11th in ERA (2.45) and WHIP (1.03).

    The $13 million that the Brewers obtain in the deal will pay for one season of Papelbon, leaving them on the hook for the other half of his contract.

    In Gerardo Parra, the Phillies get a two-time Gold Glove winner who has been relegated to bench duty in Milwaukee. His arrival would also open up a roster spot, as the Phillies would no longer need to keep both Jeff Francoeur and Grady Sizemore, neither one part of the long-term solution.

    Tyler Wagner's ceiling is that of a No. 3 starter (though he's more likely an option on the back end), but he's a ground-ball specialist (which will play well in Philadelphia) and has proven to be durable as he's moved through the minor leagues, tossing 150 innings over 25 starts at High-A in 2014.

Troy Tulowitzki Gets Traded to the New York Mets

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Mets Get: SS Troy Tulowitzki

    Rockies Get: RHP Dillon Gee, C Kevin Plawecki, SS Wilmer Flores and RHP Noah Syndergaard

     

    In this deal, the framework of which was originally proposed by former Mets star and current TBS analyst Ron Darling during a December appearance on MLB Network (h/t Amazin' Avenue), Colorado fills multiple holes and saves a ton of cash while New York gets the shortstop and star attraction it needs.

    Dubbed "The Norse God of Velocity" by ESPN's Keith Law, Noah Syndergaard is ready to contribute to a major league rotation in 2015. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranks him as the game's second-best right-handed pitching prospect, while Law believes that Syndergaard is "the safest bet" of any of the premium pitching prospects to crack his yearly Top 100 list.

    I've written before that Dillon Gee isn't a great fit for Coors Field due to his fly-ball tendencies, but the Rockies are known to like him, and he's proven himself to be a serviceable starter. Under team control through 2016 and earning only $5.3 million this year, he represents solid value.

    A rotation that features Syndergaard, Eddie Butler and Jon Gray at the front and the De La Rosa/Gee combination at the back has the potential to be a pretty good one. That's something that we've never been able to say about a Colorado rotation—at least not with a straight face.

    It's no secret that the Rockies want to get Wilin Rosario out from behind the plate, and Kevin Plawecki allows them to do just that. The 35th overall pick in the 2012 draft reached Triple-A in just his second full professional season, is defensively sound and projects to hit for average with 10-to-15 home runs a year.

    Wilmer Flores may ultimately be nothing more than a utility infielder, but a move to Coors Field could be what he needs to awaken his bat, which has produced a .240/.275/.356 slash line over parts of two major league seasons. A decent defender, he can serve as a stopgap at shortstop.

    As for the Mets, they get the shortstop and star attraction that they desperately need.

    Sure, there's a ton of risk involved in adding Troy Tulowitzki, who has played in more than 130 games only once since 2009 and is due more than $110 million through 2020, but its a move the Mets have to make.

    David Wright can't carry the offense by himself, and neither Michael Cuddyer nor Curtis Granderson are anything other than complementary pieces. Tulo gives the Mets a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat and a superstar who will put fans in the stands.

    That last part can't be overstated.

    For all the chatter about the team's finances, a surefire way to increase revenue is to increase attendance. Per ESPN, Citi Field was typically filled to less than 65 percent of capacity in 2014. By comparison, the cross-town rival Yankees played in front of a house that was nearly 86 percent full.

    Tulo's arrival would go a long way toward closing that gap.

     

    Unless otherwise linked/noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Referenceand FanGraphs. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts.

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