5 Impact MLB Trade Ideas That Actually Could Happen
Major League Baseball's 2015 season is barely a month in, but it's never too early to start talking—or at least thinking—about trades.
Although the July 31 deadline is several weeks away, developments already have put teams into situations where making a move to fill a hole, fix a weakness or replace an injured player seems more or less inevitable.
Here is where we try to concoct a handful of swaps that not only address all that but also benefit both sides.
While nothing major is likely to go down for quite some time still, that doesn't mean we can't start gearing up for the rumors and speculation by coming up with a batch of trade ideas that actually could happen—or at least make sense at this point.
Reds RHP Johnny Cueto to Red Sox
Sure, all the talk has been about the ace-less Boston Red Sox landing Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, and that still could happen. But Johnny Cueto might be more realistic for one big reason.
As Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes:
The Red Sox have other reservations about a Hamels deal, including the four years left on his contract (possibly five, if Hamels requires that his option be picked up in order to cross the Sox off his no-trade list). Hamels is 31 and has more than 1,800 innings of tread on his shoulder, meaning he likely has reached his peak. While he would be extremely helpful to any contender in 2015, a long-term relationship that stretches into 2017 and '18 isn't as attractive.
In other words, the Red Sox actually might find a short-term front-of-the-rotation fix more appealing, since they won't have to worry about paying north of $20 million a year to a pitcher whose prime might not last much longer.
Another reason Boston could prefer to target just such a starter? The cost of acquisition isn't likely to be quite as high because it's a rental situation. For as great as Cueto is, 10 to 15 starts of him before he hits the open market in the fall is not worth surrendering, say, top catching prospect Blake Swihart or young left-handers Henry Owens or Eduardo Rodriguez. And don't even mention Yoan Moncada.
The Red Sox have arguably baseball's deepest farm system, though, so the return for Cueto could bring back at least one highly regarded prospect, like first/third baseman Rafael Devers or outfielder Manuel Margot, along with a secondary piece or two, like right-hander Matt Barnes or shortstop Deven Marrero.
With all of the money the Cincinnati Reds owe Homer Bailey, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce, as well as Joey Votto, there's no way they can keep Cueto around. They badly need to get younger and cheaper and might as well get something for their star righty, rather than let him walk for merely a draft pick.
As far as replacing Cueto, young arms like Tony Cingrani, Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias, each of whom already has big league experience, would see expanded roles.
Brewers SS Jean Segura to Mets
The New York Mets can continue to insist that shortstop Wilmer Flores has "plenty of room" to tighten his defense up, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com writes. But the 23-year-old lacks the range and quickness to be a starting everyday shortstop, and he clearly doesn't look comfortable at the position, as his seven errors show.
Given the Mets' surprising start that has them atop the NL East, they may need to look outside the organization to shore things up to remain in the playoff picture for the first time in seven years. Jean Segura would be an intriguing fit for Flushing.
Yes, the Milwaukee Brewers shortstop already has seven miscues himself—and his head has served as something of a magnet for thrown baseballs and back-swinging bats—but the 24-year-old has shown he can play the position capably the past few seasons.
As Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine writes:
Segura will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, and after that exceptional start to his time with the Brewers, various issues have contributed to the decline in his production. He also turned down a long-term extension offer from the Brewers. But ... one rival evaluator thought he'd be a good fit for the Mets if they wanted a defensive upgrade over Wilmer Flores.
With as much pitching depth as New York has in the majors and minors, the Brewers would do well to target a quality arm, such as right-hander Marcos Molina or Rafael Montero (provided his ailing shoulder is OK long term), who could help address one of the franchise's weaker areas.
Plus, the down-and-maybe-already-out Brewers, who are a worst-in-baseball 8-19 and just changed managers, have a nearly ready replacement for Segura in Luis Sardinas, a defensive-oriented shortstop whom they acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Yovani Gallardo trade in January.
Rangers RHP Neftali Feliz to Blue Jays
At 10-16 and already experiencing more than their fair share of injury issues for a second consecutive year, it appears the Texas Rangers will fall into the "seller" bucket this trade season. That makes closer Neftali Feliz a luxury the Rangers don't need in 2015.
Although Feliz is not exactly expensive at a little over $4 million this year, his salary is only going to go up in his final year of arbitration eligibility prior to 2016, after which he'll become a free agent.
The Toronto Blue Jays would be able to fit that into their budget for a year-and-a-half, especially when their back-of-the bullpen problems—they've changed closers twice, from lefty Brett Cecil to since-demoted rookie Miguel Castro and back again—are so acute.
The club's relievers have compiled a 4.08 ERA that is in the bottom 10 in MLB, and they have converted only six of 10 save chances, which is hindering the Jays' chances of contending in a year when many thought they could make a run at ending their MLB-worst 21-season playoff drought, especially in a wide-open AL East.
As for the Rangers, they would be happy to get back almost any young asset with some value, like southpaws Matt Smoral or Jairo Labourt or third baseman Mitch Nay. Meanwhile, they have Feliz's successor in rookie Keone Kela, who has thrown well so far with a 2.08 ERA and could prove ready to remove the "of the future" part of his unofficial "closer of the future" tag.
Athletics LHP Scott Kazmir to Cardinals
Scott Kazmir has been great for the Oakland Athletics, but he'll be a free agent six months from now. That alone makes the veteran lefty a trade chip.
On top of that, his $13 million salary for 2015 is the highest figure for the budget-conscious A's, who have younger—and cheaper—arms in Kendall Graveman and Chris Bassitt and should soon be getting back one or both of Tommy John surgery-recoverers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin.
Besides, general manager Billy Beane never has been shy when it comes to trading a soon-to-be-expiring asset for a future one.
With the loss of Adam Wainwright for the rest of the season due to a torn Achilles tendon as well as eventual concerns over the workloads for youngsters Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, St. Louis is going to have to explore the pitching market in some form.
As one of the more consistent contenders in the sport—and the owners of the best record in baseball at the moment at 20-6—the Cardinals will be motivated to make a move to fortify the rotation.
Knowing Beane's recent affinity for big league-ready youngsters, an arm like southpaw Tim Cooney could make sense as part of the return, perhaps along with converted catcher Carson Kelly, St. Louis' second-rounder from 2012 who is more of a project.
Brewers RHP Kyle Lohse to Dodgers
In the wake of losing Brandon McCarthy for the rest of 2015 to Tommy John surgery, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a contender that already has a hole in their rotation. Add in Hyun-Jin Ryu's lingering shoulder problem and Brett Anderson's lengthy injury history, and hole could become holes in short order.
Even still, new Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman is loathe to surrender either of his two potential franchise-cornerstone prospects in 18-year-old lefty phenom Julio Urias, currently in Double-A, or infielder Corey Seager, who was promoted to Triple-A last week.
Then again, getting a steady, proven innings-eater in the final months of his contract like Kyle Lohse of the Brewers wouldn't require anything close to that. Instead, a lower-ceiling youngster who is a near-certain future major leaguer like, say, lefty Chris Reed or catcher/infielder Austin Barnes could be enough to get the job done and solidify the back of a rotation that still is headed by arguably the game's best one-two punch in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
Milwaukee could then turn to 25-year-old righty Taylor Jungmann, who won't live up to being the No. 12 overall pick in 2011 but should get a shot in The Show soon after a bounce-back 2014 that got him to Triple-A.