Win-Win Trade Ideas for Every Top MLB Chip on the 2016-17 Market
We can break down trades in a simple way: Their idea is to make both teams better.
There are teams currently in rebuild mode that hold elite players under contract, and other teams looking to contend in 2017 could use those aforementioned players.
If the latter teams are able to send prospects in return, that's a win-win for both organizations. The rebuilding team nets something for the future, and the contending one gets something for right now.
Which teams fall into which category this offseason? And which players might be dealt?
Miguel Cabrera to the Texas Rangers
Though the Texas Rangers have expressed interest in re-signing designated hitter Carlos Beltran, whom the team acquired at the last trade deadline, Miguel Cabrera not only presents a backup option but an upgrade altogether.
Cabrera is under contract with the Detroit Tigers, but with the team looking to shed payroll and get younger, the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer could be on the move. Team general manager Al Avila indicated earlier this month the organization is open to all trade options, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
The Rangers are eyeing their third straight American League West title, and the right-handed first baseman would fit well in the middle of their lineup. Cabrera still has Triple Crown ability. He hit .316/.393/.563 with 38 homers and 108 RBI in 2016.
Texas could send the Tigers third baseman/outfield prospect Joey Gallo, who is among the best power-hitting prospects in the game. Jurickson Profar, who has the ability to play every infield position, could be added to the deal as well. He was once regarded as the best prospect in baseball before injuries kept him out all of 2014 and 2015.
Both players would have trouble earning plate appearances on a talented Rangers roster. So, both stand as valuable offseason trade chips for the club.
Justin Verlander to the Washington Nationals
Like his Tigers teammate Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, the 2016 AL Cy Young runner-up, offers Detroit another valuable player in an offseason when the trade market figures to be active. Per the aforementioned Detroit Free Press story, it's reasonable to conclude the Tigers are open to talks involving Verlander.
The free-agent market is bereft of elite pitching talent, so teams looking to bolster their starting rotations will have to look to the trade market, but particularly Verlander.
Given that he is 33 and playing on a bigger contract, Verlander will come cheaper than Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale (more on him later), who is younger and on a team-friendly deal.
Still, Verlander would instantly upgrade any rotation.
Yes, the Washington Nationals had one of baseball's best rotations last season, but Joe Ross is still young, Stephen Strasburg is injury-prone and top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito has little experience as an MLB pitcher.
Verlander would add some stability to the Washington rotation and, if it hits on all cylinders, potentially make it MLB's best.
The Nationals wouldn't need to send their top prospects—infielder Trea Turner and Giolito—in return. Instead, they could send right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and outfielder Victor Robles, a top-10 prospect, according to MLB.com.
Such a trade would immediately vault the Tigers farm system up the rankings.
Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox
Chris Sale represents, if he is traded, the biggest coup of this offseason. The left-hander is considered among baseball's best pitchers, making five straight All-Star appearances for the AL.
The glaring hole in his resume: Sale has never pitched a postseason game.
That's because he has played on a White Sox team that simply hasn't contended since he debuted in 2010. With the Cleveland Indians the favorite to win the AL Central in 2017 and the Kansas City Royals expected to get healthy and contend, Chicago would be wasting another of Sale's prime years if the team held on to him.
As such, Sale represents a giant reset button for a team desperately in need of an infusion of prospects. Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com reported that talks are ongoing, but the team is "in no hurry" to trade Sale.
Sale has one year remaining on a five-year, $32.5 million deal plus team options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons—an incredible bargain for a pitcher of his caliber.
So, the asking price will be high.
The Boston Red Sox might be the team most willing to pay that price. It should be noted that Sale would obviously be a fit on any team. The Nationals, Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers are all contending teams with the prospects required to pull off a deal for Sale.
But given that Boston's rotation underperformed all of last season and that the team was swept out of the playoffs, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski could be willing to pull off the blockbuster.
The trade would almost assuredly require Boston to send outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and, quite possibly, infielder Yoan Moncada to Chicago. Both could help the White Sox contend for several years.
For the Red Sox, they would be acquiring a pitcher they could ride to a World Series like the Indians did with Corey Kluber this past season.
Chris Archer to the Texas Rangers
That Chris Archer is on this list is due to his team-friendly deal more so than his performance in 2016.
Archer is playing on a six-year, $25.5 million contract that runs through 2019 with team options for 2020 and 2021. In an era when No. 3 starters are signing nine-figure contracts, that's a bargain that any team has to consider, especially given Archer's vast potential.
Though he posted a 4.02 ERA in 2016, it stood at 3.33 or better the three previous seasons.
If Texas had its preference at the trade deadline last season, the team would have attempted to trade for starting pitching, but the market for starting pitching wasn't good.
The Rangers could again attempt to bolster their rotation with a player like Archer—someone they could develop over the next several years.
The cost would not be steep, and the Rangers have the prospects (as mentioned earlier) to pull off such a deal. Buster Olney of ESPN reported that rival executives expect Archer to be dealt this offseason.
The right-handed Archer would fit well in an AL West where the Rangers have to face Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve—all right-handed hitters.
Ryan Braun to the Los Angeles Dodgers
There may not be a better pair of trade partners than the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers, who hold left fielder Ryan Braun under contract.
Braun is from the Los Angeles area. Furthermore, Milwaukee is in rebuild mode with no chance to contend in 2017 given that it plays in the National League Central with the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
That should motivate the Brewers to trade Braun this offseason. He hit .305/.365/.538 with 30 home runs and 91 RBI in 2016. Braun admitted to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he is unsure whether he will be with the club in 2017.
He would instantly upgrade a Dodgers offense that already includes NL Rookie of the Year and league MVP finalist Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, are looking to trade right fielder Yasiel Puig. The enigmatic Puig is loaded with talent but has undergone turmoil in Los Angeles. It's reasonable to conclude that playing in a smaller market like Milwaukee might improve Puig's focus.
Puig, though, would be just part of a potential deal. The Dodgers might also need to add pitcher Jose De Leon and/or first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, who played well in the Arizona Fall League.
Brewers general manager David Stearns has done an outstanding job building Milwaukee's minor league system. MLB.com put the team's system No. 1 in all of baseball in the site's midseason rankings.
Such a deal would only further solidify the Brewers' future as a contender in the NL Central.