10 Win-Win Trade Ideas Coming Out of the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings
As MLB's annual winter meetings conclude Thursday in Orlando, Florida, a trove of top free agents and trade targets sit unclaimed on the board.
At the same time, there's an array of buyers looking to bolster their rosters at multiple positions. Roller skate, meet key.
Let's zero in on the remaining trade chips and construct 10 potential win-win deals based on the latest rumors, a sense of each club's needs and a dash of gut feeling.
The meetings may be ending, but the offseason machinations are just getting started.
Danny Duffy to the Toronto Blue Jays
After finishing 10 games under .500 and in a distant fourth place in the American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays are looking to retool on multiple fronts.
Adding offense is a priority, but the Jays are also seeking starting pitching, per Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Manager John Gibbons name-dropped veteran free-agent CC Sabathia, per Nicholson-Smith, but the Jays could also go the trade route and target Kansas City Royals left-hander Danny Duffy.
K.C. is "seriously thinking" of trading Duffy, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, and the 28-year-old southpaw would slot nicely into Toronto's rotation.
He's owed $60 million through 2021, an affordable contract for a pitcher on the right side of 30 with plus stuff and a career 3.73 ERA.
The Blue Jays shouldn't move prized prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. But a package of 22-year-old right-hander T.J. Zeuch (Toronto's No. 5 prospect, per MLB.com) and 21-year-old switch-hitting shortstop Richard Urena (the Jays' No. 10 prospect) would help restock K.C.'s tepid farm system while bringing a proven big league arm north of the border.
Kelvin Herrera to the Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers relievers finished 28th in baseball with a 4.76 ERA in 2017. It's no surprise then that Texas is searching for bullpen help.
As Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported, the Rangers are "strongly pursuing" Royals right-hander Kelvin Herrera, a two-time All-Star and key member of the once-vaunted 'pen that brought a World Series championship to Kansas City in 2015.
Herrera posted a less-than-stellar 4.25 ERA last season and has only one year of team control remaining. He also locked down a career-high 26 saves and, at age 27, could be primed for an increase.
It's unclear what Kansas City would command for a season of Herrera's services, but a package of 22-year old lefty Brett Martin, who flashed mid-rotation stuff at High-A, and toolsy 19-year-old middle infielder Anderson Tejeda seems like a fair return.
Chase Headley to the Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels are clearly gunning for a return to relevance in the American League West. They landed two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani and acquired veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
The Halos have "shown strong interest" in third baseman Chase Headley, according to Nightengale. Headley, who was dealt from the Yankees to the San Diego Padres along with right-hander Bryan Mitchell on Tuesday, would plug a hole at third base and add another veteran piece around superstar Mike Trout.
The 33-year-old is owed $13 million in 2018, the final year of his current contract, and hit .273 last season with a modest 12 home runs.
He shouldn't cost any of the top names from an admittedly weak Angels system; the Pads would move him mostly to shed his salary. Toss in a mid-level arm with some upside such as 24-year-old right-hander Jake Jewell and get this done.
Billy Hamilton to the San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants finished at the bottom of the heap in home runs and OPS en route to a 98-loss season. They made a play for erstwhile Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, only to see the New York Yankees swoop in and steal their lunch.
So, naturally, they should target Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton and his .334 career slugging percentage.
Wait, hear us out.
First off, Hamilton cannot be the Giants' only move. They need to target power hitters as well. The Reds speedster, however, could fill a void for San Francisco.
He'd represent a significant defensive upgrade over incumbent center fielder Denard Span. And he adds game-changing speed, having stolen 50-plus bases every season since 2014 despite a substandard .298 career on-base percentage.
The 27-year-old wouldn't be a panacea for San Francisco's offensive woes, but his legs and glove add significant value and he's controllable through 2019.
A deal didn't get done at the winter meetings, but The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the Giants were the "strongest" of the Hamilton suitors.
San Francisco doesn't boast a gilded farm system, but power-hitting first baseman Chris Shaw—who is blocked by Brandon Belt and maybe Buster Posey down the road—ought to be enough for Cincinnati.
Brad Hand to the Houston Astros
The Houston Astros bullpen posted a 5.40 ERA in the postseason. Yes, they won it all anyway, but it's one of the few areas of concern for the defending champions.
"[The bullpen is] probably the highest priority, and there are quite a few good options out there, so it's probably the most likely way we're going to go," said general manager Jeff Luhnow, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle.
They inked free-agent reliever Joe Smith on Wednesday, per MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, but should keep pursuing late-inning reinforcements.
Like, for example, Padres left-hander Brad Hand, who posted a 2.16 ERA last season with 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings and made the National League All-Star team.
Hand is also controllable through 2019, meaning the price will be steep. With so much young talent at the big league level, however, the 'Stros can afford to jettison a couple of high-upside pieces.
Outfielder Kyle Tucker shouldn't be part of any Hand discussions, but 20-year-old Cuban outfielder/first baseman Yordan Alvarez and hard-throwing 21-year-old right-hander Hector Perez would represent a solid return for San Diego.
Yasmani Grandal to the Oakland Athletics
Yasmani Grandal hit 22 home runs in 2017, and StatCorner rated him the game's second-best pitch-framer. Still, the 29-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers catcher ceded playing time to Austin Barnes, who started 13 of the Dodgers' 15 postseason games behind the plate.
According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, Los Angeles is open to offers for Grandal, who is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility.
That should interest the Oakland Athletics, who are in the midst of another rebuild but acquired big league outfielder Stephen Piscotty from the St. Louis Cardinals, per Heyman. Clearly, the A's and executive Billy Beane are open to various possibilities.
Bruce Maxwell tops Oakland's catching depth chart, and he hit .237 in 76 games last season and was arrested in early November on gun charges.
Grandal would be a significant upgrade and a boon for the Athletics' young arms. The spendthrift A's won't decimate their MiLB ranks but could part with the likes of sinkerballer Grant Holmes, who would deepen the Dodgers' already robust farm.
Christian Yelich to the Los Angeles Dodgers
The fire sale is on in South Beach. The Marlins have already dealt Stanton and Marcell Ozuna and could soon swap Christian Yelich, the final member of their talent-laden outfield.
Miami is set to meet with Yelich to discuss the possibility of a trade, per Heyman. The 26-year-old is signed through 2021 with a club option for 2022 and possesses five-tool capabilities.
He's sure to draw ample interest, but push the Dodgers to the front of the line. Los Angeles stayed out of the Stanton sweepstakes. Yelich, who like Stanton is a Southern California native, doesn't come with the same massive salary obligations and could be an ideal fit for L.A.
Joc Pederson has yet to translate his considerable power into consistent big league production. Chris Taylor was a surprise contributor in 2017 at age 27 but lacks a track record. Yasiel Puig might have found himself, but he remains a mercurial enigma.
Yelich, a 2014 Gold Glove winner who can capably handle center or left field, would measurably strengthen the defending NL champs. He'd also require an outlay of prospects. Outfielder Alex Verdugo or hard-throwing right-hander Yadier Alvarez could highlight a package that would need to include at least one more elite prospect such as outfielder Yusniel Diaz.
That's a lot to give up, but Yelich is a lot to get back.
Michael Fulmer to the New York Yankees
The Yankees made their big trade with the Stanton acquisition, but they might not be done. New York could still use help in the rotation and may target Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer.
The 24-year-old righty and 2016 AL Rookie of the Year was an All-Star last season and can't become a free agent until 2023. Even as they kick their rebuild into high gear, the Tigers won't move him for less than a king's ransom. But they're listening.
"Let's say you have an asset," GM Al Avila said referring to Fulmer, per Fenech. "Your house. And somebody likes it. You don't have it for sale. But if somebody says, 'Man, I really like your house' and they keep on pursuing you about your house, at some point, you might end up selling it."
The Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have impressively restocked their farm system and can afford to buy the house.
Specifically, New York has a logjam in the outfield with the arrival of Stanton. Clint Frazier, who once looked like an inevitable part of the Yanks' future, is suddenly expendable.
The 23-year-old has the potential to be a star and would instantly become Detroit's most exciting young piece. Marry him to another enticing chip like 23-year-old righty Domingo Acevedo and his triple-digit heater, and the Tigers should bite.
Chris Archer to the Atlanta Braves
The Tampa Bay Rays are willing to listen to offers for right-hander Chris Archer, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The 29-year-old two-time All-Star is signed to an affordable contract that runs through 2021 with a pair of club options. The team is sure to garner a lot of calls, as it seemingly does every year during the offseason and at the trade deadline.
The small-market Rays are always after minor league pieces and could wave a white flag, with the Yankees and Red Sox again emerging as the dueling bullies of the AL East. This might be the moment Archer changes laundry.
The Atlanta Braves were among the interested clubs mentioned by Topkin. Even after coughing up 12 prospects for their international-signing violations, they have one of the game's top farm systems.
It would probably require left-hander Kolby Allard or right-hander Kyle Wright—Atlanta's Nos. 2 and 3 prospects, respectively, per MLB.com—along with some ancillary pieces. Heck, Tampa Bay could ask for Allard or Wright along with outfielder and No. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna.
Controllable, proven aces like Archer don't hit the market every year, however. He'd be a building block for the Braves as they climb toward contention and would help erase the bad taste of their recent, ugly controversy.
Manny Machado to the St. Louis Cardinals
With Stanton in pinstripes, Manny Machado is now the biggest superstar on the trading block.
The 25-year-old two-time Gold Glove winner and two-time top-five AL MVP finisher will be a free agent after 2018, meaning he'll be an incredibly expensive rental.
Scratch your head, then, at Rosenthal's report that the rebuilding Chicago White Sox are "the most aggressive suitor" for the Baltimore Orioles infielder.
Yes, the White Sox have the MiLB talent to get a deal done. And, yes, they could flip Machado to a contender, as Rosenthal suggested. Even then, it doesn't make much sense.
A team that does make sense is the Cardinals, who already acquired Ozuna from the Marlins and are clearly hoping to unseat the archrival Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
The Cards, per Nightengale, have a "strong offer" on the table for Machado. St. Louis fans should cross their fingers that it doesn't include ace-in-the-making Alex Reyes. Right-hander Luke Weaver would be a nice centerpiece, however, along with 22-year-old outfielder Tyler O'Neill or shortstop Paul DeJong, who could be supplanted by Machado.
St. Louis isn't notorious for splashy, risky moves. This would be both. It would also add a whole lot of intrigue and the potential for exciting things in eastern Missouri.
All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.