Wild MLB Trade Ideas We'd Love to See in 2022-23 Offseason

Joel ReuterOctober 25, 2022

Wild MLB Trade Ideas We'd Love to See in 2022-23 Offseason

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    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 28: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox swings against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on June 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
    Rafael Devers (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

    There will be plenty of time to dissect the most likely landing spots for the top trade chips of the MLB offseason and build out reasonable trade ideas that have a high likelihood of actually happening.

    But first, we thought it would be fun to throw out a few outside-the-box trade ideas to get the ball rolling on trade season.

    The idea here was not necessarily to focus on trades that are likely to happen, but instead to highlight a few wild ideas that could be logically justified for all involved.

    Have your own wild trade idea?

    Share it in the comments, and I'll give you my thoughts on the proposal.

White Sox-Marlins Blockbuster

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    CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 15: Eloy Jiménez #74 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after flying out during the third inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on September 15, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
    Eloy Jiménez (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

    To MIA: OF Eloy Jiménez

    To CWS: SP Jesús Luzardo, 2B Ian Lewis

    The Chicago White Sox are at a crossroads, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier this month that the team could be busy on the trade market this winter, potentially listening on everyone besides Dylan Cease and Andrew Vaughn.

    Could that mean oft-injured slugger Eloy Jiménez is on the move?

    The 25-year-old has averaged 36 home runs and 108 RBI per 162 games over the course of his big league career, but he played just 55 games in 2021 and 84 games in 2022. Once he finally returned to action this past season, he had a 140 OPS+ with 16 home runs and 54 RBI in 327 plate appearances.

    That type of middle-of-the-order production is what the Marlins are expected to be searching for this winter after finishing 27th in OPS (.657) and 24th in home runs (144) and 28th in runs per game (3.62).

    In return, the White Sox bring back a front-line pitcher on the rise in Jesús Luzardo.

    The former top prospect dealt with some ups and downs early in his MLB career, but things finally started to click in his first full season in Miami when he posted a 3.32 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 100.1 innings.

    Luzardo is controllable through 2026 and Jiménez has four years left on the early extension he signed with the White Sox if his two club options are exercised, so the two sides line up on remaining control.

    The Marlins round out their side of the trade package with infield prospect Ian Lewis, as they would likely need to add at least one complementary piece to account for the MVP-caliber ceiling that Jiménez still possesses offensively.

A Mutually Beneficial Salary Dump

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) throws a pitch during the MLB game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 21, 2022 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Madison Bumgarner (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    To NYM: LHP Madison Bumgarner, RHP Conor Grammes

    To ARI: C James McCann, 1B/OF Darin Ruf

    The New York Mets could have multiple holes to fill in the starting rotation with Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker all having some form of contract option or opt-out clause.

    They will no doubt pursue multiple front-line options to slot alongside Max Scherzer, and re-signing deGrom figures to be a priority, but there would be some benefit in adding a proven innings-eater like Madison Bumgarner to round out the staff.

    The 33-year-old had a 4.88 ERA in 158.2 innings in the third season of a five-year, $85 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, marking the eighth time in his career that he has made at least 30 starts.

    Remaining money is a roadblock for the D-backs in a potential trade, but a swap with the Mets could allow them to offload some unfavorable contracts of their own.

    Bumgarner is owed $37 million over the final two years of his contract, but $5 million of that has been deferred by the D-backs, so an acquiring team would only be on the hook for $32 million.

    If the Mets could convince the D-backs to take on James McCann (two years, $24.3 million) and Darin Ruf (one year, $3 million), it would still save Arizona a net of more than $5 million. Meanwhile, the Mets would only be adding a small sum to the payroll to plug a rotation hole and free up a 40-man roster spot.

    The D-backs are in the market for catching help, and a change of scenery could be good for McCann. He was an All-Star and one of the most productive catchers in baseball as recently as 2019, but his time in New York has been forgettable at best.

    Hard-throwing prospect Conor Grammes gives the Mets a power arm with the stuff to make an impact out of the bullpen in the near future.

Blocked Top Prospects Find a Clear Path

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Diego Cartaya #17 of the National League at bat during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Diego Cartaya (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    To STL: C Diego Cartaya

    To LAD: 3B Nolan Gorman, RHP Austin Love

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are set at the catcher position for the foreseeable future with Will Smith controllable through 2025 and perhaps a candidate for an early extension given his elite-level production early in his career.

    That potentially makes Diego Cartaya one of the most attractive trade chips in baseball.

    The 21-year-old hit .254/.389/.503 with 22 doubles, 22 home runs and 72 RBI in 95 games between Single-A and High-A, and he checked in as the No. 14 prospect in baseball on Bleacher Report's final Top 100 list of the year.

    With Yadier Molina headed for retirement and no clear in-house replacement, the St. Louis Cardinals look like a potential trade partner if the Dodgers decide to use Cartaya to upgrade elsewhere on the diamond.

    Slugger Nolan Gorman has a top prospect pedigree of his own, and he posted a 106 OPS+ with 13 doubles, 14 home runs and 35 RBI in 313 plate appearances in his first MLB action.

    With Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado entrenched at the infield corners, he played primarily second base, but the defensive metrics (-6 DRS, -2.2 UZR/150) suggest an everyday role there might be a stretch.

    This deal would allow the Dodgers to decline their $16 million club option on third baseman Justin Turner, freeing up that money to be redirected to a run at re-signing Trea Turner, an outside addition to the pitching staff, or an extension for someone like Julio Urías or Walker Buehler.

    The value of a high-ceiling catcher like Cartaya could mean the Cardinals need to add another secondary piece, and right-hander Austin Love showed swing-and-miss stuff with 151 strikeouts in 125.2 innings at High-A, albeit with a 5.73 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

Red Sox, Brewers Swap Marquee Trade Chips

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    BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 17: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox follows through on a hit against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on September 17, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
    Rafael Devers (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    To MIL: 3B Rafael Devers

    To BOS: RHP Brandon Woodruff

    If Xander Bogaerts opts out of his contract and signs elsewhere, and extension talks with Rafael Devers don't go anywhere this offseason, the Boston front office will need to seriously consider flipping the star third baseman before Opening Day.

    Devers, 26, is a free agent after the 2023 season, and it was reported in July that the two sides were roughly $100 million apart in their extension talks last offseason. That's a monumental gap to overcome and time is ticking.

    A one-for-one trade for Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff would be a potentially landscape-altering deal for both sides, and exactly the type of bold move both teams could be looking to make after disappointing seasons left them on the outside looking in for a playoff spot.

    Devers would give the Brewers the superstar bat they've been missing since Christian Yelich stopped hitting for power, and he would slot nicely alongside Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez and Hunter Renfroe in the middle of the lineup.

    In return, Woodruff could provide a stabilizing force to a starting rotation that is set to lose Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill in free agency and can no longer count on Chris Sale to hold down a spot on the staff.

    Woodruff is controllable through the 2024 season, so he would be more than just a one-year rental, and after going 13-4 with a 3.05 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 190 strikeouts in 153.1 innings he would immediately be the ace of the staff in Boston.

    It's not a completely dissimilar deal from the 2014 deadline trade that Boston made to send Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Yoenis Céspedes.

Texas Rangers Finally Get Shohei Ohtani

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    OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 05: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels bats against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the eighth inning at RingCentral Coliseum on October 05, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
    Shohei Ohtani (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    To TEX: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani

    To LAA: OF Evan Carter, RHP Jack Leiter, RHP Brock Porter, RHP Owen White, 2B Justin Foscue

    There was a time late in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes when many viewed the Texas Rangers as favorites to land the two-way superstar before he ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

    It stands to reason they would still be interested, especially given their current push to contend after they spent $500 million on Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last offseason.

    It's fair to wonder if the Angels would entertain trading Ohtani within their own division, but the new scheduling format that takes effect next year trims the number of in-division games from 19 to 13, so that could make teams a bit more willing to deal with divisional foes.

    The package here immediately vaults a middle-of-the-road Angels farm system to top-10 status, with toolsy outfielder Evan Carter (No. 31), Jack Leiter (No. 62), Brock Porter (No. 84), Owen White (Next 50) and Justin Foscue (Next 50) all earning a mention in B/R's final Top 100 prospect list of the season.

    Carter hit .287/.388/.476 with 18 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs, 26 steals and a 13.2 percent walk rate as one of the youngest players at the High-A level, and he checks all the boxes to be a five-tool star in center field.

    It would be a huge price for the Rangers to pay without any assurance that Ohtani would stick around beyond the 2023 season, but they still hold onto third baseman Josh Jung and several other quality second-tier prospects, and it's a move that could vault them into the wild-card hunt at the very least.

    If the Angels prioritize total trade value over the MLB-readiness of the pieces they acquire, this could be a tough package for other teams to beat.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.