MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest News, Rumors and Speculation
With the winter meetings beginning Sunday in San Diego, the trade talk around MLB is going to reach a fever pitch soon enough (not that there aren’t a bevy of rumors currently making their way around Twitter).
To that end, here are three MLB trade scenarios based on actual need and published rumors from the last week.
As a standard note, the following proposals are nothing more than speculation. The point here is to build a trade based on someone else's written or spoken word.
They are balanced deals that are fair for each team, taking into consideration each franchise's strengths and weaknesses. They are also independent of one another. Each trade presented is a singular move and does not take into account any of the other proposals put forward.
Toronto Blue Jays Acquire Bartolo Colon from the New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays Get: RHP Bartolo Colon
New York Mets Get: C Dioner Navarro
According to Ken Davidoff from the New York Post, the New York Mets are “actively” shopping Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese. Davidoff’s offering came on the heels of a report from the Post’s Joel Sherman that argued if general manager Sandy Alderson were to trade one of the trio, “the Mets cannot expect a big return” because “the market is flooded” with pitching.
Sherman went so far as to target “lefty relief, a strong righty reserve bat, general depth for the organization or some combination of these” as potential returns.
Toward the end of the article, however, Sherman hit on something. He identified the Blue Jays as a potential trade partner, specifically mentioning Dioner Navarro.
He added Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil to the equation, but we’re thinking a straight-up deal involving Bartolo Colon and Navarro should be agreeable for both parties.
Navarro is an expensive backup for the Blue Jays following the acquisition of Russell Martin. Wouldn't general manager Alex Anthopoulos be wise to spend some extra money on Colon, thereby shoring up his rotation for a run at the American League East next season?
True, Colon isn’t the ace the Blue Jays really need, but he‘s pitched better than J.A. Happ has the past three seasons. Colon has put up a 3.40 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP since 2012. Over that same stretch, Happ is pitching to a 4.51 ERA and has a bloated 1.391 WHIP.
Yes, Happ is a lefty, but results are what matters. This is a move that improves the club immediately.
For the Mets, Navarro is a strong right-handed bat off the bench. He will also be able to slide into the starting lineup should something happen to Travis d’Arnaud. Heck, he could take the job from d'Arnaud and is, at worst, a massive upgrade over Anthony Recker.
Could the Mets get more for Colon? Perhaps, but it would likely be in prospects. And from all accounts, the club is poised to compete in 2015. Prospects don’t help you do that—Navarro does.
Finally, each player is in the final year of his contract.
Baltimore Orioles Acquire Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers
Baltimore Orioles Get: OF Matt Kemp and cash
Los Angeles Dodgers Get: RHP Kevin Gausman and LHP Brian Matusz
Matt Kemp’s name is everywhere.
For starters, he had been linked to the Seattle Mariners for what seems like an eternity. True, general manager Jack Zduriencik’s club appeared to be interested in almost every right-handed slugger on the market before they signed Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $58 million contract (that includes a $1 million signing bonus), according to Bob Dutton from Tacoma's The News Tribune., who also reported Seattle's pursuit of Kemp continues.
The M’s aren’t the only club that has picked up the phone, though.
Just last week, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the San Diego Padres had discussed a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Kemp’s services. Rosenthal noted that a deal wasn’t on the horizon, but the Padres “could entice” the Dodgers with pitching and catching.
More recently, Rosenthal stated that the Baltimore Orioles “have talked to” the Dodgers regarding the outfielder as a backup plan should Nick Markakis leave via free agency.
So what, then, would the Orioles have to part with in order to land Kemp? How about starting pitcher Kevin Gausman and reliever Brian Matusz?
Gausman (7-7, 3.57 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 1.315 WHIP) fits the bill as a right-handed starter for the Dodgers. And Matusz is a non-tender candidate for the Orioles, per Dan Connolly from The Baltimore Sun. Connolly added that the "Orioles have been stockpiling cheaper left-handed relievers,” making Matusz's availability in a deal likely.
For the Orioles, Kemp would fill the power void Cruz’s departure created and would lessen the loss if Nick Markakis signs elsewhere.
While this is a balanced deal, the chance that it goes down is remote. It is simply hard to fathom Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, taking on a seven-year commitment in the form of Kemp. He's not wired that way.
And as Connolly wrote, “Certain Orioles officials have never been high on Kemp, so it seems far-fetched that the club will pull the trigger now, even if he did have a bit of a rebound year in 2014.”
That said, the Orioles lost Cruz, and Markakis’ return is not assured, according to Rosenthal.
Stranger things have happened. Perhaps the Kemp rumors will gain traction in the coming days.
Chicago Cubs Acquire Yasmani Grandal from the San Diego Padres
Chicago Cubs Get: C Yasmani Grandal
San Diego Padres Get: 3B Luis Valbuena and RHP Corey Black
ESPN’s Buster Olney noted (and Keith Law confirmed) that the San Diego Padres “have gotten more aggressive in marketing catcher Yasmani Grandal in trade discussions." Olney followed that news with word that the Padres are “looking for hitters who can help them contend” for a division title next season.
Enter the Chicago Cubs and third baseman Luis Valbuena.
True, manager Bud Black already has a third baseman in the form of Yangervis Solarte, but he can surely work out a platoon system with Carlos Quentin (if he’s healthy), Will Venable and Solarte in left with Valbuena also getting some time at second base for Jedd Gyorko.
However the playing time works out, Valbuena’s .435 slugging percentage and .776 OPS would have been good for second on the team behind Seth Smith. If general manager A.J. Preller is looking for power, on-base percentage and the ability to drive the gaps, Valbuena makes a load of sense.
Valbuena alone isn’t enough to secure Grandal, especially when we consider that the Padres' backstop is a switch-hitter who’s “either at or right before his power peak,” per Eno Sarris from FanGraphs. And if we include Grandal’s ability framing pitches, the need for a sweetener is obvious.
Speaking of framing ability, the folks over at Baseball Prospectus had Grandal worth 12.6 framing runs last season, good for 13th in MLB. Current Cubs catcher Welington Castillo, on the other hand, finished 95th among all catchers with minus-10.0 framing runs.
To balance the ledger a bit, the Cubs would include Corey Black.
Black just went 6-7 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.375 WHIP and averaged 8.6 strikeouts every nine innings at Double-A Tennessee. True, he’s walked 4.5 batters every nine innings over his career, but he certainly has the talent. A year or two in the Padres’ system, and they may have a mid-rotation starter.
Unless otherwise noted, all traditional, team and advanced statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com. Contract information pulled from Cot's Contracts. Transaction, injury and game information are courtesy of MLB.com.