MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest News, Rumors and Speculation

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2015

MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest News, Rumors and Speculation

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    We knew that there would be a ripple effect when Max Scherzer finally signed, but most baseball fans and pundits alike didn't expect those ripples to stay within the confines of his new clubhouse.

    Yet that's exactly what's happened in Washington.

    Some, like Joel Sherman of the New York Post, say that the Nationals are going for it all in 2015 and will keep their current roster—specifically, its rotation—intact. With a substantial chunk of salary coming off the team's books after the season when Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann become free agents, that's not a ridiculous premise.

    Others, like Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, have tweeted that the club will continue to listen to offers for the likes of Desmond, Zimmermann and, yes, even Stephen Strasburg.

    Whatever the Nationals ultimately decide to do, they're our main focus in this week's exercise of building trades based on the latest buzz. I suppose we could call this the All-Star edition, as all four players we're about to look at partook in the Midsummer Classic last season.

    Keep in mind that these deals are independent of each other and are pure speculation—for the most part, there's no indication that any of them have actually been discussed between the teams involved.

Washington Trades Stephen Strasburg to Boston

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    Nationals Get: 3B/OF Garin Cecchini, 1B/OF Nick Longhi, LHP Henry Owens and RHP Teddy Stankiewicz

    Red Sox Get: RHP Stephen Strasburg

    In looking at potential deals for the 26-year-old ace, Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter recently suggested that a package of second baseman Sean Coyle, outfielder Manuel Margot and pitchers Simon Mercedes and Henry Owens would be sufficient for the Boston Red Sox to land Strasburg.

    While we differ on the names involved, we agree that it's going to take a package that includes at least two of a team's 10 best prospects to get Washington interested—and that as far as Boston goes, that package begins with Owens.

    Boston's top pitching prospect, the southpaw projects to be, at worst, a solid No. 3 starter, but he's got the potential to develop into a quality No. 2. Already boasting a pair of above-average pitches in his low- to mid-90s fastball and changeup, the continued development of his curveball, which has looked like a plus offering at times, will be the key to how close to his ceiling Owens eventually gets.

    He may never be more than a 10- to 15-home run hitter, but Garin Cecchini offers enough with the bat and glove to stick at third base or in a corner outfield spot. His addition could allow the Nationals to move Anthony Rendon back to second base in 2016 if Ian Desmond departs and Yunel Escobar slides over to shortstop.

    Both still a few years away from contributing, Nick Longhi's raw, right-handed power and Teddy Stankiewicz's command and strikeout ability make each an intriguing prospect for the Nationals to take a flier on.

    Strasburg would give Boston the ace that its rotation needs, one that it'll have ample time to hammer out a long-term extension with. Whether it's Strasburg or someone else, not adding a front-of-the-rotation arm this winter would be inexcusable given the team's other moves.

Washington Trades Ian Desmond to Seattle

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    Mariners Get: SS Ian Desmond

    Nationals Get: SS Brad Miller, LHP Ryan Yarbrough and a player to be named later

    Chatter about Ian Desmond potentially winding up in Seattle has been one of the more constant storylines throughout the offseason. 

    Both Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and ESPN's Jim Bowden have reported that the Mariners and Washington Nationals have discussed a deal involving the All-Star, though the Mariners have been consistent in their resolve to keep both of their prized young arms, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.

    Heck, Rosenthal broke the news that the Mariners turned down a chance to add both Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, which reportedly would have cost them Walker and Brad Miller.

    But the Mariners could use another bat, and the Nationals have long coveted the slick-fielding Miller, who tore up minor league pitching (a .334/.409/.516 slash line over parts of three seasons) but has struggled thus far in the big leagues, hitting only .241 with a .691 OPS.

    There's a deal to be made here.

    Adding Miller would not only allow the Nationals to keep Yunel Escobar at second base in 2016, but it'd let the team take its time with shortstop prospect Trea Turner, who will join the organization in June once he's eligible to be traded.

    Ryan Yarbrough is a hard-throwing southpaw who is still a few years away from the big leagues, but one who opened a lot of eyes in 2014 and would add to the club's arsenal of intriguing young arms.  

    In his first taste of professional baseball, he struck out 58 batters over 42.2 innings of work while issuing only five walks. If his secondary offerings continue to develop, he could be a quality No. 2 or No. 3 starter in a big league rotation. If not, he projects as a shutdown reliever.

    For the Mariners, Desmond would take some pressure off Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, who are being counted on to carry the offense. While the team's additions of Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith will help, neither one can produce at the level that Desmond can.

    It's no longer about showing improvement in Seattle—it's playoffs or bust in 2015. Adding Desmond would go a long way toward helping the team reach that goal.

Colorado Trades Charlie Blackmon to Baltimore

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    Orioles Get: OF Charlie Blackmon

    Rockies Get: RHP Bud Norris

    Baltimore's seemingly never-ending search for another outfielder could finally be solved now that Morosi reports the Colorado Rockies are discussing potential Charlie Blackmon trades with multiple clubs, which may or may not include the Orioles.

    A late bloomer, Morosi points to the 28-year-old Blackmon's value being at an all-time high as the impetus behind Colorado's willingness to move the 2014 All-Star, an average defender who missed out on the first 20/20 season of his career by one home run.

    While Blackmon's 2014 numbers look good on paper, there's a huge disparity between his level of production at Coors Field and his level of production on the road. That's no exaggeration:

    2014 SplitsBAOBPSLGOPSwRC+

    Still, there's value in adding a player in the prime of his career who doesn't become arbitration-eligible until 2016 and is under team control through 2019, and his left-handed bat fits a need for the Orioles.

    You'd have to imagine that the Rockies would be looking for pitching in return, but the Orioles aren't going to part with any of their talented young studs to add Blackmon. Back in November, Rosenthal tweeted that the Orioles were considering a trade of Bud Norris, who can become a free agent after the season.

    His penchant for allowing the long ball doesn't make him a perfect fit in Colorado, but he'd give the Rockies a capable innings-eater, one who would allow top prospects Eddie Butler and Jon Gray to continue their development in the minor leagues.

    Additionally, Norris could become a valuable trade chip for the club at the July 31 trade deadline, as his expiring contract is sure to be attractive to a number of contending clubs looking to bolster their rotations for the stretch run.

Washington Trades Jordan Zimmermann to San Diego

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    Nationals Get: RHP Ryan Butler, 2B Taylor Lindsey and RHP Kevin Quackenbush

    Padres Get: RHP Jordan Zimmermann

    Washington's return in this deal may seem light, but it's one that gives the Nationals young, controllable talent who can help them in 2015 and beyond.

    Quackenbush emerged as one of the game's bright young relievers in 2014 and would replace Tyler Clippard in Washington's bullpen. He pitched to a 2.48 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 56 appearances, striking out more than a batter per inning and converting six of his seven save opportunities.

    A contact hitter with some pop in his bat, Lindsey could use a bit more minor league seasoning but has enough chops defensively to hold down the keystone. While he could be a factor in 2015, he'll be ready to go in 2016, when Yunel Escobar slides over to shortstop, leaving a hole at second base for Lindsey to fill.

    Butler is the great unknown in all of this. A hard-throwing reliever blessed with a plus fastball that routinely hits triple digits, he could move quickly through Washington's minor league system depending on how his secondary stuff develops. Butler has the potential to become a shutdown, late-inning arm.

    When you think about it, this is as good as, if not better than, what Oakland got from Chicago for Jeff Samardzija back in December. In that deal, the A's landed a talented middle infielder (Marcus Semien), a backup catcher (Josh Phegley) and a pair of fringe prospects (RHP Chris Bassitt and 1B Rangel Ravelo).

    As for Zimmermann, he gives San Diego the ace that its rotation needs and immediately improves the Padres' odds of contending for a playoff spot and division title.

    Unless otherwise linked/noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts.

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