MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Week 6 News, Rumors and Speculation

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2015

MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Week 6 News, Rumors and Speculation

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    While it might still be too early for teams to pull the trigger on substantial trades, it's never too early for us to start thinking about what some of those deals might look like.

    From clubs looking to fill holes created by injury to those looking for young talent that could be part of a long-term solution, the rumor mill has begun to pick up speed and is pointing us toward the clubs that could be among the first to agree to a swap.

    What follows are five trade scenarios—the majority of which involve those who toe the rubber—that make sense for both teams involved. Keep in mind that these deals are pure speculation. Unless otherwise noted, there's no indication that any of them have actually been discussed.

Francisco Rodriguez Gets Traded to Toronto

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    Milwaukee Gets: 3B Mitch Nay and a player to be named later

    Toronto Gets: RHP Francisco Rodriguez

    Already 11 games behind division-leading St. Louis, it looks as if its only a matter of time before the Milwaukee Brewers begin to sell off some of their veteran assets, a list that includes closer Francisco Rodriguez.

    Re-signed to a two-year, $13 million deal in late February, the 33-year-old has been outstanding for the Brew Crew, converting all seven of his save opportunities while pitching to a 1.38 ERA and 0.77 WHIP, striking out 16 batters over 13 innings of work.

    He'd bring stability to the back end of a Toronto bullpen that has blown four of its 10 save opportunities thus far. Those are opportunities for wins that the club simply can't afford to continue missing out on in a wide-open AL East, a division in which first and last place are separated by less than six games.

    Not only would K-Rod strengthen the ninth inning, but by bumping Brett Cecil back into a setup role, the rest of the bullpen would be stronger as a result. In exchange, the Blue Jays send Milwaukee third base prospect Mitch Nay, a former first-round draft pick whose path to Toronto is blocked by Josh Donaldson.

    While he's still raw and at least another year or two away from contributing in the big leagues, he could be the Brewers' long-term replacement for Aramis Ramirez, who could also find himself playing elsewhere before too long.

Scott Kazmir Gets Traded to Boston

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Boston Gets: LHP Scott Kazmir

    Oakland Gets: OF Bryce Brentz and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez

    Scott Kazmir might be more of a No. 2 starter than a true ace, but he's an experienced, reliable starter who gives his team a chance to win, and there's a lack of those in Boston these days.

    While Oakland isn't rushing to trade him, the team's losing record (12-22) and Kazmir's impending free agency have other general managers convinced that it's only a matter of time before A's GM Billy Beane looks to move him.

    Boston, which has serious reservations about the long-term commitment that a trade for Philadelphia's Cole Hamels would require, might actually prefer to trade for a pitcher like Kazmir who is on a short-term deal, as the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber recently suggested.

    With a number of teams looking to pry Kazmir away from the A's, the Red Sox will need to be aggressive in their pursuit and come with a substantial offer, one built around 22-year-old southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez, widely considered one of baseball's best pitching prospects.

    A potential second-half addition to Oakland's rotation, Rodriguez has thrived in his first taste of Triple-A action, pitching to a 2.73 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over five starts while averaging nearly a strikeout-per-inning.

    Oakland, which has seen both A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker suffer setbacks in their recoveries from 2014 Tommy John surgery, adds another high-upside youngster to the mix, one the team could slot behind ace Sonny Gray in the rotation before too long.

    Buried on the organizational depth chart, a change of scenery is the only way that Bryce Brentz is going to get a chance to show what he can do in the big leagues. The 26-year-old has some pop in his bat and, at the very least, could become part of a corner outfield platoon for the A's in 2016.

Jonathan Papelbon Gets Traded to Boston

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    Boston Gets: RHP Jonathan Papelbon and $10 million

    Philadelphia Gets: OF Jackie Bradley Jr. and a PTBNL

    It's been about two weeks since the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reported that Philadelphia was trying to sell Boston on a reunion with Jonathan Papelbon, an idea that WEEI.com's John Tomase believes makes far too much sense for all parties involved:

    Fact is, a deal makes sense on both sides. Uehara is struggling, has battled injury, and is old. Maybe he figures it out and restores some relative zip to his fastball and this is the last we ever speak of this. It's still early.

    Or maybe what you see is what you get, in which case it's time for Plan B. With all due respect to Edward Mujica, Alexi Ogando, and Matt Barnes, don't bleep around and leave the ninth inning to chance.

    Make the move that makes sense. Bring back Pap. 

    While Mujica has since been traded to Oakland and Koji Uehara has shown improvement as of late, converting his last three save opportunities in the midst of a five-game scoreless streak, the ninth inning is anything but settled in Boston.

    For all his recent success, Uehara's velocity—not only on his fastball, but on all of his pitches—is down, per Brooks Baseball. Most major league hitters aren't going to have a hard time making solid contact with a fastball that doesn't touch 88 mph, no matter how much movement the offering might have.

    Adding Papelbon to the mix would help Boston on two fronts. Not only would the ninth inning be solidified, but the bullpen as a whole would improve, with Uehara moving into a setup role. Additionally, the inclusion of Jackie Bradley Jr. in the deal would start to alleviate its outfield logjam.

    His struggles against major league pitching are well documented, but Bradley is a defensive whiz at a premium position and has significantly more upside that converted infielder Odubel Herrera, who Philadelphia is currently playing in center field.

    As ESPN's Buster Olney recently wrote, it's only a matter of time before a team views the roughly $23.5 million left on Papelbon's deal "as something they can deal with and trade for him," noting that "the going rate for good closers is in the range of about $8 million a year."

    There's no reason that Boston shouldn't be that team.

Jose Tabata Gets Traded to Philadelphia

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    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Philadelphia Gets: OF Jose Tabata

    Pittsburgh Gets: RHP Aaron Harang

    Jose Tabata has never lived up to the hype that surrounded him as a highly touted prospect in the New York Yankees farm system, or as the centerpiece of a 2008 trade that saw Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady head back to the Bronx.

    While he's hitting well at Triple-A (.316/.388/.368), the Pirates outfield is set for the foreseeable future with Sterling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco. That doesn't bode well for Tabata's future with the Bucs, as general manager Neal Huntington explained to Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    We were aggressive with [Tabata] in what we believe he needed to do to in order to get back to the big leagues, and he is working hard to make that adjustment and as important, he is playing hard and showing up every at bat.

    We have been very open with Jose that while we hope his return to the big leagues with us, he is a guy who may need to get somebody else’s attention and have somebody come get him. If that happens we will be happy for him.

    It's true that Tabata has been underwhelming over parts of five major league seasons, hitting .275 with a .715 OPS and little in the way of power. But it's worth noting that he's just now hitting the prime years of his career, so it's not out of the question that he could finally be figuring things out.

    It's also true that the $8.5 million that he's due through 2016 is going to turn off potential suitors, but it's a salary that Philadelphia could easily fit into its budget.

    Maybe he pans out, maybe he doesn't. But the Phillies have little in the way of exciting outfield prospects on the horizon, and if there's a chance that Tabata can become an average regular for the club, his salary no longer looks like a burden, but a bargain.

    Aaron Harang isn't going to be much more than a short-term rental for the Pirates, but the 37-year-old, who has pitched to a 2.38 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over seven starts, would be an upgrade at the back of Pittsburgh's rotation over either Jeff Locke or Vance Worley.

    When you consider the success that Harang has had thus far and combine it with the magic that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage seem to work with veteran pitchers, there's a decent chance of Harang continuing to outperform the modest expectations he faced heading into the year.

Kyle Lohse Gets Traded to St. Louis

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    Milwaukee Gets: RHP Zach Petrick

    St. Louis Gets: RHP Kyle Lohse

    You simply don't replace a pitcher like Adam Wainwright, the ace of the St. Louis rotation who is out for the season with a torn left Achilles tendon. But the Cardinals could use another experienced arm to eat some innings and take some of the pressure off its bullpen, one that isn't going to cost a ton to acquire.

    Enter Kyle Lohse, who enjoyed the greatest success of his 15-year career as a member of the Cardinals rotation back in 2012 (16-3, 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). This season, the 36-year-old hasn't been quite as bad as his 7.03 ERA would suggest. But clearly, he's not the same pitcher he used to be.

    That said, Lohse is coming off a two-year run with the Brewers that saw him average nearly 200 innings a season while pitching to a 3.45 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, and he's averaged 175 innings a year since 2002. A return to familiar territory might be what he needs to get back to being reliable.

    His struggles and impending free agency all but guarantee that Milwaukee isn't going to get much in the way of a return on their investment, which works out in St. Louis' favor. In exchange for Lohse, the Cardinals send 25-year-old Zach Petrick to Milwaukee. 

    Petrick, named St. Louis' No. 15 prospect heading into the 2014 season by Baseball America, has struggled since hitting Triple-A last season, pitching to a combined 4.85 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over 144.2 innings of work.

    But he's got solid overall numbers in the minors (3.21 ERA, 1.15 WHIP), has shown the ability to miss bats (career 8.1 K/9) and has an easily repeatable delivery that results in terrific command over his arsenal of pitches, walking just over two batters per nine innings.

    Petrick isn't the future ace of Milwaukee's rotation, but he could be a serviceable back-end starter, which would be a terrific return for a veteran pitcher that has no future with the Brewers.

    Unless otherwise linked/noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs and are current through games of May 11. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts.

    Find me on Twitter to talk all things baseball: @RickWeinerBR

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