MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Week 8 News, Rumors and Speculation
There's a false narrative making the rounds that it's too early for teams to be wheeling and dealing. History tells us that's simply not the case—significant deals can be struck before the calendars flip to June.
Two of the more notable names to be moved before the season's third month in the past 25 years are Lee Smith, one of the game's all-time great closers who went from Boston to St. Louis in 1990, and Mike Piazza, who should be in the Hall of Fame and was traded not once, but twice in May 1998.
It doesn't matter what the date is—if there's a trade that makes sense for both teams involved, they're going to make it work. That's what we're aiming to do here: concoct trades that work for both teams based on the latest news and speculation that's floating around.
Keep in mind that these deals are pure speculation. Unless otherwise noted, there's no indication that any of them have actually been discussed.
Mike Leake Gets Traded to the Dodgers
Cincinnati Gets: RHP John Richy and IF/OF Darnell Sweeney
Los Angeles Gets: RHP Mike Leake
While it'd be fun to imagine what a Johnny Cueto-to-the-Dodgers deal might look like, questions about Cueto's elbow—and the amount of talent it would take to pry him loose—make such a deal unlikely.
But Los Angeles needs to bolster its rotation, and Cincinnati has a quality option to offer in 27-year-old right-hander Mike Leake, a pitcher that ESPN's Buster Olney opined earlier this month could be of interest to the Dodgers, especially when you consider his home/road splits.
"Keep in mind that he has been pitching half his games at Great American Ball Park, a bandbox, and his home ERA is almost three-quarters of a run lower in his road starts," Olney wrote. "Think that fact could interest the Dodgers, who inhabit a pitchers' park?"
Another thing to consider is that Leake would appear to be far easier to re-sign than Cueto, not that money is an issue for the Dodgers these days. But it's worth noting, nonetheless.
In exchange for Leake, the Reds land a pair of intriguing prospects, starter John Richy and second baseman-turned-super-utility-player Darnell Sweeney.
Richy, 22, has a clean delivery and uses four pitches to keep batters off balance as he attacks the strike zone. He projects to be a durable, reliable, mid-to-back-of-the-rotation arm, though he's still another year or two away from making an impact.
Sweeney, 24, has been forced to bounce around the diamond as he's blocked at pretty much every position in Los Angeles, and he has become expendable, given the team's recent influx of Cuban players, including Alex Guerrero and Hector Olivera.
He's solid but not spectacular, as MLB.com notes in their preseason scouting report of the seventh-best prospect in the Dodgers farm system:
Sweeney doesn't have a standout tool but can do a little bit of everything. He's a switch-hitter who has made strides in tightening his strike zone and possessed more power than most middle infielders. He has solid speed but is still figuring out how to use it after leading his leagues in getting caught stealing in each of the last two seasons.
Sweeney would eventually be the Reds' long-term replacement for Brandon Phillips at second base, but could serve in that super-utility role until Phillips' deal expires after the 2017 season.
Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez Get Traded to the Blue Jays
Milwaukee Gets: C Dan Jansen and a player to be determined later
Toronto Gets: RHP Francisco Rodriguez and RHP Kyle Lohse
I've been a proponent of Francisco Rodriguez making his way to Toronto for awhile, and I'm not about to change course now. K-Rod would strengthen the ninth inning, and by bumping Brett Cecil back into a setup role, the rest of the bullpen would be stronger as a result.
But the Blue Jays need to do more than strengthen the bullpen—the rotation is in desperate need of a reliable, veteran arm. If you look past Kyle Lohse's unsightly 5.80 ERA, you'll find that the 36-year-old has actually gotten himself going since a brutal start to the season.
He's posted a 3.51 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over his last six starts, pitching into the seventh inning three times. That's the kind of performance that Blue Jays starters have struggled to provide with any consistency thus far.
To acquire the pair of veteran arms, the Blue Jays dip into their catching surplus, which is plentiful. Aside from Russell Martin, Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole, three of the team's top 30 prospects make their home behind the plate.
One of them could be expendable, and in this scenario, it's 20-year-old Dan Jansen, named the team's 20th-best prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com heading into the season.
Milwaukee is without an heir apparent to Jonathan Lucroy in its system, and Jansen would be just that. Still a few years away from reaching the big leagues, Jansen has shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate, has pop in his bat and is defensively sound.
By the time Jansen is ready, Lucroy will have either been traded or be close to a move to first base in an attempt to extend his prime years for as long as possible, clearing a path for Jansen to take over on a full-time basis.
Ryan Howard Gets Traded To...
Despite the fact that Ryan Howard is hitting .268 with 10 doubles, 10 home runs, an .865 OPS and owns baseball's seventh-highest wRC+ (188) in May, I'm not convinced that there's a market for his services.
But Howard's name is going to litter the rumor mill for the next few months, especially if he keeps swinging the bat as well as he has been. So it's not outrageous to think that an American League team might try to add his bat to the mix as a designated hitter.
It's a scenario that CSN Philadelphia's Corey Seidman believes could unfold, with the Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays as potential destinations for the 35-year-old slugger. I don't think Angels owner Arte Moreno would agree to take on more salary on the heels of the Josh Hamilton debacle, so we'll take them out of consideration.
That leaves the Rays and Twins, and it's not difficult to see where Howard could be a fit for each club.
However, neither one is going to take on a significant portion of the roughly $60 million left on Howard's deal, and there were conflicting offseason reports about how much of that deal the Phillies were willing to eat.
Anthony Castrovince, writing for Sports on Earth, spoke of a $50 million figure, while CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported the number to be closer to $35 million. For our purposes, we'll go with the $50 million, and both the Rays and Twins will surrender a top-30 prospect in exchange.
Howard Gets Traded to Minnesota
Phillies Get: 1B/OF Amaurys Minier
Twins Get: 1B/DH Ryan Howard and $50 million
Named one of Minnesota's top 30 prospects heading into the season by both Baseball America (No. 26) and MLB.com (No. 21), Amaurys Minier is more project than projectable, as he's incredibly raw and needs significant work in all aspects of the game.
However, he's a switch-hitter with excellent bat speed and legitimate power from both sides of the plate, and he has a chance to develop into a pretty good all-around hitter. Still a few years away from prime time, Minier is the kind of intriguing prospect the Phillies can afford to take a chance on.
For the Twins, Howard would bolster a lineup that has produced only eight extra-base hits (two home runs) from the designated hitter spot thus far.
Howard Gets Traded to Tampa Bay
Phillies Get: RHP Dylan Floro
Rays Get: 1B/DH Ryan Howard and $50 million
Howard would give the Rays a legitimate thumper in the middle of their lineup, and with Evan Longoria hitting in front of him, he should step to the plate with a chance to produce some runs more often than not.
Dylan Floro isn't far off from contributing to a major league rotation, and while he's not a flamethrower or strikeout artist, the 24-year-old righty has all the makings of a quality back-of-the-rotation arm.
He surrenders his fair share of hits, but Floro also generates a ton of ground-ball outs, has tremendous control—evidenced by a 1.3 BB/9 over parts of four seasons in the minors—and isn't prone to the long ball, giving up only 11 home runs in nearly 400 innings of work.
Ben Zobrist Gets Traded to the Mets
New York Gets: IF/OF Ben Zobrist
Oakland Gets: RHP Luis Cessa and a player to be determined later
New York general manager Sandy Alderson told ESPN New York's Adam Rubin that he's looking outside the organization for offensive help, and his first call should be to his old stomping grounds in Oakland, where the A's are stumbling and Ben Zobrist, a free agent after the season, isn't part of the future.
When you think about it, Zobrist is just about the perfect addition for the Mets. Reliable and experienced, he can hold down third base in David Wright's absence, but is versatile enough to fill in elsewhere—be it shortstop, second base or a corner outfield spot—if and when Wright is able to return from spinal stenosis.
Of course the Mets won't be the only team looking to add Zobrist, so they'll have to part with something of value, even for a player that may not be anything more than a four-month rental. Enter 23-year-old right-handed starter Luis Cessa, named the team's No. 30 prospect by MLB.com before the season.
He projects to be more of a mid-rotation arm than a front-line starter, but Cessa is a strike-thrower that has three quality offerings and terrific control. Currently with Double-A Binghamton (3-3, 3.58 ERA, 1.46 WHIP), Cessa has pitched to a 3.39 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over parts of five minor league seasons.
Cessa, who should be ready to contribute to a major league rotation next year, would give the A's another intriguing young arm to consider in spring training as a replacement for Scott Kazmir, who is expected to depart the team as a free agent after the season (if he's not traded first).
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