MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Week 19 News, Rumors and Speculation
Perhaps you haven't noticed, but teams wasted little time in getting back to work once the non-waiver trade deadline passed on July 31.
From former stars on the downside of their careers like Michael Bourn, Mike Napoli and Nick Swisher to role players like Eric O'Flaherty and Tyler Pastornicky, a handful of players have been traded in the early part of August.
Chances are they won't be the only players that change uniforms this month.
Will San Diego, which shocked the baseball world by doing nothing at the end of July, finally make a move? Are contenders like Houston and Toronto done tinkering with their rosters for the stretch run?
We'll tackle all of that and more on the pages that follow.
Keep in mind that these proposed deals are only ideas and pure speculation. Unless otherwise noted, there's no indication that any of them have actually been discussed.
Chase Utley Gets Traded to the Giants
Philadelphia Gets: LHP Ty Blach
San Francisco Gets: 2B Chase Utley
According to CSN Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, San Francisco had at least one scout in San Diego last weekend whose sole purpose was to watch Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, and the six-time All-Star put on a show, going 4-for-10 with three doubles and a pair of RBI.
With Joe Panik on the disabled list with inflammation in his lower back, Utley would not only provide insurance at the position but also give Giants manager Bruce Bochy a quality pinch hitter off the bench and another veteran presence in the clubhouse.
As for Utley's 10-and-5 rights, which allow him to block trades to any team, he told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that he's willing to listen to any scenario that the team might present him with and offered only a "who knows" when asked whether he expected to still be a member of the Phillies come September.
Salisbury believes Utley's veto ability is a non-issue, especially if he'd wind up with the Giants: "It would be shocking—shocking—if Utley declined a trade to San Francisco," Salisbury writes. "One, the Giants are a contending team. And two, Utley and his family reside in the San Francisco area in the offseason."
Heading back to Philadelphia is 24-year-old southpaw Ty Blach, ranked as one of San Francisco's 10 best prospects by Baseball America both heading into the season and in the midseason update. A back-of-the-rotation arm who doesn't overpower batters, Blach is durable, consistent and nearly MLB-ready.
Francisco Rodriguez Gets Traded to the Astros
Houston Gets: CL Francisco Rodriguez
Milwaukee Gets: IF Nolan Fontana and LHP Reymin Guduan
If Houston is going make the playoffs, fixing what ails the ninth inning has to be a priority. Since the All-Star break, closer Luke Gregerson has converted only four of seven save opportunities, pitching to a 4.15 ERA in the process.
Milwaukee's Francisco Rodriguez was one of the many veteran relievers that Houston had interest in before the trade deadline, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, and it would stand to reason that interest remains, especially in light of Gregerson's recent struggles.
Rodriguez, who has converted all 26 of his save opportunities this season, would represent a significant ninth inning upgrade for the Astros, who still have plenty to offer the Brewers in a deal. Lest we forget, Milwaukee walked away with some of Houston's top young talent in the Mike Fiers/Carlos Gomez trade.
Due $5.5 million in 2016 and with a $6 million team option for 2017 (both very reasonable salaries), Rodriguez is more than a short-term rental and will require a pair of prospects to pry loose from Milwaukee, a rebuilding club that doesn't necessarily need an experienced closer.
Milwaukee lands an on-base machine in 24-year-old infielder Nolan Fontana (a career OBP of .412), who projects to be more of a utility player than an everyday regular but sprays line drives around the field and provides solid defense at multiple positions.
A former starter, 23-year-old lefty Reymin Guduan mixes a high-90s fastball with a mid-80s slider to keep batters off balance. Perhaps more importantly, he does a great job of keeping the ball on the ground, with a nearly 50 percent ground-ball rate, per MinorLeagueCentral.com.
While he's still a work in progress, Guduan has the stuff and makeup to become a shutdown late-inning reliever.
Joaquin Benoit and James Shields Get Traded to the Twins
Minnesota Gets: RHPs Joaquin Benoit, James Shields and $25 million
San Diego Gets: RHPs Ricky Nolasco, Kohl Stewart and SS Jorge Polanco
As the trade deadline neared, ESPN 1500's Darren Wolfson tweeted about rumored talks between Minnesota and San Diego that involved Ricky Nolasco heading to the Padres while the Twins would "take back good money," which led many to assume James Shields was part of those discussions.
While those rumors never gained much steam, Minnesota still needs pitching. Since the All-Star break, the Twins rotation has pitched to baseball's highest ERA (6.35) and logged the third-fewest innings (119). The bullpen hasn't been much better, posting a 5.88 second-half ERA, the second-highest in the game.
Adding Shields, who has already cleared waivers (per ESPN's Buster Olney) to the rotation—and Joaquin Benoit to the bullpen—would help to solve those problems. Of course, adding those two veterans comes at a high price financially, even if we only concern ourselves with future payroll (2016 and beyond).
Assuming that Benoit's $8 million team option in 2016 would be picked up and both Nolasco's $13 million team option in 2018 and Shields' $16 million team option in 2019 would be bought out, the Twins would be taking on an additional $46 million in future payroll.
But with San Diego kicking in more than half that amount (essentially splitting its savings in the deal), that additional salary becomes far easier for Minnesota to absorb. It also ensures that the Padres land a pair of quality prospects in return.
That includes 22-year-old shortstop Jorge Polanco, a MLB-ready line-drive hitter who has the skills to handle both shortstop and second base, giving San Diego some options should another young shortstop find his way to Petco Park during the offseason.
Kohl Stewart, 20, who was named baseball's 28th-best prospect heading into the season by Baseball Prospectus, has all the makings of a future front-line starter but is still another year or two away from making an impact.
Rajai Davis Gets Traded to the Nationals
Detroit Gets: RHP Austen Williams
Washington Gets: OF Rajai Davis
Neither Washington nor Denard Span has any idea when—or if—the back injury that has bothered the veteran center fielder for nearly the entire season will allow him to return to action for the Nationals.
“I really don’t know,” Span told the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes. “I don’t know. On the days that I don’t feel good, I second-guess that. But on the days like today that I feel good, I do have hope that I will be able to return before the season’s over with.”
While rookie Michael Taylor has done a fine job in place of Span—especially in the field, where advanced metrics (via FanGraphs) peg him as one of the best center fielders around—the Nationals don't have much in the way of depth behind him.
Enter Detroit's Rajai Davis, a free agent at season's end who was believed to be available as the trade deadline approached, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Not only would the 34-year-old provide the Nationals with some insurance for Taylor, but his base-stealing ability would give skipper Matt Williams options late in games.
Still a year or two away from the big leagues, 22-year-old righty starter Austen Williams has the makings of a quality starter. A consistent strike-thrower armed with a mid-90s fastball, a nasty breaking ball and a developing changeup, he would be another quality addition to a rejuvenated Tigers farm system.
Will Venable Gets Traded to the Blue Jays
San Diego Gets: IF Andy Burns
Toronto Gets: OF Will Venable
Just when you thought Toronto had finished all of its wheeling and dealing, a report from Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker on Sportsnet 590 The Fan (h/t Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith) claims that the Blue Jays are on the hunt for another outfielder and another starting pitcher, though the club isn't nearly as desperate for additions as it was before the trade deadline.
"If something presents itself, great," general manager Anthopoulos told Blair and Barker. "I think the chances of us adding an outfielder are significantly greater than adding a starter. We're staying on top of things, we're seeing who's out there, who's available."
Entering the final months of the two-year, $8.5 million extension he signed before the 2014 season, the 32-year-old Venable can play all three outfield positions, has some speed and would add another left-handed bat to a roster that is primarily comprised of right-handed hitters.
Unlike Toronto's previous acquisitions, Venable isn't going to cost the club one of its best prospects. That's not to say that Andy Burns has no value, however. The 25-year-old is aggressive at the plate and when he gets on base, with the speed to cause problems for the opposition when he takes off running.
Adept at getting on base, Burns is best suited as a utility infielder because of his versatility. He is certainly capable of providing solid all-around play as an everyday infielder and could become a key piece of San Diego's infield mix.
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