MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Offseason Week 2 News, Rumors and Speculation
After a relatively slow start, baseball's offseason has kicked into overdrive.
Four notable names—Erick Aybar (Los Angeles to Atlanta), Jeremy Hellickson (Arizona to Philadelphia), Craig Kimbrel (San Diego to Boston) and Andrelton Simmons (Atlanta to Los Angeles)—have been traded over the past week, and if the rumor mill is any indication, that's only the beginning.
From All-Star corner infielders to young, front-of-the-rotation arms, speculation is running wild as to which big name will be the next to change teams. Speaking of teams, we have two National League clubs—Atlanta and Cincinnati—that appear ready to rebuild, and both factor into this week's trade ideas.
Keep in mind these proposed deals are only ideas and pure speculation. Unless otherwise noted, there's no indication any of them has actually been discussed.
Freddie Freeman Gets Traded to the Astros
Atlanta Gets: RHP Mark Appel, 1B A.J. Reed and OF Kyle Tucker
Houston Gets: 1B Freddie Freeman
Atlanta is shopping first baseman Freddie Freeman, sources tell Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
Why It Works for the Astros
Not only is Freeman a massive upgrade over Chris Carter, both at the plate and in the field, but his left-handed bat brings some balance to the Houston lineup, which starts off with four consecutive righties—Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis.
While he's due significant money—roughly $120 million through 2021—the 26-year-old Freeman is just now entering the prime years of his career. He's the long-term answer at first base the Astros hoped Jonathan Singleton would have been.
Why It Works for the Braves
Some may look at this deal as something of a salary dump by Atlanta, and it'd be foolish not to think that taking Freeman's deal off the books doesn't play a factor in the team's thinking here. But the Braves are also getting a trio of youngsters who could be huge parts of the team's core in short time.
A.J. Reed, 22, crushed minor league pitching to the tune of a .340/.432/.612 triple-slash line with 34 home runs and 127 RBI over 135 games, reaching Double-A in his first full professional season. A future fixture in the middle of the Braves lineup, Reed could break camp with the club next season.
Still a teenager, 18-year-old Kyle Tucker is a few years away from making an impact in the big leagues but might ultimately be the best player of the three Atlanta lands in this deal. He's already shown the ability to make consistent hard contact, and as he fills out his 6'4" frame, the power will come. He has the arm to play right field, but his bat works in either outfield corner.
Mark Appel has yet to meet expectations since Houston made him the top overall selection in the 2013 draft, but the 24-year-old still has significant upside if he can straighten himself out on the mound. Few teams are better equipped to help him do that than the Braves, who add another potentially high-upside arm to their ever-growing stable of young pitching.
Todd Frazier Gets Traded to the Indians
Cincinnati Gets: 3B Yandy Diaz, OF Tyler Naquin and RHP Danny Salazar
Cleveland Gets: 3B Todd Frazier
ESPN's Jayson Stark hears from a team executive that Cincinnati's Todd Frazier "is legitimately out there" on the trade block but only for a "huge return," while other teams have told him that the Reds are looking for young, MLB-ready talent in return.
Why It Works for the Indians
It's admittedly a steep price to pay for only two years of Todd Frazier, but adding a legitimate run-producer in the middle of the lineup, one who plays well above-average defense at a key position, is never cheap.
Due $8.25 million in 2016 and with one year of arbitration remaining, Frazier won't be a major burden to Cleveland's payroll. Slotting him fifth in the lineup, behind on-base machine Carlos Santana, could result in some impressive numbers for both players—and improved results for the Tribe.
Why It Works for the Reds
Cincinnati lands a controllable innings eater to slot atop its rotation in Danny Salazar, who along with Anthony DeSclafani and the returning Homer Bailey has the potential to be a potent trio of young arms to lead the Reds pitching staff for years to come.
Tyler Naquin doesn't have tremendous power, but the 24-year-old has hit at every minor league level he's played, makes consistent contact and knows how to get on base consistently. His above-average arm and speed make him a fit anywhere in the outfield.
Like Naquin, Yandy Diaz doesn't have big power, but what he lacks in pop he makes up for with an advanced approach at the plate, drawing more walks than strikeouts over his minor league career. He gives the Reds an immediate replacement for Frazier at the hot corner.
Nick Markakis Gets Traded to the Orioles
Atlanta Gets: RHP Parker Bridwell, 3B Drew Dosch and RHP Mike Wright
Baltimore Gets: OF Nick Markakis and $6 million
Both Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien believe there's some interest on Baltimore's part in a reunion with current Brave and former longtime Oriole Nick Markakis, who doesn't really fit with Atlanta's rebuilding efforts.
Why It Works for the Braves
Atlanta rids itself of a $33 million expense over the next three years while adding three controllable pieces for the future.
Mike Wright is a MLB-ready starter whose shaky command led to some ugly numbers (a 6.04 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over 44 innings) in his first taste of the big leagues, but he still projects as a quality back-end option or, if all else fails, an effective reliever.
Parker Bridwell's lack of a third plus offering could ultimately shift him into a late-inning relief role, where his fastball-changeup combination could be devastating, while Drew Dosch, who is still a few years away, could be a high average/middling power starter at the hot corner in Atlanta.
Why It Works for the Orioles
Markakis not only fills a void in one of the outfield corners for the Orioles, but his return would help to placate a fanbase that could still see Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Darren O'Day depart as free agents this winter.
While his power disappeared in Atlanta (three home runs), Markakis' ability to hit for average and get on base consistently will help put runs on the board, especially if he's hitting ahead of the likes of Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters.
The $6 million that Atlanta kicks in gets Markakis' annual cost to Baltimore to less than $10 million per season, which should help gain the approval of owner Peter Angelos.
Zack Wheeler Gets Traded to the Yankees
New York (AL) Gets: LHP Zack Wheeler
New York (NL) Gets: OF Brett Gardner and $20 million
"We're not actively shopping Zack by any stretch," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco told Newsday's Marc Carig. "But as with the other starters, if something came up that we thought made us better, we're going to talk about it."
That led Carig's Newsday colleague, Anthony Rieber, propose a Wheeler-for-Brett Gardner swap on Twitter.
Why It Works for the Mets
Brett Gardner isn't going to replace Yoenis Cespedes' run production, but he's an excellent defender who fills the team's desire for a left-handed hitting center fielder, one that Rieber opines would bat leadoff, thereby pushing Curtis Granderson (and his power) into a more traditional run-producing spot in the lineup.
Gardner's speed and penchant for getting on base make him a dangerous weapon atop the lineup, and his ability to play left field as well figures to lead to many late-game scenarios in which he slides over and Juan Lagares takes over in center.
Due $39.5 million through the 2018 season (and with a $12.5 million team option for 2019), the Yankees throw in some cash to make the deal more palatable for the Wilpon Family, which will be saddled with its first payment for its part in the Bernie Madoff scandal in 2016.
Why It Works for the Yankees
Aaron Hicks' arrival makes Gardner expendable, and while there's risk in taking on a pitcher who's coming off Tommy John surgery, adding Wheeler is a risk worth taking.
Heading into his age-26 season, Wheeler, along with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, would give the Yankees a potentially dominant trio atop the rotation while taking pressure off 21-year-old Luis Severino in the process.
The Yankees could take things slowly with Wheeler, using him out of the bullpen before inserting him into the rotation at some point during the season. Even the most ardent Yankees fan would acknowledge that he's a superior talent to Nathan Eovaldi or Ivan Nova, who could both become expendable trade chips.
Julio Teheran Gets Traded to the Cubs
Atlanta Gets: OF Jorge Soler
Chicago Gets: RHP Julio Teheran
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports the Cubs are willing to explore the possibility of trading Javier Baez or Jorge Soler, adding that moving one "only would make sense if the return was a pitcher of similar age, service and talent."
Why It Works for the Braves
Atlanta needs a corner outfielder who not only helps defensively but serves as a masher in the middle of the lineup. Enter 23-year-old Jorge Soler, who put on a clinic in the playoffs, hitting .474 with six extra-base hits (three home runs), five RBI and a 1.705 OPS in seven games, setting a new postseason record in the process.
Since he's signed to a team-friendly deal that pays him just over $21 million through the 2020 season, the Braves wind up saving a bit of cash in this swap as well.
Why It Works for the Cubs
Rather than spend more than $100 million on a big-name starter, Chicago lands a 25-year-old who has flashed ace stuff in the past and will cost the team just over $41 million through the 2020 season.
Teheran didn't have a strong season in 2015, pitching to a 4.04 ERA (4.40 FIP) and 1.31 WHIP, but given his age, there's no reason to believe he can't get back to where he was the previous two seasons, when he posted a combined 3.03 ERA (3.58 FIP) and 1.12 WHIP.
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