MLB Trade Ideas Based on Hot Stove Week 4 News, Rumors and Speculation
There was no bigger rumor coming out of the Thanksgiving break than a report from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo that Boston is trying to move Hanley Ramirez and has targeted three American League clubs—Baltimore, Los Angeles and Seattle—as potential trade partners.
But despite our best efforts—and the fact that a healthy, motivated Ramirez would help all three of those teams—putting together a potential trade proved to be impossible, even with Boston kicking in more than half of the money left on Ramirez's contract.
While HanRam dominated the headlines, his name wasn't the only one to create buzz on the rumor mill. From young, front-of-the-rotation arms to veteran infielders, trade chatter and speculation is beginning to pick up in advance of baseball's winter meetings, which get underway on December 7.
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.
Brett Lawrie Gets Traded to the Indians
Cleveland Gets: 2B/3B Brett Lawrie
Oakland Gets: RHPs Cody Anderson and Zach McAllister
With Oakland's acquisition of Jed Lowrie, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reports the A's are expected to trade either Brett Lawrie or Danny Valencia.
Why It Works for the A's
Oakland gets a pair of controllable pitchers that can provide immediate help—Anderson in the rotation, McAllister in the bullpen.
Anderson, 25, made 15 starts for the Indians last season, going 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 91.1 innings of work. He's not a strikeout artist, but effectively uses a four-pitch mix to keep batters guessing.
McAllister, 27, broke into the majors as a starter but excelled in his first full season of relief last season, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.35 WHIP with 84 strikeouts in 61 appearances.
Why It Works for the Indians
If it seems like Brett Lawrie has been around for a while, it's because he has—2016 will mark his fifth full season in the big leagues. But he's also entering his age-26 season, typically the start of a player's peak period, and still has some upside at the plate, where he's been league average (career 102 wRC+).
Advanced metrics hated his defense in Oakland last season, but it was only three years ago that Lawrie led all third basemen in defensive runs saved with 20. He's more than capable of holding things down at the hot corner in Cleveland, and comes with two years of team control.
His arrival also adds depth to Cleveland's bench, as Jose Ramirez becomes the team's primary utility infielder, capable of spelling Lawrie at third, Francisco Lindor at shortstop and Jason Kipnis at second base, the latter a position Lawrie can also handle.
Mark Trumbo Gets Traded to the Orioles
Baltimore Gets: 1B/OF/DH Mark Trumbo
Seattle Gets: OF Dariel Alvarez
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that "several rival executives" have told him they expect Seattle to trade Trumbo.
Why It Works for the Mariners
Heading into his age-27 season, Alvarez is too old to be considered a prospect but intriguing enough for Seattle to take a chance on. He's flashed a solid glove in limited playing time with Baltimore and has put up solid numbers across three minor league seasons, hitting .295 with a .781 OPS.
At worst, he's a fourth outfielder and organizational depth. At best, Alvarez could be part of a left field platoon with Seth Smith.
Why It Works for the Orioles
Trumbo's lack of defensive value and on-base skills would appear to make him a poor fit in Baltimore, but he offers the Orioles an inexpensive replacement for some of the power the team stands to lose when Chris Davis departs as a free agent.
He's certainly a better option as a designated hitter than Steve Clevenger, who has hit a total of three home runs over parts of five major league seasons.
Yunel Escobar Gets Traded to the Angels
Los Angeles Gets: IF Yunel Escobar
Washington Gets: RHP Joe Smith
Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com suggests that Washington will look to sell high on infielder Escobar.
Why It Works for the Angels
Escobar offers a short-term solution for Los Angeles at second or third base, and while he isn't going to win a Gold Glove Award for his defense, his limited range becomes less of an issue at either position with Andrelton Simmons handling things at shortstop.
Smith isn't exactly expendable, but with Jose Alvarez, Trevor Gott and Fernando Salas still around and youngsters like Cam Bedrosian and Geoff Broussard beginning to emerge, losing Smith isn't as painful as it would be otherwise.
Why It Works for the Nationals
Escobar is very much expendable in Washington, where he's blocked at third base by Anthony Rendon, shortstop by Trea Turner and second base by Danny Espinosa. Entering the final year of his contract, it's hard to envision the 33-year-old willingly accepting a spot on the bench.
Like Escobar in Los Angeles, Smith is a short-term solution for Washington, bringing stability to the back-end of the bullpen as a setup man. Over parts of nine seasons in the majors, Smith has pitched to a 2.88 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, holding opponents to a .224/.303/.323 triple-slash line.
Shelby Miller Gets Traded to the Cubs
Atlanta Gets: IF Javier Baez
Chicago Gets: RHP Shelby Miller
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that Atlanta is listening to offers for Shelby Miller, but has put "a very high price tag" on the 25-year-old. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal adds that the Braves are seeking young position players in exchange for him.
Why It Works for the Braves
Baez is the perfect mix of upside and cost control for an Atlanta club that is trying to rebuild with the hopes of putting a contender on the field by the time its new stadium, SunTrust Park, opens in 2017.
A shortstop by trade, Baez can play short, second base and third base, and he's certainly got the athleticism and power potential to stick in an outfield corner if that's what the Braves ultimately want to do.
He's always going to have a ton of swing-and-miss in his game, but his power is real, and a Freddie Freeman/Baez combination has the potential to be special in the middle of Atlanta's lineup for years.
Why It Works for the Cubs
"First, he is entering his first year of arbitration and would be controllable for at least three more seasons. Second, at 25, he continues to improve, and with his heavy fastball-cutter mix, Miller would benefit from being around Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, two pitchers with a similar repertoire."
For all his upside, Baez simply doesn't have anywhere to play in Chicago, and it makes far more sense for the Cubs to deal from an area of excess—young position players—to add to the rotation than it does for them to sacrifice a first-round draft pick to sign a high-end free agent.
Ender Inciarte Gets Traded to the Rays
Arizona Gets: RHP Jake Odorizzi
Tampa Bay Gets: OF Ender Inciarte
The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro points to Arizona's logjam of outfielders and desire for young, controllable pitching as a reason the team should consider dealing Ender Inciarte. Last month, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that, even after trading Nathan Karns, the Rays may look to move another starting pitcher.
Why It Works for the Diamondbacks
Moving Inciarte clears a spot for either Socrates Brito or Yasmany Tomas to get some regular playing time and brings back the kind of young, controllable power arm that general manager Dave Stewart seems to covet in Jake Odorizzi.
Under team control through 2020, the 25-year-old has put up quality numbers for the Rays over the past two seasons, pitching to a combined 3.74 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while averaging nearly a strikeout per inning.
Why It Works for the Rays
Like Odorizzi, Inciarte is under team control through 2020, and his ability to play all three outfield positions well gives Tampa Bay flexibility and, perhaps most importantly, insurance for when Desmond Jennings makes his annual trip to the disabled list.
Inciarte can spell Jennings or Steven Souza Jr. when the Rays are facing right-handed pitching, which would find Tampa Bay trotting out two of the game's premier defensive outfielders with Inciarte in a corner spot and Kevin Kiermaier in center field.
Hit me up on Twitter to talk all things baseball: @RickWeinerBR.