Win-Win Trade Ideas for Top MLB Trade Chips
There is a lot of ground to cover between an MLB team saying it is "interested" in a player on the trade market and an actual deal getting done.
The winter meetings are set to kick off on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, so there will be no shortage of fresh rumors to dissect in the days and weeks to come.
Going one step further, it's fair to assume at least a few significant deals will go down before the end of the month.
Finding a win-win trade situation is oftentimes easier said than done, and one side will always look like the winner right off the bat, but it's certainly not impossible for a trade to be a win-win.
So with that in mind, what follows is a look at 10 potential trade ideas centered around some of the top names that have popped up on the rumor mill so far this offseason, complete with packages that could be considered a win for both sides.
1B Adam Lind to the Baltimore Orioles
To BAL: 1B Adam Lind
The Baltimore Orioles are still expected to make every effort to re-sign slugger Chris Davis, but according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the team "would not be comfortable agreeing to a $150-175 million deal with Davis" so he'd likely need to give them a discount.
If he does in fact walk, a cheaper replacement could be Adam Lind, who is almost certain to be dealt by the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers ahead of the final year of his contract.
Lind comes at the very reasonable price of $8 million after the Brewers exercised their option on him, and he's coming off a terrific 2015 performance.
The 32-year-old hit .277/.360/.460 with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 87 RBI, and proved to be particularly good in the clutch with a .336 average with runners in scoring position.
He's strictly a platoon player, with a .213/.259/.327 career line against left-handed pitching, but pairing him with someone like Christian Walker could mean very solid production from the first base position.
The recent move by the Orioles to acquire Mark Trumbo does not necessarily negate a need for Lind either, as Trumbo could see time at first base against left-handed pitching, serve as the primary DH and even play some corner outfield.
To MIL: SP David Hess, C Jonah Heim
It's not out of line to think the Brewers might have been able to get more for Lind at the deadline last year, when there were fewer impact bats on the market compared to this winter's free-agent class.
Still, they should be able to land some quality prospect talent considering his price tag and production this past season.
Hess, 22, went 10-5 with a 3.64 ERA, 1.249 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 143.1 innings between High-A and Double-A last season. He split his college career between starting and relieving, but has the upside to be a solid future starter.
Young catching talent is always in demand, but Heim is behind Chance Sisco on the organizational depth chart and could make for a second quality piece in this package.
The switch-hitter batted .252/.287/.342 with 11 extra-base hits in 155 at-bats this past season and made the jump to Single-A as a 20-year-old.
He's already a plus receiver with a strong arm, so at the very least he profiles as a quality backup. He has some offensive potential, though, and could profiles as an everyday guy with a step forward at the plate.
RP Drew Storen to the Seattle Mariners
To SEA: RP Drew Storen, $2 million
The Seattle Mariners have already taken significant steps this offseason to overhaul a bullpen that ranked 25th in the league with a 4.15 ERA and converted just 45-of-71 save chances.
Tom Wilhelmsen and Danny Farquhar have been traded and Joe Beimel is a free agent, while Joaquin Benoit and Anthony Bass have both been added to the relief corps via trade.
Benoit has experience closing games and could certainly fill that role, but the team could also look to pursue one of the many ninth inning options on the market and use Benoit as the primary setup man.
The Nationals are reportedly shopping both Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said Storen "absolutely has to go after the team showed what they thought of him" with their acquisition of Papelbon at the deadline.
Storen converted 29-of-31 save chances with a 1.73 ERA, 1.018 WHIP and 10.9 K/9 as the team's closer prior to Papelbon being acquired, ranking as one of the better closers in baseball.
He'd be a terrific addition as the final late-inning piece of the puzzle for the Mariners bullpen, and as the offseason progresses the Nationals may get more desperate to move the unhappy former closer.
To WAS: 1B/3B Patrick Kivlehan
With an $8.8 million projected salary this upcoming season in his final year of arbitration, the Nationals may need to chip in some money if they hope to land a quality return for the 28-year-old reliever.
Given his salary and the fact that he'll be a free agent at season's end, the Nationals won't get a huge haul, but a prospect like Patrick Kivlehan would represent a quality addition to the system.
The 25-year-old is knocking on the door of reaching the majors after hitting .256/.313/.453 with 25 doubles, 22 home runs, 73 RBI and 14 stolen bases in a full season at Triple-A Tacoma.
He's spent the bulk of his time at first base and third base as a pro, while also trying out left field this past season, but it's his bat that will inevitably carry him to the majors.
D.J. Peterson is a similar player in the Mariners system with a higher ceiling, so the Mariners could view Kivlehan as expendable as a result.
The Nationals could conceivably use him as depth for injury prone veterans Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, and perhaps even as the long-term solution in left field once Werth is gone if his bat continues to progress.
LF Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants
To SF: LF Brett Gardner, $12 million
The New York Yankees were already expected to shop Brett Gardner this offseason, and the acquisition of Aaron Hicks in a trade with the Minnesota Twins has done little to deter those rumors.
Trouble is, Gardner is still owed $37.5 million over the next three seasons and is coming off an absolutely abysmal second half of the 2015 season that saw him hit just .206/.300/.292.
That no doubt drives down his value, but the 32-year-old has a lengthy enough track record as a plus defender with good on-base skills and speed on the bases that he should be able to bounce back.
As things currently stand, the Giants would employ some combination of Gregor Blanco and rookies Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson to man left field.
Gardner would bring stability to the position, and would also provide an alternative leadoff option should Angel Pagan continue to struggle with injuries and ineffectiveness.
To NYY: SP Adalberto Mejia, RP Ray Black
In order to get a solid prospect return, the Yankees will likely have to throw in some money in the deal, and taking on roughly one-third of his remaining salary with $12 million could be enough to sweeten the deal.
Mejia, 22, quickly established himself as one of the top prospects in the Giants system after signing out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year-old in 2011, but ran into trouble during the 2014 season.
After getting hit hard to the tune of a 4.67 ERA, 1.389 WHIP and .283 BAA in his first taste of Double-A, he was slapped with a 50-game suspension in November when he tested positive for a stimulant.
Once he returned from suspension in June, he returned to Double-A, where he posted a 2.45 ERA, 1.091 WHIP and a .204 BAA over 51.1 innings. He still profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, and has some legitimate upside as a power left-hander.
Black is a bit behind the curve as a 25-year-old who has never pitched above the High-A level, but there is no ignoring his stats as he's piled up 122 strikeouts in 60.1 innings of work.
His command still needs work (6.1 BB/9) and he has an injury history to be taken into account, but he can dial his fastball up to triple digits and has a chance to be an impact late-inning arm in the very near future.
RP Jake McGee to the Los Angeles Dodgers
To LAD: RP Jake McGee
The Los Angeles Dodgers' biggest focus right now is on re-signing Zack Greinke or finding a suitable replacement in the rotation, but upgrading the bullpen also needs to be a priority.
Setup man J.P. Howell (65 G, 1.43 ERA, 8.0 K/9) and closer Kenley Jansen (54 G, 2.41 ERA, 13.8 K/9) were both terrific last season, and young relievers like Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez have solid potential.
However, the team could really use another proven veteran or two after ranking 19th in the league with a 3.91 bullpen ERA last year, and ideally they'd find a right-hander to pair with Howell in the setup role.
Jake McGee is a left-hander, but he actually has better career numbers against righties (.190 BA, .536 OPS) than lefties (.224 BA, .616 OPS) in his career so he fits what the team is looking for.
The 29-year-old began last season on the disabled list and lost the closer's job to Brad Boxberger as a result, but he still had a terrific year with 19 holds, a 2.41 ERA, 0.938 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 over 39 appearances.
McGee has two remaining years of team control and is projected to earn $4.7 million in arbitration, so while he's relatively expensive for the small-market Rays, he's a very reasonable bullpen target for the deep pocketed Dodgers.
To TB: 1B/OF Cody Bellinger
After a slow start to his pro career, Cody Bellinger made the jump straight from the rookie league to High-A Rancho Cucamonga and enjoyed a breakout performance in the process.
The 20-year-old hit .264/.336/.538 with 33 doubles, 30 home runs and 103 RBI over 478 at-bats, and he recently checked in as the No. 5 prospect in the Dodgers system, according to Baseball America.
However, with Adrian Gonzalez signed for three more years and a crowded outfield situation, he could be viewed as an expendable piece within the organization.
For the Rays, he'd represent offensive potential for a team that desperately needs it.
The team already has Casey Gillaspie and Richie Shaffer as first base/designated hitter-type prospects, but Bellinger has a higher ceiling than both of them, and that's not a bad problem to have for a team that has struggled to score runs at times.
3B Trevor Plouffe to the Los Angeles Angels
To LAA: 3B Trevor Plouffe
The Los Angeles Angels have more than one hole to fill offensively this offseason, so expect them to be plenty busy on the trade market as well as in free agency.
After officially signing Korean slugger Byung-ho Park to a four-year deal Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins are now expected to make incumbent third baseman Trevor Plouffe available via trade with Miguel Sano set to supplant him at the hot corner after serving as the primary DH last season.
Plouffe posted a solid .742 OPS with 35 doubles, 22 home runs and 86 RBI in 2015 for a 2.5 WAR, and he's proven to be a solid run producer and steady fielder in his four seasons as an everyday player.
With David Freese departing in free agency, the Angels will need to do something about third base, unless they're comfortable with some combination of prospects Kaleb Cowart and Kyle Kubitza manning the position.
Plouffe, 29, is projected to earn $7.7 million in arbitration this season and is also under team control in 2017, so he'd represent a fairly cheap option that he shouldn't have much of an impact on the rest of the Angels offseason plans.
To MIN: RP Jose Alvarez, RP Trevor Gott, SP/RP Jake Jewell
Despite a bullpen that ranked 21st in the majors with a 3.95 ERA this past season, the Minnesota Twins were surprise contenders into the late stages of the season.
Now with Blaine Boyer, Brian Duensing and Neal Cotts all departing in free agency, shoring up the relief corps should be priority No. 1 this offseason, and trading Plouffe could be the way to do it.
"The Twins know Plouffe would be a huge chip in trying to acquire pitching if they decide to go that way. They are actively looking for relievers," wrote Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Alvarez, 26, posted a 3.49 ERA, 1.209 WHIP and 7.9 K/9 over 64 appearances in his first full season in the majors last year and would give the Twins the left-handed bullpen piece they desperately need.
Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Gott is coming off a stellar rookie season where he posted a 3.02 ERA and 1.238 WHIP in 48 appearances and ranked third on the Angels with 14 holds.
He tallied just 27 strikeouts in 47.2 innings of work, but had a 9.5 K/9 rate in 124 innings of work over parts of three minor league seasons, so he has legitimate late-inning upside.
Jewell, 22, went 6-8 with a 4.77 ERA, 1.266 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 111.1 innings for Single-A Burlington this past season, making 15 starts and 16 relief appearances.
A closer in college, the development of his changeup will ultimately determine whether he sticks as a starter, but if not he has the fastball/slider combination to succeed out of the bullpen.
Two bullpen pieces that can help out immediately and another young arm with solid potential in exchange for an expendable piece seems like a good swap for the Twins.
CF Marcell Ozuna to the Cleveland Indians
To CLE: CF Marcell Ozuna
Ozuna looked like a long-term piece of the puzzle for the Marlins when he hit .269/.317/.455 with 23 home runs and 85 RBI during his age-23 season in 2014.
A lot has changed in the past year, though.
With Ozuna boasting a .249/.301/.337 slash line in early July, the Marlins opted to demote him to Triple-A and he did not take the move well.
He would later say his time in the minors was "like a jail," according to Adam Zuvanich of the Miami Herald, and his name popped up in trade rumors after agent Scott Boras accused the Marlins of keeping him in the minors to delay his arbitration eligibility.
Despite falling out of favor, Ozuna still has legitimate 30-homer potential and that power is something the Indians lineup desperately needs.
Last season, the Indians averaged 4.16 runs per game, 11th in the AL, and finished 13th with 141 home runs. No one on the roster topped 20 long balls, as Carlos Santana led the team with 19 home runs and 85 RBI.
In fact, you have to go all the way back to Ellis Burks in 2002 to find the last right-handed hitter to top 30 homers for the Indians.
He's not a sure thing, but there's enough potential for the Indians to take a chance.
To MIA: SP Trevor Bauer
The Miami Marlins are looking for a starting pitcher to slot behind Jose Fernandez in the rotation, as Jarred Cosart has not progressed as hoped.
It would cost a lot more than Ozuna to land Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar, but a straight-up swap for Trevor Bauer could be an agreeable deal for both sides.
The No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, Bauer has yet to live up to his immense potential due in part to control problems. He led the AL with 79 walks at a 4.0 BB/9 clip last season, and carries a career 4.2 BB/9 mark in 362.1 innings of work.
Despite the command issues, he still finished the season at 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA (4.33 FIP), 1.313 WHIP and 170 strikeouts in 176 innings of work, and there's plenty of room for the 24-year-old to improve.
A breakout season could be just around the corner, and with five remaining seasons of team control, he's worth rolling the dice on in exchange for a player who appears to be on the outs.
RP Aroldis Chapman to the Houston Astros
To HOU: RP Aroldis Chapman
After the bullpen ranked dead last in the majors with a 4.80 ERA in 2014, the Houston Astros improved significantly in that area this past season with a 3.27 ERA that ranked sixth in the league.
While the additions of Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Will Harris certainly helped, there is still work to be done on the relief corps, evidenced by their 30 losses and 19 blown saves.
Gregerson was solid in the closer's role, but without elite strikeout stuff he's still better suited pitching in the eighth-inning role. It comes as no surprise then that the team has been "hell-bent" on acquiring a closer, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.
Chapman is arguably the most dominant arm in baseball, and he could be the final piece of the puzzle for the Astros bullpen.
To CIN: OF Preston Tucker, 2B Tony Kemp, SP Joe Musgrove
This return package would give the Reds three potential impact players.
Tucker has done nothing but hit since being selected in the round of the draft out of the University of Florida, and that continued in his first taste of big league action this past season.
He posted a .734 OPS with 19 doubles, 13 home runs and 33 RBI in 300 at-bats last season, and the 25-year-old could conceivably step in as the team's everyday left fielder in 2016 before shifting over to right field in place of Jay Bruce.
Kemp, 24, is one of the best second base prospects in baseball, but he's blocked by Jose Altuve in Houston so he makes sense as a trade chip. He hit .308/.388/.386 with 35 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A last season, and he'd become the internal replacement to Brandon Phillips.
Musgrove, 22, went 12-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 0.924 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 100.2 innings of work over three levels while reaching Double-A last season. At 6'5", 255 pounds, he has the prototypical workhorse build.
RF Carlos Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Angels
To LAA: RF Carlos Gonzalez
The Los Angeles Angels are in serious need of a power bat to help provide support to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the middle of their lineup.
Ideally, it would be a left-handed hitter, as the team hit an abysmal .236/.289/.356 with just 42 home runs from the left side of the plate this past season.
Enter Carlos Gonzalez.
After injuries limited him to 110 games in 2013 and 70 games in 2014, CarGo finally stayed healthy and played a career-high 153 games this past season.
The result was a .271/.325/.540 line that included 25 doubles, 40 home runs and 97 RBI on his way to a 3.1 WAR. He was particularly great in the second half, when he posted a .975 OPS with 27 home runs and 62 RBI over 260 at-bats.
That rebound performance makes the two years and $37 million left on the 30-year-old's contract look more than reasonable, and it would certainly be a smaller investment than any similar free-agent options.
His home/road splits can't be entirely ignored, but he'd be a welcome addition to the Angels lineup nonetheless.
To COL: SP Matt Shoemaker, SP Tyler Skaggs, RP Greg Mahle
Pitching would no doubt be the focus of a return package for Gonzalez, just as it was when the Rockies finally pulled the trigger on trading Troy Tulowitzki.
That makes the Angels a great fit as a trade partner, as Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and Tyler Skaggs (once he returns from Tommy John surgery) all figure to be in the mix for rotation spots in 2016.
Shoemaker, 29, went 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA and 1.074 WHIP to finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, but took a step back this past season, going 7-10 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.256 WHIP.
He finished strong, though, with a 3-3 record and 3.65 ERA in eight starts after the All-Star break, and with five remaining years of team control he's an attractive target.
Meanwhile, Skaggs is still just 24 years old and still has tremendous potential, despite missing the entire 2015 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
He posted a 50.1 percent ground-ball rate over 113 innings of work in 2014 before being lost for the season, and the left-hander profiles as a good fit in Coors Field.
Mahle, 22, split last season between High-A and Double-A and posted a 3.26 ERA, 1.276 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 and should be a quality lefty bullpen piece in the near future.
That would give the Rockies two potential rotation pieces for 2016 and beyond, and a useful bullpen arm with strikeout stuff and some upside as well in exchange for selling high on CarGo after he finally stayed healthy.
SP Tyson Ross to the Toronto Blue Jays
To TOR: SP Tyson Ross, RP Marc Rzepczynski
Despite signing J.A. Happ to a three-year deal and acquiring Jesse Chavez in a trade with the Oakland Athletics, the Toronto Blue Jays could still use another front-line starter to pair with Marcus Stroman atop the rotation.
After missing out on David Price and Jordan Zimmermann, and with Zack Greinke expected to wind up with either the Giants or Dodgers, they may wind up turning their attention to the trade market.
There are a number of options they could pursue if they're willing to give up the prospect talent, but Tyson Ross may be the best of the bunch and for a team in win-now mode he'd certainly provide a boost.
Ross has gone 23-26 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.259 WHIP and 407 strikeouts in 391.2 innings over the past two seasons, quietly emerging as one of the better pitchers in the National League.
The 28-year-old has two years of team control remaining, and is projected to earn $10 million this offseason in arbitration. which is still well below his market value.
On top of dealing for Ross, the Blue Jays could also target lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski to help out in the bullpen.
The 30-year-old had a 5.66 ERA in 72 appearances last season between Cleveland and San Diego, but has a 3.96 career ERA in 349 appearances and would give the Blue Jays some needed southpaw depth.
To SD: SP Drew Hutchison, SP Sean Reid-Foley, OF D.J. Davis, 3B Mitch Nay
The 2015 season did not go according to plan for Drew Hutchison.
The right-hander was pegged by many as a potential breakout candidate after going 11-13 with a 4.48 ERA (3.85 FIP), 1.262 WHIP and 184 strikeouts in 184.2 innings over 32 starts in 2014.
While his 13-5 record this past season looked good on paper, it was accompanied by a 5.57 ERA and 1.483 WHIP and he was eventually booted from the rotation.
Still just 25 years old and with three years of team control left he has some upside, and his peripheral numbers (.343 BABIP, 4.42 FIP) indicate better things may lie ahead. A move to Petco Park could provide that breakout season, just a year later than expected.
Pairing a high-ceiling bounce-back candidate like Hutchison with top prospect Sean-Reid Foley could be the centerpiece of a deal for Ross.
Reid-Foley, 20, is still incredibly raw but he struck out 125 batters in 96 innings while reaching High-A in his first full pro season last year and his stuff and athleticism give him front-line upside.
Since Hutchison and Reid-Foley are both rolls of the dice to a degree, it would likely take at least a few more pieces heading to San Diego to get a deal done.
Outfielder D.J. Davis, 21, was the No. 17 pick in the 2012 draft, and he showed solid progress in his second go-around in Single-A with a .282/.340/.391 line that included 33 extra-base hits and 21 steals.
Third baseman Mitch Nay, 22, was a supplemental round pick in that same draft at No. 58 overall, and he too has some legitimate offensive upside if he continues to develop as expected.
That's a lot to surrender for a Blue Jays team that has already mortgaged a good deal of prospect talent in recent years, but their window to win is right now and Ross could be the missing piece.
SP Shelby Miller to the Chicago Cubs
To CHC: SP Shelby Miller, CF Michael Bourn, $6 million
As the Atlanta Braves continue gutting the big league roster for as much young talent as they can cram into the minor leagues, it appears right-hander Shelby Miller may be the next player to be dealt.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the potential availability of Miller on the trade market is creating a "feeding frenzy" and as many as 20 teams have expressed some level of interest.
Miller, 25, went 6-17 during his first season in Atlanta but that record came with a 3.02 ERA, 1.247 WHIP and 171 strikeouts in 205.1 innings of work.
The Cubs have a clear need for a third quality starter to join Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the rotation, and while they have the money to target the top arms on the free-agent market, they also have the young talent to pull off a trade.
Miller has three remaining years of team control and is still a bargain with a $4.9 million projected salary this season, so the significant interest is easy to understand.
It's purely speculation, but the Braves could consider packaging Miller with either Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher in an effort to also dump an undesirable contract.
Bourn is set to earn $14 million in the final year of his deal, and if the Braves were willing to kick in some of that money he could be of interest to the Cubs as a replacement for Chris Denorfia in the fourth outfield role. He'd also have the upside to perhaps contribute in a more significant role if healthy.
The 32-year-old is not the answer to replacing Dexter Fowler as the everyday center fielder, but he'd have a place on the roster and taking on part of his salary could help convince the Braves to part with Miller.
To ATL: RF Jorge Soler, SP/RP Corey Black
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote the following on Nov. 15:
"The Cubs do not intend to move third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell or left fielder Kyle Schwarber, but will at least explore the trade interest they are getting in right fielder Jorge Soler and infielder Javier Baez, sources say."
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted on Tuesday that the Braves are "smitten" with Soler, so a blockbuster deal built around a Soler-for-Miller swap could make a lot of sense for both sides.
The 23-year-old Soler battled injuries this past season and wound up hitting .262/.324/.399 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 101 games.
He flashed his superstar potential in the postseason, though, setting a record by reaching base safely in his first nine plate appearances and hitting a combined .474/.600/1.105 with three doubles and three home runs in 25 plate appearances.
The Cubs signed him to a nine-year, $30 million deal after he defected from Cuba, and he has five years and $21.33 million remaining, so he comes with plenty of cost-effective team control.
The 24-year-old Black has ranked among the Cubs' top 20 prospects each of the past two seasons, according to Baseball America, but continued control problems led to a move to the bullpen, and he was left unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
He was 6-7 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.375 WHIP and 119 strikeouts in 124.1 innings at the Double-A level in 2014, but that came with a 5.1 BB/9 rate.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.