MLB Trade Ideas Based on Week 6 News, Rumors and Speculation
There is no rule in baseball—unwritten or otherwise—that precludes two teams from making a trade before Memorial Day. Lest we forget it was only last year that Atlanta and San Diego agreed to a seven-player swap involving All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel the night before Opening Day.
While the rumor mill is filled with more speculation than actual rumors at this point in the season, the chatter is starting to increase in volume. From perennial All-Stars to seasoned veterans, the rumor mill hasn't been short on notable names making the rounds.
It's only going to get louder in the coming weeks. Nobody would be surprised to see a trade or two completed as teams continue to try and separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Keep in mind these proposed deals are only ideas and speculation. Unless otherwise noted, there's no indication any of them have actually been discussed.
Billy Butler Gets Traded to the Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves Get: 1B/DH Billy Butler and the 37th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft
Oakland Athletics Get: A player to be named later
Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweeted that Atlanta "desperately" wants to acquire tradable draft picks and is willing to take on a bad contract to facilitate a deal. Per MLB.com, Oakland has the third pick in Lottery Round A, the 37th overall selection.
Why It Makes Sense for the A's
Billy Butler has become an expensive part-time player for Oakland, which would assuredly love to rid itself of the nearly $20 million he's still due through 2017.
Unloading that salary is the primary motivation the A's have for making this deal, though as ESPN's Buster Olney notes, freeing up a bench spot for a more useful player would be a welcome change for A's manager Bob Melvin, who seemingly has no use for the player known as "Country Breakfast."
Why It Makes Sense for the Braves
Atlanta gets the draft pick it desires while adding a right-handed bat to the bench, one they'd likely cut after the season, eating the $10 million left on his deal. In the meantime, Butler would provide some insurance for Freddie Freeman at first base.
Kole Calhoun Gets Traded to the Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals Get: RF Kole Calhoun
Los Angeles Angels Get: OF Jorge Bonifacio, LHP Foster Griffin, RHP Alec Mills and LHP Matt Strahm
ESPN's Buster Olney speculates that the Angels moving Kole Calhoun back to the No. 2 spot in their lineup is not only a move geared to try and spark the team's offense, but to better showcase Calhoun as a potential trade chip they can play to start rebuilding a decimated farm system.
Why It Makes Sense for the Angels
Los Angeles needs live arms in its system, not only for 2016 but the future as well. Both Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson are free agents after the season, Garrett Richards is expected to miss at least the first half of 2017 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and the team can't reasonably count on Tyler Skaggs.
That leaves the Angels with little in the rotation, no pitching prospects close to helping down on the farm and an upcoming free-agent class that's light on reliable, impact arms. While none of the three pitchers they get in this deal projects as a future ace, all three project as solid, mid-rotation arms.
Foster Griffin, 20, has a higher ceiling than Alec Mills and Matt Strahm, both 24, but the trio has exhibited terrific command and control of their arsenals and have the ability to make batters swing and miss. Mills and Strahm are more MLB-ready than Griffin, but they could all contribute in 2017.
The younger brother of veteran utility man Emilio Bonifacio, 22-year-old Jorge Bonifacio has all the tools teams look for in a right fielder—a strong, accurate throwing arm, developing power and enough athleticism to get to balls hit down the line or into the right-center field gap. He too is nearly MLB-ready.
Why It Makes Sense for the Royals
Right field has been a gaping hole for Kansas City this year, with the platoon of Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando providing mediocre results. In terms of adjusted offense, only Philadelphia has gotten less production from the position than the defending champions.
Calhoun would represent a significant upgrade at the plate while still providing the above-average defense that has been a staple of Kansas City's outfield the past few seasons.
Under team control through 2019 and making only $3.4 million in 2016, Calhoun is the kind of affordable, long-term addition the Royals need to plug a glaring hole in the lineup. His addition also makes the bench deeper, with Dyson and Orlando both returning to reserve roles.
Jay Bruce Gets Traded to the Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox Get: OF Jay Bruce and $6 million
Cincinnati Reds Get: LHP Brian Clark and 2B/SS Jake Peter
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently speculated that the Chicago White Sox could make a run at Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce. Back in March, CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine reported that the team had interest in Bruce but only if the Reds picked up a substantial portion of his $12.5 million salary.
Why It Makes Sense for the White Sox
Levine's report came before Adam LaRoche's retirement, which freed up $13 million in payroll for Chicago and, perhaps, made Bruce's salary less of a sticking point. Still, the White Sox won't give up all that flexibility to add Bruce, so they could agree to a higher price in prospects for some salary relief.
Bruce's left-handed bat would add some much-needed balance to Chicago's lineup, in which he'd likely replace Avisail Garcia as the everyday designated hitter. His arrival would also allow manager Robin Ventura to cycle Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton through the DH spot, if he so desired.
Why It Makes Sense for the Reds
The worst bullpen in baseball would get an immediate boost with Brian Clark's arrival—assuming the Reds would add him to the roster right away. The 23-year-old lefty primarily relies on his nasty, sinking mid-90s fastball and a slider to keep batters from both sides of the plate off-balance.
Jake Peter is more of a super-utility player than an everyday middle infielder, and he's lacking in the power department. But what he lacks in pop he makes up for with an advanced approach at the plate and the ability to get on base consistently. His versatility makes him a valuable addition on a team with plenty of holes.
Joe Smith Gets Traded to the Washington Nationals
Los Angeles Angels Get: 2B/OF Chris Bostick
Washington Nationals Get: RHP Joe Smith
In his latest video for Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal reported that Joe Smith remains the most likely member of the Los Angeles Angels to be moved at the trade deadline. He added that Washington is "chasing relievers," pointing to New York's Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller as potential targets.
Why It Makes Sense for the Angels
Second base has been a gaping hole in Los Angeles ever since the Angels traded Howie Kendrick to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with adjusted offense indicating that only two teams—Chicago (AL) and Milwaukee—are getting less production from the position than the Angels.
Chris Bostick may not be the long-term answer the team seeks at the keystone due to his questionable defense, but he can't be much worse than what the Angels currently have.
He's a free-swinger, striking out more than 100 times in each of the past three seasons, and he lacks the big-time power to make up for it. But he does have some pop in his bat, he isn't incapable of drawing a walk and he's fast enough to cause problems when he does get on base.
Bostick's biggest asset is his versatility, as the 23-year-old is capable of playing second base, shortstop and the outfield corners. There's value to having a super-utility player like that at a manager's disposal, especially when he's dealing with an injury-riddled roster.
Why It Makes Sense for the Nationals
Joe Smith isn't anywhere near the reliever Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller is, but the 32-year-old has a track record of success (career 2.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) and isn't going to cost nearly as much to obtain (assuming the Yankees make Chapman and/or Miller available at some point).
Sure, he's having a down year, sitting with a 4.50 ERA and a significant drop in his strikeout rate (a career-low 4.5 K/9 rate), but there's no sign of an arm injury, with his velocity remaining relatively steady, per Brooks Baseball.
Smith may simply need a change of scenery to get back to his previous form. He's well worth taking a flier on, and the Nationals aren't giving up significant value that would prevent them from making a run at a more high-profile reliever down the road.
Julio Teheran Gets Traded to the Boston Red Sox
Atlanta Braves Get: LHP Trey Ball, 3B Michael Chavis, 1B/OF Nick Longhi and C Blake Swihart
Boston Red Sox Get: RHP Julio Teheran
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo heard that Julio Teheran's name is popping up in lots of front offices as someone who might be available before the trade deadline, noting that "Teheran should land [president of baseball operations John Hart] a haul" in return.
Why It Makes Sense for the Braves
Atlanta could hold out in the hopes a team will make the same mistake Arizona did and overpay for a good, but not great, young pitcher. But there's a better chance of the Braves playing next season at Turner Field than there is of such an offer coming along for Julio Teheran.
That's not saying this is a bad deal for the Braves by any stretch, as they walk away with three potential everyday players, including one that's ready to make an immediate impact and another intriguing young arm to add to their growing stable of intriguing young arms.
Blake Swihart is the centerpiece, an offensively gifted, switch-hitting 24-year-old catcher who continues to improve defensively. The Braves could plug him into the lineup immediately as the right-handed part of a platoon with A.J. Pierzynski, who would be a great mentor for the young backstop.
Michael Chavis, 20, has everything teams look for in a third baseman—including the requisite power. While all his tools are still developing, and he's always going to have lots of swings and misses in his game, Chavis projects as a 20- to 25-home run hitter who provides average defense at the hot corner.
Nick Longhi may not seem like an ideal fit with the Braves, considering Freddie Freeman is entrenched at first base, but the 20-year-old is athletic enough to handle an outfield corner and has the strong arm needed to fill the void in right field.
Trey Ball hasn't quite lived up to expectations since Boston made him the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft, but the 6'6" 21-year-old is still young enough to make the adjustments needed for him to reach his ceiling as a front-of-the-rotation arm. At worst, he's a durable, reliable back-end starter.
Why It Makes Sense for the Red Sox
Julio Teheran's fly-ball tendencies don't make him a perfect fit at Fenway Park, but that's hardly a reason for Boston to pass on the chance to add a controllable, experienced, 25-year-old starter that is under team control through 2020 for roughly $40 million.
And while the price to acquire him is high, so is the upside.
Teheran has bounced back from a down 2015 (4.04 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) with a 3.48 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over seven starts while striking out nearly a batter per inning, looking far more like the pitcher that posted a combined 3.03 ERA and 1.12 WHIP from 2013 to 2014.
He's also proven himself durable, averaging 32 starts and 202 innings a year since 2013. For a Boston rotation that needs another legitimate, front-of-the-rotation arm, Teheran would be an excellent addition, even if he gets taken deep a bit more often than you'd like.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs and are current through games of May 9. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus).
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