MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Offseason Week 5 News, Rumors and Speculation
MLB's long-lasting labor peace seems to be sitting precariously on the edge of a cliff, with sources telling ESPN's Buster Olney that teams will skip next week's winter meetings if "sufficient progress" isn't made in talks with the MLB Players Association.
While that's unquestionably put some teams in a holding pattern when it comes to getting serious about making significant roster moves, it hasn't silenced the rumor mill, which continues to churn out rumor and speculation on the trade front.
Over the past week, that chatter has revolved around a number of players, including a Gold Glove Award-winning outfielder, a former All-Star closer and a slugging second baseman.
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.
Brett Gardner Gets Traded to the St. Louis Cardinals
New York Gets: RHP Sandy Alcantara and LHP Austin Gomber
St. Louis Gets: OF Brett Gardner
St. Louis is on the hunt for defensive upgrades, especially in center field, according to ESPN.com's Mark Saxon. Trade speculation has been swirling around New York's Brett Gardner, with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently confirming to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he's gotten calls on the veteran outfielder (among others).
Why It Makes Sense for the Yankees
The Yankees continue to stockpile young pitching in this deal and create room for another one of its young outfielders, whether it be Aaron Hicks, Mason Williams Jr. or someone else, to get more regular playing time in left field.
Neither Sandy Alcantara nor Austin Gomber projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues, but both have the stuff to be serviceable mid-rotation arms.
Alcantara's ceiling is a bit higher than Gomber's thanks to one of the most electric fastballs in the minors, but Gomber, one of the best pitchers in the Arizona Fall League, is ready to contribute in 2017, while Alcantara is still a few years away.
Why It Makes Sense for the Cardinals
St. Louis adds a player in Brett Gardner who gives the club options, both offensively and defensively.
Gardner could bat leadoff in St. Louis, but it seems more likely he'd hit second behind Matt Carpenter, who has been baseball's most productive leadoff hitter since 2014, based on FanGraphs' wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) metric.
Fresh off a Gold Glove Award for his defense in left field, Gardner could plug the hole created by the departure of Matt Holliday. That said, he still has the speed to cover a big swath of ground in center field, which would allow the Cardinals to play Randal Grichuk in left field.
Due $24 million through 2018 and with a $12.5 million team option for 2019 with a $2 million buyout, Gardner arrives with a reasonable contract, one that won't eat up a huge chunk of St. Louis' payroll.
David Robertson Gets Traded to the Boston Red Sox
Boston Gets: RHP David Robertson and $5 million
Chicago Gets: RHP Roniel Raudes and C/OF Blake Swihart
Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald recently speculated about a potential trade between Boston and Chicago that would include former Red Sox catching prospect Blake Swihart and White Sox closer David Robertson.
Why It Makes Sense for the Red Sox
While he's not been the dominant force that he was with the New York Yankees and recently underwent minor knee surgery, Robertson remains a solid reliever, one who could thrive with a return to a contending club.
That knee issue could help to explain why the 31-year-old posted his worst numbers in some time last season, when he pitched to a 3.47 ERA and 1.36 WHIP while struggling with his command and going 37-for-44 in save opportunities.
A healthy Robertson would be an excellent addition to Boston's bullpen as Craig Kimbrel's primary setup man, a role he thrived in earlier in his career with the New York Yankees.
With two years and $25 million left on his deal, Robertson is an expensive addition, even with the White Sox chipping in a portion of his remaining salary. But it's an expense the Red Sox can afford to take on.
Why It Makes Sense for the White Sox
Blake Swihart remains an unproven commodity, but the former consensus top 20 prospect has far more upside behind the plate than Chicago's current in-house options, Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith. He could be the long-term answer at catcher the White Sox have needed for quite some time.
Only 18, Roniel Raudes is still years away from contributing in the majors. But he's got an advanced feel for pitching and all the tools a team looks for in a starting pitcher, including a pair of secondary pitches that are already showing signs of being plus offerings down the road.
Perhaps almost as important as the players coming back to the White Sox is the additional financial flexibility that shedding Robertson's contract—which isn't awful by any means—provides the club moving forward.
Brian Dozier Gets Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Gets: 2B Brian Dozier
Minnesota Gets: RHP Yadier Alvarez, 2B Willie Calhoun, LHP Jose De Leon and RHP Brock Stewart
Minnesota isn't shopping Brian Dozier and, according to the Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino, the Twins told one team that they'd "have to be wowed" to trade their second baseman. Multiple reports, most recently from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, have linked Los Angeles to Dozier.
Why It Makes Sense for the Dodgers
It's a high price for Los Angeles to pay, but Brian Dozier is the perfect fit for what the Dodgers need. Not only would he be a massive upgrade at second base, but the 29-year-old provides Los Angeles with a powerful right-handed bat to slot in the heart of its lineup.
As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times recently reported, the Dodgers are looking to cut costs in order to become more compliant with MLB's debt policy. Team president and CEO Stan Kasten later disputed that report, per ESPN.com's Doug Padilla.
Dozier, who is due just $15 million through 2018, is a bargain and a player the Dodgers can fit into their payroll, regardless of which way its trending.
Why It Makes Sense for the Twins
This is the kind of deal that should "wow" Minnesota. In exchange for two years of Dozier, the Twins get a trio of young, controllable starters and his potential replacement at second base.
Neither Jose De Leon (4 GS, 6.35 ERA, 1.52 WHIP) nor Brock Stewart (7 G, 5.79 ERA, 1.61 WHIP) was overly impressive in their first taste of the big leagues in 2016, but they're better than those numbers indicate. De Leon has the stuff to be a No. 2 starter in short time, while Stewart is more of a back-end innings eater.
Yadier Alvarez is still a year or two away from the majors, but the 20-year-old's arsenal, which includes one of the most electric fastballs in the minors, a filthy slider and improving changeup, is impressive. He looks the part of a future ace.
Like Alvarez and De Leon, you can find Willie Calhoun's name on MLB.com's list of top 100 prospects.
While there's some question as to where Calhoun fits defensively, there's no question about his bat, which generates big power and carried him to Double-A in his first full professional season. The 22-year-old could find his way to the big leagues at some point in 2017.
Victor Martinez Gets Traded to the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Gets: DH Victor Martinez and $9 million
Detroit Gets: LHP Chris Lee, 1B/OF Christian Walker and a player to be named later
Sources tell the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo that "teams are sniffing around on [Detroit's Victor] Martinez, who would hold the same kind of value for a team as free agent Carlos Beltran.”
Why It Makes Sense for the Orioles
Martinez isn't going to lead baseball in home runs as Mark Trumbo did for Baltimore in 2016, but the 37-year-old is a far more complete hitter than the free-agent slugger, one who has plenty of power left in his bat and a knack for getting on base consistently.
Due $36 million through 2018, V-Mart is an expensive addition, but one that could pay big dividends for the built-to-win-now Orioles. That he won't require a long-term commitment like re-signing Trumbo would is a plus.
V-Mart's deal would be coming off the books at the same time as those belonging to core pieces like Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Manny Machado, giving Baltimore some additional financial flexibility to try and retain at least one of those All-Star-caliber talents.
Why It Makes Sense for the Tigers
While shedding the aging veteran and most of his contract is Detroit's primary motivation, the opportunity to add younger, more athletic pieces to the mix plays a part in this deal as well for the Tigers, making this more than a straight salary dump.
Chris Lee has been developed as a starter and could continue down that path, providing the Tigers with additional rotation depth, but the 24-year-old southpaw has been effective against batters from both sides of the plate and could easily slide into a bullpen role.
A capable defender at first base, Christian Walker spent much of the 2016 season patrolling left field in the minors. Should the Tigers trade J.D. Martinez, Walker could serve as the right-handed portion of a platoon with Steven Moya to replace him. His power makes him a potential DH candidate as well.
All contract information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus).