MLB Trade Ideas Based on Offseason Week 10 News, Rumors and Speculation
Unlike the rest of the baseball universe, MLB's rumor mill doesn't get time off to partake in New Year's Eve festivities. There are no parties or concerts; no hanging out in New York's Time Square to watch former pop sensations suffer embarrassing "technical difficulties."
While the first week of a New Year is too early to proclaim that MLB teams still looking to improve their rosters are facing difficulties of their own in that regard, the clock has officially begun to tick. With just over six weeks before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, time is not on their side.
As luck would have it, there are still a slew of notable names who remain available on the free-agent market and some clubs that remain open for business on the trade front. The opportunity to improve remains alive. What follows is a look at four trades that would help teams do just that.
Keep in mind these proposed deals are only ideas and speculation. Unless otherwise noted, there's no indication any of them have been discussed.
Brett Gardner Gets Traded to the Blue Jays
New York Gets: LHP Angel Perdomo and RHP T.J. Zeuch
Toronto Gets: OF Brett Gardner
Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star reports that the Blue Jays have explored a potential trade for New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.
Why It Makes Sense For the Blue Jays
Gardner fills multiple needs for Toronto. He's a significant upgrade, both offensively and defensively, in left field. His left-handed bat brings some much-needed balance to a lineup that is almost exclusively right-handed, and he gives the Blue Jays a legitimate leadoff hitter.
Due $25 million through 2018, adding Gardner's salary wouldn't necessarily preclude Toronto from re-signing Jose Bautista to play right field. As for the prospects the Blue Jays are giving up, neither one factored into the team's 2017 plans.
Why It Makes Sense For the Yankees
The Yankees get younger and cheaper by unloading Gardner, adding two more intriguing young arms to their ever-growing prospect stable.
Neither Angel Perdomo nor T.J. Zeuch is ready to contribute in 2017, but the pair could be groomed into solid mid-rotation arms. Of the two, Zeuch has better odds of sticking in the rotation, while Perdomo's lack of control could find him working out of the bullpen, where his stuff might play up in shorter stints.
A combination of Aaron Hicks and Mason Williams can hold things down in left field for the Yankees until prospect Clint Frazier is ready to take over on a full-time basis, a move that could happen around the All-Star break.
Todd Frazier Gets Traded to the Giants
Chicago Gets: OFs Hunter Cole and Steven Duggar
San Francisco Gets: 3B Todd Frazier
Chicago has received "due diligence" calls on Todd Frazier, sources tell the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.
Why It Makes Sense For the Giants
San Francisco is built to win now and, per Cot's Contracts projections, will exceed the luxury tax once again in 2017. Frazier's salary, which figures to be somewhere in the $12-to-13 million range in his final year of arbitration, shouldn't be a major reason to pass on a potential deal.
More of a prototypical third baseman than Eduardo Nunez, Frazier would also allow manager Bruce Bochy to utilize Nunez either as the right-handed part of a platoon with Joe Panik at second base or as a super-utility player, bouncing around the diamond as needed.
Why It Makes Sense for the White Sox
While Chicago has loaded up on prospects thanks to the trades of Adam Eaton and Chris Sale, the team's farm system is largely devoid of outfield talent that is remotely close to contributing in the big leagues. This deal brings two such players into the organization.
Hunter Cole has the arm strength and requisite power to fill the team's gaping void in right field. While he's yet to play above Double-A, it's not inconceivable that he could break camp with the club or receive an early promotion to the big leagues.
Steven Duggar has the higher upside, with plus-plus speed and lots of raw power, but he's still figuring out how to tap into his many tools during games. Capable of playing all three outfield positions, he could become a factor in the majors after the All-Star break, should he take the next step in his development.
J.D. Martinez Gets Traded to the Phillies
Detroit Gets: OF Aaron Altherr and C Andrew Knapp
Philadelphia Gets: OF J.D. Martinez
Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com speculates that Philadelphia and Detroit could revisit a potential deal involving Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez. MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported last month that the two sides had discussed a potential swap.
Why It Makes Sense For the Phillies
Adding J.D. Martinez to play right field would give manager Pete Mackanin the second experienced bat he wants while satisfying general manager Matt Klentak's desire to not serve as a long-term obstacle for any of the team's outfield prospects.
That said, Martinez is entering his age-29 season and is still young enough to be a part of Philadelphia's future. The team would essentially get half a season to see whether there's a mutual fit before deciding whether to flip him elsewhere at the non-waiver trade deadline or try and work out an extension.
His right-handed power seems like an ideal fit for Citizens Bank Park, and his presence would make it less likely that the Phillies might rush outfield prospects Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams, who need more development time, to the show.
Giving up a catching prospect like Andrew Knapp in a deal for a potential one-year rental isn't ideal, but the Phillies can turn to a veteran journeyman, like non-roster invitee Bryan Holaday, to serve as Cameron Rupp's backup until Jorge Alfaro is ready to take the reins as the team's starter.
Why It Makes Sense For the Tigers
Knapp gives Detroit its possible catcher of the future and immediate competition for James McCann, who has been underwhelming since taking over the catching duties in 2015. A solid defender and game-caller, the 25-year-old switch-hitter has the potential to hit for both average and power.
Aaron Altherr has struggled to produce at the plate over parts of three big league seasons, but the 25-year-old has untapped power and speed that could finally come out with a change of scenery. He's got the defensive chops to play center field but the arm strength to handle a corner outfield spot.
The Tigers also shed Martinez's $11.75 million 2017 salary from its books. While that alone won't get the club under the luxury tax threshold, it does move them closer to that goal.
Tim Beckham Gets Traded to the Padres
San Diego Gets: IF Tim Beckham
Tampa Bay Gets: RHP Mason Thompson
MLB.com's A.J. Cassavell reports that San Diego is searching for a shortstop to compete with Luis Sardinas in spring training, ideally a "talented but unproven youngster."
Why It Makes Sense For the Padres
Tim Beckham fits the description of a "talented but unproven youngster" who can provide competition for Luis Sardinas at shortstop. Beckham has shown flashes of potential but has never been able to sustain it in limited playing time with Tampa Bay.
Arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, the 26-year-old made significant strides defensively last season but struggled to make consistent contact. Even with those issues, he nearly graded out as a league-average run producer in 2016, per FanGraphs' wRC+ metric (weighted runs created plus), where a score of 100 is average.
Getting away from the team that made him the top overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft—and the expectations that come along with that distinction—could be what he needs to finally put it all together.
Why It Makes Sense For the Rays
With Matt Duffy entrenched as the team's starting shortstop and the versatile Daniel Robertson nearly ready for his first taste of the majors, Beckham is expendable for the Rays.
Mason Thompson is still years away from potentially contributing but has a mid-90s fastball that should tick up as he adds bulk to his 6'7" frame and the makings of solid secondary offerings. There's some injury risk, as he underwent Tommy John surgery as a junior in high school, but the upside is there.
He's a player worth taking a flier on as the Rays continue to restock their seemingly never-ending pipeline of intriguing young arms, the next wave of which is just about to hit the big leagues.