MLB Trade Ideas Based on Offseason Week 12 News, Rumors and Speculation

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2017

MLB Trade Ideas Based on Offseason Week 12 News, Rumors and Speculation

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    The bulk of the action we'll see this offseason on the MLB trade market is likely already in the rearview.

    That doesn't mean there's not still time for another blockbuster deal to be pulled off between now and the start of spring training, though.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are still searching for a second baseman, the Houston Astros are still shopping for a front-line starter and a number of teams continue to test the waters for Chicago White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana.

    Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers could suddenly be in the market for an impact bullpen arm after losing one of their key relievers for a good chunk of the upcoming season.

    As we come down the homestretch of another MLB offseason, here's a quick look at a few potential trade ideas, based on the latest rumblings on the rumor mill and some healthy speculation.

Justin Wilson to the Texas Rangers

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    Rangers Get: RP Justin Wilson

    Tigers Get: IF Josh Morgan, RP Andrew Faulkner

    Rumor/Speculation

    The Detroit Tigers were listening to offers for lefty reliever Justin Wilson earlier in the offseason, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

    Why It Makes Sense for the Rangers

    The Rangers relied heavily on Jake Diekman as one of their primary setup options last season.

    The left-hander ranked second on the team with 66 appearances, posting a 3.40 ERA and punching out 59 batters in 53 innings while racking up 26 holds.

    However, they'll now be without the 29-year-old for at least half the 2017 season, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, after he underwent ulcerative colitis surgery.

    That leaves Alex Claudio as the top left-handed option out of the bullpen.

    He posted a terrific 2.79 ERA over 39 appearances last season, but he's better served as a multi-inning long reliever than a late-inning option as he lacks overpower stuff (5.9 strikeouts per nine innings).

    That could put the Rangers in the market for a southpaw reliever to plug into a setup role, and the first name that comes to mind is Justin Wilson, who was popular on the rumor mill during the winter meetings.

    Wilson has averaged 70 appearances over the past three seasons, posting a 3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 9.6 K/9 with 70 holds.

    The 29-year-old averaged 96.1 mph with his fastball and racked up 40 percent of his strikeouts while holding opponents to a .203 average with a terrific cutter, per Brooks Baseball, giving him the more traditional late-inning profile that the Rangers would be looking for to replace Diekman.

    Why It Makes Sense for the Tigers

    The Tigers are starved for young talent with a farm system that ranked 26th in Bleacher Report's latest updated rankings.

    Wilson might not bring a top-tier talent, but he should be able to net a couple of mid-level prospects while also providing a bit of payroll relief.

    Wilson will earn $2.7 million this coming season, so moving him wouldn't make a huge dent in the team's payroll situation as it looks to avoid the luxury-tax threshold, but it wouldn't hurt.

    As for what the Rangers could send the Tigers in return, versatile Josh Morgan makes sense as a potential target for the Tigers.

    Morgan, 21, hit .300/.367/.394 with 28 extra-base hits in 533 plate appearances at the High-A level last season while playing second, third and shortstop and flashing plenty of offensive upside.

    "Morgan is an advanced hitter for his age, recognizing pitches and controlling the strike zone better than most and producing line drives to all fields," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch. "He barrels balls easily and has a quick right-handed bat, so he might reach double digits in home runs once he gets stronger."

    He could profile as the second baseman of the future in Detroit.

    From there, adding Andrew Faulkner to the mix would give the team a lefty reliever who could immediately step into the bullpen spot vacated by Wilson.

    The 24-year-old posted a 3.97 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 7.7 K/9 in 41 appearances at the Triple-A level, and he has the power stuff to develop into a quality setup option in his own right.

Logan Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Dodgers Get: 2B Logan Forsythe

    Rays Get: SP Brock Stewart, 3B Edwin Rios, RP Jacob Rhame

    Rumor/Speculation

    "So, with (Brian) Dozier out of reach—at least for the moment—the Dodgers are expected to circle back to earlier trade pursuits of the Rays' Logan Forsythe and Tigers' Ian Kinsler, both of whom, like Dozier, bat right-handed," wrote Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

    Why It Makes Sense for the Dodgers

    If the Dodgers aren't willing to part with what it takes to acquire Dozier from the Twins, there's a good chance they won't like what the Tigers will be asking for Ian Kinsler. Both have two years left on their contracts, and Kinsler has arguably been the better of the two in recent years.

    There's also the matter of Kinsler's no-trade clause, which he's only willing to waive if it means an extension from his new team, per Rosenthal.

    With that in mind, Forsythe would appear to make the most sense as the Dodgers' next target.

    The 30-year-old doesn't have the same track record of success as Dozier or Kinsler, but he's been a stellar producer the past two seasons, posting a .273/.347/.444 line and averaging 28 doubles, 18 home runs and 60 RBI while ranking sixth among second basemen with an 8.4 WAR.

    Forsythe will earn $7 million this coming season, with a $9 million option for 2018, so he's reasonably priced and more than just a rental option.

    His right-handed bat would be a welcome addition to a lefty-heavy lineup in Los Angeles that ranked last in the majors in batting average (.214) and OPS (.623) against left-handed pitching.

    Meanwhile, Forsythe is a career .278/.343/.475 hitter against southpaws.

    Why It Makes Sense for the Rays

    While the Twins have been seeking Jose De Leon and at least one other top prospect in exchange for Dozier, Forsythe figures to come quite a bit cheaper.

    Brock Stewart might work as a centerpiece after a breakout 2016 season in which he went 9-4 with a 1.79 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 121 innings over three minor league levels.

    The 25-year-old has the command, durability and three-pitch repertoire to stick as a starter, and he would immediately push Matt Andriese for the No. 5 starter job this spring.

    Filling out the package with a power bat in Edwin Rios and an MLB-ready bullpen arm in Jacob Rhame might be enough for the Rays to pull the trigger.

    Rios posted a .908 OPS with 26 doubles and 27 home runs while reaching Double-A in his first full pro season. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 draft.

    It remains to be seen how his bat will play against higher-level pitching, but he's flashed some intriguing power in his short time in the Dodgers' organization.

    Rhame, 23, spent the entire 2016 season in Triple-A, where he posted a 3.29 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 63 innings.

    He can touch triple digits with his fastball, but he's still lacking a consistent secondary offering.

    The Rays have been as good as anyone at developing pitching talent over the years, and you can't teach velocity, so his big arm could be of interest.

Sonny Gray to the Houston Astros

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    Astros Get: SP Sonny Gray, RP Daniel Coulombe

    Athletics Get: OF Kyle Tucker, SP David Paulino, OF Teoscar Hernandez, RP Jandel Gustave

    Rumor/Speculation

    The Houston Astros have "remained in contact" with the Oakland Athletics on right-hander Sonny Gray, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, as they continue to gauge the starting-pitching market.

    Why It Makes Sense for the Astros

    If the Astros can find a way to acquire a front-line starter without giving up Francis Martes or Joe Musgrove, they would likely jump at the opportunity.

    The Chicago White Sox actually asked for both young pitchers—as well as top position-player prospect Kyle Tucker—in exchange for left-hander Jose Quintana, per MLB writer Peter Gammons.

    That's not going to happen, so it appears the Astros have now turned their attention to Oakland ace Sonny Gray.

    After finishing third in AL Cy Young voting in 2015, Gray looked like a bona fide ace in the making and an incredibly valuable commodity for an A's team that is always looking for the next blockbuster deal.

    A year later, his stock has dropped considerably.

    The 27-year-old made a pair of trips to the disabled list last season, and in between went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 22 starts.

    His significant upside as a rebound candidate and the fact that he's controllable through the 2019 season still makes him a valuable trade chip, but he won't cost nearly what the White Sox are asking for Quintana if the A's do in fact get serious about moving him.

    Slotting Gray atop a rotation that includes Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Mike Fiers would undoubtedly put the Astros in a better position in 2017. Doing it without mortgaging a pair of potential future rotation staples in Martes and Musgrove would be too good to pass up.

    Also heading to Houston in this deal is left-hander Daniel Coulombe.

    The 27-year-old posted a 4.53 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 over 47.2 innings out of the Oakland bullpen last season after absolutely dominating in Triple-A to the tune of a 1.08 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 12.6 K/9 in 20 appearances.

    He's not a prospect, but he could be the answer to the Astros' need for another lefty option in the bullpen after Tony Sipp struggled last season.

    Why It Makes Sense for the Athletics

    Why would the A's sell low on Gray?

    Well, even though the package suggested above isn't quite on par with what the White Sox are asking for Quintana, it's still a wealth of young, controllable talent, and there's nothing Billy Beane and Co. love more.

    David Paulino is not thought of quite as highly as Martes or Musgrove, but he's not far behind.

    The towering 6'7" right-hander posted a 2.00 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 106 strikeouts in 90 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, earning a late-season promotion to the big leagues. He appears to be 100 percent recovered from Tommy John surgery, and if he can further refine his changeup as a third offering, he has legitimate front-line upside.

    Tucker already reached the High-A level last season after going No. 5 overall in the 2015 draft out of high school, hitting .285/.360/.438 with 41 extra-base hits in 497 plate appearances.

    He's one of the best pure hitters in the minors, and there's still plenty of room to add muscle to his 6'4", 190-pound frame. With legitimate All-Star potential and a higher floor than most prep bats, he'd immediately join Franklin Barreto at the top of the Oakland system.

    Not to be outdone, Teoscar Hernandez shot up prospect rankings last season after hitting .307/.377/.459 with 41 extra-base hits and 34 steals in a breakout season split between Double-A and Triple-A.

    The 24-year-old is MLB-ready, and he could immediately push newcomer Rajai Davis for the starting center field job.

    Rounding out the package is flame-throwing right-hander Jandel Gustave.

    He hasn't been able to harness his electric stuff just yet, but he has a legitimate 80-grade fastball and a slider that flashes plus, so he's worth a roll of the dice as a high-upside throw-in.

    The A's would be getting the Astros' No. 2 prospect (Tucker), No. 3 prospect (Paulino) and No. 7 prospect (Hernandez) in this deal, according to Baseball America.

    Would that be enough to deal their homegrown ace?

Jose Quintana to the Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Pirates Get: SP Jose Quintana

    White Sox Get: SP Tyler Glasnow, CF Austin Meadows, C Elias Diaz

    Rumor/Speculation

    "Trade rumors have been swirling around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana since early December," wrote Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago on Jan. 15. "Now, the latest intelligence on the trade market is that several teams have made more significant offers in the last week with hopes of acquiring Quintana as the White Sox continue on their rebuilding path."

    The Astros, Yankees and Pirates were specifically named by Levine as the three teams "most often mentioned" as suitors for the All-Star hurler.

    Why It Makes Sense for the Pirates

    As we mentioned earlier, the Astros have been unwilling to meet the White Sox's asking price for Quintana, while Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is "99.9 percent sure" the team is done adding pieces this offseason, per Jack Curry of YES Network.

    That leaves the Pirates as the most likely landing spot if the report from Levine holds true.

    For a small-market team like the Pirates, landing a front-line arm on a team-friendly contract might be worth giving up a significant prospect haul.

    Quintana is still just 27 years old and controllable for the next four seasons at a combined $36.85 million.

    That's an absolute steal for a pitcher who has reached the 200-inning mark in four straight seasons, going 40-40 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.22 WHIP during that span and ranking seventh among all pitchers with an 18.1 WAR.

    The Pirates managed to come to terms with free agent Ivan Nova, bringing the veteran back after a strong showing down the stretch to join presumptive ace Gerrit Cole atop the rotation.

    Behind those two, a number of talented but inexperienced arms are set to battle for the final three rotation spots, as Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Drew Hutchison, Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl will all be in the mix this spring.

    Adding Quintana would give the rotation a completely different outlook, as it would allow the team to rely less on those young arms as Pittsburgh makes a push to contend once again in a tough NL Central division.

    Both in 2017 outlook and long-term financial flexibility, adding Quintana looks like a great move for the Pirates.

    But what will it cost?

    Why It Makes Sense for the White Sox

    Let's go ahead and assume Josh Bell is off the table in trade talks, as he gets set to take over as the Pirates' starting first baseman this coming season.

    That means they'll likely have to give Austin Meadows and one of Tyler Glasnow and Mitch Keller to get the ball rolling on this deal.

    Meadows might already be in the majors if not for a crowded outfield situation in Pittsburgh, and he'd immediately become the center fielder of the future for the White Sox.

    The No. 9 pick in the 2013 draft, Meadows hit .266/.333/.536 with 25 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs, 47 RBI and 17 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

    He has five-tool potential and legitimate All-Star upside.

    That leaves us with the decision of which pitcher to include.

    Glasnow has a higher ceiling than Keller, but he's also more of a project.

    The 6'8" right-hander has struck out 645 hitters in 500 minor league innings, but he also walked batters at a 5.2 BB/9 clip last season and struggled in his first taste of MLB action.

    Provided he can smooth out his mechanics and learn to trust his electric stuff, he has all the makings of a true ace and Cy Young contender.

    As for Keller, he was one of the breakout prospects of 2016 after a forearm strain limited him to just 19.2 innings the previous season.

    The 20-year-old went 9-5 with a 2.35 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 130.1 innings between Single-A and High-A, showing a solid three-pitch repertoire and an advanced feel for pitching that should allow him to move quickly.

    Baseball America actually ranked Keller in the No. 2 spot in the organization, just behind Meadows and just ahead of Glasnow.

    My guess is the White Sox would still prefer the ultra-high ceiling of Glasnow, and a package built around him and Meadows might allow the Pirates to go with a second-tier prospect to round out the package.

    The White Sox are still searching for their catcher of the future, so Elias Diaz would likely be of interest.

    The 26-year-old earned the No. 10 spot in the Pirates' system, and he has the tools to be a starting backstop in the near future.

    "The ingredients for Diaz to be a plus defensive catcher have always been there," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch. "He has great hands and receives well. ... Diaz has finally slowed himself down offensively and largely doesn't try to do too much, making consistent hard contact with some extra-base ability."

    He's probably one of the top 10/15 catching prospects in the game right now, albeit with a somewhat limited ceiling. Still, he fills an obvious need.

    The White Sox would almost certainly ask for Meadows, Glasnow and Keller to begin negotiatons.

    If they're serious about moving Quintana, though, they might not do better than Meadows, Glasnow and Diaz.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Contract information via Spotrac unless otherwise noted.