MLB Trade Ideas for Perfectly Matched Buyers and Sellers

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2018

MLB Trade Ideas for Perfectly Matched Buyers and Sellers

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    Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13. Baseball season is nigh. Still, a number of deals will go down before the crack of the bat fills our ears and the smell of freshly cut grass lingers in the air. 

    Some free agents still need to be signed, and there are multiple trades that make sense for both parties—win-win deals we'd like to see consummated before ball meets leather.

    Let's examine them, keeping in mind the needs and assets of each team and a dollop of gut feeling.

Oakland Athletics Acquire C J.T. Realmuto from Miami Marlins

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    The Miami Marlins have already traded their entire 2017 starting outfield. Giancarlo Stanton went to the New York Yankees. Marcell Ozuna is a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Christian Yelich is a Milwaukee Brewer.

    Next up, the Fish could dangle catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is entering his first season of arbitration eligibility after slashing .278/.332/.451 with 17 home runs last season.

    Realmuto would interest multiple suitors, including the Washington Nationals. There may be no better fit than the Oakland Athletics, though.

    At present, Oakland's best catching option is Bruce Maxwell, who hit .237 in 76 games last season and was arrested on gun charges in mid-NovemberThe A's are retooling, but they already added outfielder Stephen Piscotty this winter in a deal with the Cardinals. Executive Billy Beane and Co. appear open to acquiring MLB-ready pieces.

    A package headlined by infield prospect Jorge Mateo and augmented by raw, high-upside right-hander Grant Holmes should be enough to get the Marlins' attention.

Washington Nationals Acquire RHP Kelvin Herrera from Kansas City Royals

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    The Nationals have won four of the last six National League East crowns, but they never advanced past the division series. Franchise cornerstone Bryce Harper is set to walk via free agency next winter. 

    Here are your chips, Washington. Push 'em all in.

    Luckily, the Nats don't have many holes to fill. They could use reinforcements in their bullpen, however.

    Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and re-signed Brandon Kintzler form a strong troika, but the Nationals would benefit from more late-inning coverage. Enter Kansas City Royals right-hander Kelvin Herrera, a two-time All-Star with extensive postseason experience. 

    Herrera had a down year in 2017 as he posted a full-season career-worst 4.25 ERA. The 28-year-old is also entering his final year of controllability.

    As such, the Nationals should be able to nab him without sacrificing any top-tier prospects. Toolsy outfielder Daniel Johnson and left-hander Nick Raquet ought to entice the Royals, who are on the verge of an overdue rebuild. 

Houston Astros Acquire LHP Brad Hand from San Diego Padres

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    The defending champion Houston Astros are rolling into 2018 with an incomplete bullpen.

    As a whole, the unit posted a 5.40 ERA in the postseason. In particular, Houston lacks reliable lefties.

    Tony Sipp turns 35 in July and put up a 5.79 ERA last season. Anthony Gose is a converted outfielder with zero MLB pitching experience. Brad Hand recently inked a three-year, $19.75 million deal with the San Diego Padres, which would seem to make him an unlikely trade candidate.

    That said, Hand—who posted a 2.16 ERA with 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings last season for the Padres—is an even more enticing target because of his eminently affordable deal.

    Cuban outfielder Yordan Alvarez and hard-throwing right-hander Hector Perez could be enough to pique the rebuilding Padres' interest while adding an essential element to the Astros' title defense.

New York Mets Acquire INF Josh Harrison from Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates shipped ace Gerrit Cole to Houston and outfielder/franchise icon Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants. The next chip to leave town could be super-utility man Josh Harrison.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the New York Mets have considered a move for the 30-year-old Harrison, who hit .272 with 16 home runs and made the NL All-Star squad last season. 

    Harrison's versatility would assist the Mets, who are trying to get back to the postseason but are penciling in so-so veterans (Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Adrian Gonzalez) and unproven youngsters (Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith) across the infield. 

    It could cost them outfielder Brandon Nimmowhom the Pirates coveted in a possible McCutchen deal, per Rosenthalplus other prospects (and no, Tim Tebow won't do).

    Harrison, who is locked into an affordable contract that runs through 2020 with a pair of club options, is worth it. 

Milwaukee Brewers Acquire RHP Chris Archer from Tampa Bay Rays

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    Mike Carlson/Associated Press

    The Brewers underwent an outfield facelift by acquiring Christian Yelich from the Marlins and signing free agent Lorenzo Cain to a five-year, $80 million deal. 

    Now, Milwaukee needs to improve a starting rotation fronted by Chase Anderson, who has never reached 160 innings in a season, and Jimmy Nelson, who is recovering from September shoulder surgery.

    The Brewers might throw big money at a free agent such as Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish. Or they might trade from their outfield surplus.

    On the latter front, they could build an offer around Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton and/or Brett Phillips to pry right-hander Chris Archer away from the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Archer's name has churned through the rumor mill before. The Rays will demand the moon, stars and a few spare celestial bodies for the 29-year-old two-time All-Star, who is locked down through 2021 with a pair of team options. 

    The Brewers have built an offense that can compete with the Chicago Cubs for NL Central supremacy. They just need enough pitching to seal the deal.

    One or two of the outfielders listed above plus some ancillary pieces from the MiLB ranks should make it worth Tampa Bay's while.


    All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference