Fresh Blockbuster MLB Trade Ideas to Shake Up Spring Training
Spring training is underway, and what had been a huge supply of outstanding free agents is growing smaller every day. So at least for now, the time for blockbuster trades is probably over.
Then again, you never know.
It's still easy to dream up big trades that are equal parts plausible and possible. We know because we have five in mind that are just sensible enough to go down before spring training is over.
Let's take a look.
Kelvin Herrera to the Toronto Blue Jays
The AL East got a jolt when J.D. Martinez agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox on Monday. His coming puts them at least on par with the New York Yankees and safely ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays can push back by adding a shutdown reliever. Specifically, Kelvin Herrera.
The right-hander didn't have a great year in 2017, putting up just a 4.25 ERA in 64 appearances. However, he did retain the blazing fastball that made him an All-Star in 2015 and 2016.
With the Kansas City Royals settling in for a rebuild and Herrera due for free agency after 2018, the potential for a trade is obvious. Equally obvious is that the Royals won't let him go easily. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, they want a "huge haul" for the 28-year-old.
It's all relative, though.
Herrera can't command a haul as big as fellow trade chips Raisel Iglesias or Alex Colome, both of whom offer more club control. Rather than three or four pieces of young talent, he's likely attainable for just one (e.g., OF Anthony Alford) or two (e.g., RHP Nate Pearson and SS Logan Warmoth).
That should suit a Blue Jays team that's been adding recognizable names—Curtis Granderson, Randal Grichuk, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Jaime Garcia—without sacrificing too much of its considerable prospect depth. Were they to add Herrera next, the bridge to Roberto Osuna would get that much stronger.
Josh Harrison to the Arizona Diamondbacks
The catch is that the addition of Souza cost them Brandon Drury, who had been penciled in as their primary second baseman. The next men up are Ketel Marte, Chris Owings and Daniel Descalso. None of them inspires much confidence.
Sounds like an excuse to trade for Josh Harrison.
The two-time All-Star is more than just a second baseman, of course. He can also handle regular action at third base and can fill in at shortstop and the outfield. Offensively, he's a .290 hitter since 2014 and packs a nice combination of power and speed.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have already offloaded Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole this offseason. With Harrison due to earn $10.25 million this year followed by $22 million worth of options for 2019 and 2020, he's a logical candidate to go next.
With left-hander Anthony Banda on his way to the Tampa Bay Rays, a Diamondbacks farm system that was mediocre to begin with is now even more so. But they still have some goodies that could entice the Pirates. Somebody like shortstop Jasrado Chisholm, for example, could be a centerpiece.
J.T. Realmuto to the Milwaukee Brewers
Even with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain added to their outfield, the Milwaukee Brewers still don't look as good as a Chicago Cubs team with Yu Darvish or a St. Louis Cardinals team with Marcell Ozuna.
What could change that is another starting pitcher and a catching upgrade. They can take care of the former on the free-agent market. The latter can be filled via the trade market with a deal for J.T. Realmuto.
The 26-year-old catcher is the last star left standing in Miami. But not for long. The Marlins have already punted on the next couple of seasons, so they'd be fools not to trade a rising star with only three more years of club control.
Realmuto is a .290 hitter over the last two seasons. He also comes with developing power and, by catcher standards, excellent speed. He's not yet a finished product on defense but is above average as is and getting better.
A guy like this would be a step up from Manny Pina and Stephen Vogt in Milwaukee, and could be had for a mere spare part. Although he's coming off a 30-homer season and is still under club control through 2021, 25-year-old Domingo Santana is a possible centerpiece in a Realmuto deal.
If not, the Marlins can chase pieces that they couldn't sqeeze into the Yelich trade. Second baseman Keston Hiura, perhaps. Or outfielder Brett Phillips or right-hander Corbin Burnes.
Chris Archer to the Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins needed a top-of-the-rotation starter even before Ervin Santana went down with a finger injury. Unless they plan on traveling back to 2013, new addition Anibal Sanchez isn't the answer.
According to La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune, one guy already on Minnesota's radar is Chris Archer.
The 29-year-old doesn't quite have the appeal that he used to after struggling with the long ball en route to a 4.05 ERA over the last two seasons. He's nonetheless remained good for 200 innings (a rarity these days) and has continued to rack up strikeouts at an elite rate.
Archer is also signed to an extremely club-friendly contract. It runs as far as 2021 and would pay out just a little over $34 million.
Neal's report states that the Tampa Bay Rays have some interest in taking outfielder Max Kepler in return for Archer. He makes some sense as a centerpiece. He's already established yet is still only 25 and under club control for five more seasons.
However, it's hard to imagine a straight-up swap of Archer for Kepler being good enough for the Rays. The Twins would probably have to sweeten the deal with one or two of their better prospects. Such as: shortstop Nick Gordon, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves or right-hander Fernando Romero.
Manny Machado to the Cleveland Indians
The Baltimore Orioles went into the winter with enough reasons to shop Manny Machado. As the Yankees, Blue Jays and now the Red Sox have loaded up, the pile of reasons has only gotten higher.
So, time to put in a call to the Cleveland Indians.
Per Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the two clubs discussed a trade in December. At the time, Baltimore's need for starting pitching and Cleveland's surplus of starting pitching made the two clubs a good match.
Things have changed since then. For one, it's official that Machado is moving from third base to shortstop, where the Indians are set with Francisco Lindor. Secondly, Cleveland's pitching surplus took a hit when it was revealed that Danny Salazar is dealing with yet another injury.
Nonetheless, it's still possible to see a deal.
Machado is only controlled for one more year, but the Indians are a World Series hopeful who could use an extra weapon to counter the Yankees, Red Sox and Houston Astros. For his part, Machado may not mind moving back to third base if it means a chance at a ring and an opportunity to play with Yonder Alonso, his good friend/brother-in-law.
In lieu of Salazar, fellow live-armed right-hander Mike Clevinger might work as a centerpiece in a deal. Or, Cleveland could dip into its farm system and pull out right-hander Triston McKenzie, who's not quite ready to help the team anyway.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.