Finding a Perfect Trade Fix for Each MLB Team
Major League Baseball's summer trade season is inching ever closer. When it arrives, pretty much everyone will be active in some capacity.
So let's go ahead and imagine a few swaps.
Ahead are suggestions for trade fixes for all 30 MLB teams. For contenders, this involves identifying players who could either patch weaknesses or elevate strengths. For noncontenders, it involves identifying players who should be moved for young talent that will be of future use.
There are individual players who fit well on more than one team, so there will be a few repeats along the way. Otherwise, the only thing left to know is we'll go in alphabetical order by city.
Note: All records and stats are current through play on Tuesday, May 8.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trade for Manny Machado
It's taken no time for the Baltimore Orioles to fall out of contention, and that means it's a matter of time before they trade Manny Machado.
However, the list of teams that might actually acquire the star shortstop is shorter than the list of clubs that are sure to express interest. As a free-agent-to-be with an enormous acquisition cost, he only fits on teams with legit World Series aspirations.
Which brings us to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
At 24-11, the D-backs find themselves atop a National League race that was supposed to be ruled by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals. If they're going to dig in their heels, they should do so by upgrading their offense.
Machado, who has a 1.049 OPS and nine home runs, would be one heck of an upgrade. And putting him at shortstop could force Nick Ahmed to second base, which features a group that's produced just a .649 OPS.
Atlanta Braves: Trade for Brad Ziegler
The Atlanta Braves arguably need a third baseman and starting pitching help. But they can find both from within by promoting Austin Riley or any number of their excellent pitching prospects.
Upgrading their bullpen, on the other hand, is something they need the trade market for.
As it is, Atlanta's bullpen is mostly fine. It only has a good-not-great 3.68 ERA overall, but they're getting a 1.94 ERA out of their six most frequently used relievers.
Even still, that group would benefit from adding a control artist who can get a ground ball in a pinch. To wit, they're walking 4.9 batters per nine innings and maintaining a meager 39.3 ground-ball percentage.
Control artist? Ground balls? That's Brad Ziegler in a nutshell. And due to his rental status, he shouldn't have a price tag high enough to scare the Braves from bartering with the Miami Marlins, their National League East rivals.
Baltimore Orioles: Trade Manny Machado
No trade the Baltimore Orioles can make will get them out of the 8-27 hole they've dug in the American League East. The best thing they can do is prepare for the future.
Step 1: Trade Manny Machado.
The 25-year-old was tasked with putting a rough 2017 season behind him, and he's responded by becoming better than ever. He's working on a career-best OPS and is showing that his years at third base didn't rob him of his ability to play shortstop.
Even with free agency looming at the end of the season, Machado is a tremendously valuable trade chip. The Orioles stand to collect a huge haul of prospects by cashing him in, which would be of use to a farm system that's seen better days.
So, the only question is: What are they waiting for?
Boston Red Sox: Trade for Kelvin Herrera
There's an argument to be made that the Boston Red Sox need a catcher upgrade. Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon are capable defensive backstops, however. And with the amount of firepower in the Red Sox lineup, extra offense is a luxury.
A shutdown setup man? Less so.
Boston's bullpen isn't necessarily a weakness, but none of its key setup men (Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Carson Smith) are ideal candidates to safely transfer leads to closer Craig Kimbrel.
Kelvin Herrera is perfectly suited for that job thanks to his elite velocity and strong control. And with a 0.66 ERA through 15 games with the Kansas City Royals, he's as good as ever.
Herrera is due for free agency at the end of the year, so his acquisition cost shouldn't be too high for a Red Sox organization that's running low on talented prospects.
Chicago Cubs: Trade for Hector Santiago
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Cubs are expected to talk to the Orioles about Machado in the coming weeks. He'd be an upgrade over Addison Russell, not to mention be an allegedly much-needed offensive spark plug.
The Cubs rank in the top five of the National League in OPS and runs, so rumors of their offense's demise are exaggerated. At the least, they'll eventually get more out of Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras.
The Cubs also have plenty of talent in their rotation and bullpen, but the latter is getting less help than usual out of lefty swingman Mike Montgomery (4.41 ERA). That's a more reasonable place to seek an upgrade.
Plucking Hector Santiago (who was solid in seven relief appearances before moving to the rotation April 29) from the crosstown Chicago White Sox would work. He also wouldn't cost the Cubs too much from a farm system that's thinned out in recent years.
Chicago White Sox: Trade James Shields
The Chicago White Sox are a couple of years into a rebuild that's already cost them several valuable trade chips. The best ones they have left are Jose Abreu, who they like, and Avisail Garcia, whose value is down.
So, the best thing the White Sox can do is get James Shields off their books.
This isn't likely to happen, considering he's tracking toward a third straight season with an ERA over 5.00. But it helps the White Sox's cause that the San Diego Padres are paying $11 million of his $21 million salary.
What also helps their cause is Shields has had only one truly bad start this year. He allowed seven runs to the Houston Astros on April 20. He's given up 17 runs in his other seven appearances.
You never know. Stranger things have happened.
Cincinnati Reds: Trade Raisel Iglesias
The Cincinnati Reds' 9-27 record underscores how they don't have much to show for a rebuild that's been going on for a while. Clearly, it needs more work.
Which is why Raisel Iglesias needs to go.
According to Jon Heyman of FRSSports.com, the Reds' offseason asking price for Iglesias was so high that teams stopped trying to trade for him. It's understandable the Reds would take that position, as Iglesias is an elite closer with a club-friendly contract that runs through 2020.
However, teams may be more willing to meet Cincinnati's asking price this summer. Relievers are always in high demand at the July 31 trade deadline, and recent blockbusters involving Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman prove that contenders are willing to spare no expense to get something done.
A similar trade is just what the Reds need to spur their rebuild.
Cleveland Indians: Trade for Adam Jones
The Cleveland Indians badly need offense. They rank seventh in the American League in runs and 12th in OPS.
Specifically, they need offense from an outfield that only Michael Brantley has hit well out of. At least one other capable hitter would help, and it would ideally be one who bats from the right side.
This means you, Adam Jones.
Like Machado, Jones is a free-agent-to-be the Orioles will likely cash in this summer. The 32-year-old is off to a rough start with a .679 OPS, but his track record suggests he should at least make it to 25 homers by year's end, as he's done it seven straight years.
By all accounts, Jones also has a strong clubhouse presence. He'd fit perfectly on an Indians team with World Series aspirations.
Colorado Rockies: Trade for J.T. Realmuto
The Colorado Rockies are 21-15 despite having allowed eight more runs than they've scored. That points to their need to upgrade both their run production and run prevention.
Landing a two-way catcher such as J.T. Realmuto would be just dandy.
Realmuto's results are finally catching up to his ability. After sitting out the early portion of 2018 with a back injury, he's returned to post an .896 OPS at the plate while throwing out 50 percent of attempted base stealers from behind it.
For now, this is all in service to a Miami Marlins team that's somehow better than expected despite being 13-22. But they're still in rebuild mode, so it behooves them to deal a star catcher who's due for free agency after 2020.
The Rockies are one of few teams with enough young talent to swing a deal and are arguably the club that needs to do so the most.
Detroit Tigers: Trade Nicholas Castellanos
There's fairly widespread clamoring for the Detroit Tigers to trade 25-year-old right-hander Michael Fulmer, and they might do it if the right offer comes along.
But that's not too likely.
The Tigers control Fulmer all the way through 2022, so they don't need to settle for anything less than a king's arm and leg in a trade for him. Rather than meet Detroit's demands, contenders can turn to any number of alternatives.
Nicholas Castellanos is one such option and a sensible goner.
The right fielder's club control runs out after 2019, so the clock is ticking for the Tigers to either extend or deal him. Because he's raking to the tune of an .879 OPS through 35 games, there's no time like the present to go for the latter.
Kansas City Royals: Trade Danny Duffy
Beyond having the indignity of a 12-23 record, the Kansas City Royals are also sitting on arguably the worst farm system in baseball.
In a situation like this, the best thing the Royals can do at the trade deadline is offload all of their top trade chips. And Danny Duffy is at the top of that pile.
With a 5.15 ERA through eight outings, the veteran lefty isn't off to the best start. However, he still boasts two things that will appeal to contenders in and around July: a live arm and a club-friendly contract that runs through 2021.
Houston Astros: Trade for Kelvin Herrera
The Astros would also benefit from adding Herrera, albeit for different reasons from the Red Sox.
Whereas Boston is fine with its present closer, Houston has a vacuum at the position by way of what's going on with Ken Giles. The hard-throwing righty entered the year with a tenuous grip on ninth-inning duties, and he blew up so bad May 1 that he punched himself.
Giles' demise isn't necessarily a deal-breaker for the Astros bullpen, which is otherwise good. But it does mean they have one fewer reliable arm than they were hoping to have, so they might as well go get one on the trade market.
Herrera fits the bill as well as anyone. And if adding him results in Giles' taking pressure on himself and getting back to his usual form, it'll effectively prove to be two moves in one.
Los Angeles Angels: Trade for Ian Kennedy
Although the Los Angeles Angels have surpassed expectations, the question many had about them during the offseason still rings true.
Do they have enough starting pitching?
Shohei Ohtani has mostly been excellent, and both Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs are enjoying solid seasons. Otherwise, the Angels rotation has been a hit-or-miss unit that could use a solid innings-eater.
That's what Ian Kennedy has been for the bulk of his career, and now he's back on track following a rough 2017 season. He's put up a 2.92 ERA over 37 innings through seven starts.
Kennedy is making $16 million this year, with another $33 million due his way in 2019 and 2020 combined. That contract will scare a good many teams off, but perhaps not the Angels. They have more money to spend than they do prospects to trade, and there's a good chance they wouldn't even have to take on all of it.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trade for Jed Lowrie
As soon as it was announced in late April that Corey Seager had been lost for the year to Tommy John surgery, everyone and their uncle cried out for the Los Angeles Dodgers to deal for Machado.
The Dodgers haven't been too keen on trading top prospects in recent seasons, however. Plus, taking on Machado's $16 million salary could put them over the $197 million luxury tax.
As an alternative, they should consider Jed Lowrie.
The veteran can't play shortstop, but he can be a safeguard against Chase Utley's inevitable regression at second base. After all, this is a guy who quietly had a strong 2017 and who's now raking with a .985 OPS in 2018. What's more, he's making only $6 million.
The hurdle in the way of a deal is that the Oakland A's are contending. But if they fall out of contention, former A's executive and current Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi should be able to work something out.
Miami Marlins: Trade J.T. Realmuto
Take the fact that the Marlins aren't as bad as expected and couple it with the fact that Realmuto is a budding superstar under their control through 2020, and what emerges is a possibility the two could remain together.
But, let's be real.
The Marlins aren't going to be a playoff team this year, so that's one of Realmuto's three remaining seasons of controllability set to go to waste. They'll need to either spend money or promote prospects to avoid wasting the other two, and they're short on both.
As such, the practical thing to do will be to give in to the demand for him. He could command multiple top-100 prospects in a trade. Given that they acquired just one top-100 talent (Lewis Brinson) during their massive winter sell-off, that should be quite appealing to the Marlins.
Milwaukee Brewers: Trade for Chris Archer
For the moment, the Milwaukee Brewers have a significant need to upgrade an offense that's scored fewer runs than every NL team except the Marlins.
But that's a problem the passing of time should solve. Eric Thames (thumb) will get healthy eventually, and Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana are all better than they've shown.
What time may not be able to fix in Milwaukee is the Brewers' lack of top-flight starting pitching. Chase Anderson has regressed from his 2017 breakout, and the Brewers shouldn't bank too much on Jimmy Nelson's ability to recapture his own 2017 breakout after he returns from shoulder surgery.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Brewers looked into trading for Chris Archer during the offseason. They should look back into that this summer. Archer is off to a slow start, but he still has his club-friendly contract and the power arm to boost a rotation that ranks last in the NL in K/9.
Minnesota Twins: Trade for Zach Britton
The Minnesota Twins' 15-17 record would spell bad news in most divisions. But in the American League Central, they're only a half game out of first place.
If the Twins are going to stay in the race, they at least need to upgrade their bullpen.
It has just a 5.24 ERA, and not just because their middle relievers have been sabotaging the whole operation. The Twins are also getting less-than-stellar performances out of Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney.
A shutdown closer would help solve that problem. But rather than stay in the bidding for, say, Herrera, the Twins would be better served taking a chance on somebody like Zach Britton.
The Orioles lefty is recovering from a ruptured Achilles and is on a mission to reclaim his 2014-2016 dominance before becoming a free agent at the end of the year. He'd be a relatively low-risk, high-reward gamble for the Twins.
New York Mets: Trade for Bartolo Colon
The New York Mets badly needed a catcher when this week began, but they may have solved that when they dealt Matt Harvey to Cincinnati for Devin Mesoraco on Tuesday.
What the Mets need now is depth for a starting rotation that was weak even before Jacob deGrom landed on the DL May 6 with elbow trouble. They must be wary about setting their sights too high, however, as their contention chances may not be worth pillaging a farm system that's shallow enough as is.
So, Bartolo Colon it is.
The big righty is set to turn 45 on May 24, but he's still ticking along. He's appeared in seven games with the Texas Rangers and put up a 3.29 ERA over 38.1 innings.
In other words, he's still the same solid innings-eater he's been for many years. A pitcher like that is just what the Mets need. Indeed, it also doesn't hurt that the sides are plenty familiar with one another.
New York Yankees: Trade for Mike Moustakas
What could the New York Yankees, who are squeezing an impossibly hot run out of an outstanding roster, need at the trade deadline?
Not a whole lot, really. Maybe a No. 5 starter, an extra bullpen arm or an extra outfielder. But they can just as easily fill those needs from within by promoting players from their strong farm system.
How about a trade for Mike Moustakas instead?
Moustakas was often linked to the Yankees over the winter, and it's still possible to see a fit for him in New York. He's the kind of pull-happy lefty slugger who would do well at Yankee Stadium, and he could be slotted into the lineup at third base, first base or designated hitter.
Were the Yankees to go ahead with a deal for Moustakas, the most dangerous lineup in baseball would become even more so.
Oakland Athletics: Trade for Doug Fister
The Oakland Athletics could go either way at the trade deadline.
They're all but assured to sell if they fall out of contention, but they may be more inclined to buy even if they're struggling to be more than just a .500 team. After all, they need to earn some good will from a fanbase that's getting indifferent.
If the A's do buy, they're sure to prioritize veteran help for a starting rotation that's been adventurous outside of emerging ace Sean Manaea.
Reaching across the American League West and plucking Doug Fister from the Rangers would be one way to go about it. His days as an ace are over, but he still throws enough strikes and gets enough ground balls to be good for five or six innings.
Plus, Fister is in Oakland's price range with a $3.5 million salary for 2018 and a $4.5 million club option for 2019.
Philadelphia Phillies: Trade for Cole Hamels
Based on the early returns, the 20-15 Philadelphia Phillies' rebuild is over. Now the question is how they'll choose to lean into contention.
They could go in any number of directions, including seeking out upgrades at catcher, shortstop, right field and for their bullpen. But since only Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta have been reliable, the best thing they can do is add a starting pitcher.
Few targets fit them as well as old friend Cole Hamels.
Although the Phillies have enough young talent to deal for Archer or Duffy, the best thing they have going for them is their financial flexibility. They opened 2018 with a $95.3 million payroll, per Cot's Contracts, which is well below what they're capable of spending.
There's more than enough room for the remainder of Hamels' $23.5 million salary. And with a 3.94 ERA and a rejuvenated strikeout rate, the lefty looks well worth it.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Trade Jordy Mercer
The Pittsburgh Pirates probably peaked with their 11-4 start to 2018, but they're good enough to at least remain on the fringes of the National League playoff race.
That doesn't mean they're going to buy, but they're presumably not going to be big sellers either. Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen are already gone, and the majority of their remaining roster is under club control beyond 2018.
Jordy Mercer, however, is one guy they should make available.
If nothing else, he's a trade candidate on the basis that he's going to be a free agent at the end of the year. He also has some value as a solid defender who typically hits left-handers well (.804 OPS).
Moving Mercer would also free up shortstop for the remainder of the season. The Pirates could use that as an opportunity to give Kevin Newman and/or Cole Tucker some on-the-job training.
San Diego Padres: Trade Tyson Ross
The San Diego Padres are certain to get a ton of calls about lefty reliever Brad Hand, but the callers might come away empty-handed.
The Padres just signed Hand to a three-year extension in January. Given how many talented young players they already have, they may indeed return to contention before that deal is up.
In lieu of trading Hand, the best thing San Diego can do is capitalize on Tyson Ross' resurgent trade value.
Ross, who's under contract for just $1.75 million, missed a lot of time with injuries and pitched to an 8.12 ERA when he was healthy in 2016 and 2017. He's now back in good health and taking full advantage with a 3.67 ERA through seven starts.
The 31-year-old's injury history does dampen his value somewhat. But the way he's going, a trade for him would nonetheless be an opportunity to rent a mid-rotation type.
San Francisco Giants: Trade for Dan Straily
It hasn't been pretty (see their minus-12 run differential), but the San Francisco Giants are hanging in there (see their 19-17 record).
If they want to keep hanging in there, the least they can do is find help for a rotation that's been beset by injuries and poor performances. And due to their weak farm system and bloated payroll, it can't be anybody who's any kind of expensive.
Dan Straily might be the best they can do.
The right-hander has struggled in the two starts he's made since coming off the disabled list. But this doesn't necessarily signal that he's no longer the pitcher who logged a 4.01 ERA over 373 innings in 2016 and 2017.
Because he's a fly-ball pitcher, AT&T Park is one of few places that's a good fit for Straily's pitching style. As a bonus, he comes with two more seasons of club control.
Seattle Mariners: Trade for Tyson Ross
The Seattle Mariners are pretty good as is, and they'll be that much better if they improve their rotation.
James Paxton's last two starts were a 16-strikeout game and a no-hitter, so he's fine. The six other starters (including Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake and Marco Gonzales) the Mariners have used, however, have produced a 5.61 ERA.
So, a low-rent ace it will have to be. And few pitchers match that description like Ross.
He's definitely low-rent, and his approach would travel just fine to Seattle. He's a good strikeout pitcher (9.9 K/9) who's decent at getting ground balls. The latter talent would fit well with a Mariners team that doesn't suffer hits on grounders lightly.
St. Louis Cardinals: Trade for Kelvin Herrera
The St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen has a 3.53 ERA, which is good enough to crack the top 10 for all of MLB.
This is a mirage. The expected production (xwOBA) against Cardinals relievers places them among the worst in baseball. That could come back to knock the team out of first place in the National League Central if it doesn't make changes.
Cue a call to the Royals about Kelvin Herrera. He's the best reliever the Cardinals can trade for, and they have enough assets left in their farm system to make something work.
As things stand, the alternative is to continue to trust Bud Norris and Jordan Hicks to lock down high-leverage innings. The former isn't known for his consistency, and the latter has walked more batters than he's struck out despite his electric arm.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trade Chris Archer
The Tampa Bay Rays deserve credit for how strong they've come on since a disastrous start to the season. They're a respectable team now.
However, their 15-18 record is only good enough to be nine games back in the AL East. And they're still a team that's geared more to contend in the future than in the present. For that, they still have work to do.
That is why they should finally trade Chris Archer this summer.
The righty is mired in a three-year slump, so suffice it to say, his trade value isn't what it once was. But he's worth something by virtue of being a functional innings-eater, and he hasn't sunk far enough for everyone to disregard either his upside or his club-friendly contract.
In short, he's still a pitcher who could bring back a haul. The Rays should go get it.
Texas Rangers: Trade Elvis Andrus
The Texas Rangers were the AL's winningest team as recently as 2016. But, alas, a 14-24 season coming on the heels of a 78-84 campaign signals that it's time to rebuild.
There are few Rangers who shouldn't be on the table this summer, and that includes Elvis Andrus.
The veteran shortstop has been with the Rangers since 2009. And if he's being honest about not wanting to opt out of his contract, then he's prepared to stick around through at least 2022.
Nevertheless, a first step for any rebuilder is to offload long-term contracts. Provided that Andrus can make a strong recovery from a broken elbow, there may be no better time to offload his deal than this summer. His days as a capable two-way shortstop may be numbered after he turns 30 in August.
Finding a suitor for Andrus would be the hard part. But if the Rangers were to find one, their rebuild would be off to a good start.
Toronto Blue Jays: Trade for Tyson Ross
Of all the wild-card contenders in the American League right now, the Toronto Blue Jays might be the one with the most staying power.
But only if they fix their rotation.
J.A. Happ has been quite good, and Aaron Sanchez has been fine. After them have come Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia and Joe Biagini, who've combined for a 6.48 ERA.
In theory, the Blue Jays have a deep enough farm system to trade for whomever they want. But once you eliminate the untouchables (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette) and the injured (Nate Pearson), that's not the case anymore. With Josh Donaldson, Happ, Estrada and others due for free agency, the Blue Jays might not want to mortgage their future anyway.
Ross is the guy who can help them the most. He's the best of a thin class of rental starters, and his strikeouts and ground balls would allow for a decent margin for error in the AL East.
Washington Nationals: Trade for Zach Britton
The Washington Nationals haven't gotten as much as they expected out of their offense. On the bright side, fixing that should be as simple as waiting for Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton to get healthy.
Their bullpen is another matter. Sean Doolittle has been as advertised with a 1.72 ERA over 15 appearances. Everyone else has combined for a 4.93 ERA.
The Nationals were going through a similar problem with their bullpen last summer, which, at one point, prompted them to call the Orioles about Britton, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. They should try again this summer.
If Britton recovers well from his Achilles injury and gets back to being the unrelenting force he was between 2014 and 2016, then he would be an excellent setup man for Doolittle. If not, he could at least be good enough to serve as a reliable left-hander for a bullpen that lacks one.