The Blockbuster MLB Trades We Want to See This Offseason
Now that the World Series is over, it's time to move on to the whirlwind of rumors and player movement known as the Major League Baseball offseason.
We're welcoming its arrival with a wish list that covers eight blockbuster trades we'd love to see. These involve eight stars who are realistically available and the eight destinations that would fit them best.
Going in no particular order, let's start with filling a glaring need in the Rocky Mountain region.
Jose Abreu to the Colorado Rockies
As weird as it sounds, the Colorado Rockies desperately need hitting to go with their pitching.
Their offense featured only three (Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon) above-average regulars in 2018. That was apparent away from Coors Field, as they mustered a .665 OPS and 4.1 runs per game on the road.
The Rockies have a particularly strong need for offense at first base. Since an intradivision trade for Paul Goldschmidt is probably out of the question, a deal for Jose Abreu would be the next-best thing.
Though the Chicago White Sox have been loath to part with the veteran slugger, there's writing on the wall that they can't avoid it. They're still rebuilding, so it makes sense to cash in Abreu before he reaches free agency after 2019.
In Colorado, Abreu could help the Rockies make a push in the National League West race. In addition to an .869 OPS and 146 home runs in five major league seasons, he has gap power that's ideal for Coors Field.
To get him, the Rockies could center a deal around one of their top prospects (e.g., RHP Peter Lambert or INF Garrett Hampson) or even Jon Gray, who needs a change of scenery.
Danny Duffy to the San Diego Padres
Elsewhere in the NL West, the San Diego Padres will be hunting for a No. 1 starter.
The Padres were on the prowl for an ace ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, despite their last-place standing. They didn't get one, but they still have the prospects and the need to pursue an offseason blockbuster.
But the targets San Diego had in its sights over the summer (Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer) either probably or definitely aren't still available. Indeed, the list of controllable aces to be plucked from rebuilding teams is generally short.
Danny Duffy is one realistic possibility, however.
The left-hander didn't have a great 2018, but he finished (3.89 ERA over 18 starts) stronger than he started. It's easy to imagine he would benefit from a move to the National League and from throwing to Austin Hedges, a far greater receiver than Salvador Perez.
The Kansas City Royals may not be in a rush to deal Duffy. But if they can swap the final three years of his $65 million contract for one or more top pieces from MLB's best farm system, they must do so.
Whit Merrifield to the Washington Nationals
In addition to Duffy, the Royals must also be willing to field offers for Whit Merrifield.
That will be harder to do, given he's an All-Star-caliber player who's controlled through 2022. Merrifield put up 3.8 wins above replacement in 2017 and improved to 5.5 in 2018. All thanks to his solid bat (.796 OPS), plus speed (79 steals) and strong defense at second base and elsewhere.
Trouble is, Merrifield is a late bloomer who'll turn 30 in January. He may be closer to the end of his prime than the beginning of it. There's no guarantee he'll still be a star when the Royals are ready to contend again.
Meanwhile, there's a perfect fit for Merrifield: the Washington Nationals.
They ranked dead-last in WAR from second basemen in 2018. Adding Merrifield would fix that. As a bonus, he and Trea Turner would form a terrific tandem atop the Washington lineup.
The Nats might interest the Royals in shortstop prospect Carter Kieboom. Afterward, they could turn their attention to re-signing Bryce Harper and/or dipping into a deep class of free-agent catchers.
Should they check all those boxes, they'll be a National League East heavyweight once again.
Nicholas Castellanos to the Philadelphia Phillies
Alternatively, they could prioritize Machado and look to use the trade market to satisfy their other needs.
Starting with a deal for Nicholas Castellanos.
The 26-year-old has never been Harper's equivalent, but he's not lacking in upside. Castellanos has racked up an .831 OPS and 193 extra-base hits since 2016. It's easy to imagine him doing better if he swapped Comerica Park for a home yard more friendly to his all-fields power.
Citizens Bank Park would be perfect. In fact, many of the non-homer fly balls and line drives Castellanos hit at home in 2018 would have cleared the fence in Philadelphia.
Castellanos is only controlled through 2019, so the Detroit Tigers would be wise to flip him for one of Philly's top prospects (e.g., RHP Adonis Medina) if they can. For their part, the Phillies could hope Castellanos is so happy hitting at Citizens Bank Park that he'd rush to sign on for the long haul.
Joey Gallo to the Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are tasked with improving an offense that scored only 4.2 runs per game in 2018, so why stop at Machado and Castellanos?
There are other upgrades they can seek, after all. Third base is one of them. Maikel Franco is a serviceable regular but no more than that. The Phillies can do better than him defensively and offensively.
How? By rekindling their interest in Joey Gallo.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Phillies were one of the most aggressive pursuers of Gallo during the summer trading season. Nothing materialized, but the Texas Rangers must keep an open mind. Though they control Gallo through 2022, they also have a rebuild to accelerate.
As evidenced by his 13.4 walk percentage and 81 homers (many of them moonshots) since 2017, Gallo would bring patience and power to the Phillies. He can play third base, first base and all three outfield spots.
The Phillies would probably back off if the Rangers demanded elite right-hander Sixto Sanchez. But if there's a deal to be based around 2018 No. 3 pick Alec Bohm instead, the Phillies should do it.
Zack Greinke to the Atlanta Braves
With the Nationals and Phillies poised to load up this offseason, the Atlanta Braves must also be active if they want to retain their grip on the NL East.
They have a lot of money to spend. Per MLB.com's Mark Bowman, the Braves have enough flexibility to add as much as $60 million to their payroll.
It would be worth their while to commit roughly half of that to Zack Greinke.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Arizona Diamondbacks would "love" to get out from under the latter half of the righty's six-year, $206.5 million contract. The Braves are one of very few teams that can oblige them.
They might also be the best possible fit for Greinke. He works optimally when he's throwing to a good receiver and has an elite defense behind him. Tyler Flowers would check the first box. The NL's most efficient defense would check the second. With the help of these things, Greinke would make a great pitching staff even better.
Atlanta may only need to take on Greinke's remaining contract in a trade. But if the D-backs must get something back, the Braves have plenty of MLB-ready pitchers (e.g., Luiz Gohara and Kolby Allard) to offer.
Paul Goldschmidt to the New York Yankees
There was another nugget embedded in Bob Nightengale's report: The Diamondbacks are also willing to listen to offers for Paul Goldschmidt.
His team-friendly contract is up after 2019, and it's uncertain whether the D-backs have enough firepower to make the most of his final season. The reality that Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke are appearing in trade rumors suggests Arizona isn't afraid of rebuilding.
Where Goldschmidt is concerned, one complication is that not many contenders need a first baseman. But as ESPN's Buster Olney suggested, there may be no better fit than the New York Yankees.
It's on them to close the gap between themselves and the Boston Red Sox, who just won their fourth World Series title since 2004. Upgrading at first base would be an ideal way to do so, as it's a rare position where the Yankees don't have a clear answer.
In racking up 36.3 WAR, Goldschmidt has been better than any other first baseman since 2013. He also has opposite-field power that would play at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees aren't short on MLB-ready pitchers to offer the Diamondbacks. Even top lefty Justus Sheffield might be expendable if the prize is a year of an MVP-caliber talent like Goldschmidt.
J.T. Realmuto to the Houston Astros
The Yankees aren't the only American League superpower that has a score to settle with the Red Sox. After losing to Boston in the American League Championship Series, the Houston Astros are in the same boat.
Catcher will be a chief area of concern for Houston. Martin Maldonado and Evan Gattis will be free agents. Assuming it rejects his $15 million club option, Brian McCann will be, too.
The Astros will have options on the free-agent market, including Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos or, if they prefer, a reunion with Maldonado.
Alternatively, they could go for the big fish on the trade market: J.T. Realmuto.
The Miami Marlins are acting like they want to extend their star backstop, who's gotten better and better each year. But they'll only do that if they're willing to offer market value and if he trusts them to build a winner. Neither is a certainty, so Miami may choose to cash in his final two years of club control.
The Astros were linked to Realmuto in February, but they apparently didn't want to part with top prospect Kyle Tucker. They might change their tune following Tucker's disappointing MLB debut. If not, there's always Yordan Alvarez or J.B. Bukauskas.