Predicting 1 Trade for Each MLB Team 1 Month from Winter Meetings

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterNovember 9, 2018

Predicting 1 Trade for Each MLB Team 1 Month from Winter Meetings

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    With Major League Baseball's annual winter meetings only a month away, it shouldn't be long before there are all sorts of transactions to analyze.

    But before the December 9-13 event happens in Las Vegas, it's speculating season.

    The focus is on potential trades for all 30 MLB teams. These are based partly on dispatches from the rumor mill. But for the most part, they're speculative renderings of how clubs might fill needs or move expendable assets.

    Because not all franchises have the same goals, these are split into trades "of" certain players and trades "for" others. There are also (at least) two sides to every trade, so some deals will be analyzed from each trading partner's perspective. Otherwise, the focus will be on the best player in the swap.

    We'll go in alphabetical order by city.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Of David Peralta

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    Jon Heyman of Fancred is the latest to report that the Arizona Diamondbacks are willing to listen on Zack Greinke and Paul Goldschmidt, but his comes with a caveat: Neither is likely to go anywhere.

    Greinke is a great pitcher, but not great enough to make his $206.5 million contract look like a bargain. Goldschmidt may be a superstar, but he's just a year from free agency. He's only a fit for win-now teams, and few of them need a first baseman. 

    As such, Arizona's best chance of shedding salary and getting a haul in a trade is probably encased in dealing David Peralta and/or Robbie Ray.

    Peralta holds a tad more appeal after he hit 30 home runs and had an .868 OPS in 2018. But since he's 31 and projected to earn $7.7 million in his penultimate year before free agency, he's more of an expendable asset than a building block for the D-backs.

    Mind you, this doesn't mean Ray won't also be dealt. More on that later.

Atlanta Braves: For Corey Kluber

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    According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the chances the Atlanta Braves will trade for Corey Kluber are somewhere between 0 and 5 percent.

    Still, the Braves shouldn't be ruled out. They have a National League East title to defend, and enough prospect depth and payroll room to do whatever they want on the winter market. 

    That includes satisfying whatever asking price the Cleveland Indians demand for their two-time Cy Young Award winner.

    A team would have to take on his remaining contract, which a trade would effectively turn into a $52.5 million investment through 2020. Because they're not rebuilding, the Indians would also need to get back players they can use right away. At the least, that would include an outfielder and a pitcher to replace Kluber.

    The Braves might start with Julio Teheran and Adam Duvall, and continue with prospects. Kyle Wright, MLB.com's No. 29 prospect, could headline the prospect package.

Baltimore Orioles: Of Mychal Givens

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    They still have a long way to go in rebuilding their farm system, but the Baltimore Orioles don't have many shiny trade chips left.

    Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner and Mark Trumbo are mere salary-dump candidates. Dylan Bundy is more appealing, but the Orioles would be selling low on him after his ugly 2018.

    Instead, righty Mychal Givens just edges utility man Jonathan Villar as the Orioles' best trade chip. The reliever is 28 and controlled through 2021, and he offers instant death to right-handed batters.

    The trick will be finding a team that's willing to bypass a strong free-agent class to take Givens. The ideal trading partner is one that needs to upgrade its bullpen but must do so without investing tens of millions in one or more free-agent relievers.

    To throw one idea out there, the Indians could work. They liked Givens in July, and his projected $2 million salary shouldn't be too steep even for them.

Boston Red Sox: For Kirby Yates

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    Fresh off their fourth World Series championship since 2004, the Boston Red Sox will focus on their bullpen this winter.

    They'll specifically look at the back end, which will likely lose Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly to free agency. Even if it doesn't involve bringing either of them back, the Red Sox will probably use free agency to replace them.

    If the Red Sox turn to the trade market, San Diego Padres righty Kirby Yates could be back on their radar.

    Boston was interested in Yates in July, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. At the time, he was in the middle of a breakout that culminated in a 2.14 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 17 walks in 63 innings.

    Because he's controlled through 2020, the Padres don't need to trade Yates. But since he's 31 years old and his value may not go any higher, they should say yes if the Red Sox call with a good offer.

Chicago Cubs: For Craig Stammen

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    With Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, Pedro Strop and Brandon Kintzler all coming back via options, the 2019 Chicago Cubs are slated to look a lot like the 2018 Chicago Cubs.

    The Cubs only need to address their bullpen. General manager Jed Hoyer told reporters that it would be "ideal" to add a left-hander but also that the team is "more focused on good relievers."

    If the Cubs endeavor to pluck one from the trade market, they might call the Padres about their best non-Yates shutdown reliever: Craig Stammen.

    The 34-year-old is coming off a career year in which he put up a 2.73 ERA, 88 strikeouts and 17 walks in 79 innings. He's owed a reasonable $2.25 million in 2019.

    The Cubs don't have much left in their farm system, but there should be a piece in there (e.g., Dillon Maples) that's intriguing enough for the Padres.

Chicago White Sox: Of Welington Castillo

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    The Chicago White Sox may add some big names this winter, but not from the trade market. They're in no position to swap prospects for veterans.

    It's also unlikely that the White Sox will cash in Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia or Nate Jones, as each has a chance to appreciate in value if the club holds on to them for 2019. 

    Welington Castillo might be a different story.

    By way of his 80-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug violation and disappointing offensive numbers, Castillo flopped in the first year of his $15 million deal. Come 2019, the catcher's $7.25 million salary is projected to be the largest on Chicago's books.

    Because the White Sox can just as easily have Omar Narvaez start, they may be more than willing to move Castillo. A few candidates include the Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers.

Cincinnati Reds: For Sonny Gray

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    Though the New York Yankees are buying this winter, they've made no secret of their desire to trade Sonny Gray.

    "We are going to move him if we get the right deal because I don't think it is going to work out in the Bronx," general manager Brian Cashman told Sherman

    There are plenty of fits for Gray, but the Cincinnati Reds might have moved to the top of the list when they hired pitching coach Derek Johnson away from the Brewers.

    Gray pitched under Johnson at Vanderbilt during his college years, and the two remain close. Johnson may thus be the best hope of getting Gray to find his missing All-Star ability. If so, the Reds would gain a rotation anchor that could turn them into a contender or, at worst, become summer trade bait.

    A Gray trade would be an upside play for an upside play. In this case, the Yankees could take an interest in one of Cincinnati's former pitching prospects: Robert Stephenson, Matt Wisler, Cody Reed or Brandon Finnegan.

Cleveland Indians: Of Corey Kluber

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    And now for why the Indians could trade Kluber.

    According to Roster Resource, the Indians are projected to spend more money in 2019 than they did in 2018. That would be fine if they didn't have any needs, but they have major ones. They might indeed have to subtract before they can make meaningful additions.

    Beyond that, there might not be a better time to cash in on Kluber's trade value.

    Though he's been the AL's best pitcher since 2014, cracks are forming in the 32-year-old's game. His velocity dipped in 2018. It's no coincidence that his overall contact rate and hard-hit rate took turns for the worse.

    If the Indians hold on to Kluber only to watch his cracks widen, they'll kick themselves for not trading him while the trading was good. And given the dearth of ace pitchers on this winter's market, the trading is good right now.

Colorado Rockies: For Randal Grichuk

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    The Colorado Rockies finished second in the National League in runs in 2018, but it was no secret that their offense was fatally flawed. 

    General manager Jeff Bridich told reporters that the club is planning accordingly: "We'll keep an open mind on everything, but we'll be a little bit more focused on our offense this offseason as compared to last season."

    With Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra afloat on the free-agent waters, the Rockies ought to be in the market for at least one outfielder. Ideally, that'd be a slugger who could also hold his own with the glove amid Coors Field's gargantuan dimensions.

    Randal Grichuk is right up their alley.

    He got off to a slow start in 2018, but rebounded to finish with an .803 OPS and 25 home runs, plus strong metrics in right field. Rather than risk another deep slump from him, the Toronto Blue Jays should deal Grichuk and his two remaining years of club control.

Detroit Tigers: Of Nicholas Castellanos

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    In light of the injuries and ineffectiveness that befell Michael Fulmer in 2018, the Detroit Tigers may regret not trading him last winter.

    But even if Fulmer is off the table until he rebuilds his value, the Tigers still have pieces to offer prospective buyers. Chief among them are slugger Nicholas Castellanos and relievers Shane Greene and Alex Wilson.

    Castellanos should be the most movable of the three, but his situation is complicated. The value of his bat is weighed down by his defense, which has been awful at both third base and in right field. Unless the right offer comes along, the Tigers also have incentive to let him go to free agency next winter.

    And yet, plenty of teams need a good bat in right field, and some of them have the means to minimize Castellanos' defensive impact. 

    The Angels, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, in particular, could view Castellanos as a solution.   

Houston Astros: For J.T. Realmuto

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    In many ways, the 2018 Houston Astros were better than the 2017 team that captured the franchise's first World Series title.

    But it was all for naught, as they won 103 games only to get punched in the gut by the Red Sox in the playoffs. If they want revenge, their first priority should be a catcher's spot that's likely lost Martin Maldonado, Brian McCann and Evan Gattis to free agency.

    The best possible upgrade is a trade for Miami Marlins All-Star J.T. Realmuto, and it should surprise nobody when the Astros go ahead with it.

    The Astros tried to trade for Realmuto last winter, but they were apparently unwilling to surrender top prospect Kyle Tucker. Since then, Realmuto has emerged as baseball's best catcher, while Tucker made it to the majors but hit a hard wall.

    Houston may thus be more amenable to a Tucker-for-Realmuto swap this time. If not, the club has plenty more prospects to offer Miami.

Kansas City Royals: Of Ian Kennedy

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    The Kansas City Royals are rebuilding, but GM Dayton Moore would have everyone know they're not tanking.

    "I think when you create a mindset that we're rebuilding, you somehow build in or make an excuse that it's OK to lose baseball games. It's not," he told reporters in October.

    This would indicate that controllable stars Danny Duffy and Whit Merrifield are sticking around. If that's the case, Kansas City's trade activity may be limited to salary dumps and/or bad-contract swaps.

    So, we propose Ian Kennedy will be the most notable Royal traded this winter. 

    He has $33 million coming his way through 2020, so moving him won't be straightforward. But if the Royals eat, say, half of that, they might convince a team to take him as a veteran innings-eater. After all, he should be good for 30 starts if his oblique problems are behind him.

Los Angeles Angels: For Eric Thames

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    The Angels are tasked with catching up to the Astros without an excess of money or prospects.

    Given how many needs they have, it's likely they'll commit what cash they do have to upgrading their pitching staff via free agency. Otherwise, team owner Arte Moreno expressed a desire for "a left-handed bat with some power" to platoon with Albert Pujols at first base.

    For that, the Angels could sign Matt Adams, Lucas Duda or Logan Morrison. A more opportunistic play, however, would be to call the Brewers about Eric Thames.

    Thames was a sensation for three years in Korea, and he initially enjoyed a triumphant return to MLB early in 2017. But his star has faded, and he was a man without a clear role by the end of 2018.

    The Brewers may like the idea of freeing up Thames' $6 million salary for 2019 to spend on other needs. For their part, the Angels would be buying low on a masher of right-handed pitching.

Los Angeles Dodgers: For Shane Greene

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    Now that Clayton Kershaw is back in the fold, the biggest thing the Los Angeles Dodgers need to do this winter is find a catcher.

    They may turn to Realmuto for that. But if the Astros beat them to the punch, the Dodgers may simply re-up Yasmani Grandal. His awful postseason track record aside, he's a reliable hitter who's done good work with their pitchers.

    In any case, it's not a given the Dodgers will fill their biggest hole via the trade market. They may only need it to find smaller pieces, such as a reliable setup man.

    Shane Greene is a candidate.

    The Dodgers scouted the Tigers righty ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. And while Greene finished with an ugly 5.12 ERA, his home run rate (1.7 per nine innings) was his only scary peripheral. Dodger Stadium alone could fix it.

Miami Marlins: Of J.T. Realmuto

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    The Marlins don't have to trade Realmuto. He's under their control through 2020, and they've expressed interest in extending his contract beyond then.

    However, that interest isn't mutual. Agent Jeff Berry said on MLB Network Radio that Realmuto has told the Marlins "he's not going to sign an extension in Miami."

    It's better that Realmuto is telling them now. His trade value is at an all-time high, and a lot of contenders need to find a catcher this winter. The Marlins could not have asked for a better opportunity to flip him for young talent.

    If doing so involves a deal with Houston, Tucker may indeed be the headliner. If the Marlins prefer to get an established major league star, Sherman suggested a deal with the Yankees that would involve a straight-up Realmuto-for-Gary Sanchez swap.

    In any event, the Marlins are likely to trade Realmuto, and no other deal they make this winter will be as big.

Milwaukee Brewers: For Jonathan Villar

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    The Milwaukee Brewers are set to return most members from a 2018 team that came one win away from the World Series. So, GM David Stearns can be forgiven for not wanting much.

    "From a specific standpoint, a positional standpoint at the major league level, we have the vast majority of our team returning," Stearns told reporters in October. "So, I don't know that I would pinpoint a particular area or two that we see that absolutely must be addressed."

    One area where things are awkward, however, is the middle of the infield. Orlando Arcia had an inconsistent 2018, to put it mildly. Jonathan Schoop was largely invisible after he headed over from Baltimore in July. So, some insurance is a good idea.

    Thus, what if the Brewers brought back Villar?

    He was a good player for them in 2016, and he looked the part again after they sent him to Baltimore in July. If he were to return to Milwaukee, he and Hernan Perez would be a super-utility duo.

Minnesota Twins: For Dee Gordon

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    By looking to cut costs, the Indians are sending the Minnesota Twins an open invitation to make a move in the American League Central. Luckily for them, the Twins have few guaranteed dollars on their 2019 books and none for 2020 and beyond.

    Still, it would be more like the Twins to be opportunistic rather than aggressive. Instead of seeking guys such as Harper or Manny Machado, they're more likely to go for neglected free agents and buy-low trade chips.

    Dee Gordon is an example of the latter, and he'd fit well on the Twins.

    According to Heyman, Gordon is one of many Seattle Mariners who are "up for grabs." Given how far he's fallen since consecutive All-Star appearances in 2014 and 2015, they may have to eat some of the $28.1 million he's owed through 2020 just to generate interest.

    That could be Minnesota's cue to pounce. Gordon would be an upside play at second base at best and, at worst, insurance for Byron Buxton in center field.

New York Mets: For Juan Nicasio

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    Agent-turned-New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen announced his arrival with a big promise: "We will win now; we will win in the future."

    The "win now" part is complicated for a couple of reasons. One is the Mets are fresh off a 77-win season. Another is they have big needs to fill (catcher, especially) and not a lot of financial flexibility.

    The Mets have some bad contracts they could swap, however. Juan Lagares has one of them. He's due to make $9 million in 2019, which is a tad much for a fourth outfielder.

    One solution would be to try to interest the Mariners in straight-up trade for Juan Nicasio, who's set to earn $9.25 million in 2019.

    With a deal like that, the Mets would hope that Nicasio's excellent peripherals (e.g., his 10.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio) said more about his 2018 season than his 6.00 ERA. The Mariners could transform Lagares into a big trade chip by turning him loose in center field.

New York Yankees: For James Paxton

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    Even after the New York Yankees re-signed CC Sabathia, Heyman reports they're casting a wide net for pitchers. Their target list includes some big names: Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, James Paxton, Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ.

    Kluber is the best of the bunch, and it would indeed be in the Yankees' interest to trade for him. But it's a long shot, if for no other reason than this: The Indians would have to be out of their minds to deal their best pitcher to a rival.

    A Paxton swap, on the other hand, is doable and arguably just as enticing. 

    Because he's only two years from free agency and has never pitched more than 160.1 innings in a season, the Mariners lefty should cost less to acquire than Kluber. His upside, meanwhile, is higher. Paxton is coming off a year highlighted by a no-hitter and a rate of 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

    Even if it costs them top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, the Yankees can and should make an effort for Paxton. As a bonus, they'd still have plenty of money left for their inevitable signing of Machado.

Oakland Athletics: For Luis Perdomo

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    The Oakland A's are looking to buy after their surprise 97-win season, but nobody should expect their payroll to swell.

    "We've got a little more payroll [next] year than in the past," GM David Forst told reporters, "but I don't think we're going to shock anyone with huge deals."

    The A's don't have much choice but to spend on starting pitchers. But even with that need, they'll probably do their usual thing of hunting for misfit toys.

    Such as Luis Perdomo.

    He was an innings-eater for San Diego in 2016 and 2017, but not a good one. So it went in 2018. He put up a 7.05 ERA in 12 appearances, running his career ERA to 5.40. Now he's on the outside looking in at San Diego's (terrible) rotation.

    And yet, he's 25, controlled through 2022 and has a track record as a ground-ball artist. The A's are the type to value the first two things. The third makes him a fit for their stellar infield defense.

Philadelphia Phillies: For David Peralta

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    According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the consensus within MLB is the Phillies will win the Harper sweepstakes. But as great as Harper may be, he alone wouldn't fix an outfield that finished last in WAR in 2018. 

    On the chance that the Phillies' preferred solution is to add both the best outfielder on the free-agent market and the best outfielder on the trade market, Peralta could join Harper in Philly.

    Beyond being a good hitter in general, Peralta is a destroyer of right-handed pitching. His .946 OPS opposite righty pitchers in 2018 was sixth-best among all batters with at least 400 such plate appearances.

    That ought to be music to the ears of the Phillies, who struggled mightily against righties in 2018.

    Rather than prospects, the Phillies might entice the D-backs with a trade centered on Odubel Herrera. His star has faded, but his age (26) and team-friendly contract would make him an interesting reclamation project.    

Pittsburgh Pirates: For Miguel Rojas

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates have re-signed Jung Ho Kang, who will be in the mix at third base.

    Now all they need is a shortstop. Rookie Kevin Newman is slated to man the position in 2019, but GM Neal Huntington wants to "leave the door open to look for a veteran option at shortstop."

    That could mean re-signing Jordy Mercer or one of the other shortstops (e.g., Jose Iglesias or Adeiny Hechavarria) in the free-agent bargain bin. But if the Pirates prefer the trade market, Miguel Rojas could catch their eye.

    He's served the Marlins as a utility infielder since 2015, but not far over the horizon are his 30th birthday (February 24) and free agency (after 2020). Trading him now would also save the Marlins a projected $2.6 million.

    Alas, Rojas isn't much of a hitter. But on the Pirates, he could be either a quality defensive shortstop or a cheaper version of free-agent Josh Harrison.

San Diego Padres: For Jose Urena

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    The Padres were in the market for a tried-and-true ace as recently as July. The apparent idea was to pluck from their overflowing bucket of prospects and boost their rebuild.

    Still, it doesn't sound like the Padres are about to cross the line between "bold" and "stupid." As GM A.J. Preller told reporters in September, he's not out to "short-circuit" the club's rebuild.

    If the Padres do trade for a controllable starter, it may only be for a young upside play rather than a legit No. 1. To this end, Jose Urena is a possibility.

    The Marlins won't rule out trading the 27-year-old righty, who has a 4.45 career ERA, if they get a good package, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. That could be related to how he's projected for $3.6 million in his first year of arbitration.

    The Padres can make a good offer and then hope Urena's electric three-pitch mix leads to great things in his final three years of club control.

San Francisco Giants: For Kevin Pillar

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    The San Francisco Giants have a new president of baseball operations, and Farhan Zaidi has plenty of money with which to lift the team out of the hole it's fallen into.

    But rather than splurging on Harper or Machado—whose power would be wasted at AT&T Park—the Giants may settle for investing in pitching (e.g., Corbin) and scouring the trade market for position players.

    Their top priority for the latter would have to be outfielders. Ideally, they'd get a center fielder who could either platoon with or simply play instead of Steven Duggar.

    A call to the Blue Jays about Kevin Pillar could be in order. As a 29-year-old who's due to make $5.3 million in his second-to-last year before free agency, he's an obvious cost for the Blue Jays to cut. 

    For their part, the Giants could buy low on Pillar and hope he at least lives up to his defensive reputation in San Francisco. Because center field defense has been a problem for years, it would be huge if he did.

Seattle Mariners: Of James Paxton

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    Though the Mariners could hold a fire sale, they'll reportedly show restraint. Per Heyman, Mitch Haniger, Edwin Diaz and Marco Gonzales aren't going anywhere.

    Even still, that leaves Paxton, Gordon, Jean Segura, Kyle Seager and maybe even Robinson Cano as realistic trade chips.

    Segura is the best player of the bunch, but his contract complicates his trade value. It guarantees him $60.4 million through 2022, when he'll be 32 years old. The market may not be filled with teams that are willing to take on all that money and offer the Mariners Segura's weight in prospects. 

    If so, Paxton is Seattle's best hope for a big return on the winter trade market. Starting with a projected $9 million payday in 2019, he might pull in only $20 million in his final two years before free agency. Despite his durability issues, that's not too much to pay for his ace upside.

    If it isn't the Yankees who go all-out for Paxton, some other team will.

St. Louis Cardinals: For Nicholas Castellanos

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    The St. Louis Cardinals are perfect for Castellanos.

    Following a year in which they amassed only 462 extra-base hits, they need a slugger. Castellanos has an .831 OPS since 2016 and as many extra-base hits (146) since 2017 as Goldschmidt and Alex Bregman.

    The Cardinals could also live with Castellanos' defense in right field. He'd play alongside Harrison Bader. According to Statcast's outs above average metric, he and Ender Inciarte were the best outfielders in MLB last year.

    Alternatively, Castellanos could fulfill the Cardinals' desire (per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) for a corner infield upgrade. He came up as a third baseman, and it's been speculated that he could play first.

    In any event, the last time the Cardinals took a chance on a trade for a player's walk year turned out well. Jason Heyward was energized into becoming their best player in 2015.

Tampa Bay Rays: For Jose Martinez

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    The Tampa Bay Rays took care of two big needs with one stone in their deal with Seattle for catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia. It's possible they're done trading.

    But if nobody minds a little spitballing, there might be a sequence of events that leads them to Jose Martinez.

    He'd be expendable if the Cardinals bring in Castellanos rather than hope for Martinez to develop the power to justify his defensive shortcomings. If so, they'd have to market him as a low-risk platoon hitter.

    The Rays will be on the lookout for one of those if they non-tender C.J. Cron. That's a distinct possibility, given that they must think hard about spending a projected $5.2 million on a guy who's ticketed for a platoon role against left-handed pitching in 2019.

    If all these things unfold, the Rays could be the team to take Martinez, who's not yet arbitration-eligible, off St. Louis' hands.

Texas Rangers: For Andrew Cashner

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    The Texas Rangers should arguably be in the middle of a top-to-bottom rebuild. If they were, the likes of Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar would be available.

    However, GM Jon Daniels told reporters in October: "I don't believe in the word 'tanking' or that sort of thing. That's not in our mindset. There are a lot of ways we can get better."

    If the Rangers won't blow it up, their top priority must be to add depth to their pitiful starting rotation. If their trade for Drew Smyly is any indication, their preferred means of doing so may involve taking on salaries that other teams don't want.

    That could steer them to a reunion with Andrew Cashner.

    Following the righty's 5.29 ERA in 2018, the Orioles might be willing to eat some of his $9.5 million salary for 2019 to be rid of him. Given that he put up a rock-solid 3.40 ERA for them in 2017, the Rangers might be all too glad to welcome him back.

Toronto Blue Jays: Of Randal Grichuk

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    This is as much about which players the Blue Jays won't trade this winter.

    There must be clubs that are hoping Toronto will make Marcus Stroman and/or Aaron Sanchez available. Both are young right-handers with tremendous upside, and neither is due for free agency until after 2020. Likewise, some teams might apply these same sentiments to Ken Giles.

    The trouble is, the Blue Jays would be selling low on any of the three.

    Stroman and Sanchez were afflicted by injuries and ineffectiveness in 2018. Giles ended up in Toronto after he fell out of favor in Houston. He didn't recoup any real value down the stretch.

    The Blue Jays are more likely to shop a wide range of position players, including Grichuk, Pillar, Justin Smoak and Russell Martin. Of the bunch, the first two have the right combination of appeal and affordability to generate interest.

Washington Nationals: For Robbie Ray

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    If the Nationals do indeed lose Harper to the Phillies, a proper response would be to swipe Philly's preferred pitching target from under its nose.

    According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies are high on Ray. But the Nationals had him first, and ownership reportedly didn't want to lose him in the 2013 trade for Doug Fister.

    Whereas the Phillies mainly need bats, the Nats will need an impact starter even if they lose Harper. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are as good as they come, but there's nothing but question marks after them.

    Ray is coming off a rough 2018, but it's not as bad as it looks. The 2017 All-Star finished with a 2.65 ERA over his last 11 starts, in which his fastball velocity and strikeout rate rebounded nicely.

    Rather than risk another dip in Ray's value, the D-backs may be willing to cash in his final two years of club control for, say, Carter Kieboom or Luis Garcia.

              

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Arbitration salary projections courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.