5 Blockbuster Trade Ideas to Shift MLB's Balance of Power in 2020
The offseason is winding down, and spring training is nearly here. But it's not too late for the hot stove to ignite.
Here's a look at five blockbuster trades that could shift baseball's balance of power in 2020 and for years to come.
The Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado, the Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts and the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant could all be on the move, among others.
These scenarios are based on the latest rumors and a dollop of informed speculation. Not every proposed swap will come to fruition, but a few might.
If they do, the MLB landscape will be irrevocably altered.
Matthew Boyd from the Tigers to the Angels
The Los Angeles Angels signed third baseman Anthony Rendon to join reigning American League MVP Mike Trout and create a formidable middle-of-the-lineup twosome. But they haven't done enough to bolster a starting rotation that finished last in the American League with a 5.64 ERA.
There aren't any game-changing hurlers left in free agency, but the Halos could swing a trade for Detroit Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd.
Boyd posted a 4.56 ERA in 2019, which doesn't jump off the stat sheet. But he averaged a robust 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, is entering his age-29 season and is controllable through 2022.
The Angels have rebuilt their once-fallow farm system and should hold on to outfielder and top prospect Jo Adell at all costs. But a package built around MiLB outfielder Brandon Marsh, plus a couple of ancillary pieces, could be enough to entice the rebuilding Tigers.
Adding Boyd to the mix would increase Los Angeles' chances of challenging the Houston Astros in the AL West and help get Trout back onto the postseason stage.
Francisco Lindor from the Indians to the Dodgers
As Bleacher Report's Zachary D. Rymer pointed out in November amid simmering rumors, Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is the piece who could finally push the Los Angeles Dodgers over the championship hump.
A four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Lindor is controllable through 2021.
The Dodgers might be unwilling to part with infielder and top prospect Gavin Lux, who the Indians would surely covet. But what about a swap for Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, whose $7.6 million arbitration-negotiated salary for 2020 pales in comparison to the $17.5 million Cleveland agreed to pay Lindor?
The Dodgers could also include a highly regarded prospect such as catcher Keibert Ruiz, who is blocked at the big league level by 2019 breakout backstop Will Smith.
The Indians would save money and gain a pair of impact players. And the Dodgers would move closer to hoisting their first Commissioner's Trophy since 1988.
Kris Bryant from the Cubs to the Nationals
The Washington Nationals lost Anthony Rendon but re-signed Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera, signed Starlin Castro and Eric Thames and have touted prospect Carter Kieboom waiting in the wings.
The defending champs could go all-in and acquire Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who has been the subject of rampant trade chatter all winter.
There are impediments. Bryant has a pending service-time grievance, the outcome of which will determine if he's a free agent after 2020 or 2021. Obviously, that impacts his trade value.
Bryant is also something of an enigma. He won the 2016 National League MVP Award after being named NL Rookie of the Year in 2015. He was an All-Star in 2019.
But he's also battled injuries and occasional inconsistency and is owed $18.6 million this season after avoiding arbitration with the Cubs.
The Nats would probably have to part with a top prospect such as Kieboom, along with several high-upside secondary pieces, to pique Chicago's interest. When you're defending a title, though, you've got to pull out all the stops.
Mookie Betts from the Red Sox to the Padres
The Boston Red Sox and outfielder Mookie Betts recently agreed to a record-breaking $27 million deal to avoid arbitration.
Betts' name has spun through the rumor mill this offseason, as he's set to hit free agency after the 2020 campaign. Meanwhile, Boston is reportedly looking to stay under the luxury-tax threshold.
The 2018 AL MVP has been tied to multiple clubs, including the San Diego Padres.
The Padres were sniffing around Betts as recently as December, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. They've got a deep farm system and could pair him with third baseman Manny Machado and emerging star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to create a lethal lineup core.
It might cost them outfielder and No. 2 prospect (per MLB.com) Taylor Trammell and center fielder Manuel Margot plus more, but it would also elevate their odds of challenging the Dodgers in the NL West.
Nolan Arenado from the Rockies to the Cardinals
The Colorado Rockies don't need to move third baseman Nolan Arenado. The five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner is the face of the franchise and is signed through 2026.
Yet he has an opt-out after 2021 and could fetch the Rox a bushel of talent.
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported that the St. Louis Cardinals have engaged the Rockies on Arenado and added the following:
"Arenado's permission would be required for any deal to move forward, as he has a full no-trade clause. He is said to have deep respect for the Cardinals' winning tradition. Arenado's friendship with [Cardinals first baseman Paul] Goldschmidt is another key factor; the two won a gold medal together on Team USA at the 2017 World Baseball Classic."
The Cards may have to part with right-hander Dakota Hudson and could also include veteran infielder Matt Carpenter, who is owed $39 million through 2021, including a club-option buyout. Per Morosi, Colorado has "admired Carpenter for several years."
This feels like a match and would make St. Louis the favorite to stay atop the NL Central.
All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference.