MLB Trades Teams Should Be Considering ASAP
In an ordinary Major League Baseball season, early April would be a tad too soon for trade speculation. But in 2021, it feels like it's never too early to start considering trades teams might make.
There have already been two trades of note, with the New York Yankees acquiring Rougned Odor from the Texas Rangers and Atlanta landing Orlando Arcia from the Milwaukee Brewers. The former was a salary dump on Texas' part, while the latter was an upside play for Atlanta.
We have ideas for five trades that would similarly fit one of those two molds. But for the sake of making things a little more interesting, we've also theorized some possible trades that would move the needle a lot more.
Let's begin with the less interesting variety and go from there.
Michael Chavis to the Pittsburgh Pirates
Because he's likewise blocked from playing time at the major league level, perhaps the Boston Red Sox will do Michael Chavis the same sort of solid that Milwaukee did for Orlando Arcia.
Though he quickly made an impression after arriving as a well-regarded prospect in 2019, Chavis has hit just .230/.281/.380 with too many strikeouts over his last 109 games. Because he couldn't shake the strikeout bug even as he hit for power in spring training, it was no surprise when the Red Sox optioned him.
Even if Chavis is something of a reclamation project, he's only 25, still in his pre-arbitration years and not eligible for free agency until after 2025. As such, he might appeal more so to rebuilders than contenders.
For instance, the Pittsburgh Pirates need as much cheap, controllable young talent as they can get their hands on. And they just so happen to be run by former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, who drafted Chavis in 2014. An offer of low-level pitching could get something done.
Lewis Brinson to the Colorado Rockies
Meanwhile in Miami, Lewis Brinson has been relegated to a reserve role in deference to veteran center fielder Starling Marte.
Though Brinson, 26, doesn't exactly deserve better after posting an ugly minus-3.0 rWAR between 2018 and 2020, it isn't a good look for the Marlins that the formerly elite prospect is riding the pine. He was, after all, supposed to be the guy who justified the trade that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee in 2018.
The Marlins would be granting Brinson a needed change of scenery if they traded him. And given his age, pre-arbitration eligibility and club control through 2024, he'd be a good upside play for a rebuilding team that actually has playing time for him.
If they're inclined to throw their fans a bone after jettisoning Nolan Arenado, the Colorado Rockies should at least look into Brinson. His athleticism would play well in Coors Field's huge outfield, and the park itself might spark his offense. If they can get him for parts they wouldn't miss, they should.
Amed Rosario to the Cincinnati Reds
Elsewhere on the topic of former top prospects who are now out of everyday jobs, Amed Rosario arguably fits that bill even though he's started in two of Cleveland's five games so far.
This could change if Andres Gimenez opens the door for Rosario at shortstop by continuing to struggle offensively. But since Gimenez is younger and the better defender of the two, it's at least as likely that Cleveland will keep rolling with him while Rosario languishes in a utility role.
If Cleveland instead looks to trade the 25-year-old, it could be because it just doesn't want to pay the remainder of his $2.4 million salary. Or it could be because there's actual interest in him, perhaps even from a team in the same state.
The Cincinnati Reds' experiment with Eugenio Suarez at shortstop was a shaky idea to begin with, and it's not looking any better now. A deal for Rosario would at least give them a stable defender at the position, and it would deepen their lineup by pushing Mike Moustakas into a roving platoon role.
Scott Kingery to the San Francisco Giants
If there's such a thing as a trade that's both a change of scenery for a former top prospect and a salary dump, we might see it if the Philadelphia Phillies move Scott Kingery.
The Phillies signed the 26-year-old to a contract extension in 2018 before he had even debuted in the majors, and he actually had a solid season a year later. Yet he's been worth just 1.1 rWAR in three seasons, and he didn't make the club out of spring training this year.
There's obviously nothing stopping the Phillies from holding on to Kingery. But if Dave Dombrowski, the club's new president of baseball operations, sees him as an unwanted relic of the previous regime, he might look for takers for Kingery and the $18.8 million he's guaranteed through 2023.
If former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler puts in a good word for Kingery to club boss Farhan Zaidi, the San Francisco Giants might be game to deal. Kingery would work well as a super-utility guy on the Giants roster, and they could lower his prospect price tag by absorbing some of his remaining money.
Matt Carpenter to the Miami Marlins
Speaking of salary-dump candidates, what say we find a way to get Matt Carpenter off the St. Louis Cardinals?
By way of his greatly diminished production in 2019 and 2020, the 35-year-old probably wasn't looking at everyday playing time in 2021 even before the Cards traded for Nolan Arenado. With him and Paul Goldschmidt entrenched at the corners, Carpenter now has to hope for spot starts at second base.
Because Carpenter is making $18.5 million with a $2 million buyout due this winter, St. Louis will probably have to eat some money in order to move him. If it signals a willingness to do so, there might be interest from contenders in need of a left-handed bat.
With only Corey Dickerson and Jazz Chisholm batting from the left side on a daily basis, the Marlins are one such team. And because they have ample prospect depth, they could afford to deal with the Cardinals even if St. Louis were to up its demand by swallowing more and more of Carpenter's money.
Richard Rodriguez to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Let's begin our shift into more fun trade ideas by examining the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are very good save for one crucial red flag.
The reigning champs have been trusting Kenley Jansen to close games for years, but his hittability has been trending up and might now be an actual problem. The veteran cutter-baller has faced 16 batters so far in 2021 and struck out just one of them. In a related story, his velocity has taken another step down.
Though it will be some time before the relief market truly comes into focus, the Pirates have an obvious trade chip in Richard Rodriguez. Even if he has a 141 ERA+ since 2018 and club control through 2023, Pittsburgh frankly doesn't have much use for him during a rebuild.
As far as the Dodgers should be concerned, Rodriguez is exactly the kind of high-spin fastball god they have a fondness for. It's a good thing they have young talent to spare, as Rodriguez isn't going to come cheap if the Pirates do indeed trade him this year.
Joey Gallo to the Chicago White Sox
When the Chicago White Sox lost Eloy Jimenez for five-to-six months with a torn pectoral muscle, they subsequently promoted top prospect Andrew Vaughn in hopes he would pick up the slack.
Vaughn hasn't exactly blown the White Sox away with his first impression, which isn't entirely surprising given that he only has 55 minor league games under his belt. Chicago should thus be thinking about Plan B's, including potential plays on the trade market.
Joey Gallo, for instance. After struggling in 2020, the Texas Rangers slugger has come out of the gate hot by going 6-for-20 with six walks through six games. If he keeps it up, the Rangers could be willing to sell high on him with his free agency looming after 2022.
Beyond the Jimenez factor, Gallo is an intriguing fit for the White Sox because he would bring left-handed power to a lineup that mostly gets its power from the right side. And in the wake of the Lance Lynn trade, the two organizations should know each other well enough to expedite a possible deal.
Jorge Soler and Danny Duffy to the Toronto Blue Jays
Meanwhile in the American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays have already seen two potential areas of need open up on their roster.
One is at designated hitter, where Rowdy Tellez has yet to record a hit through 16 at-bats. Another is in their starting rotation, which frankly doesn't have a solid No. 2 behind staff ace Hyun Jin Ryu. For that matter, whether anyone else is even so good as a No. 3 is a fair question.
If and when the Blue Jays start scouring the trade market for answers, they might see a two-birds-with-one-stone solution in a deal with the Kansas City Royals. On their list of trade chips is slugger Jorge Soler and left-hander Danny Duffy, who are earning a combined $23.6 million with free agency looming.
Unless they eat some money, that kind of cost would limit what the Royals could ask for if the Blue Jays call about both players. They might nonetheless get away with demanding some MLB-ready talent, perhaps even including the aforementioned Tellez.
German Marquez to the Los Angeles Angels
If you were thinking that our idea for the Rockies to actually gain a piece of major league talent via the trade market is a pipe dream...well, fair enough.
It's far more likely that the Rockies will be trading away major league talent this summer, up to and possibly including ace right-hander German Marquez. Despite some early issues with his control this season, he still boasts a 118 ERA+ since 2017. He's also just 26 years old with a contract that runs through 2023.
Such things will allow the Rockies to command a massive haul for Marquez if they put him on the trade block, so any contenders that go after him had better A) mean business and B) have talent to spare.
The Los Angeles Angels could be one such suitor. Though their starting rotation is deep, it would look better with a proper co-ace for Dylan Bundy. If the Angels want to make Marquez that guy as they pursue a return to the playoffs, they could offer up Jo Adell or fellow young outfielder Brandon Marsh as compensation.
Trevor Story to the New York Yankees
Because he's only guaranteed $36.9 million through 2023, the Rockies could just as easily decide to keep German Marquez around this summer.
Trevor Story, on the other hand, is almost certainly a goner. Sure, the Rockies will presumably retain him long enough for him to wear their colors for the All-Star Game at Coors Field. But after that, the club's long-shot postseason odds and Story's looming free agency will point the way to a deal.
If Fernando Tatis Jr. ends up needing surgery on his injured left shoulder, the San Diego Padres will be a potential suitor for Story. Barring that possibility, it might be the New York Yankees who emerge as a favorite for the two-time All-Star shortstop.
Like in 2020, Gleyber Torres' erratic defense is raising concerns about his ability to stick at short. A trade for Story would not only relieve the Yankees of that problem but also add another impact hitter to their starting nine. For that, they might be willing to offer top prospect Deivi Garcia as part of a deeper package.