1 Ideal Move for Each MLB Team After the Lockout

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterFebruary 7, 2022

1 Ideal Move for Each MLB Team After the Lockout

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    Who should sign Carlos Correa?
    Who should sign Carlos Correa?David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Major League Baseball's lockout is ongoing, and will seemingly remain as such for a while still. So, teams won't soon be putting the finishing touches on the 2021-22 offseason with trades and signings. 

    Oh, well. Guess we'll have to just imagine our own ending.

    To do so, we've proposed ideal moves for all 30 MLB teams. We tried to stay reasonably within the boundaries of reality, which required being practical with teams' budgets, tradeable assets and contention timelines. But when appropriate, we also let bolder ideas creep through.

    We'll go division by division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.

American League East

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    Matt Chapman
    Matt ChapmanElaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Baltimore Orioles: Sign C Stephen Vogt

    Though the Orioles could cash in Trey Mancini or even John Means or Cedric Mullins for prospects, they're at a point in their rebuild where they don't have to. They should focus on adding something they lack: a catcher on a major league deal. Of the available options, the 37-year-old Vogt would be a good mentor and platoon partner for top prospect Adley Rutschman.

         

    Boston Red Sox: Sign RF Seiya Suzuki

    When the Red Sox swapped Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr., they upgraded their defense but created needs for a right fielder and a right-handed slugger. They could turn to Kris Bryant or Nick Castellanos to fill both, but they've been connected to Suzuki. He's starred on both sides of the ball in Japan, and he should fit within Boston's seemingly limited budget.

          

    New York Yankees: Sign SS Carlos Correa

    Is signing Correa a particularly likely move for the Yankees? The answer, judging from what scouts told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, is no. And yet, there's no ignoring the Yankees' massive hole at shortstop and how well the All-Star and Gold Glover would fill it. They would have to stretch their budget to sign him, but come on, these are the Yankees. 

          

    Tampa Bay Rays: Acquire 1B Luken Baker from St. Louis Cardinals

    Per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are going to be in the market for a right-handed-hitting first baseman. The twist is that said hitter won't necessarily be a "proven big leaguer." That expands their options, perhaps up to Baker. The St. Louis Cardinals prospect showed well with 26 homers in the high minors last year, yet he's potentially expendable while Paul Goldschmidt mans the cold corner.

               

    Toronto Blue Jays: Acquire 3B Matt Chapman from Oakland Athletics

    Though the Blue Jays don't have many holes, there's a big one at third base. There's been some speculation that they could fill it with a trade for Jose Ramirez, but good luck with that. Chapman would seem to be much more available, and Toronto has both established major leaguers (i.e., Cavan Biggio) and prospects (i.e., Gabriel Moreno) to entice the Oakland Athletics.

American League Central

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    Kyle Schwarber
    Kyle SchwarberDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Chicago White Sox: Acquire INF/OF Jeff McNeil from New York Mets

    It would be nice if the White Sox re-signed Carlos Rodon, but what they really need is a second baseman. McNeil, who hit .319 between 2018 and 2020, is a better option than any remaining free agent. There also doesn't seem to be much question about his availability. And since the New York Mets need a starter, the White Sox might dangle Dallas Keuchel along with cash and a prospect or two.

         

    Cleveland Guardians: Sign LF Kyle Schwarber

    If we were being completely realistic, the pick here would be Michael Conforto over Schwarber. The former might be had on a one-year deal within the Guardians' price range, while the latter is likely to command a more lucrative multiyear deal. Schwarber's bat is undeniably more appealing, however, and the Ohio native might just be attainable if the Guardians aren't committed to having baseball's lowest payroll.

         

    Detroit Tigers: Sign RHP Collin McHugh

    Deals with Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez definitely made the Tigers better, but you can still look at their pitching staff and see it as being a man short. Fresh off a successful stint as an opener and multi-inning reliever for the Rays, McHugh would be a shrewd signing. It also might not hurt the Tigers' chances that the righty and manager A.J. Hinch previously worked together in Houston.

         

    Kansas City Royals: Sign OF Joc Pederson

    The Royals don't seem to be all-in on contending just yet, but it's to their credit that they haven't been all-out on remaining competitive even as they've rebuilt over the last few seasons. It therefore seems fair to expect them to add a hitter who can play right field and also serve as a DH. Pederson fits the bill and, crucially, potentially the team's budget as well.

         

    Minnesota Twins: Acquire RHP Frankie Montas from Oakland Athletics

    The Twins picked up a lottery ticket when they signed Dylan Bundy, but he alone isn't likely to lift their starting rotation out of last year's depths. Their next turn should be to the trade market, where they line up well with the A's in a potential deal for Montas. Going back to Oakland could be a package headlined by Max Kepler, who's arguably superfluous in Minnesota.

American League West

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    Clayton Kershaw
    Clayton KershawEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Houston Astros: Re-Sign SS Carlos Correa

    Correa threw everyone, the Astros included, for a loop when he suddenly hired Scott Boras as his new agent in January. Yet if Boras' praise for the organization is any indication, he wants to keep the door back to Houston open. Whether Correa is in the club's preferred price range is still an open question, but he might not be entirely out of it—and there's obviously still room for him at shortstop.

          

    Los Angeles Angels: Sign SS Trevor Story

    Though the Angels also have an opening at shortstop, they likely don't have the payroll space for Correa. For that matter, it's not a given that they can afford Trevor Story. But on account of his down 2021 season and questions about the well-being of his elbow, there's a chance he'll have to pull a Marcus Semien and accept a one-year deal. If so, that'll be the Angels' chance to strike.

         

    Oakland Athletics: Trade 1B Matt Olson to New York Yankees

    Of Oakland's many trade chips, Olson seems like the most likely goner. And while he has no shortage of suitors, the Yankees are the best potential partner for the A's on paper. To match Olson's left-handed power with their short right field porch, they could be willing to surrender one of their two well regarded shortstop prospects: Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza.

         

    Seattle Mariners: Sign 3B/OF Kris Bryant

    The Mariners were one of the more active teams before the lockout, and they're not done yet. Corey Brock of The Athletic says they have "room to grow the payroll," and that their priorities could include a couple of bats. Bryant, who's been linked to Seattle in the past, could be one of those. In addition to his power and versatile glove, the Mariners could just plain use the MVP and World Series champion's experience.

         

    Texas Rangers: Sign LHP Clayton Kershaw

    This isn't an original idea, but it's worth recycling because it's both sensible and plausible. Kershaw grew up not far from where the Rangers call home in Arlington, and he knows manager Chris Woodward and shortstop Corey Seager from their time together with the Los Angeles Dodgers. For what it's worth, the latter has already talked to Kershaw about re-teaming in Texas.

National League East

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    Freddie Freeman
    Freddie FreemanAshley Landis/Associated Press

    Atlanta: Re-Sign 1B Freddie Freeman

    Freeman is a five-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger and a Gold Glover in addition to an MVP and a World Series champion. He's also just plain one of the best players Atlanta has ever had. So, yes, the club should absolutely re-sign him. Even if it means signing him to the six-year deal that he reportedly wants, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. 

         

    Miami Marlins: Acquire CF/2B Ketel Marte from Arizona Diamondbacks

    Between Avisail Garcia and Jesus Sanchez, the Marlins have the corner outfield spots covered. Yet there's a weakness between the two in center field, and that's where the free-agent market can't help. But there are options on the trade market, and Marte is someone who the Marlins are interested in, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. To land him, they could offer the Arizona Diamondbacks one of their exciting young hurlers.

         

    New York Mets: Sign LHP Yusei Kikuchi

    OK, so, our speculative (and admittedly overenthusiastic) idea of the Mets as a possibility for Kershaw was quickly shot down by SNY's Andy Martino. It's nonetheless a good bet that the Mets will try to acquire someone to round out their rotation depth after the lockout. To this end, Kikuchi was previously on their radar, and he definitely fits the profile of the back-end starter they need.

        

    Philadelphia Phillies: Sign 3B/OF Kris Bryant

    The Phillies have holes in center field and left field, and they should also be in the market for upgrades for the left side of their infield. After playing at least 100 innings at third, left and center in 2021, Bryant is the only player on the open market who can fill any one of those needs on a given day. So, go figure that the Phillies were eyeing him before the lockout.

         

    Washington Nationals: Acquire RHP Jake Odorizzi from Houston Astros

    Darragh McDonald of MLB Trade Rumors deserves a tip of the ol' hat for writing that the Nationals are an ideal home for unwanted salaries. He's right about that, and in pointing out Odorizzi as a possibility. Rather than pay him $8 million to serve as a long man in 2022, the Astros might be fine shipping him and a prospect to Washington, where he would get a chance to start.

National League Central

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    Sonny Gray
    Sonny GrayDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Chicago Cubs: Sign SS Carlos Correa

    The Cubs have a hole at shortstop and plenty of money to spend, yet reports on their interest in Correa have varied throughout the winter. And after a 91-loss season in 2021, whether the timing is right for the Cubs to make such a huge splash is frankly debatable. But given the general winnability of the NL Central, we'll come down on the side of "Go for it, man."

         

    Cincinnati Reds: Trade RHP Sonny Gray to Los Angeles Dodgers

    The Reds started bleeding talent soon after general manager Nick Krall announced the team's intent to cut payroll. So much so that they might as well just keep cutting, ideally by swapping out Gray and his $10.2 million salary. The Dodgers are known to be an interested party, and their trade chips include a huge potential upside play in the person of Gavin Lux.

         

    Milwaukee Brewers: Acquire 1B Matt Olson from Oakland Athletics

    The Brewers already have a left-handed-hitting slugger at first base. But Rowdy Tellez is better suited to be an everyday DH, and he should get that chance in 2022. As for how the Crew could push him there, a trade for Olson is more practical than a deal with Freeman. A package with several of their best prospects (i.e., LHP Aaron Ashby and SS Brice Turang) could get it done.

          

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Sign RHP Garrett Richards

    Though plenty of teams would love to trade for Bryan Reynolds, the Pirates are rightfully intent on keeping him. Instead, they should take on more reclamation projects in the same vein as Jose Quintana and Roberto Perez. Few available hurlers match that description like Richards, though the Pirates would face a tall order in revitalizing his stuff without any, ahem, adhesive substances.

         

    St. Louis Cardinals: Sign RHP Ryan Tepera

    The Cardinals want a high-leverage reliever, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But not necessarily a Kenley Jansen. More like a Joe Kelly or a Tepera. Given that he boasts a 3.07 ERA and an 11.5 strikeouts-per-nine rate over the last two seasons, the latter is frankly one of the more underrated players left on the open market.

National League West

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    Eric Hosmer
    Eric HosmerD. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign RHP Wily Peralta

    Though it wouldn't be surprising if the D-backs traded Marte, there's probably a better chance of him staying put. Since the team would be going at least partway in on contending in 2022 if it chooses that route, it could also look to further upgrade its thin pitching staff. Peralta is known to be of interest to Arizona, where he could conceivably work as a swingman.

          

    Colorado Rockies: Sign LF Kyle Schwarber

    Based on preliminary projections for 2022, the Rockies might be the worst team in baseball right now. Yet it's to the organization's credit that it's at least kicked the tires on some star free agents. Schwarber is one of them, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Adding his power and patience would greatly upgrade a lineup that's short on both.

         

    Los Angeles Dodgers: Sign 1B Freddie Freeman

    There are a few moves the Dodgers will have to make on the other side of the lockout, including adding at least one and preferably two starting pitchers. But signing Freeman is indeed the best move they can make. Not just because the players want it, but because they surely need him as a left-handed thumper to fill Corey Seager's shoes and as insurance for injured first baseman Max Muncy.

         

    San Diego Padres: Trade 1B Eric Hosmer to Atlanta

    To be sure, the Padres should be looking to add an impact hitter. But with their payroll seemingly already maxed out, they might first have to shed some salary. A trade of Hosmer is the best way to do that in theory. The problem for now is that there aren't many obvious fits for him, but there will be at least one if Atlanta can't retain Freeman or trade for Olson instead.

         

    San Francisco Giants: Sign RF Seiya Suzuki

    On paper, Kris Bryant and Nick Castellanos fit the Giants' need for a right-handed slugger who can play the outfield. Per ESPN's Kiley McDaniel, however, the team doesn't want to do any $100 million contracts. That stance nixes those two for San Francisco, but probably not Suzuki. According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, the Giants are even a favorite for him.

         

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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