Back by popular demand (mainly Wesley complaining) I’m writing again! This time it’s about hypothetical blockbuster MLB Trades this summer. The grass is turning yellow (ish) and temperatures are too damn hot already, so it seems only fitting that we’re starting to get an idea of who wants to contend and who wants to build for the future.
*Disclaimer* This article isn’t going to be like most “potential trade” articles where a columnist will take a list of good players on bad teams and list off the 12 teams with winning records as possible teams interested.
“Jay Bruce is having a good year. The Reds are struggling and looking to add young talent. Teams of possible interest included (but not limited to): Cubs, Cardinals, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners and maybe even the Yankees.”
Followed up immediately with:
“Danny Valencia is also having a good year. The A’s are building for the future. Teams of possible interest included (but not limited to): Cubs, Cardinals, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners and maybe even the Yankees.”
No, that’s boring. Like really boring. And that’s not how I like to do things. I like to dream big. I like to take the biggest boat to catch the biggest fish. Woah, did someone say Trout?
*Raises hand* I did.
Trade #1: The Hollywood Blockbuster
Los Angeles Angels : OF Mike Trout, 1B Albert Pujols
Los Angeles Dodgers : SP Jose Urias (#4), SP Jose De Leon (#14), OF Alex Verdugo (#72), OF Austin Barnes (#156) *(#) denotes prospects ranking*
Tyler, you’re insane. Why should the Angels trade the best player in the game? Normally I’m against the idea of trading off the unquestionably best positional player in a generation when he’s 24 years old. Not insane. But this isn’t one of those normal situations. Remember when they won all of those free agent bidding wars a couple of years ago to get Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson? Well the aftermath of those contracts is now rearing its’ ugly head. The Angels currently sit 12 games out of first place. Bear in mind that Mike Trout is well on his way to another ho-hum, 35HR/130 RBI/10 WAR season. The Angels missed their window for a championship. They also have a tiny issue. Ok, maybe a giant issue. They have the worst farm system in baseball. Dead. Last. And possibly the worst farm system in the past 15 years. Their best prospect is a middling catcher that wouldn’t crack most other teams top-10’s list. Don’t believe me? <–Click, press Ctrl+F, and now type in “Angels.” Woof.
So it’s not like they are in position to trade off talent for immediate help in the near future. Oh yeah, and it’s also not like they can just wait for that crop of talent to come up either. Did I mention that they don’t have any talent down there? Not having a farm system in baseball spells doom in this game. It’s like looking at the ace of spades alongside a bunch of off-suited number cards. Sure you can show off the ace of spades, but you’ll still lose to a pair of twos.
Not to pun too hard here but if you’re looking for aces, there is only one farm system in the game you can turn to… Unfortunately for them, it’s the cross-town rival Dodgers. Much like going to the mob boss to take out a loan, the Angels have hit rock bottom. And as you can tell, they need help. It just so happens the Dodgers have the best farm system in the game. They also have a complete disregard for making financially-sound decisions. So what’s a few 140 extra million to Albert Pujols for the price of the best positional player (sans steroids) since Ted Williams? Exactly.
As for the prospect haul, which has to be extreme if you are going to move Mike Trout, Jose Urias is already up and pitching with the Major League team. He has the stuff to someday start an All-Star game. His minor league teammate Jose De Leon, without further injury setback, should see his way onto the roster by season’s end. They are the best duo of young arms in any system right now. They would provide both immediate and long-term improvement to a completely beleaguered Angels’ staff. The bats, Verdugo and Barnes, aren’t as can’t miss as the other two but would help to supplement the loss of Trout right away. Barnes has already played at the Major League level and could fill in immediately. While Verdugo has moved up the minor league ranks faster than anyone anticipated and would very well find himself on the roster by season’s end. This has Herschel Walker to the Vikings potential return here.
The biggest thing with trades is to remember that you don’t have to screw over your partner in order to win a trade. The idea is to benefit your team in the best way you can. This trade does that. Now would it be tough for the brand new GM Billy Eppler to come in and be the guy that traded Trout? Sure. And would it sting Angels’ fans for a while to watch Trout in the Dodger Blue? Of course. But it also stings watching him play with the current AAA roster they are fielding. 10-WAR individual seasons (which are elite level MVP seasons) on 70-win teams are a terrible waste. Think Zack Greinke. Now trade Trout. Maximize your return. Win in the long-run. Meanwhile, Dodgers, go win a World Series so we have highlights other than just gimpy Kirk Gibson pumping his fist as he rounds first base back in ’88.
Trade #2: Red Beer
Milwuakee Brewers : C Jonathan Lucroy & OF Ryan Braun
Boston Red Sox : OF Andrew Benintendi (#16), SP Anderson Espinoza (#34), 1B Sam Travis (#101)
People that really follow the depths of the game understand the magnitude that this trade would have. It would be determined a blockbuster in any year other than the one Trout gets traded. (I say that like it’s going to happen because it needs to happen) Jonathan Lucroy is arguably the best catcher in the National League (.307/10 HR/31 RBI) and has a very team-generous contract with club control through next year. Ryan Braun burst on the scene back in 2007 winning NL Rookie of the Year. He then won the MVP in 2011. Followed up swiftly by an ever-so-brilliant move of putting blame on everyone else following a positive test for PED’s. That list included the guy that took his sample:
“There were a lot of things we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.” -Ryan Braun
Braun has since served his suspension and is quite quietly returned back to an elite level (.307/11 HR/36 RBI). He has a fairly hefty contract through 2020 with a mutual option in ’21.
And that’s where Boston comes in. Big market teams like to do big market things. Such as trading off prospects for big name/contract players to make their immediate teams better. I’ve written before about the offense of the Boston Red Sox. They broke Spring Training at a torrid pace. ’27 Yankees-like. But the reason that we still remember the ’27 Yankees, 89 years removed, is that they did it for the whole season. Had Jose Lima continued his ’03 April and May throughout the season he would’ve won the AL Cy Young.
Think about that for a second. You’re welcome Roy Halladay.
So as the offense has cooled down for the ‘sawks,’ holes have began to show in their lineup. Mainly at catcher and left field. Their starting catchers this year are 55 for 262 (.209) with 1 HR. Obviously left field isn’t as bad, but they have been struggling since the calendar turned to June. Still, with the American League wide open at this point, this trade would immediately make them favorites to represent in the World series with a lineup that would actually rival historic levels. A lineup that would certainly compete with the Cubs in the most curse-laden World Series of all time. Can you imagine the media hype?
Sam Travis is 23 and although his power hasn’t fully come around for the position he plays at, he’s a natural born hitter. Acquiring the former 2nd rounder could free up Milwaukee to move current power hitting first baseman, Chris Carter also at the deadline and really stack the franchise for the future.
These other 2 guys are elite prospects. Benintendi is a guy I watched back in college when he played at Arkansas. He’s an athletic outfielder with an extremely smooth way about how he plays the game. The kid can hit. And at 21 he’s nearing the age where it’s time to give him full-time major league at bats. This means that he would potentially fill in for Braun immediately.
Espinoza is the most intriguing part of this deal as far as the prospects go. He’s an 18 year-old with an unbelievable arm and is already outperforming guys 5 years older than him at the same level. Probably still two years out from his big league debut, but he possesses an arsenal to be the ace the Brewers have searched for since the departure of CC Sabathia.
This is a deal that could make Boston great this year and has the potential to make Milwaukee a real contender in the coming seasons within that gauntlet of a division.
Trade #3: The Chicago Fire
Chicago Cubs : IF Javier Baez, Oscar de la Cruz (#162)
New York Yankees : RP Aroldis Chapman
The thing about the Yankees trading Chapman is that it wouldn’t necessarily mean they’ve thrown in the towel on the season. They still have Andrew Miller (whose 2.04 ERA somehow won won him AL reliever of the Year over Wade Davis’ 0.94) and could slot easily right back into the closer role with the departure of Chapman. So getting a major league ready guy in return makes a lot of sense here. That’s why Baez, who is currently part of an over crowded infield in Chicago, seems likely to be the guy dealt. Baez has all the ability in the world. With some maturity towards a more disciplined approached at the plate he would be an extremely dangerous offensive player in Yankee Stadium.
Oscar de la Cruz is the lottery ticket of the deal. The Dominican former-shortstop-turned-pitcher has the pure athleticism and arm strength to thrive on the mound. But with only 2 years of Dominican Summer ball and a season at single-a under his belt he’s still incredibly raw.
The Cubs are on pace for 114 wins, why mess with that? First of all, the trades in this post are definitely reason to. Teams will make big moves and get a lot better. If the Red Sox have a lineup that starts 7 all-stars you’ll feel better about Aroldis Chapman (throwing 99-102 mph from the left side) coming into a 4-3 game in the 9th than Hector Rodon. I would also like to take this time to formally trademark the nickname Chicago Fire for him if this trade were to go down. Thank you in advance for being a witness.
Also, when you have everything in place like the Cubs do you have to maximize the opportunity. Everyone looked at the Royals as having through ’18 locked up as far as the Central is concerned. But then injuries happen (Gordon, Moustakas, Vargas, Medlin) players don’t perform at a similar level to their career prior (Morales, Young, Infante) and even stuff like suspensions (Mondesi). Take full advantage of what you have in front of you. Which is exactly why, even though we had the best record in the American League at the time, Dayton went out and got Cueto and Zobrist. They proved pivotal. The crazy part about this trade is that apparently The Northside has actually shown interest in both Chapman AND Miller which would just be overbearing if it happened. Although a part of me kinda just wants to see the superpower they would become. Dare I say, GOAT? (sorry Cubs’ fans)
Trade #4: Extra CarGo
Colorado Rockies : OF Carlos Gonzalez
Cleveland Indians : SP Danny Salazar
Of the 5 trades in here, this is the least likely to hit. Could Carlos Gonzalez end up in Cleveland? Definitely. Could Salazar end up in Colorado? Maybe. But these trades never go down straight up like this. A handful of prospects would accompany each of these guys in order for the GM’s feel some form of protection from the trade in the short-run by having long-term guys involved as well.
This trade definitely has some traction to it though. Gonzalez is an elite offensive outfielder that hasn’t just bolstered his numbers hitting at altitude. He’s a legitimate force no matter the elevation or ballpark. (16 road HR’s in 76 games last year) And he is under club control through 2017 and can play an above-average defense at either corner outfield position.
That last part is key for the Indians as they can’t seem to get their quiet superstar left fielder, Michael Brantley, healthy enough to take the field. At this point they have to start acting without him in mind this season. In that case they need a bat in the middle of the order, in a real bad way. They currently have 22 year-old Fransisco Lindor hitting 3 for them when he would serve way better in a lead-off role with Jason Kipnis still hitting 2. Gonzalez has the, as the scouts say, “presence” to force the opposing teams to think about him even when he’s not hitting. This all seems like a no-brainer, so what’s the hold-up?
The issue here is the willingness for the Indians to move a proven, young, flame-throwing, starting pitcher. Now there are reasons to being extremely stingy with a coveted resource like Salazar. The thing is that they have young arms that are major league ready and unable to come up from the minors because of the already crowded major league rotation. This is a lot like The Cubs situation with positional players. Mike Clevinger is a Top 30 prospect but he’s now 25 years old. There’s only so long you can hold your pieces before the value of them is gone. We aren’t talking antiques here, we’re talking young arms with a finite number of pitches in them. This is the prime example of the old, “shit or get off the pot” saying.
Why don’t The Rockies take Clevinger and a couple other prospects then? I honestly think Colorado is tired of the cycle of trading off bats for pitching prospects. It’s frustrating trying to develop arms to throw at that stadium only to see them flame out miserably. They want a proven guy, and by trading Carlos Gonzalez, they deserve a proven guy. They also have their entire young core of positional talent up right now and their pre-arbitration clocks are ticking too. That’s where Salazar comes in. A power 4-seam fastball that wouldn’t be effected at altitude like a finesse guy trying to sink and cut everything would be. He’s the perfect arm to succeed out there. He’s also 26 and could front-end a rotation that is showing signs of improvement with the likes of Jon Gray and Tyler Chatwood.
Like I said, highly unlikely to happen because the Indians like to sit on their arms. These two teams do have history of big deals though. Ubaldo Jimenez was sent to Cleveland just a few years back the year after his 3rd place finish in the NL Cy Young vote.
Trade #5: Kansas City Athletics (Circa 2016)
Kansas City Royals : SP Kyle Zimmer (#123), OF Seuly Matias (NR), SP Garrett Davila
Oakland Athletics : SP Rich Hill, OF Josh Reddick
This is one of the only deals I could see myself getting behind for the Royals to pull the trigger on this year. I realize the Central is wide open, but if you’ve read any part of this post prior (instead of just scrolling to Royals’ related content) you know how much value I place on a team’s farm system. And currently, Kansas City’s is still recovering from the major deals done last year. That being said, both of these guys are ‘rent-a-players’ (contract up at season’s end), thus shouldn’t be nearly as expensive as the trades above, and they would fill two glaring holes immediately.
Rich Hill is a guy that pitched in the majors for a decade before washing up. He stuck with the game though and went to Independent ball in order to keep the dream alive. While down there he reinvented himself as a pitcher and has the third-best ERA in baseball since last July. The tall lefty has a 2.25 ERA this year and if he’s able to recover from his current groin (you know, because he’s old) injury then he should be a highly sought after guy down the stretch.
“ESPN’s Jim Bowden lists the Marlins, Red Sox, Tigers, Royals, Dodgers, Astros and Orioles as the best fits for Hill.” -Another one of those generically boring MLB trade-related articles.
Josh Reddick and his elite defensive abilities would fit the mold of this current group of Royals perfectly. He plays right field too, which would help a solidify the revolving door of players that have tried to fill that hole for the past 3 years. Reddick is also hitting .322 and would definitely help lengthen a lineup currently hindered by the struggling, Space Jam-esque- ability-drained, Kendrys Morales.
As far as the prospects go, you aren’t giving up all that much. Zimmer is the big name in the group, but I’m beginning to have my doubts that he’ll ever be healthy enough to make an impact at the major league level. He’s thrown 4.2 innings this year and is currently on the shelf for yet another something or other. I wouldn’t be heart broken to move on from him.
Matias has a lightning quick bat and the accompanying power to go with it. The problem is whether or not that will translate to the professional game. He lacks discipline at the plate and is still trying to develop into an adequate defensive player. I feel like I’m describing another team’s player here. Which is why I think I might be. There is no player that has the same value across the board for every team. The tools in which Matias possesses are more highly sought after by other franchises and I think it makes sense for the Royals to cash in on that.
As for Davila, he’s a 19 year old lefty with a decent fastball. Considering his age there’s a lot of developing that needs to take place. He’s the kind of guy that the A’s love to get into their system and work with. One out of ten work out for them and, knowing the A’s, will then be traded away in 6 years for more of those guys. It’s kind of their “thing.”
Nonetheless, I love the idea of trading with Oakland. Billy Beane seems to have bought into the idea of his own greatness. He now tries too hard to make outlandish deals in order to be the smartest guy in the room, and of late he’s missed on those deals.. badly. It’s to a point where I think the best version of Billy Beane is actually the Brad Pitt version. In Dayton I Trust.
So here’s the part where I’d love to hear feedback here. All of these trades came from my head, (in most part because the major outlets are really lazy when it comes to this stuff) and so I wanted to do it right for anyone out there that actually reads my stuff. But because it comes from my head it makes it harder to see all the fallacies in my hypothetical trades. So that’s where I ask you guys to stem debate. Where am I awry?