Christian Yelich to the Cleveland Indians
Christian Yelich, who’s Miami’s most valuable trade chip for these reasons: With a career .800 OPS and an average of 4.1 wins above replacement per year since 2014, Yelich is excellent. At just 26 years old, Yelich is still young. With a contract that will pay him a maximum of $58.25 million through 2022, Yelich is both controllable and cheap. Due to their needs for defensive and offensive stability in their outfield and their relatively restrained spending power, the Indians are an ideal fit for a player of this caliber. In top-ranked catcher Francisco Mejia, Cleveland has an excellent trade centerpiece to offer Miami. If the Marlins are happy with J.T. Realmuto behind the dish, the Indians could instead offer right-hander Triston McKenzie and add on with first baseman Bobby Bradley. Or perhaps some established major leaguers, such as Bradley Zimmer or Danny Salazar. Any combination of these players would be a huge price to pay, and such a trade would put the Indians in “all-in” mode. But after losing the World Series in 2016 and following a 102-win season with an early playoff exit in 2017, that’s the mode they should be in.
Marcell Ozuna to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Ozuna isn’t Stanton’s equal as a player, but he is nonetheless fresh off a 2017 season in which he realized his outstanding potential. He had a .924 OPS, mashed a career-high 37 homers and won a Gold Glove. Ozuna also doesn’t have a 10-year, $295 million commitment hanging over his head. He’s controlled for two more seasons, over which he might not even earn $30 million via arbitration. Compared to Stanton, he’s a better fit for a Dodgers organization that seems sincerely committed to avoiding any more exorbitant payrolls. While the downside for most teams would be a huge cost in terms of prospects, the Dodgers have a deep farm system and, following their loss in the World Series, incentive to use trades to enrich their major league roster. In sweet-swinging outfielder Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers have an ideal centerpiece for an Ozuna trade. The benefit for them, of course, would be patching their left field weakness with one of the best left fielders in the business.
Jose Abreu to the Boston Red Sox
The Yankees adding a power arm would only heighten their biggest rival’s need for a power bat. The Boston Red Sox won 93 games and a second straight AL East title in 2017, but they’ll be hard-pressed to repeat that if they don’t add a masher to a lineup that produced an AL-low 168 homers. Boston’s need could attract one of the top free agents, such as J.D. Martinez or Eric Hosmer. But since their payroll is already heavy, they need to consider reasonably priced options. Such as Carlos Santana on the free-agent market or, even better, Jose Abreu on the trade market. I already covered the prospect of the Red Sox acquiring Abreu from the Chicago White Sox in a full article, so I don’t have much to add to it here. He’s a good fit for Boston both in the sense that he’s an established slugger (124 homers since 2014) and a tough out. With roughly $40 million headed his way via arbitration over the next two years, Abreu also doesn’t have the same trade value as former White Sox teammates Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana. A deal for him ought to include just one top prospect. Fast-rising third baseman Michael Chavis is just the guy.
Gerrit Cole to the New York Yankees
Along with McCutchen, Cole is another Pittsburgh cornerstone who should be on the block. Were the Pirates to actively shop him, their first call should be to the New York Yankees. In a normal offseason, they’d fill their need for a starting pitcher by chucking stacks of cash at a top free agent. This offseason, they’re committed to getting under the luxury-tax threshold. That’s partly why the Yankees coveted Japanese two-way wunderkind Shohei Ohtani. So much for that, however. Shockingly, the Yankees didn’t even make the cut for his finalists. They should turn to Cole if they want to blow off some steam with a Plan B. He’s an experienced starter who contended for the National League Cy Young in 2015, and pairing him with Luis Severino would give the Yankees the two hardest-throwing qualified starters of 2017. Plus, he’s under club control through 2019. The acquisition cost wouldn’t be cheap, but that’s where the Yankees can afford pretty much anything. Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield and Domingo Acevedo are arms that could appeal to Pittsburgh. Should they trade McCutchen, they could just as easily be drawn to Clint Frazier, who may not be needed in New York.
Danny Duffy to the Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs must replenish a starting rotation that lost Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. Trouble is, they have neither unlimited payroll space nor a deep cache of prospects to use in trades. The latter reality makes them an awkward fit for top-shelf trade targets. Danny Duffy, on the other hand, is doable. The Kansas City Royals have the oft-injured yet talented lefty, who owns a 3.47 ERA since 2014, signed through 2021 for $60 million. But with a losing season in their wake and several stars floating on the free-agent waters, nobody’s off-limits as they approach a rebuild. Royals GM said: “If somebody blows your doors off on something, you always have to look at it. You always got to look at it”. The Cubs have young pitchers (e.g. Adbert Alzolay and Jose Albertos) who would fit well in a Royals system that lacks arms. The centerpiece of the deal, however, could be Kyle Schwarber. His designated hitter profile makes him an expendable asset for the Cubs and a fit for the Royals.
The Giants expect a decision from Giancarlo Stanton “by the end of the week.” Given that the entire process is being driven by Stanton’s decision on whether or not to waive his no-trade clause, that expectation is likely universal for all the teams in negotiations with the Marlins. Miami reportedly has the framework of trades in place with both San Francisco and the St. Louis Cardinals, though the Giants “continue to view” the Dodgers, not the Cardinals, as their biggest threat to land Stanton. There have been no reports about what the Dodgers would be willing to send to Miami, but given that Stanton is driving the bus here, and given that he’s a Los Angeles native who is reported to prefer going to the Dodgers, one cannot discount this chatter. If nothing else, it’d be in the Dodgers interests to appear to be in on Stanton if, for no other reason, than to get the division-rival Giants to give up more in order to obtain the 2017 MVP. The Winter Meetings begin on Monday. If this deal is done beforehand, it should break a logjam that has prevented much hot stove action from going down so far this offseason.
While the Yankees were widely considered the favorite for Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, New York’s exit from the sweepstakes may have the club reconsidering their options. The Yankees are showing interest in Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber, 24, is one of the most polarizing assets in the major leagues. He was drafted primarily as a catcher out of Indiana University in 2014, but poor athleticism has relegated Schwarber to left field for most of his big league career. After a strong rookie season in which Schwarber slashed .246/.355/.487, the former top-20 prospect (according to Baseball America) missed all of the 2016 regular season due to ACL and LCL tears, and has failed to regain his stride. While Schwarber excited fans worldwide with his .412/.500/.471 slash line in the 2016 World Series, the 20-plate-appearance sample size didn’t carry over into 2017. Schwarber struggled through the first half last spring, bottoming out with a demotion to AAA Iowa in late June. His second half was certainly stronger, but Schwarber’s final numbers for 2017 are lackluster: 486 PAs, .211/.315/.467 AVG/OBP/SLG, 30 HRs, 59 RBIs, 150 Ks. Scouts and fans alike have long persisted that Schwarber’s bulky physique played best in the American League, where the slugger could serve as a full-time designated hitter. The Yankees employed veteran Matt Holliday in the DH spot for most of 2017, but Holliday produced a below-average 95 OPS+ and struggled to get on-base consistently. That said, Schwarber’s 2017 OPS+ and OBP numbers are similar to those of Holliday’s, but the two outfielders are headed in opposite directions. As Holliday nears retirement, the Cubs (and, apparently, the Yankees) believe Schwarber can begin trending toward his lofty talent ceiling once more. The Cubs have been rumored as willing to trade big league assets to upgrade their pitching staff, and New York can afford to move from their plethora of major-league-ready arms. It’s unknown how either the Cubs or Yankees value Schwarber on the trade market, but he’s under team control through 2021 and certainly would not come cheap, despite his 2017 struggles. The Cubs most definitely don’t want to trade Schwarber at his lowest value, but there’s nobody truly blocking Schwarber from the everyday DH role in New York.