MLB Trade Ideas Based on the Latest News, Rumors and Speculation
The July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline began with a bang and ended with an explosion.
That is the only way to sum up the excitement that started with the Oakland A’s acquiring Jon Lester and culminated with the trade that sent David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Of course, that wasn’t the last trade of the day, but it was the biggest one as the action drew to a close.
Moving forward, clubs will look to improve their rosters by facilitating an August waiver trade. It is a complex dance that can produce blockbusters and duds.
For an explanation of the process, see this post by Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter. For the sake of brevity, though, we will keep it simple.
Here are three MLB trade scenarios based on actual need and published rumors through the end of Monday, August 4. As a standard note, the following proposals are nothing more than postulation.
The point here is to build a trade based on someone else's written or spoken word. They are balanced deals that are fair for each team, though, and take into consideration each franchise's strengths and weaknesses.
Atlanta Braves Acquire Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds
Atlanta Braves Get: SP Mat Latos
Cincinnati Reds Get: OF Jason Heyward
On its own, the mention that the Reds were looking for a “big return” for Latos was rather inauspicious. Then Buster Olney chimed in (subscription required) and wrote that not only is general manager Walt Jocketty open to discussing the starting pitcher, but that “it might make sense for the [Atlanta] Braves to place a claim, given that Ervin Santana will likely depart as a free agent after this season.”
Now Latos’ name was also mentioned by The Providence Journal's Brian Macpherson as an option for the Boston Red Sox next season, but we’ll go with a waiver deal to the Braves as Olney had mentioned.
Any deal for Latos, who is scheduled to hit free agency after next season, will hinge on improving manager Bryan Price’s offense. As such, a deal for right fielder Jason Heyward will do the trick.
Heyward is a mercurial player with a ton of upside. For his career, the left-handed hitting right fielder has a .260/.352/.432 slash line with 82 home runs, 276 RBI and 116 doubles. He has his moments when he has a hard time in the batter's box, but all told, he is a fine offensive threat.
Now he is dealing with a sore back at the moment, and how he responds will be an obvious key to this deal. He returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing four games, so it doesn’t look like the injury will be a lingering one.
To be sure, Heyward’s loss would hurt, but seeing as how the rotation needs another arm this season and will likely be at least one starter short next year, sacrificing a guy like Heyward is an avenue general manager Frank Wren should pursue.
Another thing to consider here is that there are a few outfielders who are likely to be placed on waivers that Wren can try to trade for, including Marlon Byrd, Drew Stubbs and Josh Willingham, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Stubbs, in particular, would be a fine fit on the roster. He has speed, power and isn't eligible for free agency until after next season.
And for those of you thinking that the Reds would be able to get a better deal for Latos this offseason, you could be wrong. Stark cited a MLB executive in a separate tweet who thinks that with guys like Jon Lester, James Shields and Max Scherzer hitting free agency, dealing an ace for a big return isn’t going to be easy. It's a valid point.
Either way, pulling this one off is going to be complicated because the Braves are going to need to find some power to replace Heyward. But given the fact that Andrelton Simmons isn’t going anywhere, the left-handed hitter is the piece that brings back one of the better pitchers in the National League.
Kansas City Royals Acquire Alex Rios from the Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals Get: RF Alex Rios
Texas Rangers Get: SP Sean Manaea and a player to be named later
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman came out with a list of players likely to hit the waiver wire this August and split it up into three sections based on the likelihood that the player will clear the waiver process and be eligible for trade to any team.
Texas Rangers right fielder Alex Rios was one of the players that Heyman projects will make it all the way through. If Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore is smart, however, he will jump at the chance to claim the right-handed hitter, forcing Rangers general manager Jon Daniels to deal only with him.
Make no mistake: The Royals are very much in a position where they need to add a bat. Entering play on Monday, they sat a mere 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild-card spot. They also face the reality that James Shields will likely depart via free agency this offseason, making the window to reach the postseason rather short.
Manaea, who is ranked as the organization’s No. 3 prospect, should be ready by the end of next season and would provide the Rangers the type of young arm that they will surely need in the coming seasons.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo had this to say about the High-A hurler:
With hip surgery behind him, all signs point to a healthy Manaea showing the Royals that he was worth the gamble. Manaea has a plus fastball from the left side, with late life and deception. His hard slurvy slider gives him a second above-average pitch, and his changeup has the chance to be an average offering, as well.
Assuming health, Manaea has the kind of stuff that should allow him to move through the system quickly, though Kansas City will probably want to let him log some innings and put the injury behind him first.
Logging innings will be something Manaea (4-7, 3.61 ERA) will certainly do. And if the Rangers can get him some innings in the Arizona Fall League, they could speed up his development with an outside chance of making the jump to the big leagues next season.
As far as Rios goes, he would immediately improve manager Ned Yost's offense. As of game time on Monday, he had a .300/.330/.423 slash line and has 22 doubles, eight triples and 43 RBI.
Of particular interest to the fanbase in Kansas City is how productive Rios is setting the table at the top of the order. In 149 at-bats hitting third, for example, he was slashing out at .295/.321/.396 with 10 doubles, per splits over at Baseball-Reference.
In contrast, the No. 3 hitters for the Royals have combined for a .230/.276/.316 slash and are simply not setting up the rest of the lineup. The lack of production from Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler is one of the reasons the offense has been inconsistent.
Yes, combined with the trade for Shields prior to last season, this move would put the farm system in a precarious position. It is the cost of chasing the playoffs, however. And without adding a guy like Rios, the chances the Royals make it into October are not strong.
All of this is assuming that the Seattle Mariners—who can place a claim before the Royals can based on their current record—take a pass on Rios, which isn't a certainty. Don't forget, the Mariners tried landing him at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but as Rosenthal noted, Daniels was “closer elsewhere.”
Now just after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Moore was quoted as saying that "there's always going to be opportunities," via Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. This is one of those times.
Who knows? Perhaps it's been the Royals all along.
San Francisco Giants Acquire Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants Get: RP Joaquin Benoit
San Diego Padres Get: SP Clayton Blackburn
While ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required) opined that “it seems unlikely” the San Diego Padres “trade” Joaquin Benoit, anything is possible. To that effect, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman noted that “while his 2015 salary of $8 million isn’t necessarily cheap for a reliever, he’d have to warrant claims from the [New York] Yankees, [Los Angeles] Dodgers and others.”
While Benoit would certainly be a fit on both the Dodgers and Yankees, they likely won’t have a chance to work out a deal because the San Francisco Giants get the opportunity to claim him before they do.
And make no mistake: The Giants could use a reliever with Benoit’s ability. Sure, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi and J.C. Gutierrez are having nice seasons, but added depth in the bullpen will surely help manager Bruce Bochy’s club protect critical leads late in games.
So in return for Benoit (4-2, 1.79 ERA), the Giants would send Double-A right-hander Clayton Blackburn to the Padres.
Sure, Blackburn is the Giants' No. 7 prospect, but such is the market for top-tier relievers. It must also be noted here that general manager Brian Sabean has a wealth of pitching in the minor leagues, including Kyle Crick, Tyler Beede, Adalberto Mejia and Ty Blach. In other words, the club would be dealing from a position of strength.
Regarding Blackburn (3-5, 2.81 ERA, 52 K, 64.0 IP), MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo wrote:
While Blackburn may not have a true plus pitch, he has precocious feel for three average-or-better offerings. He has an easy delivery that allows him to fill the strike zone, and it makes his 88-93 mph fastball seem quicker than it is.
Blackburn can manipulate his breaking ball, making it a true 12-to-6 downer or more of a slurve. His sinking changeup keeps left-handed hitters at bay. Blackburn finished 2013 by allowing more than two runs in just one of his final nine starts, and he might not need much more than another season in the Minors.
Now trading within the division is generally frowned upon, but there are two reasons why the Padres would be wise to make this move.
First off, they aren’t going to be able to make the leap to the top of the NL West in one season. There are too many holes on the roster, but adding Blackburn to a rotation that includes Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner gives them a fantastic foundation.
Second, grabbing one of the best prospects from the Giants weakens their chances in the coming seasons. It is a prudent course of action.
All of this hinges on the Padres putting Benoit on waivers, of course. They’d be foolish not to explore their options, however.
And if the Giants come through with an offer like this one, moving Benoit is a distinct possibility.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of game time on Monday, August 4. Transaction and injury information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information pulled from Cot's Contracts.