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Let's get weird: 4 trade ideas to spice things up

MLB.com @castrovince

After swapping for Christian Yelich and splurging on Lorenzo Cain, the Brewers suddenly have a surplus of controllable outfielders that they will likely try to use in the trade market to support their pitching staff. We're fast approaching February, and what's going on with the Brewers is yet another reminder -- as if we really needed one -- that there could be a ton of activity in baseball's marketplace up to and through Spring Training.

So let's use the Brew Crew as a base for some intriguing trade conversation. Here are four trade scenarios that would be a fun way to shake up this late stage of the winter.

After swapping for Christian Yelich and splurging on Lorenzo Cain, the Brewers suddenly have a surplus of controllable outfielders that they will likely try to use in the trade market to support their pitching staff. We're fast approaching February, and what's going on with the Brewers is yet another reminder -- as if we really needed one -- that there could be a ton of activity in baseball's marketplace up to and through Spring Training.

So let's use the Brew Crew as a base for some intriguing trade conversation. Here are four trade scenarios that would be a fun way to shake up this late stage of the winter.

Brewers trade OF Domingo Santana to the Indians for RHP Danny Salazar
Could you do this straight up? Hard to say. Salazar will make $5 million in 2018, which was his first season of arbitration eligiblity. He's under control through '20. Santana is in his last pre-arbitration year and is under team control through '21. So Santana comes with more control, but quality starting pitching is more valuable than power hitting in the Majors right now. But Salazar has been injury prone. But Santana didn't have much track record before his breakout '17. Back and forth we could go.

Video: Domingo Santana is the No. 8 right fielder right now

The point is: This is a good match on paper, if and only if the Indians are comfortable with the idea of parting with controllable starting pitching upside. Last year, the Tribe used the fewest starters in the game (seven), a feat that's not likely to repeat itself. That said, there has been some frustration with the way non-structural arm issues have kept Salazar from repeating the 30-start season he had in 2015. With the exception of bench bat Brandon Guyer (who is coming off left wrist surgery), the Tribe is entirely left-handed in the outfield, so Santana's bat would slide in well. Plus, the Indians just lost Carlos Santana in free agency, so they need a dude named Santana!

As for the Brewers, dealing from depth to get upside in an area of need is an obvious play, and Salazar is a guy they showed some interest early in the offseason. But Santana isn't the only outfielder they could shop. Brett Phillips is another possibility, though his left-handed bat wouldn't profile as well with the Indians, specifically. If you really want to get crazy, maybe the Brewers and Indians could swing a mega-swap that somehow includes the Jason Kipnis contract, considering Milwaukee still has an opening at second base.

Bottom line: This would be the most fun kind of baseball trade, because it involves two teams in win-now mode, lining up in areas of depth and need.

Video: MIN@CLE: Salazar strikes out nine over 4 2/3 innings

Marlins trade C J.T. Realmuto to the Nationals for SS Carter Kieboom, C Pedro Severino and RHP Joan Baez
And then you have much more common trades like this, where two teams on decidedly different ends of the competitive spectrum work together. Even though this is an intradivision deal, the Nats have the prospect depth and, potentially, the catching deficit to get the Fish to bite.

I say "potentially" with regard to the Nationals' catching situation out of fairness to Matt Wieters, who for all we know could bounce back to his career offensive norm in his second year in the District after putting up a disappointing .632 OPS in his first. The Nats also have young Severino, who has been viewed as the club's catcher of the future, available at least as a backup.

Video: Morosi on the Nationals' interest in Realmuto

But here, we propose that the Nationals include Severino as enticement in a trade for more of a sure -- and immediate -- thing in Realmuto, who is attractive not just because of the 110 OPS+ he posted over the past two years and the excellent defense behind the dish but for the three seasons of team control attached to him. The Nats don't desperately need to make this deal, but there is the argument for upgrading a shaky roster spot on a squad with a ton of incentive (read: Bryce Harper's free agency) to maximize 2018.

Let's talk the Marlins down from their initial ask for outfielder Victor Robles, because that isn't happening. Likely the same with outfielder Juan Soto. But a package that includes Severino and Kieboom (that would be one of the Nats' top three prospects and two of their top 15, per MLB Pipeline's rankings, as well as a lower-ranked prospect like Baez (no, not that Joan Baez)? That seems somewhat reasonable.

Orioles trade 3B Manny Machado to the Cardinals for RHP Jack Flaherty, IF Jedd Gyorko and RHP Jordan Hicks
The way this offseason has operated, it's still not too late to see a blockbuster trade involving one of the game's great young players. Not that I firmly expect that to happen. It's no given that O's ownership would approve such a deal, and of course there's the possibility that the Orioles have already fielded the best offers they're going to get for Machado and just aren't moved to do it.

And then there's the other side of this deal. The Cardinals would really be gambling on a huge 2018 to give up two of their top pitching prospects for a one-year rental of Machado.

Video: Justice, Feinsand make offers in fake Machado trade

OK, those are the primary reasons why this won't happen, but there are other reasons why it could. The Brewers just upped the ante in the National League Central, and you know the Cubs still have another big move in them (it says here they will almost certainly sign one of Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb). The Cards are much improved but potentially still not complete. They could still use more help in the bullpen, for sure, and it's pretty obvious that Machado would firmly amplify the offense (and leave Matt Carpenter at first base, where he probably belongs).

The cost is punitive when you consider the value of years of control on pitching talent. Flaherty stands as immediate rotation depth for the Cardinals right now, and Hicks is a 21-year-old with a rising profile in the prospect realm (No. 13 on MLB Pipeline's most recent list). But this is a cost a still-deep Cards system can manage. And from the Orioles' perspective, the addition of Gyorko (who is under control through at least 2019, with a team option in '20) and a present rotation piece in Flaherty means they could still feel (rightly or wrongly) that they're not totally punting on '18.

Video: Top Prospects: Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals

Pirates and Marlins swap 2B Josh Harrison and Starlin Castro
Let's see: They've both made noise about wanting to be dealt, they're both making right around $10.5 million in 2018 and are under team control through '20, they're both second basemen at a time when there's not a tremendous market to move a second baseman and, though there are differences in age (Castro's 27, Harrison's 30) and experience (Castro's played 1,154 games, Harrison 745), they've accrued virtually identical Baseball Reference-calculated Wins Above Replacement marks in their career (13.5 for Castro, 13.7 for Harrison).

Freaky.

Well OK, this wouldn't solve either player's desire to go to a clear contender. Nor would it bring either team the necessary prospect help. And Harrison is almost certainly more valuable than Castro because of his versatility. But don't quibble over those minor details. I'm just trying to honor the trade requests here!

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.