This week's report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that the Mariners and Yankees discussed a trade that would have sent Robinson Cano back to New York and Jacoby Ellsbury to Seattle got us thinking.
What other teams might consider swapping players with large salaries, hoping a change of scenery would benefit all parties involved? Some of these are based on fit, while others are simply cases of trying to make the best of bad situations.
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Here are five trade ideas that could make for interesting Hot Stove fodder:
1. Giants trade Melancon to Mets for Bruce
The Mets are in the market for a closer, while the Giants are in need of a power bat after ranking 29th in the Majors in home runs last season. Veteran slugger Jay Bruce has two years and $29 million remaining on his contract, while right-handed reliever Mark Melancon is owed $28 million over the next two seasons, so that's a good starting point.
Bruce had a tough 2018, hitting nine homers with a .680 OPS in 94 games, though he hit 69 homers in 2016-17. After signing what was at the time the largest contract in history for a closer (four years, $62 million), Melancon lost his job halfway into his first season with the Giants in 2017. He pitched better last season, though a change of scenery could help him regain the form that made him a National League All-Star in 2013, '15 and '16.
2. Yankees trade Ellsbury and Kahnle to Phillies for Santana
Trading Carlos Santana would open up first base for Rhys Hoskins, while Ellsbury could slide into the left-field slot. The 35-year-old Ellsbury missed all of 2018 with a hip injury, but the issue was surgically repaired and he's expected to be ready for Spring Training. Santana, who signed a three-year, $60 million deal last offseason, would benefit from a move back to the American League, where he can see some at-bats as a designated hitter.
Santana (two years, $41.5 million) and Ellsbury (two years, roughly $47 million) have roughly the same amount remaining on their contracts, but the Yankees could add right-hander Tommy Kahnle -- who struggled in 2018 following two superb seasons -- into the deal, giving the Phillies a 29-year-old reliever with two more years of club control.
3. Mariners trade Seager to Cardinals for Fowler
The Bryce Harper-to-St. Louis buzz won't die down, but the Cardinals would need to get rid of William Fowler to open up right field. But even if Harper doesn't wind up in St. Louis, Fowler's rough 2018 season left some wondering whether a move out of town might help rejuvenate his career.
The Mariners are obviously in full trade mode, having already dealt James Paxton and Mike Zunino this offseason. Third baseman Kyle Seager is owed $57.5 million through 2021 (plus a $15 million option in '22), while Fowler has three years and $49.5 million remaining on his deal.
4. Rockies trade Desmond and Lavigne to Astros for Reddick
With Marwin Gonzalez likely headed elsewhere as a free agent, the Astros would love to bring in a versatile player who can fill in at a number of positions, which makes Ian Desmond a good fit in Houston. Trading Josh Reddick would open right field for top prospectKyle Tucker, allowing Desmond to play some left field while moving around the diamond.
For the Rockies, trading Desmond would allow Ryan McMahon to assume first-base duties, while Reddick would take over one of the corner-outfield spots. Reddick is owed $26 million over the next two years, while Desmond will make $38 million over the next three, including a relatively modest $8 million in 2021.
One interesting clause in Desmond's contract gives him full no-trade protection if Colorado trades him, so the Rockies would likely need to add a prospect like first baseman Grant Lavigne (No. 8 in their system) into a deal to balance out that clause, as well as the difference in salary.
5. Giants trade Samardzija to Rangers for Choo
Jeff Samardzija's career has been a roller coaster: The right-hander has been solid at times, underwhelming at others. He had success during his half-season pitching in the AL West for the A's in 2014, and given Texas' need for pitching, the Rangers might be willing to bet on the soon-to-be 34-year-old bouncing back from an injury-riddled 2018.
Shin-Soo Choo's value is at its peak following his 2018 All-Star season, so this might be Texas' best opportunity to move the 36-year-old outfielder with two years and $42 million remaining on his contract. Samardzija is owed $39.6 million over the next two seasons, so the money is essentially a wash.