Let the shopaholics worry about the Black Friday deals. Those of us who tend to have baseball on the brain are firmly fixated on deals of another sort. I'm talking about trades!
Here's our annual look at some blockbuster swaps that make sense. Granted, we don't expect any of these to happen as listed, but at least this sparks some conversation about needs and values and teams that might match up.
1. A Phillies-Indians-Mariners bonanza
Phillies get:Corey Kluber, RHP; Yan Gomes, C; Jean Segura, SS
Indians get:Edwin Diaz, RHP; Roman Quinn, OF; Adonis Medina, RHP
Mariners get:J.P. Crawford, SS; Sixto Sanchez, RHP; Adam Haseley, OF; James Karinchak, RHP
A trade featuring a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, the reigning AL Reliever of the Year, an All-Star shortstop, an All-Star catcher and four guys who have all appeared on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list in the last calendar year? Yeah, that's a blockbuster. Here's what each club would accomplish:
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Indians: In moving Kluber ($17M) and Gomes ($7M), they get immediate salary relief for 2019 that they can apply in free agency while pairing Diaz with lefty Brad Hand in a dynamic back end of the bullpen, improving their outfield composition with the speedy, switch-hitting Quinn (or Nick Williams could be a substitute piece here) and improving their long-term rotation outlook with Medina. Despite the key departures, they'd remain prohibitive AL Central favorites while extending their championship window.
Mariners: They're giving up a lot, but they're getting tons of young talent in a time of transition. They shed Segura's salary ($14.85M) and have an immediate replacement in Crawford, a former top prospect in need of a change of scenery. Sanchez, who ranks No. 21 on the Top 100 prospects list, could be ready to join the rotation this year. Haseley was the eighth overall pick in 2017 and ranks No. 4 on the Phils' prospects list, and the Indians are chipping in the reliever Karinchak, their No. 27-ranked prospect, to round out the M's haul.
Phillies: They're taking on salary. That's no problem in Philly right now. They're giving up a wealth of young talent, but they're adding huge pedigree to their rotation in Kluber with three years of control, getting five years of control and stability at short in Segura, and shoring up their catching spot with Gomes, who comes with three years of control. If they were to make these additions and then sign Bryce Harper, that just might be your World Series favorite, folks.
(By the way, a commercial featuring Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" came on in the background while I was composing this. That felt appropriate.)
2. Thor-chestrating a big trade
Reds get:Noah Syndergaard, RHP
Mets get:Raisel Iglesias, RHP; Nick Senzel, 3B
I don't really think the Reds are going to move Senzel (the No. 6 prospect in the game, per MLB Pipeline), and I don't really think the Mets are going to move Thor, either. So it's a match, weirdly.
The point here is that, as a function of finances and park factors, the Reds will have difficulty luring a top-end arm to Cincinnati as they look to turn a corner in their rebuild. They have better odds of piecing together a quality bullpen without Iglesias than they have of piecing together a terrific rotation without an electric arm like Syndergaard (who is under control for three more years). And while losing Senzel is a big blow, his injury-shortened 2018 and current blocked path to the big league infield could cloud his value.
The Mets are equipped to handle the loss near the top end of their rotation, because this is a trade that could help improve their overall complexion for 2019 and beyond. Iglesias, who even after reworking his contract this week remains under affordable control through '21, jumps right into their closer role. And, with Todd Frazier showing signs of decline, third base could be open for Senzel soon (or the Mets could do what the Reds are doing and try him in other spots).
3. Greinke and Goldy to Houston
Astros get:Zack Greinke, RHP; Paul Goldschmidt, 1B; $29.5M
D-backs get: AJ Reed, 1B; Cionel Perez, LHP; Corbin Martin, RHP
Of course the Astros could just trade straight-up for Goldschmidt, a product of The Woodlands and Texas State University, but we're here to dream big.
The only way this -- or any trade involving Greinke -- makes sense is if the D-backs absorb some of his remaining salary. Greinke has been worth around 10.8 Wins Above Replacement (FanGraphs version) in his three years with the D-backs. If we take a leap of faith that he'll be worth similar in the final three years of his deal and put the value of a "win" around $9 million, then he's providing just shy of $100 million of value while making $104.5 million. If he regresses in his late 30s, an already iffy value equation goes further south.
But in this proposal, the D-backs are turning Greinke's remaining contract into a three-year, $75 million deal (i.e. the Jacob Arrieta deal from a year ago) and getting back two potential starters (Perez and Martin are both among the Astros' top 10 prospects) and a Goldschmidt replacement while still obtaining serious salary relief. That changes the value equation for the Astros, who could use Greinke's veteran savvy both to replace the absent innings and impact of Dallas Keuchel and to brace themselves for the approaching free agencies of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. And they get one year of Goldschmidt, who allows Yuli Gurriel to serve more of a roving role while amping up the Astros' production.
4. The Real(muto) deal
Braves get:J.T. Realmuto, C
Marlins get:Touki Toussaint, RHP; Ian Anderson, RHP; Kyle Muller, LHP
The Marlins prefer not to trade Realmuto within the division. Well, they also prefer not to make a deal as lopsided as the Christian Yelich trade looks, to date. Division dynamics be damned, the Braves are one of the very few clubs with the right combination of need and resources to make this deal work for the Fish, who need young pitching in the worst way.
The benefit here for the pitching-rich Braves is obvious, because Realmuto is a rare commodity behind the dish and obviously plenty familiar with the National League East. As for the Marlins, they'd be getting the Nos. 34 (Anderson) and 40 (Touissant) prospects in the game, per MLB Pipeline, as well as the Braves' No. 12 prospect in Muller. If even one of those guys reaches his ceiling, the deal will have been worth it, because Realmuto's a goner after 2020.
5. A swap between NL Division Series foes
Brewers get:Jon Gray, RHP
Rockies get:Domingo Santana, OF; Joe Gray, OF
Gray and Santana both enjoyed a breakout 2017 (Gray with a 138 ERA+, Santana with a 126 OPS+) only to suffer steep regression in '18. They are both under team control with three remaining arbitration years. Gray is a part of the Rockies' strong stash of homegrown starters and could fill an obvious need in the Milwaukee rotation, while Santana is a part of the Brewers' strong stash of outfielders and could fill an obvious need in the Rockies' outfield. Neither of these clubs is expected to break the bank in free agency this offseason, so a trade makes sense.
While a lot lines up here, Gray is ultimately the more valuable commodity as a potentially elite starting pitcher if he puts it all together. So the Brewers have to sweeten the pot with a nice prospect piece. I'm involving the Brewers' No. 6 prospect, Joe Gray … if only because of the sweet surname symmetry in such a swap. Perhaps in a deal like this the Rockies would shoot for third-base prospect Lucas Erceg, given Nolan Arenado's pending free agency.