1 current player each team wishes it had back

February 1st, 2021

Every team has regrets. The Red Sox probably wish they didn’t want Larry Andersen so bad they were willing to trade Jeff Bagwell for him; the Cubs will hear the name “Ernie Broglio” in their ears forever; and hey, didn’t Babe Ruth used to play for the Red Sox? There’s always someone who got away.

With that in mind, here’s a look at that one player every team would like back at this moment. It’s a player who’s currently a star for another team.

A few things to note:

1. We’re looking specifically for players who are impact players right now. The Cardinals’ pick is not Albert Pujols, for example.

2. We are including players who were traded away as well as players who left as free agents. Let’s forget about the money for a moment and wonder: If you could have this player back on your roster right now, how much would it help you?

3. We’ll ignore players who left or were traded this winter. “Too soon,” as the kids say.

You always rue the one that got away.


Blue Jays: David Price, LHP
Years with team: 2015

Price was good with the Blue Jays, of course, and they could really use a reliable innings-eater right now given the uncertain nature of their rotation. Marcus Stroman would be another good pitching option. (Josh Donaldson is also an acceptable answer, though the Blue Jays need pitching more than hitting for 2021.)

Orioles: Mike Yastrzemski, OF
Years with team: 2013-18 (Minors)

It’s tempting to say Little Yaz is the Red Sox’s loss -- they did initially draft him back in 2009 -- but the Orioles traded him a decade later right before he started mashing.

Rays: Wil Myers, INF/OF
Years with team: 2013-14

Ah, the irony of Myers being on this list twice. (See: Royals.) But the Rays could really use his bat right now.

Red Sox: Yoán Moncada, 3B
Years with team: 2016

This may depend on whether Moncada is really the 2019 version of himself … or the 2020 version.

Yankees: Lance Lynn, RHP
Years with team: 2018

Crazy that the three players to appear twice in this column are Gerrit Cole, Wil Myers and Lance Lynn, who was traded to the White Sox this winter by the Rangers. You possibly forgot that Lynn was traded from the Twins to the Yankees at the 2018 Trade Deadline, and he was quite solid with New York for a couple of months before signing with Texas and becoming the front-of-the-rotation starter he is now. (It was a breakout, I should note, that was predicted by our own Mike Petriello.)


Indians: Drew Pomeranz, LHP
Years with team: 2010-11 (Minors)

It took Pomeranz a long time to become one of the best relievers in baseball -- 10 years after Cleveland traded him for Ubaldo Jiménez, actually.

Royals: Wil Myers, INF/OF
Years with team: 2009-12 (Minors)

The Royals were panned when they sent Myers (then a top prospect) along with other prospects for James Shields and Wade Davis, but that trade paved the way for them to win two straight pennants and a World Series title. But they sure could use the 2021 version of Myers right about now.

Tigers: Eugenio Suárez, 3B
Years with team: 2014

He took a step back in 2020, but he’s still a monster, and the Tigers gave him up six years ago for … Alfredo Simon. (Max Scherzer is also an acceptable answer here, but the Tigers have more good young pitchers than hitters.)

Twins: Lance Lynn, RHP
Years with team: 2018

He wasn’t with the Twins for very long, but basically, he was terrific before he came to Minnesota and terrific after … but terrible during. Liam Hendriks is also an option here.

White Sox: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
Years with team: 2015-16 (Minors)

The White Sox needed James Shields so badly back in 2016 that they were willing to trade Tatis for him. Imagine what this team would look like right now with Fernando Tatis Jr.


Angels: Mike Clevinger, RHP
Years with team: 2011-14 (Minors)

Clevinger is basically the exact pitcher the Angels have been desperate for, but they shipped him to Cleveland back in 2014 for the immortal Vinnie Pestano. Of course, Clevinger is out the for the year and the Angels could really use him for this season.

Astros: Gerrit Cole, RHP
Years with team: 2018-19

The Astros turned Cole into the pitcher many always thought he could become, but the Yankees get to reap the rewards now. The Yankees need Cole atop their rotation, but the Astros may need him even more. (If you want to go the hitter route, J.D. Martinez is still a good answer here.)

Athletics: Max Muncy, INF
Years with team: 2015-16

The A’s usually are able to maximize the talents of their young players, but Muncy was a quite notable exception. They released him in March 2017. He was picked up by the Dodgers a few weeks later and started mashing for Los Angeles in '18.

Mariners: Ketel Marte, INF/OF
Years with team: 2015-16

The Mariners might want that “Marte and Taijuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Zac Curtis, Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura” trade back. (Though there is still time for Haniger to change that.)

Rangers: Kyle Hendricks, RHP
Years with team: 2011-12 (Minors)

The Rangers traded him to the Cubs right before the Cubs got good, for … Ryan Dempster, who is a little bit like what Hendricks might have been if he hadn’t blossomed into a star.


Braves: Adam Wainwright, RHP
Years with team: 2000-03 (Minors)

The Georgia native could have been a lifelong Brave, but Atlanta wanted J.D. Drew way back in 2003. Fair to say the Cardinals were happy with that transaction. (Dallas Keuchel is another strong pitching option here, with Josh Donaldson a hitting alternative.)

Marlins: Christian Yelich, OF
Years with team: 2013-17

He certainly wasn’t bad for the Marlins -- he’s the team’s seventh-best player by Baseball Reference WAR in franchise history, after all. But he was never the MVP guy he turned into in Milwaukee.

Mets: Nelson Cruz, DH
Years with team: 1998-2000 (Minors)

You thought I was going to say Jarred Kelenic, didn’t you? Let’s stick with established stars, shall we? Believe it or not, Cruz was 20 years old -- it’s hard to believe Cruz was ever 20 years old -- when the Mets traded him to the A’s for Jorge Velandia, who ended up having a total of 74 at-bats for the Mets. (And yes, this assumes a DH in the NL this year.)

Nationals: Lucas Giolito, RHP
Years with team: 2016

The Nats didn’t have nearly enough patience with Giolito, and they’re sure paying for it now. Though, to be fair, they got Adam Eaton in the trade, and he was a starter on their World Series-winning team in 2019.

Phillies: Carlos Carrasco, RHP
Years with team: 2003-09 (Minors)

It’s tough to be too mad at the Phillies here: They did get Cliff Lee for him. A year from now, the answer here is probably Sixto Sánchez.


Brewers: Michael Brantley, OF
Years with team: 2005-08 (Minors)

He was, rather famously, the player to be named later in the CC Sabathia trade in 2008.

Cardinals: Randy Arozarena, OF
Years with team: 2019

The Cardinals traded away a lot of hitters they could use right now -- Luke Voit, Stephen Piscotty, Oscar Mercado, Tommy Pham. But last October, as Arozarena took over the sport, absolutely took the cake.

Cubs: Gleyber Torres, INF
Years with team: 2013-16 (Minors)

There are a couple of options here: You could also go with Eloy Jiménez, who has the added bonus of peddling his wares on the South Side. DJ LeMahieu is another possibility. But Torres has superstar potential, too … and they only ended up with Aroldis Chapman for a few months. (Though that World Series sure was nice.)

Pirates: Gerrit Cole, RHP
Years with team: 2013-17

You knew when the Pirates traded Cole that he would probably blossom wherever he went. But can you even imagine him putting up a 3.50 ERA right now? That’s what he put up in five years in Pittsburgh.

Reds: Yasmani Grandal, C
Years with team: 2010-11 (Minors)

The Reds picked Grandal in the first round way back in 2010, but they traded him to San Diego, along with Edinson Vólquez and Brad Boxberger for Mat Latos, who actually had the best years of his career for the Reds.


D-backs: Trevor Bauer, RHP
Years with team: 2012

He threw 16 1/3 innings for the D-backs until they sent him to Cleveland in a three-team deal that brought Arizona back Didi Gregorius. He was on social media a little less back in 2012. (And I’ll be nice and not bring up the Dansby Swanson trade.)

Dodgers: Yordan Alvarez, LF/DH
Years with team: 2016 (did not play in Dodgers organization before trade to Astros)

Obviously, this assumes the National League keeping the DH; the thought of Alvarez patrolling the outfield at Dodger Stadium is, uh, terrifying. But wow, imagine this bat in THAT lineup. Remember, too, that the Dodgers traded Alvarez for Josh Fields ... who was actually not a bad reliever for them for a couple of years.

Giants: Zack Wheeler, RHP
Years with team: 2009-11 (Minors)

The Giants were looking for a finishing kick from Carlos Beltrán when they traded their 2009 first-round pick for him in 2011. It didn’t work out that year … but they won two of the next three World Series anyway.

Padres: Max Fried, LHP
Years with team: 2012-14 (Minors)

For all the star starters the Padres have been bringing in, it sure would be handy if they hadn’t traded Fried to the Braves, along with a bunch of other young players, for Justin Upton. That’s how the A.J. Preller era started, actually! (Trea Turner would be another option here. Though now that we think about it, Anthony Rizzo is probably the right answer here.)

Rockies: DJ LeMahieu, INF
Years with team: 2012-18

They liked him as a Rockie -- he won a batting title, after all -- but if they would have thought he would have turned into this, they might have fought harder to keep him.