The MLB trade deadline is off to exciting start and we’ve still got a week and a half left. On Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks got J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers and the Yankees traded for Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson from the Chicago White Sox. That followed last week’s deal where the Sox sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs.
The deadline isn’t until July 31, so there are still many deals to be made.
So for this week’s Big League Stew roundtable, our crew put on its GM caps and dreamed up some trades that would make sense for both teams. These aren’t predictions — we’re not saying they’re going to happen, but we do think they’d be smart moves.
Sonny Gray to the Cubs for Kyle Schwarber and two prospects
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer always have some tricks up their sleeve. Even after giving up Eloy Jimenez to acquire Jose Quintana from the White Sox, I fully expect them to strike again by landing either a top reliever or, preferably, another young and controllable frontline starting pitcher.
One name that fits the bill is Oakland Athletics ace Sonny Gray. The 27-year-old right-hander has been linked to several teams, but he makes sense for the Cubs for several reasons. Chief among them is the fact he’s under team control through the 2019 season. Beyond that he’s likely to be available at a cheaper price than Chris Archer. Not that Gray will come cheap. But the Cubs want to be ready for the likely departures of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. They’d also be wise to prevent him from landing somewhere with another contender like Milwaukee, Los Angeles or even Houston.
Kyle Schwarber going Oakland’s way would make a lot of sense too. He should be a much better fit in the American League, and the A’s would love to add a young hitter with some upside. Schwarber has looked lost this season, but Oakland would provide the opportunity to develop without always being under a microscope. (Mark Townsend)
Andrew McCutchen to the Rockies for at least one top prospect
With the Pittsburgh Pirates two games under .500, it’s time to revisit trading outfielder Andrew McCutchen. After a slow start, the 30-year-old has recovered to hit .291/.380/.514, with 17 home runs, this year. He’s back, and it looks like the Pirates did a good job holding him during the offseason. His value might be higher now.
We all thought the Rockies outfield was crowded at the beginning of the year, but that’s no longer the case. Carlos Gonzalez has been awful, Ian Desmond’s power has deserted him and David Dahl has dealt with injuries. If the Rockies believe their winning ways are more than a one year fluke, McCutchen works. He has an option at a reasonable $14.5 million in 2018. He would be a good replacement for Gonzalez – whose contract is up at the end of the year – and he’ll come cheaper.
The Rockies might have the pieces to get something done, too. The team has four players on Baseball America’s updated top-100 list. They would have to part with at least one of them to secure McCutchen. The team currently holds the second wild card spot in the National League. Grabbing a star like McCutchen could ensure they reach the postseason for the first time since 2009. (Chris Cwik)
Gerrit Cole to the Astros for a boatload of prospects
It would seem silly to even suggest this a couple years ago, but the Pittsburgh Pirates may be inclined to trade ace Gerrit Cole soon and the Houston Astros should be lining up to get him. Cole, 26, is a former No. 1 pick who hasn’t yet delivered on the hype but shown glimpses of the pitcher he could be. The Astros are the best team in baseball, with a great starting lineup, but what they could really use to pad themselves for postseason success is another top-flight pitcher to complement Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr.
With Cole, the Astros wouldn’t just get a rental, but a pitcher who is under contract through 2019. That’s worthwhile because the Astros aren’t just going to be good this season. With Carlos Correa, George Springer and McCullers under team control for many more years, the Astros’ window is wide. Cole won’t come cheap, but the Astros farm system is deep enough to pull off a move like this. And if the Pirates can cash in on Cole and McCutchen, they could turn into the NL version of the White Sox. (Mike Oz)
Pat Neshek to the Brewers for a handful of minor leaguers
Some teams hit the bullpen lottery in the offseason, and some teams, well, don’t. At the trade deadline, you can see who those lottery losers are because they’re all desperately searching for bullpen relief. It’s not the sexiest thing, but as Cleveland proved during the 2016 postseason, you need a decent bullpen to make it far. The Phillies traded for Pat Neshek in the offseason, and he’s been lights out ever since (1.17 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 38.1 innings). But with the Phillies well on their way to a 100+ loss season, they don’t need him.
The Brewers, who took a big step forward in their rebuild this year, need some bullpen help. The trade would make sense for both sides. Neshek has been great, but he’s 38 and in the last year of his contract. He’s a great choice for a team who can’t afford to spend or give up too much. The Brewers need help, but not at an exorbitant cost. And if they like him, the Brewers could sign him to another year, or they could let him go to play the open market. He’s a cheap rental for a team trying make that competitive leap, but he could also become part of their future plans. (Liz Roscher)
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