Slowly but surely, the MLB Free Agents are finally starting to come off the board as George Springer signs with the Blue Jays and Michael Brantley re-signs with the Astros. This market has been one of the slowest ever and it seems teams would rather trade for talent rather than give long term commitments to the free agents available. We have already seen the likes of Francisco Lindor, Blake Snell, and Yu Darvish traded with other huge names being thrown around in countless rumors. I believe there are still more trades to be made before the season starts. Here are 5 blockbuster trades I can realistically see happening before the seasons starts that would truly change the outlook of the 2021 season:
The Angels secure Catching and Pitching Depth Improvements
Angels receive: Willson Contreras and Kyle Hendricks
Cubs receive: Brandon Marsh, Jordyn Adams, and Franklin Barreto
The Cubs have made it clear they are trying to clear cap space, and fast. This trade would offload two somewhat large contracts and help them bring in some young talent to fill their relatively lackluster farm system. Marsh is seen as an all around outfielder who could help get the Cubs win at almost no cost. The Angels are pretty set in the outfield and it would not be the end of the world to lose him since they have Mike Trout, Jo Adell, Shohei Ohtani, and Justin Upton already. The Angels would be getting a new, consistent starting catcher who could help their pitching get better. They’d also be receiving Hendricks who probably would be their opening day starter and would help address what has been their biggest problem for who knows how long. I think this trades helps the Angels win now and also helps the Cubs shed cap while also bolstering their farm system and making their future a tiny bit brighter.
Mets Create Deadliest Left Side of the Diamond
Mets receive: Nolan Arenado
Rockies receive: J.D. Davis, Jeurys Familia, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos/Brett Baty, and Steven Matz
The Mets have already acquired Francisco Lindor, but this move would put their lineup over the top and up there for best in the league. They would be losing J.D. Davis, who has had a couple productive seasons for New York since being traded by Houston, but Areando would immediately upgrade power department and upgrade on fielding more than you could imagine. The Rockies would be bringing in a guy who can play everyday in Davis, while also bringing in a couple very solid prospects to help their team in the future. They would be shedding major cap and would have the opportunity to re-sign Trevor Story with that money. They would have to take on Familia’s one-year contract, presumably, to make this work but they would also get Steven Matz at a very low price, and could try to develop him into the pitcher he was supposed to be. The trade would instantly put the Mets among the World Series favorites and help the Rockies offload money while keeping their lineup whole and helping the Rockies in 2022 and on.
The Blue Jays Upgrade the Infield
Blue Jays receive: Whit Merrifield
Royals receive: Cavan Biggio, Gabriel Moreno, and Patrick Murphy
The Blue Jays were rumored to have signed Michael Brantley but the signing ended up falling through within two hours. They wanted Brantley for his elite hit tool. What better way to replace that hit tool they thought they had than by bringing in one of the only guys in the MLB who has a better hit tool than Brantley. The Blue Jays would receive a versatile fielder who can play any position and, in my opinion, the most underrated and under appreciated hitter in Major League Baseball. Whit absolutely rakes and no one talks about it because of where he plays and the sheer amount of singles he hits. Whit and Springer could get on base for the Jays at a very nice pace to give their big bats opportunities for RBIs. The Royals would be bringing in a young player in Biggio who has huge upside. I don’t think anyone thinks the Royals are remotely close to being a World Series contender and this is the highest Merrfield’s value will ever be at his age. They’d be bolstering the backend of their farm system while also bringing in a guy who can play everyday at Whit’s main position.
The Yankees Become the Best Rotation in the AL East
Yankees receive: German Marquez and Garret Hampson
Rockies receive: Clarke Schmidt, Albert Abreu, and Estevan Florial
German Marquez has had a super impressive past two seasons, not only because of his stats but, because he has been able to do it in Colorado. He is a strikeout machine and when he is on, he is quite un-hittable. The Yankees would add to their extremely questionable rotation, a rather reliable arm that they can count on to go out there and get them to the bullpen comfortably. The Rockies are not in World Series mode as they are rumored to trade almost all of their best players. I think, if you’re Colorado, you trade Marquez because of the worry that he has a bad season in Colorado and absolutely demolishes his value (see: Ubaldo Jimenez post-2011). The Rockies would be bringing in a pretty highly touted pitching prospect in Schmidt, while also getting two other potentially good players. Perhaps the Rockies aren’t getting enough in this trade, but I believe trading Marquez would be in their best interest. The Yankees would secure the best rotation in the AL East while also improving their depth with Hampson in case that injury bug comes back in 2021.
The World Series Champions get richer
Dodgers receive: Sonny Gray
Reds receive: Josiah Gray, Mitch White, and Jacob Amaya
My-oh-my, the Dodgers roster is so nice every year. This would make it even nicer, as they would make their already scary rotation even scarier without losing any MLB talent. No one would want to see the Dodgers in the playoffs, as everyday would be a scary starting pitcher. The Reds seem to be in fire sale mode, while also trying to absolutely rip off the Yankees (they asked for Gleyber Torres in return for Luis Castillo). They’d be able to capitalize on Sonny Gray’s value and bring in a great prospect arm who knows of the Reds’ system already (Josiah Gray was traded from Cincy to LA in the Puig deal in 2018). They would have turned Sonny Gray, who they essentially got for free, into two soon-to-be-ready MLB players that could help the Reds win the title in a year or two. The Padres got a lot better this offseason, and this would be a great response for the Dodgers to say to the Padres “Relax little brother, it’s still our turn”.
These trades have varying levels of potential to occur, but all these players can be on the move in the coming weeks before Spring Training is expected to start. It should be interesting to see which fringe playoff teams attempt to improve via the trade market and which buyers buy more, and which sellers sell off their valuable assets. Only time shall tell.