It’s never too early to start hypothesizing about my favorite time of year, MLB Trade Season. While it’s too early to start recognizing some of the teams that could be sellers by the end of July, there are some trades which already make too much sense not to happen. Here are the top three blockbuster trades that should happen by the time August rolls around.
Manny Machado and Zach Britton to the Mariners
It’s hard to get a group of fans to agree on anything quite like baseball fans agree that the Orioles should trade Manny Machado. Will Dan Duquette think the same way? Who knows. He hasn’t exactly proven himself to be the brightest executive since he stepped foot in Baltimore.
But he should. He undoubtedly should, and Machado should command a long list of suitors. There are the obvious ones, like the Cubs, but a bunch of more obscure teams seem to make a ton of sense to be going after the Dominican-born superstar. Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners are one of them.
As it stands right now, the Mariners are one game up on the Astros for the division lead, and four games clear of missing the playoffs altogether. It seems fairly obvious that the AL Wild Card Game will be an AL East team against an AL West team, so it’s officially time to buy into the Mariners as playoff contenders.
With Robinson Cano being ineligible for the playoffs should Seattle make it, the Mariners need some more star power in their lineup. That’s where Machado, who was heralded as “the best rental position player ever available at the deadline” by Ken Rosenthal today, comes in.
In Cano’s absence, the Mariners have been forced to use Dee Gordon, who was set to be their starting center fielder, at second base. In this scenario, Gordon would be allowed to move back out to the outfield as Jean Segura, who played quite a bit of second base with the Diamondbacks a few years ago, slides over there. Machado would take Segura’s role at short until Cano comes back when positions would have to be shuffled again.
As for Britton, he provides more fortification to a bullpen which has been good, but not great this year. The Mariners already went out and added Alex Colomé to their bullpen, and I don’t see why they should settle for just that. Britton is going to be relatively cheap, as he is coming off an injury and is another impending free agent, so he makes sense as a “buy low” candidate for Jerry Dipoto.
If the Mariners are going to hold off the Astros and Angels to claim a playoff berth, they are going to need another impact bat, and Manny Machado is just that. Dipoto should be able to get him for relatively cheap, but given how Seattle is playing right now, it would be worth it.
Mariners get: SS Manny Machado, LHP Zach Britton
Orioles get: OF Kyle Lewis, 3B Joe Rizzo, RHP Seth Elledge, 2B Donnie Walton
Josh Donaldson to the Cardinals
Coming into this season, I really liked the Blue Jays’ chances of doing some damage. I picked them as the AL’s second wild card team but, thus, that seems to have been wildly incorrect. Toronto is already double-digit games out of a playoff spot, and a full rebuild may be in order.
St. Louis, meanwhile, is caught up in the thick of an insanely tight NL playoff picture, just two games out of playoff contention at this point. It’s anyone’s guess as to who makes the playoffs, and there are a handful of teams that should be gearing up for a late push, with St. Louis being one of them.
The Cardinals have dealt with their fair share of injuries, including Paul DeJong, who is going to be on the shelf for the near future. Dexter Fowler, their big free agent signing last year, has been one of the worst players in the league this season, but the Cards just keep winning. Adding a player like Donaldson, which would likely push Matt Carpenter to first and Jose Martinez back out to the outfield, could be the last piece of the puzzle the Cardinals need to compete with the Cubs and Nationals this year.
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Donaldson is an impending free agent, so the haul he should command isn’t going to be gargantuan. However, Donaldson has proven time and time again to be one of the best third basemen in baseball, and a majority of competing teams should be trying to get him. Donaldson to St. Louis has made sense to me for a long time now, as I was talking about it at the last deadline, in a similar scenario to this one. It makes too much sense not to happen.
The return for Donaldson should be a very interesting discussion. He is going to net the A’s a compensatory pick should he leave in free agency, but whether or not he would net an A round pick is the debate. I’m tempted to think he won’t be one of the 5 largest free agency contracts next offseason, but considering how other teams who lose free agents could spend on other ones (like the Nationals), he may corral a Compensatory Round A pick. A Donaldson trade would either be headlined by a mid-to-late Top 100 prospect or a bunch of other solid ones, and I’ve chosen the ladder in this case as the most likely scenario.
Cardinals get: 3B Josh Donaldson
Blue Jays get: RHP Dakota Hudson, OF Oscar Mercado, RHP Conner Greene
Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees
New York, put your pitchforks down. You’ll have plenty more things to riot about over the course of a sports season. Hear me out for a second.
One of these teams is among baseball’s finest, tearing through the competition and looking to be one of the best in the league, despite a starting pitching deficiency. And you and I both know that “among baseball’s finest” describes precisely no part of the New York Mets.
The Mets are the dictionary definition of a dumpster fire. Ever since their 11-1 start, absolutely nothing has gone right for them. They’ve dealt with even more injuries. They’ve relied on guys like Jose Reyes and Adrian Gonzalez to play key roles. Their bullpen has gone completely up in flames. I know that saying this is going to physically hurt the Wilpons, but it’s time for the Mets to blow it all up and go into a full-scale rebuild. They need to deal the assets they have left, and Syndergaard is second to maybe only Jacob DeGrom in terms of trade value.
I chose Syndergaard to be the mid-season trade candidate due to the fact that I believe Jacob DeGrom, possibly with a Cy Young Award to his name, will be more valuable come the Winter Meetings in January. I’m not so sure the same can be said about Syndergaard, so I believe the Mets are more likely to deal him than his counterpart.
Now, where do the Yankees fit in? With the exception of the Astros, who have absolutely no need for a starting pitcher, the Yankees are the only team in baseball who has a deep enough farm to pull off a blockbuster move like this. The Cubs set the price last year with their Jose Quintana trade, and any Yankee-Met deal would have to beat that in value. The Yankees aren’t going to be trading Gleyber Torres, so they will have to get creative with their trade. However, something can be done.
The Mets farm system is, outside of first-round pick Jarred Kelenic, devoid of much talent. Sure, the Mets would love to get someone like Torres, but replenishing their farm with three big prospects is probably the better bet, which makes their crosstown rivals even better trade partners. The Yankees are in a position where they are young enough as a team to be able to afford losing prospects and still being long-term competitors, and I have no doubt that Brian Cashman would pull the trigger at the right deal.
This wouldn’t be very popular. This trade would do the impossible; it would somehow find a way to make the New York sports scene even more volatile. But it makes total sense for everyone involved.
Yankees get: RHP Noah Syndergaard
Mets get: OF Estevan Florial, LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Albert Abreu, OF Billy McKinney