In a little more than one week, pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to spring training and camps across Florida and Arizona will open. The first Grapefruit League and Cactus League games are roughly three weeks away.
Teams are currently scrambling to fill out their rosters with spring training right around the corner -- three relievers (Jerry Blevins, Sergio Romo, Fernando Salas) signed Friday, for example -- and those efforts will continue in the coming days and weeks. Most deals will be low-cost free agent signings. Trades are still possible too.
Earlier this week R.J. Anderson listed five free agent signings that should happen, but probably won't. Now let's look at five trades that should also happen, but again, they probably won't.
I'm not going to bother to put together complete trade packages, because if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that fan trade proposals are silly. Let's get to it.
Ryan Braun to the Red Sox
With all due respect to Mitch Moreland, Braun would give the Red Sox a bona fide middle-of-the-order masher to replace the retired David Ortiz. He'd also give Boston a little more outfield depth just in case, say, rookie Andrew Benintendi gets overwhelmed at some point. I don't think it'll happen, but you never know with young players.
As for the Brewers, they're in a rebuild and we know they've been trying to move Braun. They discussed a Braun-for-Yasiel Puig trade with the Dodgers at last year's trade deadline, for example. His contract is onerous -- Braun is owed $80 million from 2017-20 -- and Milwaukee would probably have to eat some cash to facilitate a trade, but he is very much available.
Braun to the Red Sox works because he'd give Boston a big bat to replace Ortiz while allowing the Brewers to shed salary and accumulate more prospects. It's a win-win. The new Red Sox lineup could look something like this:
- 2B Dustin Pedroia
- LF Andrew Benintendi
- RF Mookie Betts
- 1B Hanley Ramirez
- DH Ryan Braun
- SS Xander Bogaerts
- CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- C Sandy Leon
That is mighty scary. Braun may not be the player he was a few years ago, but he still managed a .305/.365/.538 (136 OPS+) batting line with 30 home runs in only 135 games last year. He'd make the Red Sox much more fearsome than Moreland does.
Brian Dozier to the Braves
After weeks and weeks of rumors, the Twins failed to complete a Dozier trade with the Dodgers. Los Angeles grew impatient and instead acquired Logan Forsythe from the Rays. Dozier remains with the rebuilding Twins even though his trade value can realistically only go down from here. He's two years away from free agency and he just hit the most home runs ever by an AL second baseman (42). How is he supposed to improve his trade value?
The Braves, meanwhile, are rebuilding and also making an effort to be respectable in 2017, the inaugural season of SunTrust Park. That's one of the reasons they acquired Matt Kemp last year, and why they brought in several veteran starters (Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Jaime Garcia) on one-year contracts this offseason. Dozier would require trading top prospects, something the Braves have in spades.
Keep in mind Atlanta is currently slated to start Jace Peterson at second and Adonis Garcia at third, with Sean Rodriguez splitting time at both spots. There's definitely room to add Dozier without blocking top prospect Ozzie Albies, who will be big-league-ready fairly soon. The Twins want young pitching -- at least that's what they sought from the Dodgers for Dozier -- and the Braves have plenty to offer.
It's not often a rebuilding team goes out and trades top prospects for a veteran, but it's also not often a high-end middle-of-the-diamond player like Dozier becomes available. He'd speed up Atlanta's rebuilding schedule and still leave them a place to play Albies, not to mention plenty of pitching prospects. Dozier would be an enormous upgrade these next two seasons.
Andrew McCutchen to the Giants
There were times earlier this offseason when it felt like McCutchen was only minutes away from being traded. Instead, he remains with the Pirates and his future is no less uncertain. McCutchen is due to become a free agent after 2018, and Pittsburgh is unlikely to sign him long-term -- mostly for financial reasons, but also because elite outfield prospect Austin Meadows is knocking on the door.
The Giants are currently set to employ a Jarrett Parker/Mac Williamson platoon in left field and, well, you can understand why that would be worrisome. Those aren't two young kids we're taking about here -- Parker is 28 and Williamson will turn 27 in July. ZiPS projects them to combine for 2.0 WAR in 2017. Even after his down season, ZiPS has McCutchen at 4.1 WAR in 2017.
McCutchen's days as a center fielder are pretty much over, which is fine because the Giants have Denard Span. McCutchen would slot in nicely as their left fielder and also give them another righty bat to balance the lineup.
And you know what? Let's be real here. Span and Hunter Pence have missed quite a bit of time to injury the last two years. Parker and Williamson figure to get plenty of at-bats anyway.
San Francisco has won three World Series titles in the last seven years, and their window is still wide open thanks to Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, both of whom are still in their primes. Pence, Johnny Cueto, and the Brandons (Belt and Crawford) form a dynamite supporting cast. McCutchen would improve the Giants' chances of winning a fourth title even more.
Jose Quintana to the Astros
The Astros had a disappointing 2016 in the grand scheme of things. They won 86 games and went to the ALDS in 2015, and were expected to take another step forward last year. Instead, they won 84 games and missed the postseason. The club responded by acquiring veteran bats Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick to boost their lineup this winter.
The pitching staff, however, remains relatively unchanged. Houston did sign Charlie Morton, a nice veteran starter with a scary injury history, to solidify the back of the rotation, but he's not a difference-maker. As it stands, their rotation lines up like so:
Keuchel is coming back from a shoulder injury and McCullers has a fairly significant injury history himself. Young Joe Musgrove is a promising sixth starter, so there's some depth, which the 'Stros will surely need at some point because no team gets through the season with only five starters these days.
Point is, there is definitely room in that rotation for Quintana, an excellent and durable pitcher signed affordably for another four years. The Astros have been connected to him in recent weeks, which is why this scenario is not outlandish. Pair a healthy Keuchel with Quintana and Houston would be able to walk into any postseason series with two bona fide aces.
There's no doubt adding Quintana would make the Astros better and subtracting Quintana would make the White Sox worse. That's fine though. The ChiSox are rebuilding. They've already traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton this offseason. Quintana and Todd Frazier figure to be next to go.
More prospects for the White Sox, another high-end starter for the Astros. Another win-win.
David Robertson to the Nationals
Again, the White Sox are rebuilding, and it feels like only a matter of time until Robertson is traded. The last thing a bad team needs is an expensive closer, and Robertson is due $25 million over the next two seasons. There's nothing to be gained by keeping him.
The Nationals are closer-less at the moment, though they do have a very good closer candidate in Shawn Kelley, Robertson's former teammate with the Yankees. Robertson has never been one to complain about how he is used, and since both he and Kelley are already signed to multiyear contracts, neither figures to have an issue with being a setup man. Robertson has more experience as a closer, but Kelley may be the better pitcher right now.
Remember, the Nationals and White Sox already hooked up for the Eaton trade. The two sides also had serious talks about Sale earlier this offseason too. Chicago is familiar with Washington's farm system, which means a Robertson trade could come together quickly if both sides are interested.
There's no such thing as too many good relievers. Robertson would unquestionably improve the Nats' bullpen, regardless of whether he or Kelley closes.