1 hypothetical trade each AL Central team should make
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused MLB to institute a roster freeze, theScore editors have dreamed up one hypothetical trade each team should make once business gets back to normal. Here is the AL Central.
|Twins receive||Brewers receive|
|P Josh Hader||SS Royce Lewis|
|P Phil Bickford||P Jordan Balazovic|
|IF Yunior Severino|
|1B Gabe Snyder|
The Twins are a great team. Hader, one of the most dominant relievers in baseball, can help push them over the hump and strengthen an already excellent pitching staff. Most importantly, they have the prospect capital to satiate the Brewers' large asking price.
It's all about winning now for Minnesota. It hurts to surrender the young talent, but after signing Josh Donaldson, and with Nelson Cruz's impending free agency, the Twins shouldn't be waiting around - especially with the White Sox ready to compete. This trade would send a loud message to the rest of the American League.
Their package must start with Lewis, the former first overall pick who is blocked at shortstop by Jorge Polanco. Also included in the deal is Balazovic, Minnesota's No. 4 prospect, giving the Brewers a pair of top-100 kids in return for their star reliever. Rounding out the trade is Severino, a young infielder with room to grow, and Snyder, an unranked first-base prospect who mashed in the low minors last year.
From the Brewers' end, this is the kind of package that would be reasonable for Hader, who has four years of control remaining and will likely turn into a luxury item that would cost a mid-payroll team more than they're comfortable with. It gives them a path to fully retool around Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura while also restocking a barren farm system in a way that could pay off very fast. Lewis and Hiura would make a great double-play combination going forward.
|Indians receive||Red Sox receive|
|OF Jackie Bradley Jr.||P Triston McKenzie|
Indians outfielders combined for just 4.6 WAR in 2019, and aside from signing Domingo Santana, the front office did very little to address an obvious area of concern. A trade for Bradley would provide Cleveland with a Gold Glove defender and an upgrade over everyone else slated to play in the outfield.
Even in a down year, JBJ's 21 homers and 62 RBIs would have led Indians outfielders last season; shifting Oscar Mercado to right field wouldn't be problematic, as the youngster has experience at all three outfield spots.
Chaim Bloom has already demonstrated he has no problem making a major trade, and with the Red Sox's long-term future in mind, moving out Bradley - an impending free agent - and his $11-million salary would help out the club in the future.
McKenzie dropped to No. 9 among Indians' prospects in MLB Pipeline's ranking system after missing 2019 with back and pectoral injuries, but prior to that, he was effective in the minors. He flashed high strikeout totals, low walk rates, and had solid ERA and FIP numbers across various levels. Cleveland is well-stocked with pitching and is running out of time to win with Francisco Lindor and Co.
Chicago White Sox
|White Sox receive||Orioles receive|
|IF Hanser Alberto||IF Yolbert Sanchez|
The White Sox were one of baseball's busiest teams during the offseason, but second base still needs work. Chicago is slated to start Leury Garcia as it continues to wait for Nick Madrigal.
Enter a trade for Alberto, who had a breakout 2019 season after finally escaping DFA limbo. The 27-year-old hit .305/.329/.422 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs and barely struck out (9.1 K%).
He'd be a wise investment for the White Sox with two years of team control remaining, and his defensive versatility would allow him to move into a super-utility role when Madrigal is ready for the bigs.
In exchange for Alberto, the Orioles would continue to restock their farm system by acquiring Chicago's No. 21-ranked prospect Yolbert Sanchez. He's a speedy, defense-first shortstop signed out of Cuba who posted better numbers than Gunnar Henderson - Baltimore's top shortstop prospect - last season.
|Tigers receive||Cubs receive|
|3B Christopher Morel||P Joe Jimenez|
|1B Alfonso Rivas|
The Tigers remain years away from contention and continue to rebuild with this deal.
Although relievers are volatile, four years of cost-effective control attached to Jimenez's contract nets the Tigers a solid return with Morel and Rivas - Chicago's No. 10- and No. 27-ranked prospect, respectively. Rivas would immediately become the top first baseman in the Tigers' system and the addition of Morel would beef up depth at third.
The Cubs are still trying to contend this season after not selling in the winter. An All-Star in 2018, Jimenez posted a 12.4 K/9 last year, good for 12th among qualified AL relievers. The 25-year-old won't be arbitration eligible until the offseason, helping to upgrade the cash-strapped Cubs.
Kansas City Royals
|Royals receive||Phillies receive|
|SS Arquimedes Gamboa||P Ian Kennedy|
The rebuilding Royals need to compile prospects at every opportunity; Kennedy, who's entering the final year of his contract, represents one of their best chances to do that. However, with a $16.5-million salary at age 35, acquiring a player like Gamboa - Philadelphia's No. 28-ranked prospect - is likely the best return.
Gamboa, who struggled at Double-A last year, has slowly developed into a glove-first shortstop. But he's still just 22 years old, so there's plenty of room for him to develop. If he can show a bit more at the plate, the switch-hitter could become a major-league contributor.
Kennedy makes sense for the Phillies as a reliable right-handed bullpen arm who could help the club overcome two key relief injuries and contribute to their playoff push. For the Royals, turning Kennedy - whose contract didn't pan out until they turned him into a solid closer last year - into a low-risk, high-reward prospect is better than nothing, although they'll have to eat a considerable amount of his remaining salary.