5 trades we want to see at MLB's winter meetings
Major League Baseball's winter meetings are around the corner. When executives for all 30 teams get together in one location, a transaction isn't far behind.
Here are five deals - including some implausible ones - that we're hoping get hatched.
Ohtani moves from Anaheim to Hollywood
|Dodgers receive||Angels receive|
|P/DH Shohei Ohtani||2B Gavin Lux|
|P Michael Grove|
|P Bobby Miller|
|2B/OF Michael Busch|
|OF Andy Pages|
|P Landon Knack|
The Angels already said they wouldn't trade Ohtani, and their early-offseason investment into their club certainly supports that. However, we want to see this trade, and the Dodgers are perhaps the only team that could pull off a blockbuster of this caliber. They have the farm system, the desire to win now, and the means to immediately extend the pending free agent.
Adding Lux makes sense for a Halos infield that will see some changes with the addition of Gio Urshela. Relegating Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher to more part-time roles makes them a much deeper squad to hopefully win now.
The deal also bolsters the Angels' farm system with a bunch of near-MLB-ready talent. Grove didn't look especially sharp in his big-league debut campaign in 2022, but he's shown elite strikeout stuff in the minors. Miller could probably use a bit more seasoning. However, the 23-year-old is certainly on the cusp of helping an MLB club and will likely be significantly more polished than Grove was when he got the call.
Busch and Pages - the hitters in the package - are a bit of wild cards. Neither excels at making contact, but they make up for whiffs with prodigious power. Knack is no slouch, either. While the 25-year-old has progressed in the minors as a starter, his future in the majors might be as a reliever. He could help the Angels much sooner in that role.
Losing Ohtani would sting. And this deal likely makes them slightly worse for the 2023 season. But it's better than losing the two-way superstar to free agency next winter for nothing, and this package conceivably keeps the Angels relevant for longer. Not to mention, the likelihood of the Angels extending Ohtani seems slim given what they already have on the books with Trout and Anthony Rendon. Plus, owner Arte Moreno is looking to sell the team.
Cardinals find replacement for Molina
|Cardinals receive||Athletics receive|
|C Sean Murphy||OF Nolan Gorman|
|P Jordan Hicks|
|P Andre Pallante|
For the first time in more than a decade, the Cardinals enter a season without the security blanket of Yadier Molina behind the plate. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak should look west for an ideal replacement. Athletics catcher Sean Murphy quietly blossomed into one of MLB's best all-around backstops, ranking third in fWAR (8.4) since the beginning of the 2021 campaign. Murphy, under club control through 2025, is an elite pitch framer with a strong arm and great ability to manage a pitching staff.
Trading Murphy would be another move in Oakland's latest rebuild after the club said goodbye to Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson over the past few seasons. However, with Shea Langeliers in the fold at catcher, it's understandable why general manager David Forst might consider maximizing the return on an elite talent like Murphy. Gorman doesn't offer much value defensively but hit 14 home runs in his first 89 MLB games. He clearly has what it takes to succeed as a quality offensive player at the highest level. The bloom has fallen off the rose on Hicks somewhat. However, the hard-throwing right-hander can still rack up strikeouts out of the bullpen. Pallante posted a 3.17 ERA in a hybrid role for the Cardinals in 2022. The right-hander could emerge as an intriguing starting pitcher if he develops a third offering to complement his effective fastball and slider.
Blue Jays bolster rotation with Cy Young winner
|Blue Jays receive||Guardians receive|
|P Shane Bieber||C Gabriel Moreno|
|P Adam Macko|
Trading Bieber off a surprising AL Central title in 2022 doesn't make a ton of sense from the Guardians' perspective on paper. The biggest reason to consider it is that the 2020 AL Cy Young winner has only two years of club control remaining. Cleveland isn't the type of team to run a high payroll. It's difficult to see a scenario where it ponies up to keep Bieber long term. Exploring the trade market now would enable Chris Antonetti to maximize a possible return if he pulls the trigger on a deal.
The Guardians desperately need an infusion of talent behind the plate. Moreno is one of baseball's top prospects and is extremely polished offensively and defensively. Although there are some concerns about his ability to consistently hit for power, Moreno does an excellent job at making contact and avoiding strikeouts. Cleveland catchers posted a paltry 55 wRC+ in 2022 and ranked 24th in fWAR (minus-0.2). Moreno comes with years of club control and profiles as an ideal fit in the lineup alongside Jose Ramirez. The Blue Jays just acquired Macko in the Teoscar Hernandez trade. The young left-hander immediately became one of Toronto's top 10 prospects and would be an intriguing arm for the Guardians to try to mold.
The attractiveness of Bieber to Toronto is obvious. He's still one of baseball's premier starting pitchers and would form arguably the game's best trio of hurlers alongside Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman. The Blue Jays entered the offseason needing to shore up the rotation, with Ross Stripling uncertain to return in 2023. Toronto is firmly in its window to win right now, so prioritizing the present over the future, especially with a surplus of catchers, seems like a prudent course of action for general manager Ross Atkins.
Orioles make a splash for an ace
|Orioles receive||Brewers receive|
|P Corbin Burnes||OF Colton Cowser|
|P Adrian Houser||IF Jordan Westburg|
|P DL Hall|
|P Kyle Bradish|
The Orioles announced to everyone after a surprisingly strong 2022 campaign that they're on the cusp of playoff contention. So, there's no better time than this winter to make a big splash and add a top-end starter like Burnes to lead the rotation. It might seem a bit early to add an ace, but it certainly worked for the Chicago Cubs when they signed Jon Lester prior to the 2015 season. Burnes could be Baltimore's Lester.
Of course, the Cubs signed Lester as a free agent, and Burnes - under team control through 2024 - would cost substantial prospect capital. But the Orioles have an ample farm system and could pull this off without losing Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, or Heston Kjerstad.
That isn't to say the Brewers get fleeced, though. Cowser and Westburg could be fixtures on the small-market team for years. And, from a cost-control standpoint, neither of their service-time clocks have started ticking, so they're inexpensive and jump-start a mini rebuild that began with the midseason Josh Hader trade.
Meanwhile, Hall becomes the heir apparent to take over Burnes' role in the rotation. He's still a bit raw and sometimes struggles with command and control. Hall likely won't hit Burnes' ceiling, but the Brewers are known for getting the most out of pitching prospects.
A little swap of Bradish for Houser gives the Brewers a 26-year-old back-end starter with room to grow while the Orioles gain some flexibility with a bona fide major-league swingman.
Yankees, Mariners, Marlins hatch 3-way blockbuster
|Yankees receive||Mariners receive||Marlins receive|
|P Pablo Lopez||2B Gleyber Torres||OF Oswaldo Cabrera|
|OF Jesse Winker||P Frankie Montas||P Luis Gil|
|OF Jarred Kelenic|
|OF Taylor Trammell|
|IF Isiah Kiner-Falefa|
Let's get nuts.
Who doesn't love a three-team trade? Especially one that addresses each team's needs.
The Yankees fill a glaring hole in the middle of the rotation by adding the proven and reliable Lopez into the mix behind Gerrit Cole. Over the past three years, the righty authored a 3.52 ERA and 3.48 FIP across 340 innings. New York also gets a good slugging left-handed hitting outfielder in Winker for a corner spot in case the club can't re-sign Aaron Judge. The move would also relegate Aaron Hicks to a bench role.
By parting with Torres, the Yankees solve a middle infield logjam. Starting on Opening Day, DJ LeMahieu could return to second base while Oswald Peraza takes shortstop - at least until top prospect Anthony Volpe is ready for his shot in the bigs.
The Mariners have already been connected with Torres trade rumors this offseason. Although he only carries one more year of club control, Torres would fill a big need for them. Seattle's second basemen hit just 13 home runs in 2022 while registering an anemic 74 wRC+ and .594 OPS. Torres hasn't replicated his breakout 2019 campaign but is a safe bet for 20-plus homers and would provide another quality bat for manager Scott Servais. And while Dylan Moore was the incumbent at the keystone, he can seamlessly move into an outfield role.
Montas struggled after the Yankees acquired him near the trade deadline from the Athletics. The right-hander battled shoulder issues and took his lumps adjusting to the AL East after finding success in the less imposing AL West. A move back to the west coast could serve Montas well. Seattle already boasts an embarrassment of riches in the rotation with Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, Robbie Ray, and George Kirby. Montas could slot right into that fifth spot. The familiarity of the division might be enough to get the talented right-hander back on track.
The Marlins get a bunch of players who could grow into a more defined role in Miami. Cabrera, a switch-hitter with decent tools and no specific weakness, is the central piece. Gil needs some help fixing walk issues but could bloom into an impactful starting pitcher given the opportunity - not unlike Jesus Luzardo. Kelenic was considered a top-tier prospect, although he hasn't panned out at the major-league level. Lastly, Trammell and Kiner-Falefa will serve as major-league contributors while the front office assesses what's next.