5 trades we want to see at MLB's winter meetings
Major League Baseball's winter meetings get underway Sunday in Nashville. When executives for all 30 teams get together in one location, a transaction isn't far behind. Here are five deals we hope to see over the next week.
Orioles finally land frontline starter
The Orioles are searching for a legitimate ace to lead the rotation and were reportedly interested in making a move for Cease at last season's trade deadline. Although Cease regressed following a breakout 2022, the right-hander has still amassed at least 3.7 fWAR in each of the previous three campaigns while racking up 11.4 K/9 over that span. Acquiring Cease would give Orioles manager Brandon Hyde a strong trio atop the rotation with Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez. Cease has two more years of club control before reaching free agency.
The White Sox appear to be entering a total rebuild. Acquiring Westburg as the headliner in the deal would be a strong move for new general manager Chris Getz. The 24-year-old showed flashes in his rookie season, hitting 17 doubles with a .715 OPS. Povich and Hoskin are top-20 prospects in the Orioles' extremely deep and talented farm system. Povich can throw five pitches for strikes and profiles as a strong strikeout pitcher. This would be a solid haul for a team looking to add as many potential building blocks as possible moving forward.
Corbin Burnes to Dodgers
The Brewers would enter tank mode if they made this trade. But it also wouldn't be a bad start to the rebuild. For two pending free agents who seem unlikely to re-sign, Milwaukee gets a return highlighted by a pair of young players in Pepiot and Busch. Both can contribute to the big-league club immediately. Pepiot has impressed in limited spurts with the Dodgers over the last two seasons, but he's getting squeezed out of the rotation long term and would get a more sustained chance to shine with the Brewers. Busch, the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect, is an on-base machine with several years of control left. He's the kind of young bat the Brewers need desperately. And like Pepiot, Busch would have a clearer path to playing time in Milwaukee. The Brewers also get a lottery ticket in 17-year-old Tillero and a stopgap veteran shortstop in Rojas, who could be flipped at the deadline.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers would improve dramatically overnight. Burnes is the dependable ace they need. He'll look great atop a 2024 rotation that will also boast a healthy Walker Buehler and two other bright young arms in Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan. L.A. also gets a head start on re-signing the former NL Cy Young winner long term. Adames would give the Dodgers an upgrade at shortstop over Rojas. His presence would allow the team to shift Gavin Lux over to second base and return Mookie Betts to right field more permanently. Adames' right-handed bat would help balance the team's lefty-heavy lineup.
Soto to Bronx in 3-team blockbuster
New York obviously covets Soto (who doesn't?) but is also probably balking at giving up its best youngsters for only one guaranteed year of his services. Without an exclusive window to negotiate an extension, the Yankees make this happen by flexing their financial muscle and taking on Cronenworth's $80-million contract to give San Diego some payroll relief. Cronenworth struggled over the last few years, but hitting into Yankee Stadium's cozy right-field porch might help him bounce back while giving the team some much-needed athleticism. New York does give up two of its top-five prospects in this deal, as well as a pending free agent in Torres. However, this trade allows it to get at least one year of Soto - and perhaps a head start on extension talks - and hold onto its best young talent.
The centerpiece for San Diego is Woo, who's entering his second big-league season and can immediately jump into the Padres' rotation. Pereira would be on the Padres' roster in 2024 as a useful young outfielder, while Schmidt adds another solid arm to the back of their staff. Hardman is an intriguing corner infield prospect who could arrive in the majors later this year. San Diego was never going to recoup everything it traded for Soto now that he's one year from free agency. This package, plus the salary relief freed up by including Cronenworth, is probably the best the Padres can do if they move him.
Seattle's inclusion helps San Diego land the best player it can for Soto while giving the Mariners some much-needed infield help. Torres, a pending free agent who the Yankees might not re-sign, could benefit from a change of scenery and would be a nice upgrade for Seattle at second base. The Mariners' surplus of young pitching enables them to trade Woo for Torres, along with a decent prospect in Lombard. Seattle might not come out of this with Soto, but this trade improves the team overall.
Reds look to Cleveland for rotation upgrade
The Reds looked to Cleveland to bolster their rotation in 2019 by acquiring Trevor Bauer and saw him win NL Cy Young the following year. Bieber claimed the AL Cy Young that same campaign, and with just one season remaining before free agency, it's hard to imagine the Guardians don't test the trade market for the 28-year-old. Cincinnati has several talented young arms in the rotation in Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft, and Nick Lodolo. However, the club is missing an established stopper to lead the group. Even though Bieber posted his highest ERA (3.80) in a season since 2018, he's still worth pursuing for a Reds team looking to take another step in 2024.
Cincinnati's glut of talented infielders blocks Arroyo's path to playing time. The 20-year-old has tantalizing potential, an impressive ability to hit for power, and can steal bases. Arroyo could be a great complement to star third baseman José Ramírez in Cleveland. Richardson made his MLB debut for the Reds in 2023. Despite struggling in four starts with the team, Richardson showed his potential with a 3.50 ERA and 100 strikeouts in just 69 1/3 innings in the minors last season.
Phillies add another star
This is more about us wanting Trout to play meaningful baseball next season than anything.
After years of resisting a trade and deciding to sign a long-term extension to remain with the Angels in 2019, it might finally be time for Trout to be dealt. The three-time MVP admitted he'd speak to Angels management about the team's direction moving forward following another disappointing campaign and the expected departure of superstar Shohei Ohtani in free agency. Losing Trout and Ohtani in the same offseason would devastate the fan base. But that team has also gone eight straight seasons without a winning record and has shown it can't build around Trout properly. As much as an icon Trout has been in Anaheim, there are signs his body may be breaking down. He's played just 49% of Los Angeles' games over the last three seasons. Now might be the best time to maximize his value with seven years and $260 million left on his deal.
With owner John Middleton and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski at the helm, the Phillies could be the ideal fit. Philadelphia hasn't been shy about chasing stars, and adding Trout might take the lineup to another level despite the health risks. Middleton has stated he's committed to returning a World Series to Philadelphia.
Including Castellanos is a bit of tough luck for the veteran outfielder. However, having him in the deal offsets some of the remaining money owed to Trout, helps bring back a better return, and clears a spot in the outfield. The Angels desperately need to add young talent in any deal for Trout, and taking on the remaining three years and $60 million on Castellanos' contract accomplishes that. They could flip him in another deal or have him around to mentor younger hitters.