26 Oct MLB Hot Stove: 2017 Off-Season Trade Candidates
By: Lou Landers – @realSportsCrew
Josh Donaldson: Third Baseman, Toronto Blue Jays
Donaldson has just one year left on his contract with the Blue Jays, and after a down season for the team in 2017, they may be looking to rebuild their offense for the future to go with their talented young starting pitching. What the Jays currently lack is depth at the big league level, particularly in the OF and it’s about to get thinner with Bautista set to leave as a free agent. Trading Donaldson for a haul of big league ready hitters could be exactly what the Jays need to get themselves back to being competitive again the AL East.
The first team that comes to mind for Donaldson is the St. Louis Cardinals, simply because they expressed heavy interest in him during the season and also happen to have a number of young position players they can trade to make it happen; I’m thinking a package of MLB players such as Grichuk, Wong, Piscotty and Aledmys Diaz. This would work for the Blue Jays who are short 2 outfielders, can use Diaz at 3B and have Wong as an extra INF/OF. They would not have to spend money in free agency on offense. For the Cardinals, it frees up roster space for them to sign JD martinez this offseason and have an every day infield of Donaldson, De Jong, Gyroko and Carpenter.
If I had to pick a 2nd team for Donaldson, it would be the New York Mets. They’re in desperate need of a 3B and an offensive upgrade. The question is, do they have the prospects or MLB talent to get a deal done? In my opinion they don’t and they’re better off trying to sign a player like Mike Moustakas or Todd Fraizer in free agency.
Giancarlo Stanton: Right Fielder, Miami Marlins
With new ownership taking over in Miami, rumors have been swirling around that they want to get out from under the huge contract they have with current slugger, Giancarlo Stanton. With that being said, there are only a handful of teams around MLB that have both the financial capabilities and the players/prospects to make this deal happen.
I think the Boston Red Sox would be a perfect fit for Giancarlo Stanton and a great trade partner for the Marlins. A package revolving around Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts heading to Miami would likely get this deal done. For Boston, they would move Betts back to CF, have Stanton in RF and add a big power bat that they so desperately need following the retirement of Big Papi last offseason.
For the Marlins, they would rid themselves of the big contract of Stanton, while also getting back a terrific young OF in Bradley Jr. and at the same time, getting a young a very talented shortstop. Although Bogaerts had what many would consider a down year in 2017, lets not forget that coming into the year, he was thought of as one of the leagues top young SS. If the Red Sox also throw in a bat like Sam Travis and a mid level pitching prospect, I believe a deal can be had between these 2 ball clubs.
Dellin Betances: Relief Pitcher, New York Yankees
I strongly believe that Betances has thrown his last pitch as a Yankee. Not only have there been contract disputes between the big right hander and team executives, but after a very up and down 2017 season and a horrible playoff showing, the Yankees patience with him is running thin. Of course, last season’s acquisitions of Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson also make Betances much more expendable. The Yankees could use him in a package with prospects to trade for another SP or even just trade him by himself and load up on more prospects. Although the team is still very deep in their farm system, they did make 2 big trades in 2017; one with the Oakland A’s and another with the Chicago White Sox which saw them trade 7 prospects in total.
There’s no shortage of teams in need of a late innings relief pitcher, and even with his struggles in 2017, no one can deny that the talent is there. When this guy is right, he is one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the game today. So despite his up and down season, I can make the argument that at least 20 teams around MLB would be interested in the services of Betances, if not all of the 29 other teams. Because of that, I’m not going to pick a team or 2 that I think will acquire him, I just stand by my thoughts that he will be pitching in a different uniform come spring training in 2018.
Ian Kinsler: Second Baseman, Detroit Tigers
Kinsler has seen a dip in his production over the last season and a half and with the Tigers in complete rebuild mode, he may be the next veteran shipped out of town. He comes with a pretty hefty price tag that the Tigers would likely have to eat some of, but there is no question that GM Al Avila is ready to deal. In the past 3 months, we saw the Tigers trade away JD Martinez, Justin Upton and long time Tigers ace Justin Verlander, leading me to believe that anyone and everyone over the age of 30 could be traded out of Detroit.
The number of teams interested in Kinsler is going to be pretty small, considering that only contenders will have interest. However, there are 2 teams that stand out to me as potential buyers for his services. The Los Angeles Angels are the first team, not only do they need a 2B but they also need a guy who can hit atop their lineup in front of Trout and Pujols. Kinsler has been hitting in the 1 or 2 hole for years and would fit in perfectly. The Angels are also no stranger to trading for veteran players, we saw them trade for now free agent Brandon Phillips last year as well as the aforementioned Justin Upton who is likely going to opt out of his deal.
The 2nd team on my list for Kinsler is the Milwaukee Brewers. They traded for Neil Walker at last years trade deadline but Walker is now set to become a free agent. They do have Jonathan Villar who started last year as their 2B, but he was horrible in 2017 and can also be used in the OF if necessary. The Tigers would definitely need to eat close to 75% of Kinsler’s contract to get a deal done with MIL, but I definitely see a partnership between these 2 ball clubs.
Gerrit Cole: Starting Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates
Although he was rumored to be on the move at this season’s trade deadline, Cole still finds himself as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In my opinion, by the end of the winter meetings in December, Cole will be pitching for a new team. The Pirates were a contender just a few seasons ago, but now find themselves as the 4th best team in the NL Central division and with an opportunity to sell off some pieces and begin a mini rebuild.
There is certainly no shortage of teams in need of a low end number 2 SP or high end number 3 starter around MLB. Cole has had his ups and downs over the last 3 seasons but still does possess top of the rotation caliber “stuff”. There are two American League teams that are expected to contend next year that I see making a play for Cole this offseason. Both teams made the playoffs in 2017 and actually faced off against one another in the Wild Card round.
The first team is the New York Yankees. This team is always looking to add starting pitching and find themselves in a unique position this offseason. They have a lot of money coming off the books and also have a lot of depth in their farm system as I mentioned earlier. Michael Pineda is gone, CC Sabathia is a free agent and after a terrific post season, Masahiro Tanaka is expected to opt out of his deal as well. This of course leaves holes in the Yankees rotation, and the team has already stated that they are not going to be spending big money in free agency this offseason. This leads me to believe that they will be in the market for a SP via trade and Cole is an ideal target for them.
The Minnesota Twins are another team that should have interest in brining in Gerrit Cole. They are a small market team that likely will not be spending money in free agency but they do have a wealth of young talent not just on their big league roster but also in the minor leagues. The Twins had one of baseballs better offenses in 2017 but struggled on the mound with the exception of Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. Adding an arm like Cole would give the Twins a formidable 1, 2, 3 in their rotation which should help them get back to the post season in 2018. There is a window for the Twins right now in the AL Central because the Royals, Tigers and White Sox are all going through rebuilds. They will of course have to deal with the Indians, but their schedule will definitely be one of the lighter ones among 2017 playoff teams.