The Major League Baseball Trade deadline is now less than three weeks away, and while there have been a few impressive trades in recent days, there is expected to be many more trades ahead of July 31st. Superstars such as Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, and David Price will receive much of the media attention when discussing potential deals, but many other solid veterans will change teams and potentially impact playoff races down the stretch.
In this piece I have tried to give a reasonable idea of the prospect costs involved in potentially acquiring these veterans, but try not to focus too closely (or harshly) at the players I mention. Nevertheless these are 5 trades that I believe these various contenders should make to improve their teams and help clinch a playoff berth this fall.
The Washington Nationals Trade Prospects OF Rafael Bautista, LHP Hector Silvestre, and RHP Blake Treinen to Arizona for LHP Oliver Perez and SS Nick Ahmed
The Nationals roster currently is healthy, and the only places seemingly to easily upgrade the roster would be with a bench hitter or a left-handed relief specialist. Additionally, in recent days there have been rumors that Washington is looking to acquire a shortstop prospect to protect themselves in case Ian Desmond departs via free agency after 2015. This hypothetical trade allows the Nationals to get a left-handed specialist in Oliver Perez, a player the team reportedly had interest in last winter and whom is under contract for 2015, and Ahmed, a dynamic, near major league ready shortstop prospect.
In return the Diamondbacks receive a major league ready starting pitcher in Treinen, a groundball specialist who would be a good fit in Arizona’s home park, along with two emerging low-A prospects in Silvestre and Bautista. While it is difficult to envision this type of prospect-for-prospect type deal occurring midseason, this trade could benefit each team and the players involved both short and long-term.
The Baltimore Orioles Trade Prospects LHP Tim Berry and RHP Jimmy Yacabonis to Philadelphia for RHP A.J. Burnett
While Orioles fans are clamoring for a higher profile pitching acquisition, unless Baltimore wants to part with Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, or Hunter Harvey, they will need to set their sights a bit lower. The team, however, could use another reliable starter as they chase the AL East crown, and Phillies A.J. Burnett would be a terrific addition to their rotation.
Considering Burnett is making $15 million this season and has a mutual $15 million option for 2015, the Phillies may want to clear much of his remaining salary and turn the veteran pitcher into two young arms.
Kansas City Royals Acquire OF Josh Willingham from the Minnesota Twins for INF Cheslor Cuthbert and RHP Luis Santos
Although trades within the same division are difficult, the fit between Kansas City, who desperately needs a right-handed power hitter and Minnesota, who has Josh Willingham and continues to languish in the standings. Minnesota should not be interested in offering impending free agent Willingham arbitration, so they should look to convert this asset into 1-2 prospects. The Twins will not lack for suitors with Willingham, but the Royals have a deep farm system and should trump other offers to acquire this slugger.
Milwaukee Brewers Receive 1B Kendrys Morales from Minnesota for RHP Ariel Pena
Minnesota signed Morales last month hoping he would ignite the Twins offense or serve as a possible trade chip this summer. He has started slowly but Morales has begun to shown signs of life at the plate, and could be a major upgrade offensively from the combination of Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds. An impending free agent, the switch-hitting Morales should have plenty of teams looking to acquire him to bolster their roster ahead of the playoff chase.
The Atlanta Braves acquire OF Jonny Gomes and LHP Andrew Miller from Boston in exchange for RHPs Alec Grosser, Carlos Salazar, and a 3rd prospect
It is difficult to envision the World Champion Red Sox selling this summer, but currently in last place in the AL East and 10 games under .500, Boston will need quite a hot streak the next few weeks to avoid a massive sell-off.
Assuming they are sellers, two pieces that will interest contenders will be impending free agents Jonny Gomes, a notorious lefty masher, and Andrew Miller, a left-handed reliever currently enjoying a breakout season. These two players would fill Atlanta’s two biggest weaknesses, and their reasonable salaries could fit within their budget. Presently Atlanta does not have the strongest farm system but they have plenty of young pitchers to pique the interest the Red Sox.
Early Tuesday morning outstanding Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal wrote in his column that the Nationals are currently “actively seeking young shortstops” in trades with fellow teams. Rosenthal stated their interest is a direct consequence that cornerstone Ian Desmond has rejected numerous contract offers, including a rumored 7-year $85.5 million extension.
Obviously uber-prospects such as Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, or Addison Russell would be coveted potential replacements for Desmond, but unless the Nationals want to part with Lucas Giolito or a core part of their roster, those names appear out of reach. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, these are six additional prospects that could interest the Nationals if they decide to fill this possible organizational need.
Nick Ahmed SS Arizona Diamondbacks
Questions exist about how his bat will translate to the majors, but Ahmed is considered one of the better defensive shortstops in the minor leagues and is known for having excellent speed and quality baseball instincts. Ahmed could act as the Nationals backup middle infielder next season before taking over after 2015.
Arizona will continue to sell this month and with Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings ahead of him in the organization, Ahmed (or another Diamondback shortstop) should be on the move in the future.
Tim Anderson SS Chicago White Sox
Anderson is a raw prospect drafted by the White Sox in the 1st Round last summer who shows potential both as a hitter and defensively. Some scouts question if he is ultimately a shortstop in the majors, but Anderson has outstanding tools including excellent athleticism, a strong arm, and impressive pure bat speed.
Chicago is currently 3 games under .500 and 5.5 games back in the wild card, so they project to be sellers, but the White Sox have been aggressive dealing prospects in recent years, so perhaps the right offer could tempt them to part with Anderson.
Deven Marrero SS Boston Red Sox
Marrero has long been one of my favorite middle infield prospects since I watched him play in the Cape League many years ago. His baseball IQ will allow his solid tools to play stronger, as Marrero has a solid arm, good quickness, and projects as an above-average defensive shortstop. He will not hit for power, but Marrero should post reasonable on-base numbers while stealing plenty of bases.
Boston is struggling through a difficult season and will likely be a seller this month; however, with Xander Boegarts, Garin Cecchini, and Will Middlebrooks still seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart, the Red Sox would have to listen to a reasonable offer for Marrero.
Jose Peraza SS Atlanta Braves
Peraza has shifted between 2B and SS this season to prepare himself for a future position shift in Atlanta due to the presence of Andrelton Simmons, but he projects as an above-average or better defensive shortstop due to his powerful arm and quality athleticism. Peraza has very little power, but his career .303 batting average and .351 on-base percentages portend a quality top-of-the-lineup hitter in the major leagues.
Although an interdivisional trade between Washington and Atlanta is about as likely as a reunion between Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, considering Simmons is signed long-term, Peraza will be one of the most sought after prospects at the trade deadline.
Raul Mondesi Jr. SS Kansas City Royals
I do not foresee the Royals actively marketing him in trade discussions going forward, but as one of the elite shortstop prospects in the minor leagues, Mondesi would be on the short list of prospects of interest.
Luis Sardinas SS Texas Rangers
Another team struggling through a difficult season, Sardinas might be more available for trade this offseason, but the Rangers would have to listen to offers for him as Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are ahead of him in the organizational depth chart. That said Sardinas deserves his own respect as a prospect, as he projects as one of the best defensive shortstops currently in the minor leagues, possessing a strong arm, quick feet, soft hands, and excellent agility.
Like most middle infield prospects, scouts question his bat and he will not hit for power, so Sardinas will need to make contact and draw walks to be a starter in the big leagues: nevertheless the 21-year-old has an excellent chance to develop into a quality major league shortstop.
On Episode #5 of THE NatsGM Show I interviewed Baseball Prospectus Prospect Team member C.J. Wittmann Jr.
C.J. and I discuss Lucas Giolito, Dylan Bundy, the recent Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics trade, and Mike Trout in high school. Thanks for listening!