While this offseason's free agent class has a number of valuable players, teams are always looking for ways upgrade their organizations through trades. Rather than spending tens-to-hundreds of millions of dollars on a player, multiple front offices could explore giving up prospects in exchange for proven MLB players. Below are eight players from five different teams to watch once the Winter meetings get underway.
San Francisco Giants
As the Giants gear up to try and continue their uncanny streak of winning the World Series every other year, they must upgrade their starting rotation. If the season were to begin today, they would trot out a starting five of Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Matt Cain, Chris Heston, and likely Yusmeiro Petit.
According to Jon Heyman, the Giants are reportedly looking to acquire "two starting pitchers" and depending on whom they target on the free agent market, it could make more financial sense to try and trade for a controllable starter. If Bobby Evans and his front office staff do decide that's the route they want to go, then shopping Andrew Susac would make sense.
As of this writing, Jeff Mathis, Dioner Navarro, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are the only free agent catchers left on the open market. Matt Wieters was expected to be a part of that group, but he accepted Baltimore's qualifying offer, which likely threw a wrench into a few teams' offseason plans. The Nationals and Braves were thought to be interested in acquiring Wieters, and could have interest in Susac if he was available. Both teams have starting pitchers that they can deal (Shelby Miller, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez), and they'd gain an offensive catcher who's team controlled through 2020.
Possible trade partners: Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays.
While many expect Carlos Gonzalez to be on the trade market this offseason, Colorado should seriously think about trading Jon Gray, and the recently acquired Jeff Hoffman instead. Both pitchers are considered to be top prospects, but neither will likely be able to reach their full potential if they have to pitch half their games in Coors Field.
In the Rockies' 23 year history, there have only been nine instances (for qualified pitchers) in which a starter has posted a full season FIP below 4.00.
|Jorge de la Rosa||2013||6.01||3.33||0.59||3.49||3.76|
|Jorge de la Rosa||2009||9.39||4.04||0.97||4.38||3.91|
*A bold year indicates that they also had an FIP below 4.00 at home.
To say that it's difficult to pitch in Coors field would be a drastic understatement. While it wouldn't be impossible for Gray and Hoffman to have successful careers pitching for the Rockies, it seems unlikely given the data at our disposal. Colorado has more than a few needs, and could try to address them by trading either one of their pitching prospects.
Possible trade partners: Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins.
Boston Red Sox
Dave Dombrowski has already completed one significant trade this offseason, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him pull the trigger on another. Jackie Bradley Jr. has already been mentioned in trade speculation, as the Red Sox might have an interest in Alex Gordon.
Another Boston prospect that could draw interest is Deven Marrero, although his value has undoubtedly taken a hit over the last couple of seasons. FanGraphs pegs his future value at 45 (out of 80) but he plays a premium position (SS) and another team could be interested in acquiring him as part of a larger package; possibly with Bradley.
The Red Sox's primary concern this offseason appears to be starting pitching, which they could also target through the free agent market. However with the recent news that Johnny Cueto turned down a six-year deal valued at $120 million, Dombrowski could ultimately decide that it would be easier to upgrade their rotation through a trade; especially if they can't offload some of Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval's contracts.
Possible trade partners: Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets.
At one time, Dylan Bundy looked like he was well on his way to dominating major league hitters, but injuries have prevented him from doing that. He was called up during the 2012 season and pitched 1.2 innings, but since then, Bundy has only managed to throw 65 innings.
Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, and being plagued by a shoulder injury which ultimately forced him to end his AFL season early, he's still a highly valued prospect. FanGraphs has his future value at 60, and he could undoubtedly develop into a front-line starter should he remain healthy.
While he ended the 2015 season at AA, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could return to the major leagues at some point in 2016. The Orioles have been linked to several free agent outfielders, and if a team was willing to part with a controllable asset, Baltimore could choose to capitalize on Bundy's remaining value.
Possible trade partners: Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins.
Of all 30 teams in baseball, the Cubs are perhaps the most well-set up team in the majors. They have controllable players at every infield position, as well as the corner outfield spots. They also boast depth in the minor leagues that can be matched only by the Astros and Red Sox, and as such, could use some of those players to facilitate a trade for a starting pitcher.
Behind Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, the Cubs have Kyle Kendricks, Jason Hammel, and Travis Wood. While Theo Epstein and his front office could decide to hold onto all their prospects and sign a pitcher through the open market, it might make more sense to use that money elsewhere.
Dan Vogelbach is an excellent trade piece, as he's essentially blocked at the major league level. His primary position is first base, where Anthony Rizzo is locked down. Chicago could also use Javier Baez or Starlin Castro as bait to acquire a starting pitcher, as they don't have room for both.
With a loaded farm system, and a clear need for starting pitching, the Cubs can likely outbid any other team looking to trade for a controllable starting pitcher.
Possible trade partners: Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees.