Early 2021 Trade Deadline Ideas

I am getting into the trade deadline idea today, it’s still over 6 weeks away though. The reason is I think if a team needs someone or something or has an obvious hole, I’ve never understood sitting around waiting an extra month for the deadline. You could get an extra 6-8 starts from a starting pitcher if you went to grab them now versus waiting and if you are trading for them, you are trying to make your squad better. Regardless, here are a few trades that I think would make teams better on paper right now:

Braves Get: OF Mitch Haniger
Mariners Get: OF Michael Harris, C Shea Langeliers, 1B Bryce Ball and SP Bryce Elder

The Braves are now in the market for a middle of the order hitter because it is not likely Marcell Ozuna will be back. Travis D’arnaud being hurt has also hurt the offense this year. William Contreras has come up and become of the young catcher the Braves which makes Langeliers a bit more expendable. As a team after being 1-2 with the Dodgers in hitting last season the Braves have taken a step back this season with a wRC+ of 101, or just above league average. Losing two hitters drowns out the breakout of Austin Riley and on a team that needs to hit to have success now is vital time to get an impact bat for Atlanta. Haniger is an All-Star who suffered some horrible injuries but he is a solid hitter with a lot of power and he also walks a solid amount. He’s one of the most underrated players in baseball right now and could slide right into the four hole in Atlanta smooshed between Freeman and Riley and providing that offensive pop that the Braves have been lacking. He is already at 16 home runs, just 10 shy of his career high and this is despite him hitting the ball on the ground a few percentage points higher than normal. This likely means the extra power is here to stay. He’s not great on defense and he has been whiffing at a higher rate than usual this year and below the league average rate but when push comes to shove he steps in a replaces Ozuna in a way that nobody else on the market can and he will be a solid hitter who provides them some big hits. Now as a return package for Haniger, who is under team control through next season the Braves will need to give Seattle a good catcher in Langeliers who is now a borderline top 100 prospect. His defense and arm have been held in a high regard but he is hitting for power now too. Baseball Info Solutions tweeted out some minor league stats they have been tracking a few days ago and Michael Harris has 8 defensive runs saved in the minors already this year. Now defensive minor league metrics may be imperfect but to do that you have to be a good defender and he has good athleticism. Ball would give the Mariners another power hitting prospect and a back-up plan for Evan White who can DH. Elder is from last draft class and is a polished pedigree and a good slider. He looks to be a possible number 4 starter one day. It’s a steep prospect price to pay but the Braves really need to win now and Haniger is a great piece for them.

Cardinals Get: SP Max Scherzer

National Get: 3B Nolan Gorman

Is Nolan Gorman a steep price to pay for 12-ish starts of Max Scherzer? Possibly. The Cardinals could gain a huge edge in a close division that the Cubs have been edging them out in. The Cubs traded their ace and the Cardinals could gain one and get Jack Flaherty back which would be a huge boost forward for them. The Nationals have been reluctant to sell in the past but Gorman would make it worth their while and it gives the Cardinals first negotiating rights with hometown player Max Scherzer. Gorman is blocked by Nolan Arenado so unless we see him move to the outfield he is an expendable piece for the Cardinals and if they are seriously going for it, what better target than Mad Max? Scherzer is 36 now but he’s really not pitching much worse than he was in his prime and is still one of the better arms in the game, even if he’s not one of the best 3-4 guys now. Any concerns of 2020 for Max are gone now too as he as gotten his walks back down to normal and his fastball velocity is normal and out on the mound he looks like himself. His ERA is around 2.20, SIERA around 2.60 and his FIP numbers are around 3 and he is locating and getting weak contact as he has a low xOBA against. His fastball-slider combo has been very sharp. Gorman gives the Nationals stability at a position where Carter Kieboom looks to be a bust after letting Rendon walk away and is really one of the premier hitting prospects in baseball right now and he is getting really close to being MLB ready at a young age, which would give the Nats another huge impact player to go with Soto and Turner. The Nationals need to retool as well, so this would be a win-win deal for both sides.

Yankees Get: OF Ketel Marte

Diamondbacks Get: SP Luis Gil, SP Luis Medina, SS Anthony Volpe, SP Clarke Schmidt

It’s no secret that the Yankees need some offense infused into their team this year as they sit a few games above .500. Their hitters have regressed this year; namely D.J. LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela. Basically most of the team. Guys like DJ and Gleyber will improve but with Aaron Hicks is now out for the season and Ketel Marte can play center field well. His power would play up at Yankee Stadium and despite some hamstring bad luck he’s done nothing but play well this year. He seems to have corrected some of his issues, namely his wOBA has improved over the plate, as Matt Wallach at PitcherList pointed out last year that he was struggling there. He is hitting the ball hard and is closer to his 2019 than 2020 right now. His biggest issue so far is just his batted ball types as he is having some trouble getting the ball in the air. I think the fact he’s doing so well despite this is impressive and honestly this is likely noise and he will likely hit more fly balls, combined with his hard exit velocities he would make a killing in Yankee Stadium. He can still play center and move well and is in his prime with team control through next season left. He is exactly what the Yankees need as he can hit at the top of the order. A line-up with him in it may look like this:

  1. 2B DJ LeMahieu
  2. CF Ketel Marte
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Giancarlo Stanton
  5. 1B Luke Voit
  6. SS Gleyber Torres
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. 3B Gio Urshela
  9. LF Brett Gardner/Clint Frazier

That would be a tough line-up if some of the guys start to hit like they can. The Yankees need to do something big in a division that has 3 other legitimate playoff contenders. The Dbacks would require a hefty return. Anthony Volpe profiles as a shortstop with speed and possible top of the order hitter as a former Yankee first rounder. He’s still young and would be riskier but has a good potential. Gil, Medina and Schimdt would all be huge pieces for the Diamondbacks though as all project to be solid MLB starting pitchers. Gil has climbed the fastest and throws very fast and has electric stuff. Schmidt is close to the majors as he has already debuted and with some work on his control he can be a very solid starter, even better of a version than Luke Weaver has been for them. Medina is electric like Gil but has a better curveball and has the highest ceiling of all of these pitchers in my opinion as he could develop into an ace.

Reds Acquire: SS Trevor Story

Rockies Acquire: SS Jose Barrero, SP Lyon Richardson, OF Aristedes Aquino, SP Christian Roa

Now hear me out, the Reds are getting hot and they seem to want to compete despite keeping a tight budget that didn’t allow them to keep Bauer, Iglesias, or sign a shortstop this offseason. Story would be strictly a rental player. Story has already said he’s not really exploring an extension in Colorado, so Colorado could attach a first rounder on him or try and acquire a bunch of players and hope some work out. Think of the Manny Machado deal for the Orioles, they only got back a low end top 100 prospect and a bunch of flyer prospects that were good at certain skills and might’ve turned out, though nobody in that trade has so far. Would Colorado be better trying to draft a first roudner instead? Maybe, but the front office and ownership seems a bit scrambled to say the least and trading Story seems like the smarter option. For the Reds Story provides them with a five tool player where they most need it. He will complement the already strong offense but offers another dimension with his speed and plugs the biggest hole on the line-up and on defense at shortstop allowing Suarez to play third full time. He would make a huge impact and be a difference maker. He could be that extra win or two that makes a difference for Cincinnati this year in making the playoffs. He’s easily going to be the best player on the market, but he may not require the biggest return. For Colorado first they could take on Aristedes Aquino and put him in heaven with his power at Coors. He is blocked in Cincinnati and when Senzel comes back they could easily deal him. Barrero (formerly Garcia) offers Colorado a near MLB ready shortstop option. He’s not a power guy but he can be a table setter who rounds out the Rockies possibly in the next few seasons. Roa and Richardson provide arms that have upside as Roa is a strikeout machine who has the chance to start and Richardson has developed solidly so far and could be a solid 3/4 option one day with a solid all-around scouting report from stuff to control to athleticism.

Cubs Acquire: SP Matthew Boyd

Tigers Acquire: C Miguel Amaya

The Cubs need a starter and they probably should really regret trading Yu Darvish last off-season. They are middle of the road with team FIP of 4.31 and 9.15 K/9. Their starters have a WAA 2.7 wins worse than average, so despite the positive WAR they are a little below average as a whole in the starting department and to compete they really need to improve this soon. I think they are outplaying expectations because a good clubhouse chemistry as the core has been together for years and because the starting pitching has held up well. That doesn’t change the fact they really need one more starter. Boyd wouldn’t be the best guy on the market if Scherzer is for sure available but I don’t see Nationals calling up Chicago unless they offer up Marquez or Davis. Amaya is certainly talented and he could be a better defender than Willson Contreras with a bit of a lighter bat at full potential but he is somewhat expendable and the Tigers are looking to add any talented position players to the mix. Amaya would be a huge get for them. The way Boyd has been pitching they can make the asking price higher and Boyd when he’s on is a really good pitcher. He does come with some risk as he is an extreme flyball pitcher but if the Tigers do trade him he may be the Cubs best option. He gets many strikeouts and would give them a nasty lefty in the rotation which is something they currently are lacking. He could really anchor down the rotation behind Hendricks who is getting back to normal finally. When Boyd has good command he is actually very efficient, he is sometimes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but he is the best chance I can see for the Cubs to improve that rotation for their playoff run. Also to note, Boyd’s average fastball is 91.7, which is actually faster than the Cubs starters average fastball this year and this is from the left side too, so he’d give them more of a power pitcher look than most of the guys currently in the rotation.

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