Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SweetSpot [Print without images]

Friday, November 23, 2012
Five blockbuster trade suggestions

By David Schoenfield

The blockbuster salary-dump trade between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays was officially approved Monday and now we’re back to the same old boring rumors about free agents, Justin Upton and Japanese infielders who won’t hit in America.

You know what we need? More blockbusters! They’re fun, they stir up heated debate and they show that general managers deep down aren’t really any different from fantasy baseball owners. It humanizes them and turns them into something other than cold, calculating machines studying spreadsheets and financial budgets.

In fact, if every GM just worked a little harder, they, too, could come up with their own blockbuster deal. Here are five examples.

Miami Marlins trade OF Giancarlo Stanton and OF/1B Logan Morrison to the Tampa Bay Rays for OF Desmond Jennings, RHP Wade Davis, RHP Chris Archer, LHP Enny Romero and OF Drew Vettleson

Why should the Marlins stop now? Stanton was an emotional wreck after half of his teammates were sent to the Blue Jays, so the Marlins face a small crisis with their star right fielder: (A) How will he produce playing in front of 827 fans a night? (B) What are the odds he’ll ever sign a long-term deal with Miami? (Umm ... 1 percent? 2 percent? Zero percent?)

So you may as well trade him now. By the time the Marlins are contenders again, Stanton will be ready for free agency. Luckily, they have a perfect trade partner in the same state. Larry Beinfest and Andrew Friedman probably could work this one out on a golf course in Orlando, followed by drinks at Benihana. The Marlins send Stanton and thorn-in-the-side Morrison for more minimum-wage young players and prospects. Davis and Archer immediately step into the club’s rotation, while Jennings becomes the much-needed starting center fielder.

As for the Rays, they get that monster bat for the middle of the order in Stanton, and Morrison moves back to his natural position of first base. In the absence of Jennings and departed free agent B.J. Upton, Sam Fuld can slide over to center, with Stanton and Matt Joyce manning the corners. The rotation remains well-stocked with David Price, Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann, and the lineup now looks something like this:

SS Ben Zobrist
LF Matt Joyce
3B Evan Longoria
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Logan Morrison
DH Brandon Guyer/free agent
2B Ryan Roberts/Elliot Johnson
CF Sam Fuld
C Jose Molina

Detroit Tigers trade 3B Nick Castellanos, SS Jhonny Peralta, OF Avisail Garcia and LHP Casey Crosby to the Baltimore Orioles for SS J.J. Hardy, RHP Jim Johnson and LHP Troy Patton

These two 2012 playoff teams match up nicely with a little creative thinking. The Tigers need a closer and better defense. The Orioles have super prospect Manny Machado ready to take over at shortstop but need a third baseman -- playing Machado at third for the final two years of Hardy’s contract would be a waste of resources.

Castellanos is Detroit’s top prospect but there’s nowhere to play him with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder locked in at the corners. Acquiring Hardy improves the defense at shortstop, with Peralta going to Baltimore to play third base for a year until Castellanos is ready. As good as Johnson was in 2012, his value will never be higher, and the Orioles should sell high on a reliever who has averaged fewer than six K’s per nine innings the past two years. They still have plenty of bullpen arms, with Tommy Hunter -- who was throwing in the upper 90s after a demotion from the rotation -- a sleeper option to close.

Cincinnati Reds trade CF Billy Hamilton, C Devin Mesoraco, RHP Mike Leake, RHP Sam LeCure and RHP Daniel Corcino to the Minnesota Twins for CF Denard Span, LF Josh Willingham, IF Jamey Carroll and IF Daniel Santana.

The Reds are in win-now mode, and as exciting a prospect as Hamilton is, what is he? A shortstop in the minors, he’s being moved to center field. He has some hitting and on-base skills, but no power, and his adjustment to major league pitching may take a couple of years. As is, he needs a year in Triple-A.

Span gives the Reds the immediate help they need in center field and the top of the order, while fitting nicely into the Reds’ budget. Instead of re-signing Ryan Ludwick, a good bet to regress from his 2012 numbers, Willingham is brought in and Carroll gives the team a better spare infielder than the Miguel Cairo/Wilson Valdez disaster of 2012.

As the Twins rebuild, depth is a priority. They have several good-looking hitting prospects on the way up, but little in the way of pitching. Leake and LeCure are solid back-of the-rotation arms -- which means they’re front-of-the-rotation arms for the Twins. Corcino is a decent pitching prospect who could be ready sometime in 2013. Mesoraco’s status lost some luster in 2012, and the Reds are better off sticking with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate, so he becomes Joe Mauer insurance in Minnesota.

Philadelphia Phillies trade LHP Cliff Lee, OF Nate Schierholtz and LHP Antonio Bastardo to the Texas Rangers for 3B Mike Olt, LHP Martin Perez, OF Leonys Martin and RHP Cody Buckel.

Forget Zack Greinke. The Rangers need an ace they know can deliver in the postseason. Plus, isn’t it about time for Lee to be on the move again? He’s actually spent two full seasons with the same team. We can’t have that. The Phillies get the third baseman they need in Olt, the promising Perez and a potential center fielder in Martin. They also dump Lee’s massive contract, which means they could spend the extra money to buy a free-agent outfielder or starting pitcher. (Or both!)

For the Rangers, Schierholtz is a solid platoon outfielder and gives them flexibility to move Nelson Cruz to DH. Bastardo is a nice lefty arm for a bullpen that had only one southpaw (Robbie Ross) most of the season.

And, who knows, even with Lee, the Rangers may have the cash to go after Greinke. How about this for a 2013 rotation:

Cliff Lee
Zack Greinke
Yu Darvish
Matt Harrison
Derek Holland

Three-way trade:

Arizona Diamondbacks trade RF Justin Upton and RHP Trevor Bauer and receive SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Vinnie Pestano and OF Michael Saunders

Cleveland Indians trade SS Asdrubal Cabrera, OF Shin-Soo Choo and RHP Vinnie Pestano and receive RHP Trevor Bauer, LHP Danny Hultzen and RHP Hector Noesi

Seattle Mariners trade LHP Danny Hultzen, OF Michael Saunders and RHP Hector Noesi and receive RF Justin Upton and OF Shin-Soo Choo

OK, we couldn’t avoid Upton and there’s nothing more creative than a good three-way deal. This trade works for all three teams. The D-backs get the shortstop they need and also part ways with Bauer, whom ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier "has fallen out of favor" with some in the organization. Saunders gives them a starting outfielder to hedge against the production of Gerardo Parra and prospect Adam Eaton and Pestano provides a killer right-hander for the bullpen alongside J.J. Putz and David Hernandez.

The Indians are desperate for starting pitching, and with this deal they pick up the second and third overall picks of the 2011 draft. Choo has one year left until free agency and is unlikely to re-sign with Cleveland.

The Mariners need offense, and although it wouldn’t be easy parting ways with Hultzen and Saunders, they get a desperately needed power bat for right field and at least one year of Choo -- a homecoming of sorts, because Choo originally came up with Seattle. How about this lineup for the Mariners:

LF Choo
2B Dustin Ackley
C John Jaso
RF Upton
3B Kyle Seager
DH Jesus Montero
1B Justin Smoak/free agent
CF Franklin Gutierrez
SS Brendan Ryan

OK, those are my ideas. Propose your own blockbusters below. It's fun for the whole family!