Winter Meetings Trading Guide 2018

The Winter Meetings are nearly upon us! These meetings have long been a beacon of hope in an otherwise long and arduous offseason. In advance of this year’s summit in Phoenix, I have surveyed 90% of our general managers to identify which players are on the trade block and what teams might be a good fit for them based on their stated needs. Thank you to everyone for participating, and without further ado, here are the results.

Sellers

Somewhere in Between

Buyers

Chicago CubsCleveland IndiansHouston Astros

Baltimore OriolesArizona DiamondbacksCincinnati RedsColorado RockiesMilwaukee BrewersMinnesota TwinsTampa Bay RaysSt. Louis CardinalsToronto Blue JaysWashington NationalsDetroit TigersPhiladelphia PhilliesOakland AthleticsPittsburgh PiratesTexas RangersBoston Red Sox

Los Angeles AngelsLos Angeles DodgersNew York MetsAtlanta BravesMiami MarlinsSan Francisco GiantsSan Diego PadresSeattle Mariners

Starting Pitcher

In his time between the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers, Stephen Strasburg has quietly been one of the best performing and most durable pitchers in MLB Pro history. Maybe it’s this author’s ignorance on the stars of the American League, or Strasburg’s quiet demeanor, but I had no idea just how good Strasburg has been.

At the risk of not doing him justice, I’ll just give you the accolades. Here are the Top 5 fun facts of Stephen Strasburg:

  • Strasburg won the 2013 NL Cy Young and the 2016 AL Cy Young awards.
  • He’s lead the league in ERA twice (2.41 in ’13 and 2.43 in ’16), strikeouts four times (275 and 284 in ’13-14 … 291 and 261 in ’16-17), WHIP twice (0.96 in ’13 and 0.99 in ’16).
  • He was a 20 game winner in 2016.
  • Strasburg is the all-time MLB Pro strikeout king with 1,476 and has 35.9 WAR in his career (2nd only to Clayton Kershaw’s 38.1).
  • Strasburg has never spent time on the disabled list and has 168 starts since he was a full-time MLB’er in 2013.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, he’s on the trade block. Go get him.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Neil Ramirez – SP/RP/LR, 28, Rays

Chad James – SP/RP/LOOGY, 26, Rays

Hudson Boyd – SP/RP/LR, 25, Indians

Joseph Musgrove – SP, 25, Diamondbacks

Richard Alvarez – SP, 25, Diamondbacks

Victor Sanchez – SP, 22, Diamondbacks

Pat Crosby – SP/1B/LF/CF/RF, 26, Astros

Stephen Strasburg – SP, 29, Tigers

Brad Peacock – SP, 29, Phillies

Kyle McPherson – SP/RP/LR, 30, Padres

James Paxton – SP, 29, Athletics

Jarrod Parker – SP, 29, Pirates

Adam Wainwright – SP/RP/LR, 36, Red Sox

Tommy Hanson – SP, 31, Dodgers

Various Seattle Mariners Starters

Seeking Ace Starter:

Baltimore Orioles

Cincinnati Reds

Tampa Bay Rays

Oakland Athletics

Seeking Mid/Back-of-Rotation Starter:

Baltimore Orioles

St. Louis Cardinals

Milwaukee Brewers

Colorado Rockies

Detroit Tigers

Oakland Athletics

Relief Pitcher

In 2012, the Oakland Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies met up for a trade: Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray went to the East coast, and the package in return included a 23 year old reliever who had barely pitched at the major league level. That reliever was Phillippe Aumont.

Since the trade, Aumont has been a member of the A’s bullpen in various roles – he’s played middle reliever, he’s played the workhorse (appearing in a league-leading 92 games in 2014), he’s played the setup guy, and the last two seasons he’s been one of the top closers in the American League.

30 saves in 2016. 35 saves in 2017. Those numbers, for team that only won 65 and 79 games those years. He’s posted ERAs in the mid-2.00s, and appeared in 140 games in that time. He even cut down the walks in 2017, lowering his BB/9 to 3.0 while maintaining his strikeouts and logging a career-best 1.17 WHIP.

What separates Aumont from a guy like Brian Wilson (an impressive closer in his own right) is his contract situation. It’s similar to Austin Adams, whom the Cubs just traded to acquire their #3 and #6 prospects – just $800k a season for three more years.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Pete Levitt – CL, 28, Cubs

Brian Wilson – CL, 25, Tigers

Phillippe Aumont – CL/SU, 28, Athletics

J.P. Howell – CL/SU/LOOGY, 34, Rays

Blaine Howell – SU/RP/LOOGY, 29, Padres

Brett Bochy – RP, 30, Cubs

Aaron Dott – RP, 29, Rays

Krishawn Holley – RP, 25, Astros

Neil Ramirez – SP/RP/LR, 28, Rays

Kyle McPherson – SP/RP/LR, 30, Padres

Adam Wainwright – SP/RP/LR, 36, Red Sox

Hudson Boyd – SP/RP/LR, 25, Indians

Chad James – SP/RP/LOOGY, 26, Rays

Various Minnesota Twins Relievers

Seeking Closer/Set-Up:

Baltimore Orioles

Tampa Bay Rays

Atlanta Braves

San Francisco Giants

Boston Red Sox

Seeking Middle Relief:

Baltimore Orioles

Milwaukee Brewers

Los Angeles Dodgers

Atlanta Braves

Miami Marlins

Oakland Athletics

Pittsburgh Pirates

Seeking Lefty Specialist:

Colorado Rockies

Oakland Athletics

Relief Pitcher Key: CL = Closer (20+ saves in a single pro season). SU = Set-Up Man (20+ holds in a single pro season). MR = Middle Relief. LR = Long Relief (50+ stamina rating). LOOGY = Lefty Specialist (ratings favor vs left-handed batters). 

Catcher

Over the past three seasons, Tommy Joseph has started almost 400 games behind the plate for the Baltimore Orioles. He’s hit nearly 80 home runs during that time and had a career year in 2016 (slugging .556 and posting 5.6 WAR).

Joseph’s powerful swing is in solid company with household names like Braulio Pardo and Cameron Gallagher. However, a few weeks ago the O’s made a trade with Texas to acquire backstop Sandy Leon. He’s an elite receiver behind the plate and a captain in the clubhouse, and the O’s depth chart currently shows him starting for the 2018 season.

Thus, the O’s are dangling Joseph. He doesn’t have the defensive reputation teams seem to be valuing nowadays, but for a team looking for offense, adding Joseph would be quite the catch.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Tommy Joseph – C/1B, 26, Orioles

Joe Mauer – C/1B/2B/RF, 34, Tigers

New York Mets

First Baseman

The Milwaukee Brewers have two solid corner infielders on their roster, and one of them could be moved during the winter meetings. Between Josh Vitters and Santiago Mateo, the latter is one of the best bats on the trade block.

Mateo has been playing in Milwaukee since he signed back in 2012. In that time, he’s hit 178 doubles, and lead the league in two-baggers with 43 in 2016. Mateo’s gap power plays well in Miller Park, and his defensive versatility at first and third base will serve his next team well if he’s dealt.

Mateo is a mainstay in Milwaukee (word on the street is he hasn’t paid for a Riverwest Stein since 2013), but with five total 1B on the Brewers’ roster, it might be time to cash in on one of the more valuable bats.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Joe Terdoslavich – 1B, 29, Orioles

Bill LA* – 1B/3B, 26, Rays

Santiago Mateo – 1B/3B, 30, Brewers

Josh Vitters – 1B/3B, 28, Brewers

Alejandro Selen – 1B/2B/3B, 28, Astros

Thomas Field – 1B, 30, Phillies

Ryobe Kamida – 1B, 23, Phillies

David Chester – 1B, 28, Padres

Matt Carpenter – 1B/3B, 32, Athletics

Kyle Blanks – 1B/LF/CF/RF, 31, Red Sox

San Francisco Giants

Second Baseman

There aren’t a whole lot of players on the trade block at second base right now, which is somewhat funny because this is the position the most teams have identified as one of need. Of the few names submitted, however, one I’d like to highlight is Baltimore Orioles infielder Juan Ruiz.

Ruiz hasn’t made his mark on the major leagues yet, but I think he would be a solid addition to most teams. Before his cups of coffee began in 2017, Ruiz posted nice minor league campaigns back-to-back-to-back.

  • 594 PA in AA: .296/.413/.478
  • 495 PA in AAA: .299/.385/.445
  • 374 PA in AAA: .284/.366/.407

In short, Ruiz is a smart defender who will play second, third, and short well above average. He doesn’t strike out a lot and will hit for decent average. Ultimately, the book is still out on the power numbers, but Ruiz could be an interesting get for your bench or your lineup.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Ryan Wright – 2B, 28, Orioles

Juan Ruiz – 2B/3B/SS, 26, Orioles

Alejandro Selen – 1B/2B/3B, 28, Astros

Alex Childs – 2B/3B/SS, 25, Astros

Colorado Rockies

Atlanta Braves

Miami Marlins

Philadelphia Phillies

Seattle Mariners

Oakland Athletics

Pittsburgh Pirates

Boston Red Sox

Shortstop

Since MLB Pro was founded in 2012, Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs has the most career hits with 1,063. The two-time All-Star has never once batted below .300, and he’s lead the league in hits twice.

For his career, Castro is 2nd in all of MLB Pro in average (.318, behind C Braulio Pardo). He is 5th among shortstops in on-base percentage with .360. Castro’s career WAR of 29.2 is 1st among all shortstops and 3rd among all right-handed batters. Similar to Tommy Joseph, teams typically expect more than what Castro offers at his position defensively, but fact of the matter is Castro is one of the best pure hitters in the game.

If the Cubs can find a taker, it’ll open up playing time for a few Rule 5 picks currently in the infield mix.

Players on the Block Teams Potentially Interested
Starlin Castro – 2B/SS, 27, Cubs

Juan Ruiz – 2B/3B/SS, 26, Orioles

Alex Childs – 2B/3B/SS, 25, Astros

Cincinnati Reds

Atlanta Braves

Miami Marlins

Detroit Tigers

Philadelphia Phillies

Seattle Mariners

Third Baseman

Bill LA – a.k.a. “Hollywood” – is a unique inclusion the trade block because he is so young, and hasn’t even hit arbitration yet. The tools are there. OSA says LA is a 70 grade contact bat, and significantly above average in every facet of his game aside from the long ball and stealing bases.

Admittedly, he didn’t light the world on fire in 2017 (batting .267 with an 88 OPS+), but experts say the future is bright for Hollywood. Tampa is reportedly willing to trade LA for a big, cost-controlled bat. He’s a great centerpiece for a potential deal if you have one of those to spare. Similar to Mateo and Vitters, he plays fist and third base proficiently.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Juan Ruiz – 2B/3B/SS, 26, Orioles

Bill LA* – 1B/3B, 26, Rays

Santiago Mateo – 1B/3B, 30, Brewers

Josh Vitters – 1B/3B, 28, Brewers

Alex Childs – 2B/3B/SS, 25, Astros

Daniel Fleming – 2B/3B, 25, Astros

Alex Santana – 3B, 24, Astros

Ryan Zimmerman – 3B, 33, Tigers

Matt Carpenter – 1B/3B, 32, Athletics

Alex Castellanos – 2B/3B/LF/CF/RF, 31, Dodgers

Tampa Bay Rays

San Francisco Giants

Detroit Tigers

San Diego Padres

Seattle Mariners

Boston Red Sox

Left Fielder

 

Steve Winter is the crowning achievement of the Chicago Cubs’ player development system – a machine that has typically seen it’s prospects head to other organizations before realizing their potential on the North Side.

Winter’s solid work ethic resulted in a breakout season in 2017. He accumulated almost 6 wins above replacement and posted a .295/.403/.438 line with 100 walks. He’s a plus defender on the corners who can play center field in a pinch, and the 25 year old has four years of team control left.

Why is he on the block? Winter is so young he would still be around when the Cubs hope to return to relevancy, but the farm system needs a serious jumpstart and the Cubs brass think dealing Winter can help provide it.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Steve Winter – 1B/LF/CF/RF, 25, Cubs

Chris Lubanski – LF/CF/RF, 32, Cubs

Ruben Sierra, Jr – LF/CF/RF, 26, Orioles

Jaff Decker – LF/RF, 27, Indians

Josh Reddick – LF/CF/RF, 30, Astros

Patrick Leonard – LF/CF/RF, 25, Astros

David Vargas – 1B/LF/CF/RF, 24, Athletics

Tim Hampton – LF/CF/RF, 24, Pirates

Kyle Blanks – 1B/LF/CF/RF, 31, Red Sox

Philadelphia Phillies

Seattle Mariners

Center Fielder

The cost for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ toolsy outfielder will not be cheap. Buccos brass has been up front and saying Tim Hampton is going to take a significant offer to move.

Hampton’s excellent speed helps him tear it up on the basepaths and chase down fly balls from each outfield position. The range is there, and scouts say his arm is on it’s way. He’s been a doubles machine in the minors.

“With this kind of bat, Hampton could go places. Easy to forecast a long career as a starting regular,” an NL scout said.

Other scouts say they fear Hampton could hit himself into a platoon situation, or continue to struggle with strikeouts. Personally, I’ll side with the first guy and I am interested to see what kind of return he can bring to a Pirates squad that finished dead last in the NL Central in 2017.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Steve Winter – 1B/LF/CF/RF, 25, Cubs

Michael Swinson – LF/CF/RF, 28, Cardinals

Josh Reddick – LF/CF/RF, 30, Astros

Tim Hampton – LF/CF/RF, 24, Pirates

 Minnesota Twins

Atlanta Braves

Detroit Tigers

Philadelphia Phillies

Seattle Mariners

Right Fielder

Josh Reddick is an interesting case. On one hand, he’s a 30 year old who just hit .238 with the Tigers and is making $7.6 million. On the other hand, the Astros desperately want him off their roster so they can retain a few Rule 5 picks and are willing to eat his entire contract to do it.

Their asking price to eat the money is unclear. But if the Astros are serious, Reddick has to be worth more than $0, right? People forget his monster 2014 season… 45 homers, 1.107 OPS and 6.5 WAR.

He’s an average defender, but he has logged more than 1,500 innings at each outfield position. Right field is his best spot if you’re in the market. What do you have to lose besides a few prospects? Get Reddick, and just blast music from Now 50 in the clubhouse all day and maybe he’ll think it’s 2014 again.

So you wanna play with magic
Boy, you should know whatcha trading for
Baby do you dare to do this
Cause Josh Reddick is your MVP dark horse

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Steve Winter – 1B/LF/CF/RF, 25, Cubs

Ruben Sierra, Jr – LF/CF/RF, 26, Orioles

Michael Swinson – LF/CF/RF, 28, Cardinals

Jaff Decker – LF/RF, 27, Indians

Moises Sierra – LF/CF/RF, 29, Marlins

Josh Reddick – LF/CF/RF, 30, Astros

Patrick Leonard – LF/CF/RF, 25, Astros

David Vargas – 1B/LF/CF/RF, 24, Athletics

Tim Hampton – LF/CF/RF, 24, Pirates

James Darnell – 3B/RF, 30, Red Sox

Domonic Brown – 1B/LF/RF, 30, Red Sox

Alex Castellanos – 2B/3B/LF/CF/RF, 31, Dodgers

Seattle Mariners

Utility/Bench

In this block I’ve highlighted all the players above who can competently play multiple defensive positions.

Players on the Block

Teams Potentially Interested

Juan Ruiz – 2B/3B/SS, 26, Orioles

Alex Childs – 2B/3B/SS, 25, Astros

Michael Swinson – LF/CF/RF, 28, Cardinals

Josh Reddick – LF/CF/RF, 30, Astros

Tim Hampton – LF/CF/RF, 24, Pirates

Seeking Infielders:

Minnesota Twins

Washington Nationals

Los Angeles Dodgers

Washington Nationals

Seeking Hitters:

Minnesota Twins

Philadelphia Phillies

Seeking Designated Hitter:

Oakland Athletics

Players are listed in the order they were submitted, and ‘qualify’ for a certain category if their fielding skill for that position is 45 or above.

Other Notes:
  • The Twins are also seeking hitters in general, with an emphasis on right-handed hitters.
  • The Rays are open to moving big time prospects for a cost-controlled big-time player.
  • *Note: Bill “Hollywood” LA is available in a package with prospects for a stud 3B.
  • The Cardinals are looking for middle infield (SS/2B) prospects.
  • The Brewers are looking to trade one of Mateo or Vitters.
  • The Nationals have mid-level minor leaguers to trade. They are seeking a corner infield/utility player.
  • The Angels are always lurking. Their focus is likely to remain in free agency. That being said, the Angels have reportedly come close to a pair of big off-season deals that have fallen short at the last minute.
  • The Dodgers seek non-40 man major league depth at all positions.
  • The Diamondbacks are interested in prospects not on the 40 man roster with options remaining.
  • The Mets are interested in a defensive catcher who can “hold his own” with a bat.
  • The Marlins will retain up to 75% of Moises Sierra’s contract.
  • The Astros are looking for prospects of the following positions in exchange for their major league assets: ace SP, closer, catcher, shortstop, infield/outfield.
  • The Giants are going “all in” this year and still have cash flexibility they are looking to leverage.
  • The Phillies will talk about anyway – always – but prices vary. Management asks if you inquire about a player, please tell them who is available from your organization.
  • The Mariners have too much starting pitching.
  • The Pirates are only open to very good offers for OF Tim Hampton.
  • The Pirates have made it known that basically anyone is available for the right offer, other than Devin Mesoraco, Josh E. Bell, Gerrit Cole and Carlos Meza.
  • The Rangers are always willing to discuss a trade if another GM sees a player they like. However, the front office plans to see how the team performs before making any additional moves. “We are in a very tough division so I will be patient with our young prospects that we have,” GM Kevin said. Additionally, they are always open to adding top prospects.
  • The Red Sox are looking to cut salary.
  • The Dodgers are willing to pay a chunk of the remaining salaries for Tommy Hanson and Alex Castellanos to help facilitate a deal.
Final Thoughts:
  • “The Cubs suck!”
  • “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
  • “Rocky is a dick”
  • “Prediction: The Diamondbacks will not have a top ten pick in 2019.”
  • “AL > NL”
  • John Comey: “Availability is always the most difficult for me. If you are serious about talking deal with me, grab my attention. I hate to say it, but that’s the best thing to do.”

 

The full, unedited replies can be seen by clicking here. Happy trading!