OK, that little Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade was nice, a good start to the offseason wheeling and dealing. But with the winter meetings approaching, what we'd really like to see is even more creativity from the general managers. Here are some three-team trades that actually make sense:
Mariners: Trade Nick Franklin, acquire Eaton
Royals: Trade Herrera, Collins, acquire Franklin
The Royals are trying to contend with the likes of Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella playing second base, with Bonifacio the front-runner based on hitting .285 in a 42-game showing with the Royals last season. Please. Don't be fooled: That's the upside of Bonifacio's production and it still comes with no power and not enough walks. The Royals need power after finishing last in the American League in home runs, and Franklin is the rare middle infielder with 20-homer potential (Alex Gordon led the club with 20). The Royals have plenty of depth to deal from their league-best bullpen, and Luke Hochevar can assume the primary setup role and Louis Coleman and Donnie Joseph are available to replace Herrera and Collins.
The Mariners can afford to trade Franklin because they have Dustin Ackley, a very good defensive second baseman whose bat and glove don't profile as well in center field. Move him back to second base, hope his second half (.304/.374/.435) was for real and hand center over to the speedy Eaton.
The Diamondbacks are looking for bullpen help after tying the Astros for the most blown saves in the majors with 29. Attempting to rely again on veterans Heath Bell and J.J. Putz is risky. Herrera throws 100 mph and could develop into a dominating closer while Collins adds left-handed depth. In replacing Eaton, the D-backs can still play A.J. Pollock, a quality defender, in center or move Gold Glover Gerardo Parra over from right. Cody Ross is still around and Martin Prado could play left field with Matt Davidson taking over third.
Dodgers, Rays, Tigers
Rays: Trade Price, acquire Rick Porcello, Seager, Stripling
Tigers: Trade Porcello, acquire Ethier (and cash)
What, you think the Dodgers are done with the signing of Dan Haren? You know they'd love to add Price to slot alongside Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Imagine a rotation of those three, plus Haren and Hyun-jin Ryu. To get Price, they give up Ethier and millions in cash to help defray the cost of the minimum $71.5 million owed Either through 2017, their 2012 first-round pick in Seager, one of the top shortstop prospects in the minors, and pitcher Stripling, a fifth-round pick in 2012 out of Texas A&M, where he was a teammate of Michael Wacha.
The Rays replenish their farm system with Seager (.269/.351/.473 in Class A at age 19 with 16 home runs) and Stripling (127.2 IP, 115 H, 30 BB, 117 SO, five homers between Class A and Double-A). Even if Seager doesn't stick at shortstop, he has the bat to move over to second and eventually replace Ben Zobrist. Stripling is a polished college pitcher who should be ready in 2015. More importantly, the Rays add Porcello to help them contend the next two years. Get him away from some of that porous Detroit defense and over to Tampa and their infield shifts and watch his ERA drop. He should receive about $8 million in arbitration for 2014, not too expensive for the Rays, and still has another season after that until free agency.
The Tigers can play Ethier in left field while moving Drew Smyly into the rotation to replace Porcello, with Ethier providing a left-handed bat to help balance righties Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Kinsler and Torii Hunter.
Indians, Orioles, Reds
Orioles: Trade Bud Norris, Mike Wright, acquire Cabrera
Reds: Trade Bailey, acquire Norris, Wright, Wendle
This one lines up like this: The Indians need a starting pitcher with Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir likely departing as free agents, the Orioles need a second baseman, and the Reds may want to get something for Bailey as he enters his walk year.
The Orioles would slide Cabrera over to second base and hope he rebounds from a subpar 2013. The Indians get Bailey while throwing in second-base prospect Wendle, who hit .295 with some power in Class A. Wendle was old for the league, but scouts like his bat. The Reds give up the best player in the deal, but would still have a strong rotation with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Norris (with Aroldis Chapman still a possibility with Bryan Price replacing Dusty Baker as manager). Moving back to the National League should help Norris; he has two years remaining until free agency and will cost about $5 million less than Bailey in 2014, money the Reds can spend elsewhere, maybe on an outfielder. Wright is a back-end rotation prospect and Wendle could replace Brandon Phillips down the road.
Rockies: Trade Tulowitzki, Fowler, acquire Polanco, Hanson, Cishek, Nicolino, Marisnick
It's time for the Rockies to end all those Tulowitzki trade rumors and do something about rebuilding this franchise. The Pirates need a middle-of-the-order bat. The Marlins need to acquire some major league players. One of the big problems the Rockies have is so much of their payroll is tied up in just two players, Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The team is going nowhere, needs depth and the farm system isn't highly rated. Enter the Pirates.
The Rockies get one of the top outfield prospects in the minors in Polanco, who hit .285/.356/.434 with 38 steals while reaching Triple-A at the age of 21. He may need a little more seasoning but isn't far away from the majors. Hanson becomes the Rockies' shortstop of the future. For the Pirates, they have to absorb Tulowitzki's contract -- he's signed through 2020 (with a 2021 team option) -- and maybe it's too much for their taste, but they're not going to be a postseason regular riding just Andrew McCutchen. The MVP needs help. And with McCutchen and Starling Marte plus options like Jose Tabata, Andrew Lambo, Travis Snider and Jerry Sands, the Pirates can still piece together a good outfield trio for 2014 and beyond.
The Marlins would get a center fielder to put between Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, while the Rockies get a closer (they could then flip Cishek during the season if they wanted), a top pitching prospect in Nicolino and outfield prospect in Marisnick from the Marlins, and Mercer from the Pirates to help shore up their middle infield.
Cubs, White Sox, Yankees
White Sox: Trade Sale, Reed, acquire Edwards, Soler, Sanchez, Almonte, Nuno
OK, OK, OK, the White Sox aren't going to trade Sale -- especially to their city rivals. But we can dream, right? And there's no denying the White Sox are a franchise in need of a reboot, with talent issues on the 40-man roster and in the minors. Sale is an enticing trade bait since he's signed through 2019 and would help get some talent to the South Side as the team rebuilds.
The Cubs have a deep list of prospects, but what they don't have is an ace. They give the White Sox their top pitching prospect in Edwards, who came over from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade last summer. Edwards dominated Class A, allowing just 76 hits in 116.1 innings while striking out 155 -- and giving up just one home run. The White Sox also get Cuban outfielder Soler, a powerfully built 21-year-old who could reach the majors in 2015. Desperately in need of a catcher, from the Yankees the White Sox get Sanchez, the Yankees' top prospect who can be dealt with the signing of Brian McCann. Almonte and Nuno are cheap roster fillers who have some potential to contribute.
Olt and Vogelbach are blocked in Cubs land by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, so they go to the Yankees. Olt can replace Alex Rodriguez at third base -- immediately -- and Vogelbach would give the Yankees a power-hitting prospect for first base or DH.