Mock Trades before the 2021 Deadline
As it creeps into Mid-July, the MLB season is already more than halfway done. And as in any given season this time of year, most teams have diverged into two categories: buyers and sellers. With many poor-performing teams having great players to offer on the trading block, it will certainly be an interesting deadline. For this edition, I will be proposing multiple hypothetical trades that I believe could happen this year.
Kris Bryant to the Mets
Proposed Trade: The Mets acquire Kris Bryant from the Cubs in exchange for Pete Crow-Armstrong and Franklyn Kilome.
The idea that Kris Bryant is up for sale by the Cubs should be no surprise to the reader, as the team has publicly announced that they’re now sellers despite only being 2 games under .500 (44-46). With their sights set on the future, the contending Mets make for a perfect trade partner. Carrying a 47-40 record which leads the NL East, owner Steve Cohen desperately wants to win as soon as possible. First, a simple look over the Mets depth chart will show that they’re relatively weak at third base and have struggled to keep any sort of healthy outfield all season. Their current third basemen, Johnathan Villar, has a .322 wOBA, 107 wRC+, and 1.0 fWAR. On the other hand, Bryant has a .366 wOBA, 132 wRC+, and 2.3 fWAR. While this is a clear upgrade anyways, it is obvious that the Mets need a good bat. Based on fWAR, the Mets rank 22nd in all of Major League Baseball in offensive production. Having a much-needed bat and versatile fielding skills, Bryant just makes sense for the Mets, even if it is only for half of a season. But, such a great player will not come at a very cheap price.
With the Mets focused on the now, it only makes sense to trade some of their long-term top-tier prospects for him. Introducing Pete Crow-Armstrong (OF) and Franklyn Kilome (RHP). Pete, the Mets #5 Prospect, is a 2020 1st Rounder out of high school who was graded a 50 on the scouting scale. With a plus defense and a contact-heavy bat, he has the potential to be an amazing leadoff hitter. Plus, his MLB ETA is currently in 2023, a perfect fit for the now-rebuilding Cubs. Franklyn, who is the Mets #20 prospect, is a much different story than Crow-Armstrong. An international signee in 2013, Kilome is a longtime prospect who has played in the show a handful of times. After undergoing Tommy John's surgery in 2019, he allowed 14 ERs in 11.1 IPs in his brief stint back. With some time to rest in 2020, he has done decently in Triple-A Syracuse, posting a 4.26 ERA over 25.1 IP and a 1.43 WHIP. While he is not a very high-end prospect, I believe that proper management could turn him around and make him a valuable bullpen arm. Keeping all of this in mind, I believe that this deal could work out great for both sides.
Nelson Cruz to the Blue Jays
Proposed Trade: The Blue Jays receive Nelson Cruz and International Slot Money (2 million USD) from the Twins for Alek Manoah.
It’s no secret. The Twins attempt to rebuild has seemed to fail, as their highly projected team has a 39-50 record (.438). Due to that, they have decided to become sellers at this year’s deadline. Their hottest trade piece up for sale: 40-year-old slugger Nelson Cruz. While he has not only defied the odds by continuing to play at his age, he is slugging this season. His impressive .389 wOBA, 148 wRC+, and 1.9 fWAR has shown to be quite useless for the Twins as they still fail to have a decent record. But for the right team, this type of production would be very useful. Although, there is a contingency. With Cruz’s age, putting him anywhere besides the DH spot is not feasible, limiting his destination to only AL teams. Out of these AL teams, the Blue Jays appear to be the best destination for this older star. The Jays carry a 45-42 record, putting them in 3rd in the AL East. But with half a season left, the division or more likely a Wild Card spot will be up for grabs. Even though the Jays are already one of the better offensive teams (ranked 8th in fWAR), the additional offense could prove useful in this high-scoring division.
In return, the Twins could use a player who they would have relatively long-term control over through a rebuild. Insert Alek Manoah into the equation. A 2019 first-rounder, Manoah was called up this year to play for the Jays. And thus far, he has done quite well. Through 8 games started and 40.1 IP, he has produced an 11.6 K/9, 4.26 FIP, and 0.4 fWAR. It is worth noting that his current ERA is 2.90, a drastic difference between his FIP. With more starts, his average performance will hopefully become clearer. Alek, while extremely valuable, could prove to be the perfect trade piece to bring in Nelson Cruz. With his future projections not quite clear yet, it may be best for the Blue Jays to sell high for a necessary purchase. To the Twins regard, they have very little to risk, with anything coming from the future Free Agent a high-upside low-downside play. Because Cruz’s caliber will more than likely not warrant a compensatory pick, the 2 million USD in International Slot money will allow the Blue Jays to sign a player that will extend beyond only this season in exchange for the young pitcher. Considering all of these factors, this potential deal would fulfill the needs of both teams involved.
Trevor Story to the Reds
Proposed Trade: The Reds receive Trevor Story, Mychal Givens, International Slot Money (1 million USD), and Cash Considerations (4 million USD). The Rockies receive Rece Hinds, Joe Boyle.
Throughout the recent years of the Reds, their main problem has been committal issues. They enjoy dipping their toes into the world of being competitive but never seem to jump in. All of the transactions have been enough to keep the team interesting, but not close to champions. This move offers a solution to that problem. Cincinnati currently holds a 48-42 record (.533) for 2nd Place in the NL Central, the best the team has looked in quite a while. Despite some recent success, the Reds still have some glaring flaws. Particularly, an at least decent shortstop and a bullpen. That is where the Rockies come in.
Having a 40-51 record (.440) in a highly competitive NL West makes Colorado a clear seller. And with only a half of a season left on Trevor Story’s contract, they have no more use for him. Story is admittedly not having the most stellar of a season, holding a .328 wOBA and 92 wRC+, his 1.9 fWAR shows he has been able to produce results. He would be temporarily replacing a struggling Eugenio Suárez, who has a .275 wOBA, 68 wRC+, and -0.3 fWAR. That’s right, he is hurting the Reds this season by continuing to play, and a fix is needed. Along with Suarez, let’s look at the bullpen. Out of every team, the Reds rank 26th in the average FIP of their bullpen with a 4.75. This is not a fluke, as their expected FIP (xFIP) ranks them in 24th. They need help, and Mychal Givens can help with that issue. With his 2.92 ERA and a 9.49 K/9 through 24.2 IP, Givens is putting up an unnecessary but solid relief effort for the Rockies. And with him also being on a one-year deal, it only makes sense to deal with him. As both contracts add roughly 11 million dollars in additional payroll to the Reds, the $4 million in Cash Considerations will help compensate for the massive difference. The $1 million in International Slot Money will also provide an avenue for the Reds to sign an additional prospect, adding long-term insurance in case the other elements of this trade do not gain returns.
The Rockies have their sights set on the future, so it only makes sense for the Reds to deal them prospects in return. The two prospects they would be dealing in this trade are both Top 30s in the organization. Rece Hinds (No. 6), a third baseman, is the perfect candidate to go to Colorado. When Hinds was drafted 49th overall by the Reds in 2019, one of his most attractive qualities was his 60 power grade. Already likely to be a power-hitter, Hinds could yield amazing results at the hitter-friendly Coors Field in the future. With his MLB ETA not set until 2023, the Rockies have plenty of time to rebuild with him in the system. Also included in this deal is Joe Boyle (No. 25), a 2020 5th Rounder who has serious potential. Coming in with an 80 fastball grade, he continuously hits over 100mph, with the average sitting in the upper 90s. Having a plus slider in his arsenal as well, he has the potential to be dangerous. The main issue is the control factor, which he struggles with, but can be worked on and refined. With both teams satisfying their goals, this type of deal is a possibility with Story being dealt.