Trades That Need To Happen By Opening Day

Four players who need new homes

The smell of fresh-cut grass wafting through the air in Arizona and Florida indicates that baseball season is almost here. 30 teams are stretching out their pitchers, getting players into shape, and evaluating the holes in their rosters. It’s not too late for changes. Dozens of talented free agents remain unsigned, and several veterans are stretching their legs for teams with little chance of contending anytime soon. As the spring dominos begin to fall into place, rebuilding clubs should take advantage of would-be contenders’ lineup holes and explore the trade market. Below are a few scenarios that provide compatibility.


Angels trade Mike Trout to the Mets


The moment Shohei Ohtani signed his $700m contract with the cross-town Dodgers, the Angels should have begun exploring the trade market for their other superstar, Mike Trout. After all, if you couldn’t make the playoffs with both of them on your roster, what are the chances without one of them? Trout is still one of the premier players in the game when healthy. Granted, that’s been an issue the past three seasons, in which he’s played only 237 games. Over that span, though, Trout’s OPS ranks third in baseball, behind only Ohtani and Aaron Judge. There must be a market for the 32-year-old superstar, even if he still has seven years at over $35m per season remaining on his contract.

Perhaps the Halos hope Trout stays healthy and productive until the deadline, but what if he gets hurt again? It’s better to deal him now, when he is healthy and has more suitors. The Angels are going nowhere. They did little to improve their roster after Ohtani’s departure and have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. It’s time to get some young talent, even if they have to eat some of Trout’s contract.

Enter the New York Mets. The Metropolitans have had a quiet offseason after their splashy but unfulfilling 2022-2023 hot stove season. While Trout wouldn’t fix their wounded rotation, which took a massive blow when Kodai Senga was recently diagnosed with a right posterior capsule strain, he would make their lineup formidable. The trio of Trout, Francisco Lindor, and Pete Alonso would be among the best in baseball and could eclipse 100 home runs. There’s an offensive fit, too, as the Mets’ current plan at DH revolves around DJ Stewart and Mark Vientos. As a bonus, Trout is from New Jersey and would steal some attention from the cross-town Yankees. Sure, it would be an expensive gamble, but we all know Steve Cohen can afford it.


Reds trade Jonathan India to the Blue Jays


Cincinnati is blessed with young talent in their infield. Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand made splashy debuts last season and appear locked in as the starting infield for the next several seasons. In addition, the Reds signed corner-infielder Jeimer Candelario this offseason, who will seemingly compete with India for DH and backup infielder at-bats, but that seems like a waste for the former Rookie of the Year.

Meanwhile, north of the border, the Toronto Blue Jays plan to use a combination of Cavan Biggio, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Santiago Espinal, and Davis Schneider at second and third base. India’s lifetime .769 OPS is well above that of Biggio, Kiner-Falefa, and Espinal, and Schneider has only 141 plate appearances at the major league level. India’s bat and versatility would slide nicely into the Blue Jays lineup. As a bonus, India recently signed a two-year, $8.8m arbitration-avoiding contract, making him a low-risk option, and his current foot injury should make the acquisition price even cheaper. Adding India wouldn’t put fear into the rest of the AL East, but it would improve an already playoff-calibre team that needs more offense.


White Sox trade Dylan Cease to the Yankees


The White Sox looked like a team on the come in 2021, winning 91 games and the AL Central crown. However, the club disappointed in 2022 and 2023 and began shedding their assets towards another rebuild. Cease has one more year of arbitration after 2024 and is signed for a reasonable $8m this season, so they don’t need to trade him. However, with the club seemingly several years away from contending again, trading him now could provide a significant return, especially with so many clubs looking for starting pitching.

Enter the Yankees, whose reported interest in Blake Snell shows they aren’t satisfied with their current rotation. After ace Gerrit Cole, the rotation depth looks thin for a team with championship aspirations. The oft-injured Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Clarke Schmidt round out the starting five, and behind them are underwhelming journeymen and rookies. The Bombers rotation had a middle-of-the-pack ERA last season with a Cy Young campaign by Cole and are now without Domingo Germán, Luis Severino, Michael King, and Jhony Brito, who combined for 59 starts. Stroman and a healthy Rodon will help, but they could still use another arm.

Cease isn’t perfect. He walks too many batters and can strain the bullpen, as he averages less than six innings per start in his career. However, he has electric stuff and was among the league leaders in SwStr% and K% last season. His 4.58 ERA in 2023 was partly the result of a .331 BABIP and 69.4% LOB%. His 3.72 FIP was more indicative of his ability. Cease would slot in behind Cole as the club’s second-best starter, significantly improving their chances of catching the Orioles and Rays in the AL East.


Brewers trade Willy Adames to the Diamondbacks


The Brewers are apparently prepared to start the season with Adames as their shortstop. But why? After shipping Corbin Burnes to Baltimore, Milwaukee effectively threw in the towel for 2024. Could they slip into the playoffs in the weak NL Central? Perhaps. But a rotation minus Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, who will miss the season after shoulder surgery, isn’t likely to hold up. Adames hits free agency after the season, so unless the franchise finds a way to extend him, it’s better to trade him now to maximize his value.

The defending NL champions don’t have a lot of holes and look poised for another playoff run. However, overcoming the Dodgers, Braves, and Phillies again won’t be easy. They need to improve wherever they can if they hope to get back to the World Series. The one question mark in their lineup is at shortstop. The club plans to give Geraldo Perdomo a shot to be the everyday guy this season, but is that wise? Perdomo put up respectable numbers in an infield utility role last year, but he’s a singles hitter who posted a meager .113 ISO in 2023.

Arizona hopes that Perdomo can hold down the position until top prospect Jordan Lawlar, who got some at-bats with the big club last September, is ready. However, Lawlar is only 21, struck out nearly a third of the time at the major league level, and has only 114 plate appearances above Double-A. Another year of seasoning in the minors would probably do him good. Adames could end up a one-year rental for the club, but his power would fit nicely into a lineup that ranked 22nd in homers last year. He’s also a slick defender, whose 5.9 UZR was tied for second among shortstops in 2023. Plus, given his impending free agency, the D’Backs could always flip him again at the deadline if their season doesn’t unfold the way they hope.

Scott Youngson

Scott is a SoCal native who, after two decades of fighting L.A. traffic, decided to turn his passion for fantasy sports into a blog - the now-defunct Fantasy Mutant. He currently writes for FantasyPros and Pitcher List and will vehemently defend the validity of the Dodgers' 60-game season championship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login