Top 10 Off-Season Trades That Could Turn Out To Be Steals
by Brandon Jopko | Posted on Friday, December 27th, 2013
Today’s post is a subjective opinion of all the players that have been involved in trades thus far this off-season and how, potentially, they could turn out to be steals for their teams. In making out this top 10 list, there were quite a few player possibilities to consider given the plethora of trades that have transpired. Factors I considered pertained to immediate team impact and length of team control. Without further ado, here it goes:
1. Prince Fielder – This trade could quite easily fall out of the top 10 list here if Fielder fails to produce like we all know he’s capable of. Yes, he had his lowest OPS+ last year since 2006 (his first full year in Milwaukee), his power dropped off, strikeouts rose and walks decreased. It’s really not a good combination which is why his WAR was so poor this year (1.7 compared 4.9 in 2012). There was also speculation this year that Fielder suffered through personal problems which could account for his less than inspiring play. However, if I was a betting man, I would surmise that Fielder has a bounce back campaign and hits the heck out of baseballs in hitter friendly Arlington. This deal could work out really well for Texas in the short term.
2. Doug Fister – It’s a little concerning the Tigers have two players that they traded away at the top of this list, however, they did what they had to do in order to gain financial flexibility and greater team speed. In Fister though, the Nationals have a solid #3 starter and they him for two more years of arbitration eligibility. He fits in nicely behind a rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann. Imagine 200+ innings from those four!
3. Dexter Fowler – Fowler is a good player and with two more years of team control. He represents an asset that will help Houston now and in the future (via another July deadline trade this year or next). The Astros gave up minimal stuff to get him and he’ll be an on-base force at the top of their line-up. How long remains to be seen.
4. Heath Bell & Ryan Hanigan – The Rays may have done it again in dealing for undervalued players that can potentially come in and make an impact. In Bell, they have this year’s closer reclamation project which I can only presume will work out fantastic for the Rays. Bell demonstrated a drastically better strikeout to walk ratio in 2013 albeit with more home runs allowed which could be attributed to a high home run to fly ball ratio (12.8%). In addition, Tampa obviously values good receivers and chooses to sacrifice offense from the catcher position by the very fact that they traded for and locked up Hanigan for the next three years, re-signed Jose Molina for the next two while leaving Jose Lobaton as decent minor league depth right now.
5. Brett Anderson – The big question here is whether or not Anderson will be healthy enough to last a season. Still, it’s a good gamble to take as the Rockies have built some decent depth recently in the form of Jordan Lyles, who could be ready to step into the rotation should a need arise. Anderson is currently listed on MLBDepthCharts as the Rockies third starter. However, if he’s on his game he could lead that rotation! Anderson has a team option in 2015 for $12M and picking that up will depend on his success this coming season.
6. Adam Eaton – For a player that was viewed as Arizona’s future starter in CF as early as last season, this is a good trade for the White Sox. While Chicago can’t exactly say that they made out like bandits on this deal (Hector Santiago isn’t nothing). They have definitely set themselves up nicely for the next 5 years with a young, high upside type of guy. Once a Top 100 prospect, Eaton still has to prove his superb minor leagues numbers can translate at the big league level, but all signs point towards a top of the order bat that can hit for average and get on base.
7. Craig Gentry – Under team control for three more years, Gentry is not a little fourth OF platoon type of guy. Although that’s likely how Oakland will use him with Josh Reddick. The guy hits lefties better but can hold his own versus righties with a .281/.349/.360 line in 2013. He can play plus defense all over the outfield, but as a CF he was fourth last year in Total Zone Runs (number of runs saved above average based on plays made). The fact is he is another scrappy player that will help the A’s compete for the playoffs once again due to his speed, defense and on-base skills.
8. Matt Davidson – The White Sox really did well in this trade too and any time you trade a reliever for a position player it’s a win. Davidson raked in the minors, is a former 1st round pick and Top 100 MLB prospect, and had a nice cup of coffee with the Dbacks last year (87 PA’s with .768 OPS). He could plug up the dark hole at 3B in Chicago for years to come while being a part of younger, more inspiring core on the south side.
9. Peter Bourjos – This trade could work out really well for St. Louis if Bourjos can stay healthy and produce close to what he did in 2011. In 2012, when Bourjos was healthier, he rated second best in range factor in the A.L as a CF. He clearly represents an upgrade over Jon Jay in CF. With three more years of team control, he can prove to be a valuable commodity and his defense should only further assist Cardinals pitchers in run prevention.
10. David Lough – The Orioles, in my opinion, did quite well here in securing a guy that can be a difference maker with his plus defense and ability to hit both lefties and righties equally well. In contrast to Nate McLouth, who signed a two year contract worth $10.75M with the Nationals, Baltimore has a cheaper replacement and controls him for six more years! This is smart money well spent and most definitely will result in a better cost per performance than what McLouth will produce for the duration of his contract.
I really felt bad about leaving Franklin Morales off this list. How one views this deal may depend on whether you think Morales is a starter or bullpen arm. However, my standpoint is this: If Morales can fit into the fifth starters spot in Colorado then they easily win this trade. While Morales is no sure thing in the rotation, he can potentially solidify what was a major black hole for the Rockies last year.
Honorable mention goes to the Royals for acquiring OF Norichika Aoki, the Tigers for 2B Ian Kinsler, and the Athletics for CL Jim Johnson and RP Luke Gregerson.