The most exciting trades include teams trading players from positions of strength among the 30 Major League Baseball organizations. Take the most recent three-player trade, in which the Arizona Diamondbacks traded outfielder Daulton Varsho to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for catchers Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Both the Diamondbacks and the Blue Jays had an excess of excellent catchers. What did they do, then? They helped each other out of their difficulties.
We began to consider other teams that would be well-positioned to make such strength-for-strength trades after learning about the Varsho deal and the generally sluggish trade market this offseason. Five such clubs are listed below. These teams have positional clusters that would allow them to operate in a way similar to the Blue Jays, exchanging a talented but relatively blocked player for a player who happens to fill a positional need.
But first, we must beg you to consider this only as a thought experiment, as required by law. Let’s move on to the bumbling, stumbling, and rumbling now that that has been cleared up. (Note that there isn’t really a pattern or logic to the order of the teams.)
1. Infielders on the left for the Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have the most intriguing left-side prospects of any MLB team. They expanded the group, which already included notable players like Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Tyler Callihan, and Jose Torres, among others, only last summer. They added Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cam Collier, and Sal Stewart through trades and the draft. Arroyo and Collier were also among the top 20 prospects, along with Cruz (No. 11) and Marte (No. 13). It would be sensible for the Reds, who are still very much in the talent-accumulation stage of their rebuild, to sell certain players they deem unnecessary in order to fill other gaps on their depth chart.
2. Outfielders for the Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers’ possible outfield gridlock has been brought up previously. The gist of it is that they’re starting the season with a lineup that consists of Christian Yelich, Garrett Mitchell, Tyrone Taylor, or another passable option. Top prospects Sal Frelick and Joey Weimer are expected to begin their seasons in Triple-A, so they will eventually have the chance to take over for the latter. Additionally, one of the finest prospects in the entire league, Jackson Chourio, will begin his 2023 season in Double-A. If Chourio continues to perform like he did last year, he may break into the major leagues before turning 20 and leave the Brewers with more talented outfielders than available roster spaces.
3. Pitchers, Texas Rangers
The Rangers’ increased pitching depth was also highlighted elsewhere. Texas has continued to bring in veterans through signing, re-signing, and trading, giving them a starting five that should include a combination of Jake Odorizzi, Martn Pérez, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, and Jacob deGrom. The Rangers also have a number of young players with limited major league experience that they might move, including Taylor Hearn, the injured Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto, Spencer Howard, and Cole Ragans. The 2018 combo of Owen White and Cole Winn, as well as top-five picks Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, are among the upcoming crop of recent high draft picks. Nobody should be surprised if the Rangers trade some of the players mentioned above in the upcoming weeks in order to increase their offensive production.
4. Outfielders for the St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have more talented outfielders projected than roster spaces, similar to the Brewers. Some combination of Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar, and Juan Yepez will probably start the year off in St. Louis. They will have Alec Burleson on the bench and two fascinating batters, Moisés Gómez (a previous minor league free agent signing) and Jordan Walker (a former first-round choice and top prospect), who are both readily available (though coming from very different backgrounds). Before August, it almost seems certain that the Cardinals will trade from their depth in the outfield. The player who is most likely to go is O’Neill, who is by far the closest to reaching free agency.
5. Cleveland Guardians: infielders in the middle
Let’s finish with another group of infielders from an Ohio-based team. The Guardians can provide other teams with many up-the-middle alternatives. Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez are most likely going to be their double-play pairing to start the 2023 season, but they’ll also have Tyler Freeman and Gabriel Arias on hand in case of an emergency. Additionally to those four, the depth of the Guardians includes interesting prospects Brayan Rocchio and Jose Tena in Triple-A and Angel Martinez in Double-A. Since Rosario will soon become a free agent, it makes sense if the Guardians want to keep onto more of their depth than they normally would. Nevertheless, they should be able to sell one or two of those players at some point before the trade deadline in order to improve elsewhere.