I am well aware of the fact that Opening Day hasn’t happened yet, but I’m pretty sure I speak for a wide swath of readers when I say that this snow can kiss my fanny. I am ready for spring, and eventually summer, and there is no better way to dream of those long nights than thinking about baseball. The MLB Trade Deadline is one of the best parts of the season, so here are my four-month-out trade predictions that would have the biggest impact on each division in 2018 and beyond.
American League East: Toronto ships out Josh Donaldson
This trade is definitely more of a future-planning trade, as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will have a stranglehold on the top two spots in the division. Donaldson will give the Blue Jays a valuable chip to work with, having averaged 37 home runs a season over the last three years and having won the Most Valuable Player award in 2015. The Blue Jays should make this move and reel in the best prospects that they can get. Quick tip: look to St. Louis for this deal.
Bonus: Everything said about Donaldson could easily apply to the Baltimore Orioles and shortstop Manny Machado, but the O’s are in a better position to make the playoffs after signing Alex Cobb.
American League Central: Detroit continues the rebuild
The Detroit Tigers have committed to a long overdue rebuild by shipping off Justin Verlander to Houston last summer and trading second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels in December. The last piece that would set the Tigers up for a chance to make a new run in the upcoming seasons would be to trade first baseman Miguel Cabrera. This proves to be easier said than done, as Cabrera’s age (35) and scheduled pay ($30 million through 2021, up to $32 million by 2023, including two vesting options for 2024 and 2025 at $30 million) will make it next to impossible. This is especially true if his 2017 statistics are any indication of what is to come.
American League West: Angels beef up bullpen
The Los Angeles Angels have retooled this offseason, adding Kinsler in a trade and signing former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart to a three-year deal. They would follow these moves by signing Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, presumably to pitch and serve as the designated hitter. The rotation certainly has the pieces to make a push, and the offense has enough firepower to make things interesting. The weakest link in this team’s chain mail would be the bullpen, as they have no established closer. Look for them to add that bona fide closer at the deadline, either through the Orioles’ Zach Britton or Tampa Bay’s Alex Colome.
National League East: Miami shreds the books, ships out Realmuto
New Miami Marlins owner and CEO Derek Jeter had committed to shedding the payroll by sending their entire outfield (Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton) elsewhere. It will be a bevy of who’s-who in South Beach as the Marlins could threaten to break the record of futility. The most valuable piece that they have left is catcher JT Realmuto, who is scheduled to make just under $3 million and is coming up for arbitration in 2019.
National League Central: Milwaukee brews up a deal to land their ace
I already hinted at the idea that the St. Louis Cardinals should make the move for Donaldson, but the move that could tip the scales in the Central and allow anyone to dethrone the Chicago Cubs would be made by the Milwaukee Brewers. They have revamped their outfield by trading for Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain to a five-year contract. Their infield should be interesting, with hot shot middle infielders Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar, Travis Shaw breaking out and Ryan Braun being a potential fit at first base to lessen injury concerns. Corey Knebel should lock down the ninth. The weakest point would be the rotation, where they do not have a true ace. Look for them to use their farm system, rated the seventh best by Baseball America, to land that number one. Maybe they should look at Rays ace Chris Archer, who is under a very team-friendly contract.
National League West: San Francisco rips off the bandage, starts the rebuild
The Giants had high hopes this season after acquiring longtime Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the offseason to overhaul one of the worst offensive outfields in the league. Depth in the starting rotation remained a concern, as the moves left them with very little payroll flexibility. The concern level went from “this team did not do enough” to “let’s just pack it in now” when they lost Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija to injuries. If they fall way behind in the division, and with how good the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies, they very well may, they should just forego the inevitable and look to improve the third worst minor league system in the league.