May 20, 2024


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Bowden: Very early MLB trades I’d like to see happen, as well as a trade takeaway for Luis Arez

Bowden: Very early MLB trades I’d like to see happen, as well as a trade takeaway for Luis Arez

The Padres and Marlins didn’t want to wait 87 days until the MLB’s July 30 trade deadline to make their first big trade of the season, completing a five-player swap late Friday night that became official Saturday. San Diego acquired two-time batting champion Luis Arraez from Miami for center fielder Dillon Head, the 25th overall pick in last year’s MLB draft, as well as three other minor leaguers, outfielder Jacob Marcy, first baseman Nathan Martorella and right-hander Nathan Martorella. Yours sincerely, Woo-Seok Joo. San Diego also received nearly $8 million in the deal.

The Padres have dramatically improved the top of their lineup by adding Arraez, a starting machine who is one of the best hitters the game has seen in years. He reminds me of Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs and Rod Carew with his ability to control the bat and his ability to put the ball where the defense doesn’t play. He has an impressive career strikeout percentage of 7.5 percent. (The league average over the past six years is 22.9 percent.) He will generate traffic for the rest of the Padres lineup, including Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Jake Cronenworth. Arraez’s best position is designated hitter, followed by first base, second base and third base, and he will likely be used at the four because that will allow the Padres to rotate their players at the DH spot to get some relief. He is under team control through the 2025 season.

The Marlins would not be able to sign Arraez long-term and with so many needs across their depth chart, this was the type of deal they had to make. Head was the main and most important player the Marlins acquired as he could eventually become their long-term solution in center field and the leadoff spot. Marsee is a solid fourth outfielder in the majors, Martorella can hit but lacks corner-hitting power, and Go, who signed a $4.5 million deal this offseason, has a chance to serve as a deep reliever for Miami. This wouldn’t be a popular trade in South Florida as the Marlins’ two best hitters from a year ago — Arraez and Jorge Soler, who signed with the Giants in the offseason — are now gone without replacing their major league offense. level. However, it was necessary for their long-term future.

I liked this deal for both sides and it got me thinking about other All-Star caliber players who could be dealt over the next three months before the deadline. In general, it’s too early to make trades as most teams want to wait until at least mid-July to see if they’re in contention, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun and discuss some players who could. They are moved closer to the deadline depending on how things go.

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Here are three very early deals that I would like to see happen and why these deals might make sense for both sides.

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MLB Trade Grades: Evaluating Padres-Marlins Luis Arraez Trade

1. Mets trade 1B Pete Alonso to Mariners for RHP Emerson Hancock and 1B Ty France

Alonso will be a free agent after this season and there is no indication the Mets will extend his contract long before he hits free agency. So, if they’re not in the wild-card race in late July, they should trade Alonso and try to re-sign him in the offseason. He loves New York and loves being a Met, so they’ll have a legitimate chance to sign him in the winter. Meanwhile, by parting ways with Alonso before the trade deadline, they could get back a promising young player in Hancock, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, who debuted last year and this year posted a 4.75 ERA over six starts. Hancock, 24, has given up two or fewer runs in each of his past four starts. France, who turns 30 this season, also returns in the deal to New York. He could play first base for the Mets for the rest of this season, and with his experience at third, second and DH, he gives them a multi-positional player and a potential trade chip this offseason (especially if they re-sign Alonso). To me, his swing and approach say he should be much better than his production — .250/.337/.336 slash line and 99 OPS+ last year and 97 OPS+ this year — so maybe a change of scenery will help him. France is under the team’s control during the next season.

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The Mariners, on the other side of this deal, would meet their biggest need, landing a big mid-major power bat to give them a much better chance of winning the AL West and even running the table in October. Seattle could replace Hancock in the rotation with Bryan Woo and still have the best five-man rotation in baseball. Woo, who posted a 4.21 ERA over 18 years, started last year as a starter, and is on the injured list but is reportedly close to returning.

2. The Blue Jays traded 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to the Astros for 1B/OF Joey Loperfido and OF Kenedy Corona.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. celebrates after winning a Grand Slam on Sunday. (Jeff Burke/USA Today)

Guerrero will be a free agent after the 2025 season and the Blue Jays have yet to sign him to a long-term deal. They will get a much better return in a trade now than they would have in the offseason or in the lead-up to next year’s trade deadline; Therefore, they will have to seriously consider dealing him next July if they fall out of the running. Guerrero is still only 25 years old and is just entering his prime years. Can you imagine him being between Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker for the next two seasons (at least)? Vlad Jr.’s best season was in 2021, when he led the majors with 48 home runs and led the AL with a 1.002 OPS. He followed that up with a 32-homer season and a Gold Glove Award in 2022. However, the three-time All-Star’s numbers dropped last year to 26 homers and a .788 OPS, and this year he’s batting just .239 with four homers, 15 RBIs and a .711 OPS. A change of scenery, especially a move to Houston, could be a big boost for him. The Astros need help at first base. Jose Abreu, who was optioned last week to the team’s spring training facility, appears to be in serious decline. John Singleton has played well for them, but he is a more solid player off the bench. Guerrero would replace first base for the Astros and really lengthen their lineup.

In return, the Blue Jays would get Luperfido, who could take over first base long-term. He was leading the minors with 13 home runs when the Astros promoted him last week. Luberfido, 24, can also play left field. Corona, 24, can play all three positions and profiles in the outfield as a 20-homer, stolen-base, 30-A type producer. He’s hitting .185/.340/.309 this season in Double A with 10 steals in 11 attempts. Both players will not be arbitration eligible until at least 2027.

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3. Guardians trade right-handed relievers Hunter Gaddis and Cade Smith to the Orioles for RF Heston Kjerstad

Heston Kjerstad, pictured last week against the Yankees, made his Major League Baseball debut last September. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today)

The Guardians need to upgrade their right field in the short and long term, and acquiring Kjerstad, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, would accomplish both goals. Kjerstad, 25, has hit .349/.431/.744 at Triple A this season with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs, and has gone 2-for-9 since being promoted to the majors two weeks ago. However, the Orioles’ outfield is stacked with right fielder Anthony Santander, center fielder Cedric Mullens and left fielders Colton Cowser and Austin Hayes, along with Kyle Stowers and Coby Mayo, who are major league ready but in Triple A. Kjerstad is talented. But it can be consuming. (He ranked 20th on our list of top 50 prospects last August.)

In this trade, the Orioles would receive two powerful, controllable relievers to help fortify their bullpen. Gaddis, 26, has posted a 2.87 ERA in 17 games for Cleveland this season with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.7 walks per nine. Smith, 24, has posted a 2.30 ERA and 1.43 FIP over 16 appearances this year, his first in the majors, with 13.8 strikeouts per nine (24 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings). The Guardians can afford to deal both right-handers because they have a deep bullpen with closer Emmanuel Klass and setup guys like Tim Herren, Scott Barlow and Nick Sandlin, along with relievers returning from injuries and more good weapons in the minors who are poised for upgrades.

We don’t have to wait until June and July to enjoy discussing business proposals. Please use the comments section to share the deals you’d like to see. And as always, thanks for reading. I appreciate you – yes, even the haters!


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(Top photo of Pete Alonso: Sarah Steer/Getty Images)