With the WBC over, the last few weeks are in full force. Many teams are making their last few rounds of cuts and getting ready for the 2017 campaign. Although injuries and lackluster performances have left a few teams desiring more from their rosters which has pushed them to explore the trade market.
Here are some ideas I have based on what is being talked about right now around the Hot Stove. The first will be the next pitcher to be traded from this small market ballclub that has seen so many big name pitchers exit their team via trade. For the second, I will be revisiting a familiar name for this series here, this lefty pitcher has been the talk of many trade conversations and I will give it another try based on recent speculation. Lastly, a WBC injury has caused this team to search the trade market for a replacement SS to step in and produce in the meantime.
Alex Cobb to Chicago Cubs
Tampa Bay Rays receive: RHP Trevor Clifton, OF D.J. Wilson
Chicago Cubs receive: RHP Alex Cobb
The Tampa Bay Rays have long been an organization that grooms solid front-line starters who blossom into aces. However there is always a solid theme among these pitchers, they never seem to stay with the Rays too often past their arbitration years and sometimes don't even see the end of their arbitration in a Rays' uniform.
The Rays are working with a small budget as they are very much a small market ballclub. We have seen a common thread as they have gotten rid of David Price and James Shields to name a few. With one year left on his deal, Alex Cobb looks to be the next big name pitcher dealt by the Rays and his most logical destination is the Chicago Cubs.
The defending champions had a very solid rotation last season and they look to have a very similar one however with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey entering their walk years, adding Cobb would add some certainty. Cobb does only have one more year left but he would give the Cubs leverage to use against Lackey and Arrieta should they decide to extend him. Skipper Joe Maddon coached Alex Cobb during his time with the Rays which makes the transition much easier and brings in a known commodity for the Cubs.
Because of his injury history, Cobb should be a relatively low-buy asset. The Cubs will not had to empty the farm for him in the slightest. Therefore giving up right-hander Trevor Clifton and OF D.J. Wilson should do the job.
Clifton will most likely be headed for Double-A after being named the Carolina League pitcher of the year. He works with a fastball that hits the high 90s and a tight curveball which is considered a plus pitch for his arsenal. His standout season put questions to bed about not being ready for a starter role. Wilson, a small outfielder taken out of an Ohio prep school in 2015 has been often compared to Andrew McCutchen. The lefty has lightning bat speed along with a quick pair of legs that has earned him an above average running tool grade.
This deal is one both teams must make. The Rays will be retooling with two above average prospects while shedding a pitcher who is bound to make a lot of money this offseason. The Cubs at the very least get an ace quality pitcher to add to an incredible rotation while losing two prospects who we're probably not part of any major plans for the future.
Nick Ahmed to New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks receive: RHP Jonathan Holder
New York Yankees receive: SS Nick Ahmed
The Yankees have been scouring the trade market for some time now this offseason but probably never thought they would have to look to acquire a shortstop. After all they have Didi Gregorius who had a great 2016 season along with top prospects Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo. However the WBC had other ideas as Gregorius sprained his shoulder which will have him sidelined for about a month to open the season leaving the Bronx Bombers without an opening day shortstop.
The Yankees have several internal options including Tyler Wade, Starlin Castro and Gleyber Torres to name a few. Despite a great spring, the Yankees have sent down Torres and have told media they will not consider him. Moving Castro to shortstop would work but still leaves a void at 2B. Lastly, Wade was supposed to be the Triple-A shortstop which in my opinion makes him the lead internal candidate.
However, it was recently reported that the Yankees have interest in acquiring Diamondbacks Shortstop Nick Ahmed. The Yankees have liked Ahmed for a while now as they scouted him and Gregorius in 2015 before opting to go with the latter. Ahmed batted .218 in an injury shortened 2016 campaign.
The Diamondbacks have a glut of shortstops vying for the starting job this season as Chris Owings, Ketel Marte and top prospect Ildemero Vargas are all competing alongside Ahmed for the job which makes him expendable.
The Yankees would be acquiring a glove-first middle infielder who placed third in defensive wins above replacement in 2015. Ahmed is also under team-control for the next five seasons. Despite the benefits of keeping him, Arizona might benefit from trading him to clear a logjam and be able to see the other candidates more clearly. Ahmed would not break the bank by any means. Right-hander Jonathan Holder is a name that comes to mind that makes sense. He would immediately help the Diamondbacks bullpen. He pitched to the tune of a 0.89 ERA in 12 games at Triple-A Scranton for the Yankees.
This is a deal that could go either way. The Yankees may want to bring in a shortstop or they might want to stick in house. Time will tell as they get more information and a more definitive timetable on the return of Gregorius.