3 Trades That Need to Happen Before Spring Training
Things in the baseball world have certainly been quiet as far as the hot stove is concerned, but there is still plenty of time for free agent signings and trades to take place. As the calendar gets ready to flip to a new year, here are three trades that must happen before Spring Training.
1. Brian Dozier to the Dodgers - There have been plenty of rumors surrounding Brian Dozier this winter and the uncertainty regarding his future in the Twin Cities. While some would argue that the Twins should keep him and build a team with him as a centerpiece, the fact is that his value may never be this high again and now would be the ideal time for the team to trade him and get a nice haul in return. After all, things were rosy for Minnesota in 2015 and went completely sour last year meaning that 2017 is a wild card regarding how much success the team might have. As far as teams that are the best fit, there has been plenty of talk about the Angels and Cardinals being interested in Dozier, but both teams don't seem to have enough prospects to make a deal happen. That is why the Dodgers need to pull the trigger and make a trade for Dozier happen. He is younger than Chase Utley, a great clubhouse guy, would provide plenty of pop, and still has two years of team control remaining. Last season alone, Utley ranked 9th in the NL just ahead of Joe Panik of the San Francisco Giants with a cumulative batting average of .252 in 512 at bats with 129 hits, 14 home runs, 52 RBI, and 115 strikeouts. On the other hand, Brian Dozier came in slightly better ranking 8th in the AL with a cumulative batting average of .268 in 615 at bats with 165 hits, 42 home runs, 99 RBI, and 138 strikeouts. Granted, Dozier's strikeout rate was high and last year could have been a career year for him that might never happen again, but Dozier is simply an upgrade over Utley at second base for Los Angeles.
2. David Robertson to the Nationals - Sure the Nationals gave up several quality prospects to land Adam Eaton, but they still have a huge question mark when it comes to figuring out who their closer is going to be during the course of the 2017 season. During the Winter Meetings and in the weeks that followed, the Nationals and White Sox were rumored to have continued talks about Robertson and eventually it was reported that Washington balked at the asking price for him. Washington still has several quality prospects that they could give up in a package for Robertson including A.J. Cole, Pedro Severino, and Victor Robles. While some Nationals might be disgruntled and shaking their head with a Natitude at this proposed trade and the idea of trading more prospects, they should be shaking their head at the fact that this trade hasn't even happened yet and how the team has yet to address it's need for a closer. As it stands right now, the Nationals would go into the season with Shawn Kelley as their closer. Kelley posted a 2.64 ERA in 58.0 IP last season and recorded 7 saves in 9 save opportunities, which certainly isn't bad, but it wouldn't hurt to add another closer of Robertson's caliber and have that additional depth. Nationals General Manager, Mike Rizzo, is not afraid to make big moves and now is the time to make another big splash before heading into Spring Training to solidify Washington's chance of clinching the NL East and making it as far as possible come October.
3. Jake Odorizzi to the Astros - Houston made several big moves at the start of the offseason by trading for New York Yankees catcher, Brian McCann, signing free agent outfielder, Josh Reddick, and signing free agent designated hitter/outfielder, Carlos Beltran to a one-year deal. Although those moves are flashy and will improve the Astros hitting and defensive metrics in 2017, the fact is they still have several question marks regarding their starting rotation. Dallas Keuchel was not the Keuchel of 2015 last season, Colin McHugh struggled posting a 4.34 ERA in 184.2 IP, and Lance McCuellers ended up on the DL and only pitched 81 innings last year because of that. Add to that the fact that their starting rotation lacks quite a bit of stability and consists of a lot of unknowns in Charlie Morton, Joe Musgrove, and Brad Peacock and you can see why they need someone like Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays. While Houston should set it's sights higher on someone like Chris Archer, that trade likely wouldn't happen because the Rays value Archer too much. Therefore, by focusing on Odorizzi, who is 26-years old, doesn't become a free agent until 2020, and has proven himself in a tough AL East division, Houston can easily fill it's biggest need. In addition, Houston has tremendous depth at every position on the field that it can pull from and many prospects that would be of interest to the Rays or any of the other 28 teams in baseball.