The following are several off-season trades I think would help both teams.
Trade #1: Tampa Trades Carl Crawford to the Cubs for Josh Vitters, Carlos Marmol, and Brett Jackson.
Tampa has a $10,000,000 option to resign Crawford which seems like an easy decision, but since free agency is inevitable, trading him now seems like the right decision. The Rays, who already have Desmond Jennings, are in the same place as the Angels were last season with Mark Texeira/Kendry Morales, except the move makes even more sense here considering Tampa is a small market team.
Crawford also helps Chicago because they need a legitimate leadoff hitter. The Cubs have indicated they want to sign an elite outfielder during the off-season, but I would argue spending on unrestricted free agents is a mistake considering the best free agents (Matt Holliday, etc) are players Chicago doesn’t need. Also, picking up Chone Figgins would require moving Aramis Ramirez. Therefore, assuming Crawford is happy batting leadoff, he seems like the perfect fit for their lineup.
A deal with Tampa is difficult considering they have limited money and no real weaknesses. Marmol would strengthen their bullen and Vitters is an excellent prospect who would need to change positions (1B or 2B) since the Rays have Longoria. Jackson is a solid prospect who could contribute as a reserve by late next season.
Trade #2: Toronto Trades Roy Halladay to Minnesota and Vernon Wells to Third Team for Aaron Hicks and 40-60% of Wells’ Salary
The Twins pulled off an incredible finish to the ’09 season, and should return everyone (plus Justin Morneau) next season. 2010 is their best chance for a championship considering Mauer might leave after that season, so making a bold move seems smart.
Halladay would provide Minnesota with a legitimate ace. His trade value dropped some after a good (but not great) second half. Getting Aaron Hicks would be an excellent trade for Toronto if the deal could be structured to remove a portion of Vernon Wells’ $106 million contract. It’s questionable how much Minnesota would be willing to eat considering they would only get Halladay for one season (and need to resign Mauer), so Toronto would expect to lose $40-50 million on Wells’ contract, which is not terrible considering they only paid him $6 million/year over the first three years of the deal.
Trade #3: Houston trades Lance Berkman to the Giants for Madison Bumgarner;
Houston trades Roy Oswalt to Boston for Michael Bowden, Lars Anderson, and Casey Kelley.
The Astros are another team suffering serious payroll problems. In Houston, a large percentage of payroll goes towards a few players. Even though these players have been great, trading them is hardly disloyal considering the team will not be able to compete for the next 4-5 seasons (when they’ll be past their prime).
Berkman/Bumgarner seems like a good trade for both teams even though its questionable who would be less enthusiastic: Astros fans or the Giants’ front office. Bumgarner would normally be untradable, but the Giants are one slugger away from being a premier team in the National League. The lack of production at first base is terrible considering the number of players who could produce stellar numbers if given the opportunity to play first base everyday (players with defensive problems, etc). The Giants could try improving their first base situation through free agency (aging slugger, etc) or another team’s “blocked” prospect (Lars Anderson, Kila Kila’ue, etc). Nevertheless, Berkman seems like a perfect candidate for the Giants because he is the only slugger on a rebuilding team who can really be counted upon to produce solid numbers.
The Oswalt trade makes sense considering Boston’s pitching was surprisingly weak this season. Assuming there are no health problems, Oswalt would produce unbelievable numbers in Fenway. Also, Boston’s success over the past 5-6 seasons has blocked several players who are now entering their mid-20’s in AAA. Since Boston is competing for a playoff spot every season, they cannot afford to watch a rookie struggle over his first several months (i.e., Oakland w/ Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson). Bowden/Anderson both struggled this season, but should develop into solid players and a rebuilding Houston team would be a good situation for them.