A Blockbuster Trade Idea
Following a conversation that took place on the blog yesterday, I think it is worth exploring a trade idea that I find really intriguing (hat tip to reader/commenter, Fuster, for the inspiration for this article). The markets for the big free agents are becoming more defined. It seems like it is a three-way race between the Yankees, Phillies, and White Sox to pick up Manny Machado, while the Dodgers seem hell-bent on clearing salary and outfield bodies to make signing Bryce Harper a possibility. Obviously, only one team will be able to sign one (or both!) of these players. Teams left holding their giant bags of money will be left to look elsewhere to fill out their rosters. While there is a scenario where some teams sit idly by and fill needs internally, I think the off-season has shown that teams are open for business with regards to making some big moves on the trade market. I am getting really into the idea of the blind player comparison, so let’s check out two players below:
Player A 2017: 692 PA, .350 ISO, .376 OBP, 12.3 BB%, 23.6 K%, 10 Rdrs, 7.6 bWAR
Player B 2017: 548 PA, .314 ISO, .352 OBP, 11.7 BB%, 26.6 K%, 7 Rdrs (total), 4.2 bWAR
Player A 2018: 705 PA, .243 ISO, .343 OBP, 9.9 BB%, 29.9 K%, 5 Rdrs (total), 4.0 bWAR
Player B 2018: 632 PA, .210 ISO, .343 OBP, 10.9 BB%, 23.9 K%, 8 Rdrs (total), 4.2 bWAR
Both Player A and Player B are premium players. Both players had better peripheral statistics in 2017 than in 2018, as both displayed less power and walked a little less. Player A showed far less plate discipline last year, striking out significantly more than in 2017. Both players were positive contributors on defense. Player A is 29 and locked into a long-term contract, while Player B is 23 and does not qualify for Free Agency until 2024. Got it, yet?
Player A is Giancarlo Stanton. Player B is Cody Bellinger. Stanton struggled somewhat in his first summer in the Bronx, but was still a highly productive player in 2018. Bellinger experienced a sophomore slump at the plate, but proved versatile in the field, achieving plus marks at 1B and in CF for the Dodgers. Bellinger began to right the ship following a terrible May, operating with a more contact-oriented approach as it seemed as though Bellinger swung for the fences on every swing early in the season.
One could argue that Stanton fits the Dodger roster better than he does the Yankee roster, while one could say the same thing about Bellinger. As their pursuit of Harper shows, the Dodgers want a huge-hitting corner outfielder, and even jettisoned the popular Yasiel Puig to clear the logjam out there. Stanton would certainly fill that role while playing solid defense. Cody Bellinger is a Swiss army knife who could primarily play 1B in 2019, spell the starting outfielders in case of injury, and provides insurance in the event that Aaron Hicks leaves in Free Agency in 2020, as Bellinger posted well above-average marks in CF defensively.
The sticking point is obviously the contract situations. Bellinger costs almost nothing as a pre-arbitration eligible player who is under team control through 2024, while Stanton is owed the remainder of his 13 year/$325 million contract that runs through 2027 (although Stanton does have a player opt-out clause in 2020). Based on the disparity in cost, the Yankees would have to kick in something additional, either in the form of money, players, or both.
Here is my bar room proposal, but I realize that my trade proposal is probably light:
The Yankees send Stanton, Clint Frazier, and $5 million/year remaining on Stanton’s deal to the Dodgers
The Dodgers send Cody Bellinger to the Yankees
I love Stanton, and I think that he is going to be an excellent player for the next 4-6 years, but I think that Bellinger is his equal in terms of total value and fits the Yankee roster better. Who says no? Probably both teams, as there is a significant amount of risk for both sides, but it is certainly fun to imagine.
On a side note, I just want to wish everyone on the blog (writers, readers, and commenters alike) a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. It is a pleasure to continue writing for this site, and I am very thankful that so many of you have taken the time to read and comment on the work that happens here. Thank you and happy holidays!