The San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, and Texas Rangers could all benefit from a three-way deal involving some massive contracts and bigger names.
It’s the MLB offseason, which means it’s the time to go crazy trying to build your favorite team’s roster for the upcoming season, and it figures to be a busy winter for the San Francisco Giants.
So far, it looks like this offseason will move quicker than last year’s slog. A faster paced offseason makes for more excitement and an interesting game of evolving musical chairs.
The Giants obviously have a number of team needs as they balance the present with the future. A strong stretch of play from June to July aside, the team was clearly a tier below competitiveness in 2019. The farm system has taken immense steps forward in the past year, but if you read ATF’s top 30 prospect ranking you know that the incoming talent remains at least a season away.
Obviously, the team wants to improve and add talent that could be a part of the next title contender. Will president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi trust the talent of this free-agent class to invest in players long term? I doubt it.
That brings us to the trade market, where the Giants will try to be active even if their are few obvious trade fits. Despite a rebuilding mindset, the Giants do not have any particularly obvious trade candidates. First baseman Brandon Belt remains the focus of Giants Twitter, but his recent production and remaining salary likely dampens his market.
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija seems like a desirable trade target. He was quietly very productive last season, throwing 181.2 innings and holding opponents to a 3.52 ERA. However, advanced numbers are not as kind to Samardzija, and are skeptical he will sustain that success (4.59 FIP and 5.02 xFIP). With an $18 million salary for 2020, teams might be unwilling to part with top prospect talent and take on that salary.
With plenty of payroll space, the Giants should be actively searching to take on big contracts. Some of the players might actually offer the Giants value on the field, but just as importantly, they can facilitate the acquisition of additional prospect talent.
Which brings us to one trade fit that seems be the perfect storm of all these factors. The Mets want to compete yesterday, but need to shore up their starting rotation and bullpen without adding much payroll.
The Rangers find themselves in a similar situation, with fewer payroll restrictions. Texas finished a solid 78-84 campaign and could be on the verge of competing in the AL West. One spot that could use an upgrade is first base.
You can probably see where this is going.
Here’s my trade proposal:
- To San Francisco Giants: OF Yoenis Cespedes, 1B/OF Dominic Smith, IF Shervyen Newton, RHP Franklyn Kilome
- To New York Mets: RHP Jeff Samardzija, $500,000 international bonus pool money (via TEX)
- To Texas Rangers: 1B Brandon Belt, $16 million cash ($8M via SF, $8M via NYM)
A three-team deal that sends Samardzija to the Mets and Belt to the Rangers would fill obvious holes for both teams. At first glance, the money does not make sense. If New York has limited budgetary space, why would they dedicate $18 million to the Shark?
The Giants should offer to take back outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who is owed $29 million in 2020. Cespedes does not have the value his fame would suggest. A report earlier this month suggested the oft-injured outfielder, who has played just 119 games from 2017-2019, might not be able to play in 2020 at all. By swapping Cespedes for Samardzija, the Mets would actually save $11.5 million and turn a complete wild card into a starter.
The Rangers would get to add Belt without taking on anything. In my proposal, the Mets and Giants would each provide $8 million in cash, which would turn Belt’s remaining contract into a two-year, $16 million deal. That’s probably still more than he would get on the open market, but it seems like a good enough deal that Texas might be willing to consider it since there is no significant acquisition cost.
The Giants would still save $12.5 million in long-term payroll obligations even after taking on Cespedes and sending $8 million with Belt to Texas, and they would still be in a position to acquire more assets.
Former Mets top prospect Dominic Smith is blocked by rookie of the year Pete Alonso at first base, but was very productive in limited playing time. He hit .282/.355/.525 in 197 plate appearances last season. In a trade where the Giants move Belt, Smith would offer a potential solution at first base.
Infielder Shervyen Newton and right-handed pitcher Franklyn Kilome both rank among the Mets top 10-15 prospects, but come with their own series of red flags. Newton is already eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft and New York chose not to add him to their 40-man roster. New York also has Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, and Ronny Mauricio who rank above him at the same position. Meanwhile, Kilome underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018, has not pitched above Double-A, and will be 25 next June.
With that said, both have toolsy packages and intriguing potential. Newton has shown the potential to stick at shortstop defensively with potential above-average power. Kilome combines a plus fastball and above-average curveball with a changeup that has flashed as an average pitch. That combination could make him a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter or an elite backend reliever.
This deal follows the mold of the Mark Melancon trade, which new general manager Scott Harris pointed out as one of his favorite deals of the 2019 deadline. In that deal, the Giants moved long-term financial commitments and acquired prospect assets. In this proposal, the Giants would acquire a pair of legitimate prospects (Newton and Kilome), get a piece with the potential to make an immediate impact (Smith), and get a lottery ticket (Cespedes).
As with the Melancon deal, the trade makes sense for the other organizations as well. Texas could acquire an intriguing bat for nothing, while the Mets can bolster their rotation and save money while only trading from surplus.
So what do you think? Comment below or let us know on Twitter whether you would make this trade.