It’s not every day a reigning MVP gets traded. But when Giancarlo Stanton, fresh off a monster 59 home run season, was flipped to the New York Yankees on Sunday, the notion that players are untouchable was once again laid to rest.
The blockbuster deal came at a perfect time with the MLB Winter Meetings set to begin. The biggest piece to the MLB trade puzzle is already complete and it shouldn’t take long for the rest of the dominoes to fall.
Here are the latest rumours swirling around the trade market.
Blue Jays among teams in on Harrison
Despite adding middle infielder Aledmys Diaz, Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said he is still exploring options up the middle.
Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates is one of those options, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Harrison, 30, is owed $10.5 million in 2018 and has $10.5 and $11.5 million team options the two following seasons. His versatility makes him a desirable trade target for the Blue Jays.
In last year’s all-star campaign, Harrison started 79 games at second base, 37 at third and six in the corner outfield positions. He’s played more than 700 innings in the outfield through his seven-year career.
At the dish, Harrison slotted in the lead-off spot 29 times for the Pirates and hit second in the lineup on 77 occasions. His 2.6 fWAR was second among Pirates hitters, sliding in behind Andrew McCutchen.
The most exciting part of Harrison’s game? He wreaks havoc on the base paths.
Yankees not done
Adding the league’s most dangerous power hitter isn’t quite enough for Brian Cashman and company. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the Yankees aren’t done dealing.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports the pinstripes are “weighing trades” for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and third baseman Chase Headley.
Ellsbury, 34, started 90 games in centre field last season and had an OPS of .750. His counterpart, Aaron Hicks, started 50 times in centre and had an OPS of .847. Hicks is six years younger and is under team control until 2020, making him a more desirable starter for the Yankees, who are paying Ellsbury $21 million for the next three seasons.
He’s not the 32 home run, 39 stolen base guy he used to be, but Ellsbury can still be a useful player for anyone looking for an outfield upgrade.
Chase Headley slashed .273/.352/.406 last year and offers stability at third base, appearing in at least 135 games in nine of the last 10 seasons.
Castro shouldn’t get comfortable
Poor Starlin Castro. The 27-year-old is no journeyman, but seems to find himself as the odd man out when World Series-calibre teams are being assembled.
The second baseman was traded by the Chicago Cubs in 2015. The Cubs won it all in 2016. Now, after leaving New York for Miami, the Yankees are the favourites to win the World Series according to OddsShark.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today was confident he won’t be there long.
Nightengale has since said the Marlins are “not desperate to move” Castro and believe they can wait for the right offer.
Meanwhile, they are reportedly fielding calls on a much more affordable outfield duo in Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Ozuna earned $3.5 million last year and is under team control until 2020 and Yelich is in the midst of a team-friendly contract that ends with a team option in 2022. The St. Louis Cardinals are said to be serious about pursuing one of the two.
Red Sox eyeing Schwarber
Could the big lefty end up crushing baseballs in Fenway Park? Kyle Schwarber’s name popped up in a report from ESPN’s Scott Lauber.
The Red Sox just watched their division rivals add the home run king and will be looking to try and keep pace. Schwarber is a name they are reportedly interested in, but it is “doubtful” the Cubs would move him, Lauber said.
While his on-base percentage was a dismal .315 last season, Schwarber did hit 30 home runs and at just 24-years-old, his upside is intriguing.
Torn on the Cobb
Several clubs, including the Blue Jays, are focused on adding free agent starter Alex Cobb, according to Jon Heyman.
While the former Tampa Bay Ray is comfortable in the AL East, the 30-year-old has a reason to think about heading to Chicago, as long-time Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey landed with the Cubs in October to reunite with Joe Maddon.
Cobb is one of the most sought-after free agent pitchers this off-season along with Jake Arrieta. He racked up a career-high 179.1 innings and finished with a 3.66 ERA and 4.16 FIP in his contract year.