May 25, 2024

Bowden: Way too early MLB trades I’d like to see happen, plus Luis Arraez trade takeaways

The Padres and Marlins did not want to wait 87 days until the MLB trade deadline on July 30 to make the first big trade of the season, as they completed a five-player swap late Friday night that became official Saturday. San Diego acquired infielder Luis Arraez, a two-time batting champion, from Miami for center fielder Dillon Head, the 25th overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft, plus three other minor leaguers, outfielder Jakob Marsee, first baseman Nathan Martorella and right-handed reliever Woo-Suk Go. San Diego also received almost $8 million in the deal.

The Padres significantly improved the top of their lineup by adding Arraez, an on-base machine who is one the best pure hitters the game has seen in years. He reminds me of Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs and Rod Carew with his elite bat control and ability to put the ball where the defense isn’t playing. He has a staggering career strikeout percentage of 7.5 percent. (League average over the past six years is 22.9 percent.) He’ll create traffic for the rest of the Padres lineup, including Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Jake Cronenworth. Arraez’s best position is designated hitter, followed by first base, second base and third base, and he’ll probably be used in all four as that will allow the Padres to rotate their infielders into the DH spot to get them some rest. He’s under team control through the 2025 season.

The Marlins were not going to be able to sign Arraez long term and with so many needs across their depth chart, this was the type of deal they had to make. Head was the headliner and most important player the Marlins acquired as he could eventually become their long-term answer in center field and the lead-off spot. Marsee profiles as a solid fourth outfielder type in the majors, Martorella can hit but lacks corner infield power, and Go, who signed a $4.5 million deal this offseason, has a chance to be a depth reliever for Miami. This won’t be a popular trade in South Florida as the Marlins’ two best bats from a year ago — Arraez and Jorge Soler, who signed with the Giants in the offseason — are now gone without their offense being replaced at the major-league level. However, it was necessary for their long-term future.

I liked this trade for both sides and it got me thinking about other All-Star-caliber players who could be dealt over the next three months before the deadline. Generally speaking, it’s way too early to make trades because most teams want to wait until at least mid-July to see whether they’re in contention, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun and discuss some players who could be moved closer to the deadline depending on how things play out.

Here are three way too early trades I’d like to see happen and why these deals could make sense for both sides.



MLB trade grades: Taking stock of the Padres-Marlins Luis Arraez deal

1. Mets trade 1B Pete Alonso to Mariners for RHP Emerson Hancock and 1B Ty France

Alonso will be a free agent after this season and there is no indication the Mets are going to extend him long term before he reaches free agency. Therefore, if they aren’t in the wild-card race come late July, they should trade Alonso and try to re-sign him in the offseason. He loves New York and loves being a Met, so they’d have a legitimate chance to sign him in the winter. In the meantime, by parting with Alonso before the trade deadline, they could get back a promising young pitcher in Hancock, the sixth overall player taken in the 2020 draft, who debuted last year and this year has logged a 4.75 ERA over six starts. Hancock, 24, has given up two runs or fewer in each of his past four starts. France, who will turn 30 this season, also comes back in the deal to New York. He could play first base for the Mets the rest of this season, and with his experience at third, second and DH, gives them a multi-position player and a potential offseason trade chip (particularly if they re-sign Alonso). To me, his swing and approach say he should be much better than his production — .250/.337/.336 slash line and a 99 OPS+ last year and a 97 OPS+ this year — so maybe a change of scenery would help him. France is under team control through next season.

The Mariners, on the other side of this deal, would fill their biggest need, landing a big middle-of-the-order power bat to give them a much better chance of winning the AL West and even running the table in October. Seattle could replace Hancock in the rotation with Bryan Woo and still have the best five-man rotation in baseball. Woo, who logged 4.21 ERA over 18 starts last year as a rookie, is on the injured list but reportedly nearing a return.

2. Blue Jays trade 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to Astros for 1B/OF Joey Loperfido and OF Kenedy Corona

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. celebrates after hitting a grand slam Sunday. (Geoff Burke / USA Today)

Guerrero will be a free agent after the 2025 season and the Blue Jays have yet to sign him to a long-term deal. They’d get a much better return in a trade now than they would in the offseason or in the leadup to next year’s trade deadline; therefore, they’ll need to seriously consider dealing him this July if they fall out of the race. Guerrero is still only 25 years old and just entering his prime years. Could you imagine him hitting between Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker over the next two seasons (at least)? Vlad Jr.’s best season was in 2021, when he led the majors with 48 home runs and topped the AL with a 1.002 OPS. He followed that up with a 32-homer season and a Gold Glove Award in 2022. However, the three-time All-Star’s numbers dipped last year to 26 homers and a .788 OPS, and this year he’s batting only .239 with four homers, 15 RBIs and a .711 OPS. A change of scenery, especially a move to Houston, could be a huge boost for him. The Astros need help at first base. José Abreu, who last week was optioned to the team’s spring training facility, appears to be in serious decline. Jon Singleton has played well for them, but he’s more of a solid bench player. Guerrero would solve first base for the Astros and really lengthen their lineup.

In return, the Blue Jay would get Loperfido, who could take over first base for them long term. He was leading the minors with 13 home runs when the Astros promoted him last week. Loperfido, 24, also can play left field. Corona, 24, can play all three outfield positions and profiles as a 20-home run, 30-stolen base, top-of-the-lineup type producer. He is hitting .185/.340/.309 this season in Double A with 10 steals in 11 attempts. Both players won’t be arbitration-eligible until at least 2027.

3. Guardians trade right-handed relievers Hunter Gaddis and Cade Smith to Orioles for RF Heston Kjerstad

Heston Kjerstad, pictured last week against the Yankees, made his MLB debut last September. (Tommy Gilligan / USA Today)

The Guardians need to upgrade right field for the short- and long-term and acquiring Kjerstad, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, would accomplish both aims. Kjerstad, 25, slashed .349/.431/.744 at Triple A this season with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs and has gone 2-for-9 since being promoted to the majors two weeks ago. However, the Orioles’ outfield is overcrowded with right fielder Anthony Santander, center fielder Cedric Mullins and left fielders Colton Cowser and Austin Hays, along with Kyle Stowers and Coby Mayo, who are major-league-ready but at Triple A. Kjerstad is talented but could be expendable. (He ranked 20th on my top 50 prospects list last August.)

In this trade, the Orioles would acquire two solid, controllable relievers to help fortify their bullpen. Gaddis, 26, has posted a 2.87 ERA in 17 appearances for Cleveland this season with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.7 walks per nine. Smith, 24, has logged a 2.30 ERA and 1.43 FIP over 16 appearances this year, his first in the big leagues, with 13.8 strikeouts per nine (24 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings). The Guardians could afford to deal both righties because they have a deep bullpen with closer Emmanuel Clase and set-up men such as Tim Herrin, Scott Barlow and Nick Sandlin, along with relievers working their way back from injuries and more good arms in the minors who are ready for promotions.

We don’t have to wait until June and July to have fun discussing trade proposals. Please use the comments section to share the trades you’d like to see. And, as always, thanks for reading. I appreciate you — yes, even the haters!



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(Top photo of Pete Alonso: Sarah Stier / Getty Images)