Let’s Make Some Deadline Trades! by Dan Szymborski July 26, 2022 Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports We’re just about a week from 2022’s trade deadline, and so far, it’s been a quiet one. This weekend’s trade of Daniel Vogelbach for Colin Holderman is the most significant swap yet this July unless you’re a fierce partisan for Christian Bethancourt or Tyler Wade. It would be highly unusual if we didn’t get a lot more trades of far more significance this week, but knowing what happens will involve some waiting. And since waiting to talk about moves isn’t fun, it’s about time for my yearly feature in which I kick things off with some trade imagineering. None of these are predictions of what actually will happen, but kind of a kickoff exercise where we have a lot of fun discussions — hopefully not too many of them involving people being mad at ol’ Szym! The San Francisco Giants acquire OF Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals for SS Marco Luciano, P Kyle Harrison, OF Luis González, OF Heliot Ramos, and the privilege of not being P Patrick Corbin’s employer I’m actually unconvinced that the Nationals trade Soto at all this week and expect a trade to be more likely in the winter than right now. While the Yankees seem to be the clearest target, I think them making a deal is the most likely at a point where they have more clarity on the status of Aaron Judge and how much money exactly they have to play with, especially with Washington’s apparent insistence on including Corbin in a deal. Corbin is a giant monkey wrench; this is not a simple case of a small amount of money going one way or another, but a deal with more than $60 million remaining, with little hope of it being anything but a de facto charge. I think the inclusion opens the way for a team in a better situation to eat the $60 million rather than give another top prospect. For me, that makes trying to conjure a deal with the Giants work. San Francisco has payroll room to play with and doesn’t have the depth in top prospects that teams like the Yankees and Mariners can offer. Plus, it may just be my memory playing tricks with me, but I remember the Giants having a long relationship with another franchise corner outfielder with tremendous power and nearly clairvoyant plate discipline. Ramos is basically one of the extras at this point, and González is included because Washington also appears to want current major league talent in return for some odd reason. If Washington’s red line is Logan Webb, I politely thank them for my time and look elsewhere; if I’m starting with a trade of three years of Webb for two years of Soto and a forced acquisition of Corbin, I’m not sure I’d include any prospects of interest. Two top-50 prospects and picking up Corbin’s deal, the financial equivalent of a 65 FV prospect, plus a decent MLB-ready player and an extra or two is as far as I would go if I’m the Giants. The St. Louis Cardinals acquire P Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds for SS Masyn Winn, OF Alec Burleson, and P Tink Hence I’ve seen people talk about the Castillo possibility before, but that usually involves trading Matthew Liberatore to the Reds, something I don’t see happening. It’s more likely that they need Liberatore at some point again this season, even with Castillo on the roster, given the injury concerns surrounding most of the team’s rotation. Winn has had a solid year that looks even better when you consider how young he is, and Burleson can likely be in Cincinnati’s outfield fairly quickly. The Reds are fascinated with raw young talents (see Hunter Greene), and I think that Hence would be an extremely interesting pitcher for them. As for St. Louis, Castillo would stabilize the rotation quite a bit and give the team a head start on 2023. Soto would be even more fun here, but I don’t think that outfield is the greatest need. The New York Mets acquire C Willson Contreras from the Chicago Cubs for 1B Mark Vientos While some Cubs fans may think this is a light return, Vientos has been a favorite of ZiPS for a while, and it’s a similar return to what the Cubs received last year for a couple months of the services of Kris Bryant and Javier Báez (Pete Crow-Armstrong wasn’t as highly ranked then as he is now). Vientos has fascinating power, but he’s already hitting well in Triple-A, and I get the impression that if the Mets were that wedded to his services, we would already have seen him in the majors at some point this season. Instead, they have more faith in a J.D. Davis/Daniel Vogelbach DH combo. The Mets have a hole at catcher with James McCann out with injury and, let’s be honest, they have a hole at catcher when McCann is perfectly healthy. New York is nursing a small lead in the NL East, and filling one of the biggest problem positions is a good way to help maintain it. As for Chicago’s end of things, Greg Deichmann has struggled this year for the Cubs at Triple-A, and there’s room for an additional 1B/DH with power at the major league level. The San Diego Padres acquire OF Joey Gallo from the New York Yankees for OF Corey Rosier The hiccup in a possible Gallo trade isn’t so much the prospect the Yankees get in return but the willingness of a real contender to take a chance on him amid a truly abysmal season. The Padres like to roll the dice a bit on these upside plays, and I can’t see any of the other playoff-relevant teams being as interested in Gallo as they are. While the Brewers might be a better fit, I’m not sure they’re as likely to take the gamble. San Diego needs power, and if the cost is minimal, seeing what a change of environment can do for a couple of months is an interesting play to me. Rosier would add some center-capable depth to the Yankee organization; ZiPS sees a peak from him that doesn’t look dissimilar from Brett Gardner before his power breakout. The Minnesota Twins acquire P Frankie Montas from the Oakland Athletics for OF Austin Martin, P Matt Canterino and P Simeon Woods Richardson In the three-way fight for the AL Central, the Twins could use another starting pitcher, especially one who could return next season. Castillo fits the bill, but since I already sent him to the Cardinals, I can’t send him to the Twins also, or else the dream police may be coming to arrest me. ZiPS currently ranks the Twins as the No. 21 rotation in baseball, but adding Montas would bump that up to 13. A lot of the shine has come off Martin as his power has not developed, but that’s less of a big deal for a team playing in the Corporate Name of the Year Coliseum (at least for now). One of Oakland’s strengths is its ability to churn out No. 2 starters at will, and I think the team could do well ironing out Canterino’s command and Woods Richardson’s lack of velocity. The Atlanta Braves acquire OF Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals for P Freddy Tarnok, OF Brandol Mezquita, and OF Tyler Collins The Yankees are connected with Benintendi regularly in the rumor mill, but I think that he’s a better fit for an NL team that has a lower probability of having road games in Toronto. The Braves could use an extra outfielder, and unless the bidding becomes fierce, Benintendi’s free agent-to-be status likely keeps the prospect return from being too rich, especially as he’s not one of Kansas City’s legacy players. Adam Duvall and Eddie Rosario haven’t been cutting it in left field for the Braves, and due to season-ending surgery, the former is no longer even an option. Tarnok gives the Royals a pitcher who is not too far away from the rotation, and Mezquita and Collins give them some additional outfield depth, of which the system could use more. The Chicago White Sox acquire OF Ian Happ from the Chicago Cubs for P Jared Kelley, OF Oscar Colas, and P Norge Vera I so want to get the White Sox in the Soto race, but I don’t see them having the prospects to tempt the Nationals, nor do I think that owner Jerry Reinsdorf is willing to shell out a hefty sum to keep him in Chicago for the next decade. Josh Bell is another possibility, but he’s not an outfielder, and I’m trying not to leave the White Sox with Eloy Jiménez and Andrew Vaughn playing the outfield simultaneously with Luis Robert out with blurred vision and lightheadedness. I’d also love to give them a second baseman, but the pickings are slim there. Similar to the problems with a theoretical Soto trade, I don’t think the White Sox have the players to dent the apparent intransigence of the Pirates and Athletics to trade Bryan Reynolds and Ramón Laureano, respectively. That leaves Happ, a versatile outfielder who has put a disappointing 2021 season behind him. He’s a good enough outfielder to keep Vaughn from needing to wear a glove and can fill in at center field. Given the team’s situation, even his ability to at least fake being a second baseman has some value with the Sox.