Tuesday, newest Dodger Ricky Nolasco threw seven innings of five-hit baseball to defeat the first place Diamondbacks 6-1, closing Arizona’s lead to a game-and-a-half in the NL West. Already, Nolasco is paying dividends for his new team while every other contender in the National League is trying to decide whether they should trade now or hold off until the end of the month when they might be able to score a better deal closer to the deadline.
I understand that trades are negotiations and that the more eager you appear to make a deal, the more vulnerable you are to making a bad deal. But when you know you know, and the Diamondbacks know they need a starting pitcher. The Pittsburgh Pirates know they need another bat. And the Texas Rangers have to believe Bud Selig isn’t bluffing when he says players connected to the Biogenesis scandal are facing 50-game suspensions in the second half of the season, and Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz is on that list.
So enough of this slow playing. Time to make some deals. Here are seven trades that could be made right now…
1. Milwaukee sends P Yovani Gallardo to Arizona for P Trevor Cahill and prospect (SS) Chris Owings
The Diamondbacks have one starter they can rely on right now and he’s pitching in his first full Major League season. If the team wants to take the West, Patrick Corbin needs help, and Gallardo would fit nicely as a new number two starter. Gallardo is having a bad season by his standards and he makes a considerable wage ($11 million per season), but a new environment might be just what the 27-year-old right-hander needs. Plus, he’s been at his best throughout his career when pitching at Chase Field. If Milwaukee will take back Cahill to offset Gallardo’s salary, the D-backs can part with a middle infielder ready for the Majors but blocked for the foreseeable future by Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hill.
2. Texas sends 2B Ian Kinsler and prospects Martin Perez (P) and Mike Olt (3b) to the Cubs for P Jeff Samardjia and OF Alfonso Soriano
Texas could be in trouble. The team put staff ace Yu Darvish on the DL this week and the normally lethal Ranger offense ranks 11th in MLB in runs scored. I know what you’re thinking — 11th isn’t so bad. It is when you’re about to lose Nelson Cruz for 50 games. Soriano would give them a right-handed hitter with pop, the trade would clear the way for super-prospect Jurickson Profar to play second base, the Rangers get a quality #2 caliber starter, and the salaries of Kinsler and Soriano nearly offset one another for the next couple years. On the other side, the Cubs finally rid themselves of Soriano and get back a piece to build the team around going forward in Kinsler, along with two solid Major League-ready prospects.
3. L.A. Dodgers acquire 2B Chase Utley from the Phillies
The Dodgers aren’t going to give up top prospects for a 34-year-old second baseman with an expiring contract, but I’m betting they’ll put together a solid package for a UCLA guy who would be the perfect fit for a hot team in desperate need of some solid veteran leadership. And since money clearly isn’t an obstacle…
4. Cubs P Matt Garza to Boston
We know that small-to-medium market clubs can’t afford the whopping 25-to-30 million per year salaries being paid to the top free agents. Well, another type of player they can’t go after are the Matt Garza types, guys in the last year of their contract who are going to ask for and receive more than they’re worth on the free agent market from teams who can afford to overspend. Medium market clubs can’t afford to make big mistakes with their money. So, Pirates, Diamondbacks, A’s, Indians and others, keep your prospects and stay away from free agents to be. Let the Red Sox have Matt Garza.
5. Pirates land SS Alexei Ramirez and SP John Danks from the White Sox for prospect Allen Hanson (SS) and others
The Pirates can’t give up top prospects Garret Cole and Jameson Taillon, but this a team that absolutely needs to “go for it” in 2013. How long has it been since the Pirates made the playoffs? The Warren G. Harding Administration? Give up the organization’s number three prospect and change to land a much needed SS/bat to the lineup and a solid lefty starter, in case Wandy Rodriquez doesn’t come back from injury.
6. Seattle sends DH Raul Ibanez to Tampa Bay
Raul Ibanez has hit 22 home runs this season! Twenty-freaking-two!! And we haven’t even reached the All-Star break. The 41-year-old will make just $1.5 million the rest of the season. Even the Rays can afford that. Plus, Ibanez is a great clubhouse guy and a major upgrade over Luke Scott. Seattle shouldn’t just give him away either. Considering the meager price tag and the fact that Ibanez is on pace to club 40 homers, I think they could fish a couple decent prospects away from the shrewdest organization in baseball.
7. San Diego trades 3B Chase Headley to Cincinnati for 3B Todd Frazier and P Tony Cingrani
Headley is bound to pick it up in the second half of the season. After all, he led the NL in RBI last year and most of those steaks came in the second half. San Diego has proven they are NEVER going to pay top dollar for a free agent, and Headley is coming up on money time very soon. Frazier has tremendous power and can plug in immediately at third, while Cingrani has been surprisingly good for the big league club this year, even though he’s not even a top 10 prospect in the Reds organization. Sell high.