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Chicago White Sox: Stay away from Bryce Harper and Manny Machado
The Chicago White Sox lost 100 games last season but are in the midst of an advancing rebuild and have added bushels of young talent. They’re on the verge of contention in a weak AL Central.
On the other hand, the ChiSox lost top pitching prospect Michael Kopech to Tommy John surgery. Their window should open at some point soon, but probably not in 2019.
Enter rumors, via MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, that Chicago is interested in both Harper and Machado. It’s an exciting notion, no question, and would awaken the South Side faithful. It could also erase the financial flexibility the White Sox have labored diligently to re-establish and undermine their long-term success.
They have holes to fill across the roster and multiple questions to answer regarding youngsters such as Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez. The time for gaudy contracts isn’t here quite yet.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained…but in this instance, it’s a tad too soon to venture Harper and Machado money.
Cleveland Indians: Trade a top-tier starting pitcher
The Cleveland Indians are the defending division champs and have a clear path to retain that title. They’ll also never hang with baseball’s deepest-pocketed spenders in free agency.
Thus, the Tribe must get creative to address areas of need. This winter, Cleveland must grit its teeth and part with a top-tier starting pitcher.
Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer’s names have all floated on the rumor breeze. Kluber is a two-time Cy Young Award winner who’s controllable through 2021 with a pair of team options. Any team would have to decimate its farm system to get him. And Cleveland is negotiating an extension with Carrasco, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Bauer, meanwhile, was a 2018 top-10 AL Cy Young Award finisher whom the Indians are “much more inclined to trade,” per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. If they can flip him for a needed outfield bat, they should pull the trigger.
Detroit Tigers: Sell low(ish) on Michael Fulmer
Speaking of trading promising starting pitchers, the Detroit Tigers should be open to offers for right-hander Michael Fulmer.
After winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 and making an All-Star appearance in 2017, Fulmer posted a 4.69 ERA last season. That’s not great for his trade value, to state it gently.
Then again, with pitching always at a premium, any number of contenders might be ready to take a chance on the 25-year-old and give the rebuilding Tigers quality prospects in return.
Detroit shouldn’t sell Fulmer for the sake of selling. But it should shop him through the winter and see what offers it gets.
Kansas City Royals: Eat salary to move Ian Kennedy
Like other clubs in the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals are rebuilders. They need young, controllable players, and they want to shed salary.
They won’t be able to acquire any blue-chip prospects for right-hander Ian Kennedy. And they’d have to choke down a portion of the $33 million he’s owed through 2020.
Still, Kennedy was a top-five National League Cy Young Award finisher with the Arizona Diamondbacks once upon a time (2011) and posted a 3.68 ERA in 195.2 innings as recently as 2016.
He won’t single-handedly restock the Royals’ MiLB stable. And it’s never popular to pay part of a player’s salary and send him packing. If anyone’s interested in a veteran arm, however, and willing to send back something of value, this is a savvy move for K.C.
Minnesota Twins: Trade Miguel Sano
The Minnesota Twins went from surprise playoff qualifier in 2017 to sub-.500 afterthought in 2018. They don’t need to overhaul the roster to get back to contention, but they need to do something.
One obvious weakness is a bullpen that ranked 22nd in ERA and blew an AL-leading 28 saves. The Twins could and should scour the free-agent market, but they could also go the trade route.
The Cincinnati Reds recently inked closer Raisel Iglesias to a three-year, $24.1 million deal that bought out his arbitration years, though a trade remains possible.
The Twins could offer 25-year-old slugger Miguel Sano, who has battled injuries and off-field issues but was an All-Star in 2017 and possesses eye-popping power. Add a prospect or two from the upper echelon of the Twinkies’ system and Minnesota might pry Iglesias away from Cincinnati and allow Sano to press the reset button with a new team.