Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of big baseball deals made on Black Friday, including the Blue Jays acquiring Josh Donaldson from the A’s in 2014 (he won the American League MVP Award the next year), and the Red Sox getting Curt Schilling from the D-backs in 2003 before winning their first World Series in 86 years the next fall.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five Black Friday deals I’d like to see this year, listed in order of the likelihood of them happening, with the trade I deem most plausible at the top.
- Giancarlo Stanton to the Cardinals
We have not seen an MVP of a league traded in the offseason after he won the award since Alex Rodriguez went to the Yankees from the Rangers before the 2004 season. Stanton just turned 28 years old, and at the time of his trade, A-Rod was 27 and arguably the best player in the game. The Yankees took on most of his salary in the deal with Texas and gave up one young All-Star in Alfonso Soriano and a top prospect (Joaquin Arias). This trade serves as a decent blueprint for what a Stanton trade will look like, with the Marlins getting salary relief and a couple of good young players as opposed to a huge package of prospects.
The Cardinals are a perfect fit for the Marlins in that they have the payroll flexibility to take on Stanton’s contract, they are built to win now, and have the desire to give up a fair package of players in return. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty and right-hander Luke Weaver would headline such a deal, with a possible lower-level, upside prospect such as righty Junior Fernandez (their No. 10 prospect) finishing a deal that Miami would have a difficult time refusing.
- Chris Archer to the Cubs
The Rays are rumored to be considering a full rebuild, and if that is the case, Archer will have significant value for multiple teams. The Cubs and Rays have made big trades before, notably when Tampa Bay sent Matt Garza to Chicago in 2011 and received none other than Archer as part of the return.
Archer, 29, fits the bill as a top-of-the-rotation replacement for free agent Jake Arrieta, having thrown more than 200 innings each of the past three seasons, and he has thrived in the AL East, making two All-Star teams and finishing fifth in the 2015 AL Cy Young Award voting. He’s also pitched for Cubs manager Joe Maddon before and is signed through 2019 with reasonable club options for ’20 and ’21. The Rays have always been a pitching-rich organization, and any rebuild would have to have pitching in return, possibly headlined by righties Oscar de la Cruz (Chicago’s No. 1 prospect) and Alex Lange (No. 4), and possibly more.
- Christian Yelich to the Dodgers
The Dodgers have been rumored to be pursuing Stanton from the Marlins because he grew up nearby in Sherman Oaks, Calif., but the better fit for them among current Miami outfielders is Yelich, who also hails from the area, attending nearby Westlake High School before being drafted by the Marlins in the first round of the 2010 Draft.
Yelich has the versatility to play all three outfield positions, but would settle in nicely in left as the Dodgers are currently constructed. Additionally, his ability to get on base (career OBP of .369), his age (he turns 26 in December), and his salary (signed through 2020 with a club option for ’21) are more in line with the Dodgers’ philosophy of being flexible in terms of roster and payroll construction.
Controllable young talent like Yelich is costly to acquire, and the Marlins would need a deal headlined by either outfielder Alex Verdugo (L.A.’s No. 2 prospect) or righty Yadier Alvarez (No. 3) — along with a couple of other pieces — to get it done.
- Josh Donaldson to the Angels
To be clear, the Blue Jays have not made Donaldson — who is eligible for free agency next winter — available for trade, nor have they opened discussions on a multi-year contract. Since being acquired by the Blue Jays three years ago, Donaldson has a .942 OPS and has been one of the best players in the game, but if Toronto thinks he’s going to leave as a free agent, it could make sense to deal him now.
The Angels are a fit because they are trying to win now during Mike Trout’s prime, but they got a combined .713 OPS from their third basemen in 2017, which ranked 14th in the AL. They could start a package with outfielder Kole Calhoun, who is under club control through 2020 and could help Toronto’s outfield defense, which finished last in Outs Above Average. The Halos might also have to include their top prospect, outfielder Jo Addell, who was the 10th overall pick in 2017 and a few years away. The Jays could then look to fill third base with a free agent such as Todd Frazier, while the Angels would have one of the most formidable offenses in the AL while replacing Calhoun via free agency.
- Manny Machado to the Yankees
The Orioles are at a crossroads, with Machado, Adam Jones and Zach Britton all expected to become free agents at the end of the 2018 season. Instead of holding on to these players until the non-waiver Trade Deadline or the end of next year and receiving Draft-pick compensation, Baltimore should be proactive and seek a trade for its star third baseman now that a long-term extension appears unlikely.
Trading Machado within the division to New York would be a tough sell to the O’s fan base, but the Yankees are a perfect fit for Machado, given that they don’t have a long-term solution at the hot corner and will likely be a front-runner for his services next year when he hits free agency. If the Yankees would part with shortstop Gleyber Torres, the No. 1 prospect in the game who is coming off Tommy John surgery, that would make it enticing for the Orioles. Both sides would be equally uncomfortable in a deal like that, which usually means it makes plenty of sense.