David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Zack Wheeler
After trading Zack Greinke and with Robbie Ray and Mike Leake both a year removed from free agency, the Diamondbacks could look to add some top-tier starting pitching help this winter.
Chase Field is a tough environment for pitchers, but Wheeler has enjoyed solid success in five career starts there, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 30 strikeouts in 31.2 innings.
Using some of the money freed up by moving Greinke to sign Wheeler would provide the rotation with a significant boost in 2020 and serve as a contingency plan if Ray bolts in free agency following the 2020 season.
Colorado Rockies: Trade Charlie Blackmon for a controllable starter
Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported on July 23 that the Rockies were willing to listen to offers for Blackmon, who made his third straight NL All-Star team in 2019.
Morosi wrote: “Blackmon, who turned 33 this month, has a 15-team no-trade clause, which would complicate any trade negotiations. Colorado would need to consider the reaction — inside and outside its clubhouse — to trading a cornerstone player so soon after signing Nolan Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million extension through 2026.”
While his dramatic home/road splits and the $64 million he’s owed over the next three seasons waters down his value a bit, he’s still a dynamic offensive player. The Rockies desperately need pitching help, and flipping Blackmon could be the best way to find a controllable arm, considering how hard it is to lure top-tier free-agent pitchers to Colorado.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Sign Will Harris and Will Smith
While the Dodgers bullpen finished fourth in the majors and first in the NL with a 3.78 ERA, shoring up the relief corps should still be a top priority this winter.
Closer Kenley Jansen finished the season with eight blown saves and a 3.71 ERA, high-priced setup man Joe Kelly failed to live up to expectations, and the rest of the relief corps was largely inconsistent.
Assuming Aroldis Chapman doesn’t opt out of his contract with the Yankees, lefty closer Will Smith (63 G, 34 SV, 2.76 ERA, 13.2 K/9) and righty setup man Will Harris (68 G, 26 HLD, 1.50 ERA, 9.3 K/9) look like the top two bullpen options on the market. The Dodgers have the money to sign them both, and that’s exactly what they should do.
San Diego Padres: Sign Gerrit Cole
In a recent article predicting the biggest surprises of the upcoming MLB offseason, I went out on a limb and had Gerrit Cole signing with the Padres. Here’s part of what I wrote:
“While handing out another big contract after the Hosmer and Machado deals may seem daunting, in actuality the team has just over $100 million on the books for 2020, and with a wealth of young, cheap talent, there’s no reason a megadeal for Cole can’t also fit on the payroll.”
Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been nothing if not aggressive since taking the reins, and signing Cole would vastly improve the rotation after a disappointing 70-92 finish that represented just a four-win improvement over their 2018 record.
San Francisco Giants: Trade Brandon Belt, give Joey Bart an Opening Day spot
The Giants should start the offseason by doing whatever it takes to unload Belt and the final two years and $34.4 million left on his contract, even if it means eating the vast majority of that remaining money.
That would allow them to move Buster Posey, who had a down season in his return from hip surgery, out from behind the plate and into the everyday first base role where he could focus on the offensive side of his game.
Meanwhile, top prospect Joey Bart would then have a clear path to the catcher job. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft reached Double-A in his first full pro season and then hit .333/.524/.767 with four home runs and more walks (9) than strikeouts (7) in 10 games in the Arizona Fall League before a fractured thumb sent him home.
He’ll be ready for the start of spring training, and giving him a spot on the Opening Day roster would be a great way to create some buzz around a team in the midst of a rebuild that is set to lose face of the franchise Madison Bumgarner.