By Andrew Simon
Trade ideas always flow freely from the keyboards of columnists, Internet commenters and fantasy baseball owners, but this week in San Diego, real Major League general managers gave them all a serious run for their money.
The annual Winter Meetings are about more than trades, of course. But the Jon Lester sweepstakes aside, they took center stage over the past four days, with several clubs making bold, creative moves involving established veterans and rising stars.
From Monday through Thursday, teams announced 12 deals involving 36 players (without double-counting pitcher Andrew Heaney, who was traded to, then from the Dodgers). That doesn't include even include pending transactions involving players such as Matt Kemp and Jimmy Rollins, but it still dwarfs the activity seen in recent years. According to MLB Network, the Winter Meetings produced a total of 16 trades from 2010-13, and never more than five in a single year.
All of the players involved, or reportedly involved, have combined for 17 All-Star selections, six Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, two Rookie of the Year Awards and one MVP. Put them all together, and you get a viable 25-man roster, with reinforcements to spare. It's a team with a strong rotation, a solid offense, some questionable defense and an inexperienced bullpen.
Here's a breakdown of our Winter Meetings trades squad (*- indicates deal is unofficial as of Thursday night).
1. RHP Jeff Samardzija (OAK to CHW): Dealt for the second time in five months, he's coming off a career year in which he posted a 2.99 ERA and 4.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 219 2/3 innings.
2. RHP Mat Latos (CIN to MIA): Injuries limited him to 102 1/3 innings this season, but he just turned 27 and owns a 3.34 ERA over 153 career starts.
3. RHP Rick Porcello (DET to BOS): Like Latos, he's experienced yet young -- turning 26 later this month -- and he's a groundball artist who produced a 3.43 ERA last year.
4. LHP Wade Miley* (ARI to BOS): He hasn't been able to repeat his Rookie of the Year-winning numbers from 2012 but still has topped 200 innings in back-to-back seasons, with identical 3.98 FIPs.
5. RHP Alfredo Simon (CIN to DET): He made the All-Star team at age 33 in '14, his first full season as a big league starter, but struggled in the second half (4.52 ERA) and posted a 4.33 FIP overall.
1. SS Jimmy Rollins* (PHI to LAD): Even at age 35, he provided strong defense and roughly league-average offense at a premium position this year, coming close to his fifth 20-20 season and finishing with 3.9 WAR.
2. 2B Howie Kendrick (LAA to LAD): He slugged a career-low .397 this year but matched his career-high with a .347 OBP. Like Rollins, he finished fourth in the Majors in WAR (5.4) at his position.
3. CF Matt Kemp* (LAD to SD): After slashing .287/.346/.506 with 25 homers last year, he looks like this team's best hitter, although he isn't really a center fielder anymore. His defense there could be this team's biggest weakness, but other options are limited.
4. RF Brandon Moss (OAK to CLE): His overall production slid last year, as a hip injury cut into his second-half numbers, but he still finished with 25 homers and now has 76 in 376 games over the past three seasons.
5. LF Yoenis Cespedes (BOS to DET): He hasn't replicated his offensive numbers from his 2012 rookie season, with an OBP hovering around .300. On the other hand, he slugged .450 in '14, smacking 22 homers and driving in 100 runs.
6. 1B Yasmani Grandal* (SD to LAD): He's actually a catcher, but that position is spoken for, and the 26-year-old did play 37 games at first this year. Adjusting for his time at Petco Park, he owns a career 120 OPS+ over nearly 800 plate appearances.
7. C Miguel Montero (ARI to CHC): Though his offense has slid from its 2009-12 peak -- he's hit .237/.324/.358 the past two seasons -- Montero comes with a strong defensive reputation behind the plate, which is backed up by advanced metrics.
8. 3B Marcus Semien (CHW to OAK): The 24-year-old also can play shortstop and second and has hit .266/.368/.491 in 115 Triple-A games, though his bat has been relatively quiet in 85 big league contests (.240/.293/.380).
9. DH Dee Gordon (LAD to MIA): He has settled in at second base, but perhaps his speed would allow him to man center field, where he played some in winter ball last year. Gordon led the league in steals (64) and triples (12) in '14, yet he also was caught 19 times and slipped in the second half (.648 OPS).
1. LHP Antonio Bastardo (PHI to PIT): Though he has only 11 career saves, he would be this group's de facto closer. He walks too many batters (4.3 per nine innings) but also strikes out a lot (11.3) and has success against both right-handers and left-handers.
2. RHP Chris Hatcher (MIA to LAD): A converted catcher, he stuck in the big leagues for the first time this year and showed off a mid- to high-90s fastball, striking out 60 and walking 12 over 56 innings.
3. LHP Dan Jennings (MIA to CHW): Over the past two seasons, he's posted a 2.56 ERA and struck out 8.4 batters per nine innings across 94 appearances, though he's actually fared better against righties.
4. RHP Anthony DeSclafani (MIA to CIN): Now the Reds' No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, the 24-year-old has worked mostly as a starter but did well in his brief time as a big league reliever last year (8.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 9 K).
5. LHP Ross Detwiler* (WSH to TEX): He should get a chance to start for the Rangers after working exclusively in relief during an up-and-down '14 that still saw him hold lefties to a .516 OPS.
6. RHP Rubby De La Rosa (BOS to ARI): The 25-year-old ideally would get a chance to start, but he's been inconsistent in that role so far and has shown the ability to hit 100 mph.
1. C Josh Phegley (CHW to OAK): His bat hasn't clicked in the Majors yet, but he's posted OPS of .966 and .861 the past two years at Triple-A and will be 27 this season.
2. 1B/OF Mark Canha (COL to OAK): Picked from the Marlins in the Rule 5 Draft and then dealt to the A's, he has an .850 OPS in the Minors and hit 20 homers at Triple-A this year, at age 25.
3. INF Josh Rutledge (COL to LAA): He put up a .628 road OPS in three seasons with the Rockies and owns a career OPS+ of 83, so he has plenty to prove with the bat.
4. INF Eugenio Suarez (DET to CIN): Thrust into Major League service at age 22 last year, he showed strong defense and a passable bat (.652 OPS) at shortstop.
5. UT Enrique Hernandez (MIA to LAD): Despite playing only 42 big league games, he's already manned six positions -- including center field -- while notching a solid .742 OPS.
While some of the players changing teams this week are prospects with significant development ahead of them, there are other Major League-ready pieces who would be available in reserve, particularly in the starting rotation.
Among the many options: RHP Dan Haren (LAD to MIA) is a durable veteran whose ERA has shot up to 4.33 over the past three seasons. LHP Andrew Heaney (MIA to LAD to LAA) is a 23-year-old top prospect with a 2.77 Minor League ERA. RHP Allen Webster* (BOS to ARI) has a 6.25 ERA over 89 1/3 MLB innings but is 24 and owns a strong track record in the Minors. RHP Joe Wieland* (SD to LAD) performed well in the Minors after coming back from Tommy John surgery at age 24 late last year. C Drew Butera (LAD to LAA) & Tim Federowicz* (LAD to SD) have big league experience and solid reputations behind the plate. INF Miguel Rojas (LAD to MIA) is a strong defensive shortstop with experience at second and third as well.
Andrew Simon is a contributor to Sports on Earth and a reporter for MLB.com.