One of the latest trade-related rumblings, per FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, is that the Dodgers are open to the idea of trading Yasiel Puig between now and the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline.
It's a horrible idea. It's a brilliant idea.
It's horrible because Puig is 25 and uber-talented and signed on the cheap through at least 2018 and, though there have been some exceptions, contending clubs don't typically deal away one of their starting outfielders and most recognizable faces.
It's brilliant because Puig is still young enough and has matured enough that teams could look past the sub-.700 OPS and convince themselves that they can "fix" him, all while forking over talent to a Dodgers club that hordes it and freeing up an outfield spot for a more bankable in-season addition. Hey, for all we know, Puig's trade value might forever point in a downward direction, because the Dodgers have certainly made every reasonable effort, including the composition of the coaching staff, to mold him into a superstar, and it just hasn't happened yet.
There are other trade possibilities that straddle the fine line between horrible and brilliant -- guys who would set the market (and, likely, fans) in a tizzy if they were offered up.
Here are 12 such guys.
Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, David Robertson or Todd Frazier, White Sox
To paraphrase a line from "Rosalita," someday we'll look back at all the breathless coverage of the White Sox in April, and it will all seem funny. For now, it's not very funny on the South Side. The offensive abyss that squashed this club's contention hopes in 2015 have continued on in earnest this year, despite the notable offseason acquisition of "The Toddfather," among others.
Though the Wild Card, at the least, remains in play, simply as a function of being an AL ballclub with something resembling a pulse, it's hard to see the Sox making any more major additions. They've tried to patch things up externally (James Shields and Justin Morneau) and internally (Tim Anderson), with little impact on the bottom line, to date.
But what if the Sox went the other way completely, and became sellers in a year in which they were once buyers? Though it still rates as unlikely, it would be a shift in strategy befitting such a roller-coaster year.
You can dream on Sale or Quintana joining your favorite contending club's rotation this month all you want. Probably not happening, especially since Rosenthal tweeted out the following on Thursday.
Asked one rival exec about possibility of #WhiteSox moving Quintana: His response: "People have asked for years and they refuse."- Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 21, 2016
Another source says the #WhiteSox were offered a "king's ransom" for Sale in the last 48 hours and responded with a flat "no."- Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 21, 2016
They are both under inordinately team-friendly contractual control through at least 2019, and the Sox will see them as the stabilizing base points of however they look to build another contention effort in '17.
Still fun to think about, of course.
But what about Robertson and Frazier? With so many contenders vying for top-end relief help, the Sox could dangle Robertson, who is under wraps through 2018, as an attractive alternative to the Yanks' back-end beauties and feel reasonably confident that their long-term outlook in the back end is still optimistic thanks to Nate Jones and Carson Fulmer. Frazier, despite lackluster numbers outside of his homer tally, could be an enticing infield power chip in a market light on that commodity (he's a free agent after '17).
Ultimately, I think the White Sox hold serve with all these guys and give it another go next year. But this organization is short on high-upside talent in its top levels (Anderson and Fulmer, both promoted this year, were considered the cream of the prospect crop), so it's at least worth exploring creative ways to improve the internal trajectory.
Joey Gallo, Rangers
A 6-foot-5 dude with crazy raw power is manna from baseball heaven, and the Rangers of course have the option of making him Mitch Moreland's replacement at first base next season and hoping he can make the adjustment to Major League pitching.
Their other option is taking advantage of the salivation over young sluggers and using Gallo to pry away the game's most consistently high-valued commodity - controllable young pitching. Jurickson Profar also qualifies in this realm, though Gallo is the guy the Rangers could move without affecting the current big-league roster. Gallo could be the backbone of a deal for a Jake Odorizzi or Julio Teheran or perhaps even sway somebody to move an otherwise untouchable option.
Speaking of ...
Sonny Gray (A's) and Chris Archer (Rays)
They're in similar situations, having both taken a major step backward from their finish in the top five of the AL Cy Young voting last season. But they're also both under team control through at least 2019 and, of course, not far removed from major success. So the Rays and A's have no intention of moving Archer or Gray for anything less than an ace-type package.
Given the A's and Rays' stadium situations, any opportunity to control costs long-term is worth exploring, and that means you don't hang up if somebody calls about Archer or Gray. It's only "selling low" if you lower the standards of your ask, and this market - as well as the looming free-agent market - makes it reasonable for Oakland and Tampa Bay to maintain a lofty price tag on these two, regardless of recent results. Though it still classifies as doubtful, we can't rule out the possibility of a desperate contender stepping up and meeting that price.
Zack Greinke, D-backs
Greinke is on the shelf with an oblique injury, and his exact return date is still uncertain. And no, I don't think there's any way the D-backs move him right now, even if he were perfectly healthy. That would amount to admitting that signing Greinke to that six-year, $206.5 million contract -- a contract with the largest average annual value in the game -- was a mistake. Perhaps not as big a mistake as the Shelby Miller trade, but a mistake, all the same.
But man, the only way the Greinke contract made sense for Arizona is if it delivered on the front end, and we can safely say that Year 1, at least, has not panned out anywhere near as planned. Greinke will continue to command some 30 percent of the player payroll in 2017, and when you combine that with the rising costs of the Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Yasmany Tomas and the various arbitration guys in the mix, there will be added difficulty in fielding a contending team around Greinke next year and beyond (and that's before you get into any worry about further statistical regression from Greinke himself).
So, yeah, it wouldn't be totally crazy to see if any clubs with fatter financial outlooks would be willing to take on all or part of that contract in the right deal, especially in a pitching market this thin. If nothing else, it's an idea Arizona ought to consider this winter. (Greinke, it should be noted, does have limited no-trade protection.)
Kyle Schwarber, Cubs
His name has been tossed around in many a rumor, and, unless I'm mistaken, every single one of those rumors is associated with the Yankees and, specifically, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. It was a really intriguing idea … that seems to have died at the idea stage.
"I'm looking forward," Cubs president Theo Epstein recently said, "to Kyle Schwarber coming back and hitting a very big home run in a Cubs uniform sometime very early next season."
As if to emphasize the point, Epstein and Co. went out an acquired an altogether different lefty reliever, Mike Montgomery, from the Mariners on Wednesday -- and yes, without giving up Schwarber.
Sorry, Yankee fans, but Schwarber-to-the-Bronx has shifted from pipe dream to straight-up hallucination. We'll still include him on this list, though, on the off chance the Cubs suffer some debilitating shakeup in the rotation or elsewhere that causes them to re-think their Schwarber stance.
Anthony DeSclafani, Reds
A guy named Anthony who uses "Born to Run" as his warm-up music has my respect and attention (and two Bruce Springsteen references in a single column is a personal record … low). But Disco, as Reds fans refer to him, is hardly a household name outside of Cincinnati. Still, he's a guy who would really reshape the pitching market, if offered up, because he's 26 years old, is under contractual control for another four years and came back from an early season oblique issue to post a 2.50 and 4.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first eight starts.
Obviously, an arm like that has long-term value to any club, the Reds included. But the Reds made controllable arms such a target of the early stages of their rebuild that they now find themselves with something resembling an abundance of them (Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Robert Stephenson and Keury Mella all have big potential, and Homer Bailey is on the mend).
We know too well that such an abundance is subject to change in this sport (witness what's gone on with the Mets this year), but the Reds are still a ways away from an earnest effort to contend and there's an argument to be made for seeing what Disco could bring back to balance the organizational scales and, perhaps, speed up the effort.
Lucas Giolito (Nationals) and Julio Urias (Dodgers)
The two top pitching prospects in baseball, and we've gotten a taste of both of their talents this year. But workload limitations will likely prevent them from being a big part of the late-season push for teams that are very much in win-now mode, and either guy would provide the pick of the litter in the search for a win-now upgrade.
Then again, given the quality of this year's litter, there's a good chance moving either of these guys would probably qualify more as horrible than brilliant.