The Diamondbacks, Brewers, and Rays all made impressive turnarounds in 2017 from the year before. Arizona reached the postseason for the first time in six years thanks to MVP caliber seasons from Paul Goldschmidt and JD Martinez. Milwaukee missed the postseason by one game but battled the Cubs all season, and breakout seasons from Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson weren’t enough for the Rays to reach the postseason for the first time since 2013 although they finished the season third in the AL East with an 80-82 record.
All three teams have been busier than most this offseason. The Rays are doing everything possible to cut down on the payroll after trading Evan Longoria to the Giants and making ace Chris Archer available for a trade while the Brewers and Diamondbacks are making the next steps towards contending for the postseason for years to come. With that being said, a blockbuster trade needs to happen among these three clubs before Spring Training starts if they expect to build a winning club for the years to come.
What’s at stake?
Between the three clubs, as many as 11 players could be involved in this type of blockbuster, not including minor league players. More than likely the Diamondbacks would be giving up the most since they’re trying to improve their club without signing free agents and the Rays would be giving up the least since the Longoria trade to the Giants before Christmas cut a significant amount of the payroll.
As for the Brewers, they have the room to make moves involving players that played a significant amount for the club last year but likely won’t this year with the additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. If there’s one area the Brewers could use improvement in its second base. After a dismal season from Jonathan Villar and mid-season acquisition Neil Walker still on the market, the Brewers could use help from the D-backs or Rays in this trade.
The players involved
The Rays likely won't be able to move Chris Archer, the other half of their payroll problems, before training camps open, but RHPs Jake Odorizzi and Matt Andriese are two names that could bring back top-tier prospects to Tampa Bay. The D-backs and Brewers each have a handful of prospects and young talented big leaguers that could be parted with for these two pitchers and both would provide upgrades to the bullpen and rotation.
Odorizzi would likely go to Arizona while Andriese would go to Milwaukee as a long reliever and spot starter. In return, the Rays could receive starting pitcher Junior Guerra, second baseman Jonathan Villar and catcher Stephen Vogt from the Brewers. Villar can play anywhere in the infield and having Villar would allow the Rays to platoon at second base, shortstop and third base between Brad Miller, Adeiny Hechavarria and Christian Arroyo regularly.
The D-backs could give starting pitcher Braden Shipley and outfielder Yasmany Tomas on the other side of the table. Shipley has pitched in the big leagues in parts of the last two seasons and Tomas is better built for an American League club as a regular DH. Tomas has a big contract but the good news for the Rays is he can opt out of his deal after 2018, meaning the Rays could only have him for one year. And when Tomas is healthy, his power can make any ballpark look small, which would play well for him at Tropicana Field.
As for the Brewers and Diamondbacks, the goal would be to add improvement to areas that are weak. If Tomas gets traded to the Rays, the D-backs will be shooting to acquire Domingo Santana to play right field every day. If the club gets Santana it’ll be just like having JD Martinez again, as Santana can also hit to all fields. Santana hit 13 of his 28 home runs last season to right field and 11 to left field, which demonstrates his ability to spray hits around the field.
Santana appears to have what it takes to be an All-Star at 25 and the Brewers will ask for a fair package in return. Starting pitcher Taijuan Walker would be a good addition to the middle of the rotation for the Brewers, especially with Jimmy Nelson out until the All-Star break. If Villar is to go to the Rays, the club will want Brandon Drury to fill the hole at second base, and for good measure, outfielder Socrates Brito in case the injury bug plagues the club in 2018
Break down: D-backs upgrade, Brewers add depth and Rays put decent team on field
This trade will help all three clubs as they look towards the future. The D-backs will improve in the outfield without having to break the bank to bring back someone like Martinez and giving Chris Owings an opportunity to play every day at one position mostly, pending he can stay healthy, by trading up-and-coming Drury to a club that’ll allow him to play without potentially fearing to lose his job at the drop of the hat.
The Brewers made big splashes this offseason and can get rid of guys who won’t contribute like they did in 2017 without feeling like they’re taking a step back. Trading Guerra for Andriese is as fair of a trade as you can get, considering Guerra will get the chance to start regularly for the Rays and Andriese can pitch in either a starting role or reliever role easily.
As for the Rays, who appear to be in rebuild mode, they can still make a push in the AL East that already appears to be won by the Yankees going into 2018.