We entered the 2023 MLB season with visions of a Shohei Ohtani trade deadline deal breaking the internet, but what if instead of trading away the 2021 AL MVP, the Angels added the 2022 NL MVP?
Is it time for the Mets to give up the ghost and try to recoup some of their exorbitant payroll?
Could the highest-rated prospect in all of baseball be on the move?
Though we are labeling these trade proposals as "outrageous," they aren't preposterously irrational or aggressively unbalanced.
It'd be a waste of everyone's time to suggest that Ohtani might get traded to Oakland, or that a contender is going to gut its farm system for a two-month rental. So, we're not going there.
Rather, these are "outrageous" trades because they're a bit off the wall and for each one, I truly have no idea which fanbase is going to be more livid in the comments.
Should be fun.
Throughout this discussion of hypothetical trades, we will make use of Baseball Trade Values' trade simulator. It is far from a perfect model of players' trade value—wait until you see what it thinks Max Scherzer is worth—and not all of the trades are necessarily balanced based on its calculations. But it's better than nothing.
Trades are presented in no particular order.
Marcus Stroman to the Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds Receive: RHP Marcus Stroman
Chicago Cubs Receive: 1B/3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand
We're coming in hot with what would be an intra-divisional deadline deal for the ages.
The Cubs have stormed back into the NL Central hunt in recent weeks, winning 11 of their past 14 games. Selling is no longer the certainty it seemed to be early in the month. But if they don't gain any more ground on the Reds and Brewers in the next five weeks, there's still a decent chance they'll pack it in and unload some of their expiring assets.
The two biggest ones are Stroman ($21 million player option) and Bellinger ($12 million mutual option), who are all but guaranteed to opt for free agency this offseason.
Maybe they could package that duo for a nice haul of prospects. (The Yankees sure could use both a centerfielder and a starting pitcher right about now. More on that front in a bit.) But we'll split them up with Stroman staying in the NL Central to lend the Cincinnati Reds a hand.
Because while the Reds have been hotter than hot as of late, their starting rotation still leaves a lot to be desired. Andrew Abbott has been a godsend since getting called up in early June, and Hunter Greene was having a solid season prior to landing on the IL with hip discomfort 10 days ago. But things get ugly in a hurry from there.
Adding Stroman would drastically enhance Cincinnati's viability in a postseason series.
As far as the return for Chicago is concerned, Cincinnati is overflowing with quality prospects on the left side of the infield. Encarnacion-Strand is rated as a top 100 prospect by MLB.com and has a career triple-slash in the minors of .320/.384/.603, but he is merely Cincinnati's fifth-best SS/3B. So while it's an overpay for a two-month rental, it's one the Reds could afford to make if they're serious about going for it this year.