With the emergence of Gary Sanchez and the injury to the Washington Nationals’ Wilson Ramos, the New York Yankees will have the luxury to shop around Brian McCann and get value with many teams trying to upgrade the catching position. Due to McCann’s contract and the need for starting pitching, there may not be a viable one-on-one trade partner. Thus, I offer a possible three-team trade.
A trade between the Yankees, the New York Mets, and the Tampa Bay Rays may seem impossible because of the in-state and intra-division rivalries. However, when the goal is to improve the ballclub, those types of obstacles are easy to overcome.
The Yankees are likely to explore free agency in search for an additional starting pitcher. Since there are not a lot of attractive options given the rising cost of starting pitching, Smyly would slide in as the fourth starter behind Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda. At 27 years old, Smyly will make around $7 million in 2017 and comes with two more years of team control. Also, with McCann’s contract coming off the books (he would have to waive no-trade clause) the Yankees can use the savings to look at free agents to bolster the offense (Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo) or add another reliever after trading Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Parting with Williams might be a little early, but there may not be a lot of playing time in 2017 for him and the Yankees have added outfield prospects to the farm system.
Mets give up Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud, receive Brian McCann
The window for this current club may be closing sooner than most people may want to believe. Their prized young starting pitchers were besieged with injury. Thought to be set for the next decade, the time is now to produce a champion.
The Mets move on from d’Arnaud and upgrade with left-handed hitting McCann. Neither catcher is exceptional defensively, but both are above average in some areas. However, McCann offers much more offense. Given the opportunity to be a full-time catcher should be attractive to McCann. The Mets could re-sign Rene Rivera, who in limited action hit .314 against left-handed pitching, to spell McCann without losing on the defensive end. Finally, McCann does have at least $34 million left on his contract. This is offset if Neil Walker, earning $10.5 million in 2016, does not sign and at 31 looks for one last payday.
Dealing Conforto may not be ideal, but with potentially a crowded outfield of Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, and Juan Lagares, there may not be a lot of playing time for Conforto anyway.
Rays give up Drew Smyly, receive Michael Conforto, Travis d’Arnaud, and Mason Williams
After a disappointing season where the Rays saw more offense, increasing in home runs, they may need to go back to what made them successful from 2008-11: run prevention through pitching and defense. The Rays have quite a bit of starting pitching, making Smyly a good trade candidate. Two main areas they look to improve during the offseason are their bullpen and catcher.
After a carousel of 4A catchers, they can perhaps benefit from a change of scenery for d’Arnaud. He has had a lot of injuries so he does come with risk. However, there is still upside for the Rays, who need to look for players they can buy low.
You also cannot ignore the financial aspect to the trade. The Rays relieve themselves of approximately $5 million and gain three years of control.
The Rays also get Conforto, who is not arbitration eligible until 2019 and reaches free agency in 2022. He is a good defender and would be the Rays’ opening day left-fielder. He did have a down year in 2016 but will only be 24 years old on opening day. This would add another left-handed bat, but could move Corey Dickerson, who is a bit defensively challenged, to a full-time DH role.
Williams is likely the odd man out in a Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge outfield. Once a highly regarded prospect who had some difficulties in the minors, he appears to have turned it around. He does not strike out a lot, he can steal bases, and he provides good defense. This makes him an attractive fourth outfielder for the Rays. The Rays tried out several guys in the outfield looking for a good replacement after trading Brandon Guyer. Williams will help solidify the position.
This trade does not address the bullpen directly for the Rays. But with the money saved the front office could look at free agents.