Alex Rodriguez has already exercised his option to be a free agent, and he immediately becomes the most attractive player on the market. With the supply of other top-tier free agents extremely limited, however, teams will be motivated to improve through other avenues. Here are five trade proposals that would benefit both teams.
Red Sox trade CF Coco Crisp to the White Sox for 1B Chris Carter. Boston must unload Crisp, who was supplanted as the team's centerfielder by Jacoby Ellsbury during the ALCS. The Red Sox' every-day lineup is set for 2008, but they could use some depth among their hitting prospects as they move toward the end of the Manny Ramirez -- David Ortiz era. The White Sox are focused on the short term, as shown by their extending the contracts of veterans Jermaine Dye and Mark Buehrle. So 20-year-old first baseman Carter, who was third in the Class A Sally League with 25 homers, is expendable. Getting Crisp, 28, who is owed a very reasonable $11 million over the next two years, at a down moment would be smart shopping.
Rockies trade 3B Garrett Atkins to the Twins for RHPs Anthony Swarzak and Eduardo Morlan.Ian Stewart (.304/.379/.478 at Triple A Colorado Springs) is ready to take over at third base for Colorado, which should be looking to add strikeout pitchers to a staff heavy on contact guys. Minnesota has a glut of young pitchers and desperately needs to add a bat to help Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Swarzak, 22, a starter who projects as a mid-rotation guy, is buried in the Twins' system. Morlan, 21, struck out 12.6 men per nine innings as a reliever in high A ball and could be a 2008 version of closer Manny Corpas.
Orioles trade SS Miguel Tejada to the Blue Jays for OF Adam Lind, RHP Brandon League and LHP David Purcey. The Blue Jays' window is fast closing since they'll lose the services of Troy Glaus, A.J. Burnett and Frank Thomas after 2008. With the Yankees going through a transition, it may be '08 or never for the J.P. Ricciardi regime. Tejada would give Toronto a big offensive boost over the current shortstop, glove man John McDonald. The rebuilding Orioles won't get the Jays' best prospect (outfielder Travis Snider), but they would get three major-league-ready guys, at low cost.
Brewers trade SS Alcides Escobar to the Rangers for 3B Hank Blalock. Milwaukee could then move Ryan Braun, the first third baseman in 14 years with a sub-.900 fielding percentage, to rightfield, rightfielder Corey Hart to center and centerfielder Bill Hall to third base, where he'd platoon with Blalock, another high-split guy. That would put two players, Braun and Hall, in positions where they're better suited, while stretching Hart slightly. Blalock would provide a key lefty bat for a team that lists to the right. Meanwhile, with Escobar, 20, Texas G.M. Jon Daniels would add to his collection of prospects a glove-first shortstop who could eventually move Michael Young to third base.
Indians trade SS Jhonny Peralta to the Cubs for OF Matt Murton and RHP Sean Gallagher. Rather than move Peralta to second or third base to make room for Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland should trade him near the peak of his value for a much-needed corner-outfielder bat. The Cubs made do with fan fave Ryan Theriot at short this year, but Peralta, 25, is a clear upgrade. His below-average defense with the Tribe wouldn't be as much of a liability with the Cubs' high-strikeout, fly ball staff.