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MLB teams that need to make a big move



The Mets made the biggest move of the Hot Stove season last Thursday, acquiring the direct stop of Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carasco of Cleveland. The landing of two players of this caliber – especially a star as magnetic as Lindor – is remarkable in any context. But it was especially huge for

The Mets made the biggest move of the Hot Stove season last Thursday by acquiring the short stop of Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco of Cleveland.

The landing of two players of this caliber – especially a star as magnetic as Lindor – is remarkable in any context. But that was especially huge for the Mets, given their place in the racing National League East, led by the three-time defender of the champion in the Braves division. According to Dan Shimborski of FanGraphs, his ZiPS system had Mets seven games behind Atlanta in the predicted pre-trade standings. The two teams are now virtually equal, with the Mets̵

7; chances of making the post-season jump by approximately 31 percentage points to 72.4%.

In fact, ZiPS shows that during the Lindor trade, the Mets had the most wins on each team in terms of the probability of the playoffs, adding five wins to their list (or the roughly combined impact of Lindor and Carasco). But there are many other clubs that would draw a comparable blow from such a move.

Working out Shimborski’s calculations, here are five of the teams that could benefit the most from Mets-sized scattering, and one way anyone can perform such a feat. Keep in mind that these proposed moves are not necessarily at this level with five wins – they are hard to find – but they will still provide a significant boost to each team’s hopes in October.

Angels
This is a time of opportunity in Anaheim. Mike Trout and Anthony Randon are superstars in their first numbers, and the American League in the West may be as mature as it has been for some time. Houston and Oakland are likely to lose many key players, while Seattle and Texas are not yet ready to return to the top of the standings. New Angels general manager Perry Minasyan replaced Andrelton Simmons with Jose Iglesias at a short stop and added a closer Rizel Iglesias, but has not yet landed the player who makes the difference and could change the balance of power in the West.

One spray stroke: Signing a right-handed free agent Trevor Bauer. The start of the climb was a painful place for the Angels, and while Dylan Bundy proved to be a great addition to low prices last year, the team’s rotation still ranks only 19th in the FanGraphs forecast war. As Shohei Ohtani is far from certain at this point, paying the landing price of current NL Cy Young winner – estimated at around 4 WAR – will be the best way to help Trout return to the season.

Blue Jays
They seem to be a combination for a lot of influential players this season, but so far they have not arrived, with the rewriting of the left Robbie Ray, one of their remarkable moves. However, it seems to be a matter of who and when rather than if. The Blue Jays jumped from 95 losses in 2019 to 32-28 in the shortened campaign of the 20th year, making the postseason behind the young core of positional players and last year’s big acquisition of a free agent, Hyun Jin Ryu. The club still finished behind Reyes and the Yankees in the division, but after Tampa Bay said goodbye to Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, and the Yankees also had a quiet winter, there is an opening for Toronto.

One spray stroke: Signing an external player of a free agent George Springer. While Jace can go in several different directions – and grabbing DJ LeMahieu from the Yankees would undoubtedly be satisfactory – Springer is probably the best fit. It will be a protected upgrade in the center above Randall Grichuk and will bring a winning story, not to mention his elite bat. Springer can help the club become not only a contender for a division, but also a contender for the championship.

Cardinals
Indeed, this could be any of the four best teams in NL Central. Leaving the Mets aside, the youngsters, the Cardinals, the Brewers and the Reds are among the five teams with the most winnings from a five-win jump, according to ZiPS. This is because of how tightly these clubs are gathered. Still, no one has stepped forward this season to try to improve their list. (In fact, the most notable moves of the division are subtractions titled by Chicago Yu Darvish). As for the Cardinals, they managed to enter the playoffs during the seasons, but their list lacks talent at a high ceiling. Almost all St. Louis has done this winter is to deny the club option to Colten Wong and (at the moment) fails to sign longtime franchise faces Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright.

One spray stroke: Trade for a third baseman Nolan Arenado. While St. Louis has been associated with the Rocky Mountain star in the past, it’s probably a big stretch, given the six years and $ 199 million left under the Arenado contract and its 2021 withdrawal clause. But maybe the Cards could be creative, given all the big contracts that have to come out of the club’s books after this season (Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Andrew Miller and Carlos Martinez). Assuming his offensive decline in 2020 is the result of a strange, shortened season, Arenado will be a massive upgrade in third place over the 35-year-old Carpenter, who has been battling for the past two years.

Citizens
While Hot Stove has been mostly quiet so far, the Nats have been relatively active, turning to a slim lineup, trading for first baseman Josh Bell and signing left-back Kyle Schwarber. Washington has focused on two main areas of need, and now there is a much bigger blow behind Juan Soto and Trea Turner, but frankly, the work doesn’t have to be done. The Lindor trade made it clear that ZiPS now sees the Nats as a clear third behind Braves and Mets.

One spray stroke: Signing a free agent hunter JT Realmuto. Nuts’ dubious depth means that general manager Mike Rizzo can also make a significant addition in second or third base or even in the starting rotation, where behind the Big Three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasbourg and Patrick Corbyn there are many questions. But Nats hunters, led by Ian Gomez, sit close to the bottom of FanGraphs’ predictions, while Realmuto has a strong case as the best back stop in the game. If Washington is willing to make the necessary financial commitments, it will help a lot to challenge Atlanta and New York.

Gemini
Trading with Lindor helped Minnesota, whose probability after the season of ZiPS reached nearly 75%, and Cleveland withdrew to a clean third in AL Central. The Twins, on the other hand, have watched the division’s other main contender, the White Sox, trade for Lance Lynn and are now making a deal with free agent Liam Hendrix, according to sources. The twins were relatively quiet, and if they keep up with Chicago and capture their third consecutive crown, some reinforcements are in order – even beyond the seemingly inevitable return of Nelson Cruz.

One spray stroke: Trade for Luis Castillo or Sony Gray. Both starting pitchers have entered into trade negotiations, with the Reds entertaining further pay cuts, and both are among the top 20 pitchers in MLB (with Castillo just above Gray). The twin rotation is strong at the top (Kenta Maeda, Jose Berios), but somewhat unstable below that, especially considering that Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill are free agents. While Minnesota could be content with gaining depth of rotation if Castillo or Gray swapped fifth-starter options, Devin Smeltzer and Louis Thorpe would be the best way to counter the White Sox. Such a move would cost the twins a prospect of wealth, but none of the right ones will break the bank.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.




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