1. Rays trader closer Brad Boxberger to the Astros
The Astros are on a quest to upgrade their bullpen, and last week I suggested they make a deal for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. A trade for the right-handed Boxberger wouldn't be as splashy, but it might have more long-term benefit, when you consider that Chapman will be a free agent next offseason. Following an impressive 2015 campaign in which he recorded 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings and 41 saves, the 27-year-old Boxberger would slot into Houston's ninth-inning role and improve the club's bullpen depth.
In return: Boxberger has four more years of team control, which means Tampa Bay has leverage and could ask for a package of a couple of prospects, featuring one elite guy, such as outfielder Kyle Tucker (the Astros' No. 4 prospect), first baseman A.J. Reed (No. 5) or right-hander Francis Martes (No. 7).
2. Pirates trade closer Mark Melancon to the Nationals
While we are on the subject of closers, the Bucs are taking the temperature on the trade value of Melancon, an All-Star ninth-inning arm. The Nats are also reportedly looking to bolster their relief corps, so a deal for Melancon -- who is one season away from free agency -- would help accomplish that goal for 2016.
In return: The Pirates would have to listen if they were offered a package headlined by someone such as Wilmer Difo (the Nationals' No. 4 prospect), a talented middle infielder who could eventually replace Neil Walker, or righty Erick Fedde (No. 5), as well as perhaps another young asset.
3. Reds trade outfielder Jay Bruce to the Twins
Minnesota is looking to replace the retired Torii Hunter in right field and could use a left-handed bat to balance out its righty-heavy lineup. GM Terry Ryan and manager Paul Molitor have stated that they intend to use Miguel Sano in right field with Trevor Plouffe at third, but that's putting a lot of faith in Sano learning an unfamiliar position, while running the risk it could hinder his performance at the plate, which is his meal ticket. Bruce would fit in nicely in the Twins' lineup. With at least 25 homers in five of the past six seasons, Bruce would provide a nice power boost, and with a reasonable $13 million club option for 2017, he wouldn't be a one-year rental.
In return: Cincinnati is in rebuild mode and would need at least one major prospect, preferably a position player, such as 1B/OF Max Kepler, Minnesota's No. 6 prospect.
4. Braves trade right-hander Julio Teheran to the D-backs
These two teams would appear to be a fit, as Arizona is looking to upgrade its rotation and has completed a couple of deals with Atlanta in the past few seasons (shipping out Justin Upton in a 2013 blockbuster; acquiring Phil Gosselin for Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint last summer).
In return: Teheran has ace potential and is under control through 2020, so he wouldn't come cheap. The Braves would likely need a young position player -- someone such as No. 7 prospect infielder Brandon Drury, originally of Atlanta's system -- and a pitching prospect. Either Aaron Blair (No. 3) or Braden Shipley (No. 4), both righties, would make sense..
5. Brewers trade catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Rangers
Texas has been looking for a solid all-around catcher over the past few years, and the timing is right to pursue Lucroy, an All-Star who is coming off a tough injury-filled campaign for Milwaukee. In spite of his recent woes, the 29-year-old possesses bounceback potential as well as a team-friendly contract that has him under control through 2017.
In return: The 22-year-old Jurickson Profar -- who was once the No. 1 prospect in baseball before shoulder woes sidelined him for nearly two years -- could be in play after seeing his stock rise in the Arizona Fall League. He and shortstop Orlando Arcia (the Brewers' No. 1 prospect) could form a dynamite double-play combo. Outfielder Nomar Mazara (the Rangers' No. 2 prospect) or right-hander Dillon Tate (No. 3) could also be good starting points.