Biggest 2011 Offseason MLB Trades

The winter is always known in baseball circles as "Free Agency Season." But the truth is that several teams did more retooling thorough trades than any kind of break the bank acquisition. Let's take a look at the four biggest trades of the offseason and their possible impact:

1. November 16th, 2010: The Atlanta Braves acquire second baseman Dan Uggla from the Florida Marlins for infielder Omar Infante and left handed pitcher Mike Dunn.

Uggla is an excellent addition to the Braves' offense. The Braves' other infielders will make up for his atrocious defense and, along with Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, and rookie Freddie Freeman, the Braves' lineup should be their most powerful in years. As for the Marlins, I don't think they got as shafted in this deal as people think because Infante is perfect for their infield, they can now move former rookie of the year Chris Coghlan to his natural position at second base, and added depth to their bullpen.

Dan Uggla
Dan Uggla - Spring Training at Roger Dean Stadium.
Thanks to wallyg at for this photo.

2. December 6th, 2010: The Boston Red Sox acquire first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres in exchange for top prospects pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and outfielder Raymond Fuentes.

Clearly this was a win trade for Boston. The Red Sox have many talented hitters but they lacked a truly balanced bat in the three hole. Gonzalez will fill that role for the next half decade so this was clearly a slam dunk success.

Whether it worked out well for the Padres is more debatable. I will say yes and here's why: Gonzalez was leaving and the Padres got three prospects who will almost certainly be a big part of their future. San Diego already had two outfield prospects (but not the necessary three), a good young third baseman in Cameron Maybin, and several good young pitchers. This trade adds three future cornerstones who, along with a few more savvy acquisitions, could push the Padres to the next level. Kelly is a future number two starter who will thrive between Matt Latos and Clayton Richard in a formidable rotation, Rizzo is a very safe prospect who will replicate some of Gonzalez's production, and Fuentes is a very talented and toolsy future outfielder. Don't look now but, with the Gonzalez contract out of the picture, San Diego GM Jed Hoyer can now focus on constructing a balanced roster around a talented young core. Look out.

Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez.
Thanks to SD Dirk at for this photo.

3. December 6th 2010: The Toronto Blue Jays acquire prospect second baseman Brett Lawrie from the Brewers in exchange for right handed pitcher Shaun Marcum.

This trade was the first step in the Brewer's offseason pitching makeover. Realizing that they had a Number One (Gallardo), Number Four (Wolf) but needed another top starter, the Brewers went out and got one. Marcum will fit perfectly in their pitching rotation so this was a good add.

As for the Blue Jays, this was a very solid talent reshuffle. Toronto already had great pitching so, while they certainly liked his presence in the rotation, Marcum was expendable. Lawrie is an excellent hitting prospect who will fit well in the Blue Jays lineup. They still have to find him a position (either by moving him to third base or trading Aaron Hill) but having many options is better than none at all.

Shaun Marcum
Shaun Marcum.
Thanks to firebrandal at for this photo.

4. December 19th 2010: The Milwaukee Brewers acquire former Cy Young award-winning pitcher Zach Grienke in exchange for young shortstop Alicides Escobar and prospects centerfielder Lorenzo Cain, pitcher Jake Odorozzi, and pitcher Jeremy Jeffries.

This is one of those trades that every commentator will second guess. Can the Brewers really win big this year before Fielder leaves? Did the Royals get back good value in return? The reality is, however, that these two teams were in very different places and this trade reflected that difference and helped both clubs.

The Brewers needed Grienke in order to complete their offseason pitching transformation. Shaun Marcum is an excellent pitcher who looks good as the number two in any rotation but the Brewers staff needed an ace to contend next year. Grienke can definitely be that guy and, unlike other top pitchers, might very well stay long term because he has no desire to pitch in a big market. The Brewers want to win now and they needed a young pitcher capable of being a cornerstone. It's fair to say they might have found their top of the order in Marcum and Grienke (not to mention Yovani Gallardo) so even though they decimated their farm system this deal made a lot of sense.

Lorenzo Cain
Milwaukee Brewers #36 Lorenzo Cain at 2010.
Thanks to CJ Schmit at for this photo.

Understanding why this deal makes sense for the Royals takes a bit more digging. On face, the Royals didn't get value here since there is not an All Star prospect amongst the four talents that went to Kansas City. However, an analysis of Kansas City's farm system (check out our article on that very subject) shows that the Royals already have three power hitting prospects in third baseman Mike Moustakas, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and outfielder Ka' Kaihue. Those three, along with current designated hitter Biilly Butler, will form a formidable power hitting lineup without any more help. What the Royals did not have was two prospects-one outfielder and one second baseman or shortstop) capable of providing defense up the middle to complement their power hitting from the corners. While they are not guaranteed stars, Cain and Escobar will both be gold glove defenders and will fit perfectly within the rapidly developing Royals offense of the future. As for the two pitchers, they will join a stable of arms including Dan Duffy, John Lamb, and Mike Montgomery that is almost certain to produce a top notch rotation.

So, that's the list. If you have any other trades that you think deserve a write-up (I was considering looking at the Reynolds to Orioles trade and will take a stab at it if anyone is interested) please let us know through the comment box. As always, thanks for reading and let everyone know what you think.

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