When it comes to the trades made among Major League Baseball's 30 franchises, the most fascinating entail clubs exchanging players from positions of strength. Consider, as an example, the recent three-player swap that sent outfielder Daulton Varsho from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for catcher Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The Diamondbacks had too many talented outfielders, the Blue Jays too many talented catchers. So, what did they do? They solved each other's logjams.
The Varsho deal, in concert with an otherwise lethargic trade market this offseason, got us here at CBS Sports thinking about other teams who could be well-equipped to make similar strength-for-strength deals. Below, you'll find five such teams who have positional clusters that would lend itself to serving in a Blue Jays- like capacity, wherein they trade a talented, if somewhat blocked player for another player who happens to fill an area of need.
But first, we're legally obligated to implore you to think of this just as a thought experiment. With that out of the way, let's get to the bumbling, stumbling, and rumbling. (Do note that there's no actual rhyme or reason behind the order of the teams.)
1. Cincinnati Reds: left-side infielders
No other MLB organization has more compelling left-side prospects than the Reds do. Last summer alone, they added Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cam Collier, and Sal Stewart through trades and the draft to a group that already featured notables like Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Tyler Callihan, and Jose Torres, among others. Cruz (No. 11) and Marte (No. 13) both made CBS Sports' top 20 prospect list, and Arroyo and Collier weren't far off. The Reds, still very much in the talent-accumulation phase of their rebuild, would be wise to move some players they consider extraneous to fill other holes on their depth chart.
2. Milwaukee Brewers: outfielders
We've mentioned the Brewers' potential outfield logjam before. The short version is that they're rolling into the season with a starting group that includes Christian Yelich, Garrett Mitchell, and Tyrone Taylor or some other so-so option. They'll have the chance to replace the latter in due time, as top prospects Sal Frelick and Joey Weimer are slated to start their years in Triple-A. What's more is that Jackson Chourio, one of the best prospects in the entire sport, will kick off his 2023 campaign in Double-A. If Chourio plays the way he did last season, he could force his way into the majors before he celebrates his 20th birthday and leave the Brewers with more talented outfielders than roster spots.
3. Texas Rangers: pitchers
Likewise, we covered the Rangers' newfound pitching depth elsewhere. Texas has continued signing, re-signing, and trading for veterans, giving them a starting five that ought to feature some combination of Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, Martín Pérez, Jon Gray, and Jake Odorizzi. Additionally, the Rangers have several youngsters who have yet to fully establish themselves in the majors who they could move; think Taylor Hearn, the injured Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto, Spencer Howard, and Cole Ragans. As if that wasn't enough, there's also an incoming crop of recent high draft picks, including top-five selections Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker and the 2018 duo of Owen White and Cole Winn. It should surprise no one if the Rangers move some of the above names over the coming weeks to improve their offensive output.
4. St. Louis Cardinals: outfielders
As with the Brewers, the Cardinals project to more talented outfielders than they have roster spots. St. Louis is likely to enter the year rocking some combination of Dylan Carlson, Tyler O'Neill, Lars Nootbaar, and Juan Yepez. They'll have Alec Burleson on the bench and a pair of intriguing thumpers (albeit from significantly different backgrounds) just a call away: former minor-league free-agent signing Moisés Gómez, and former first-round pick and top prospect Jordan Walker. The Cardinals almost seem guaranteed to trade from their outfield depth ahead of August. O'Neill, by far the closest to free agency, would seem to be the likeliest to depart.
5. Cleveland Guardians: middle infielders
We started with one Ohio-based team's collection of infielders, let's end with another. The Guardians have plenty of up-the-middle options to offer other teams. They're likely to open the 2023 campaign with Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez as their double-play combination, but they'll have Gabriel Arias and Tyler Freeman around in case of emergency. The Guardians' depth goes well beyond those four, too, with intriguing prospects Brayan Rocchio and Jose Tena in Triple-A, and Angel Martinez at Double-A. You can understand if the Guardians want to hold on to more of their depth than they normally would -- Rosario is an impending free agent, after all -- but they should still be able to part with one or two of those players to upgrade elsewhere at some point between now and the trade deadline.