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Sale, McCutchen, Archer? Trades I'd like to see before the winter meetings

Want to see Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen on the move before teams even get to the winter meetings? You're not alone. Getty Images

As we approach the winter meetings, which begin Sunday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, major league general managers are already wheeling and dealing. And there are many trades to come. Here are four major trades I’d like to see happen before we hit Sunday:

1. Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox

The trade

White Sox get 2B Yoan Moncada, RHP Michael Kopech, C Blake Swihart and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez. Red Sox get LHP Chris Sale and 1B Jose Abreu.

Why it works

For the White Sox: The White Sox would get one of the game’s best position-player prospects in Moncada, who has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order impact bat, Boston’s best pitching prospect in right-hander Kopech (who throws in the triple digits), a left-handed mid-rotation starter with upside in Rodriguez and another solid left-handed hitter in Swihart, who could still end up as a starting catcher in the big leagues if developed properly. This would be a huge haul for the White Sox and a giant step forward in terms of rebuilding their organization.

For the Red Sox: This could be a painful deal that could come back and haunt them for years to come. However, it’s also a trade that would give them a legitimate chance of winning a World Series or two over the next three years. They would control Sale for three more years at an affordable salary of $12-13 million per year, and he would give them another ace alongside defending Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and former Cy Young Award winner and fellow left-hander David Price at the top of their rotation. Abreu would replace the retired David Ortiz in the middle of their lineup and would share 1B and DH duties with Hanley Ramirez. Abreu has hit at least 25 home runs with at least 100 RBIs in all three of his years in the big leagues, and like Sale is controllable for three more years.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers

The trade

Pirates get RHP Jose De Leon and 1B Cody Bellinger. Dodgers get OF Andrew McCutchen.

Why it works

For the Pirates: The Pirates need to continue to do what they have to do in a small market, which means trading star players even if they are the face of the franchise so that they can continue to be at least wild-card contenders year-in and year-out. Trading McCutchen will be extremely unpopular, but in the Bucs’ view, they have very little choice economically. Trading McCutchen two years before free agency will give them the best possible return. In this trade the Pirates would get a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in De Leon. De Leon has a 93-96 mph fastball and an above-average changeup, complemented with a breaking ball that’s still developing. His deception is well above average, and when his breaking ball becomes more consistent, he’ll be a 200-inning workhorse. De Leon would fit nicely behind Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow in their young rotation. Bellinger would be the key to the trade for the Pirates. Bellinger, 21, is a future middle-of-the-order left-handed bat who profiles out to be a 30-homer, 100-RBI force. He should be ready by next September 2018 at the latest. The Pirates have top outfield prospect Aaron Meadows just a year away, and they’d love to give 1B/OF prospect Josh Bell a full year of at-bats to find out about him before Meadows is ready. The McCutchen deal opens up a spot for them to give them all of those opportunities over the next two seasons.

For the Dodgers: The Dodgers desperately need another right-handed bat, and McCutchen provides the perfect No. 2 hitter to slot in front of Corey Seager in the Dodgers’ lineup. McCutchen would play left field for the Dodgers, with Joc Pederson, a better defender, remaining in center. McCutchen would also bring strong leadership and would instantly become a fan favorite in Los Angeles. He has hit 20 or more home runs in each of the past six seasons and has had an on-base percentage of over .400 in four of the past five seasons. He had a down year this past season, but his strong finish in the final six weeks convinced scouts there is no decline in his bat speed and overall talent. McCutchen is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger award winner and has even won a Gold Glove (although that was back in 2012).

3. Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs

The trade

Rays get 2B/OF Ian Happ, RF Jorge Soler, OF Albert Almora and RHP Carl Edwards. Cubs get RHP Chris Archer, CF Kevin Kiermaier and RHP Alex Colome.

Why it works

For the Rays: The Rays get three everyday players who are all non-arbitration-eligible. They get a long-term solution at second base with Happ, who is a high-OBP hitter with the potential to hit 15-18 homers and steal bases. Soler would get the opportunity to play every day, and if he does, he’ll be projected to hit 20-25 home runs. Almora would take over center field as a plus-plus defender while Edwards can replace Alex Colome as the Rays’ closer. The deal will also save the Rays approximately $50 million in future salaries for both players during their control years, which is extremely important -- at least until they get a new stadium.

For the Cubs: The Cubs get another top-of-the-rotation starter in Archer to go along with Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. They would control Archer through 2021 and protect themselves in case they lose both Arrieta and Lackey after next season through free agency. But that isn’t the only obvious benefit. Kiermaier would give them the best defensive center fielder in baseball to replace free agent Dexter Fowler, while Colome could take over as closer for the departed Aroldis Chapman. The deal would also allow them to hold onto all of their very best young players and prospects, including Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. The Cubs can trade Happ because they have Baez blocking him, and they can trade Soler because they have Schwarber and Heyward blocking him.

4. Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals

The trade

Royals get 2B Kolten Wong, CF Tommy Pham and RHP Sandy Alcantara. Cardinals get CF Lorenzo Cain.

Why it works

For the Royals: Cain is a free agent after this coming season, and if the Royals can’t sign him to a long-term contract, they should consider moving him now since they’re in the same boat with several of his teammates, including Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Wade Davis. In return, the Royals would get Wong, who they could immediately put in center field for this year and then move to second base for the long term next year if they don’t re-sign Escobar, moving Raul Mondesi to shortstop for 2018. Wong had a down year last season, but he profiles as a .330 OBP hitter with 12-homer power and 20-steal capability. The best part for the Royals is that he’s signed through 2021. Pham, 28, has battled injuries but still has the tools to be a solid fourth outfielder who can play all three positions and provides everyday protection for injuries. Alcantara is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound power right-hander with good downward plane and late life. If his command and control comes, the Royals could hit it big here -- he’s a high-risk, high-reward arm.

For the Cardinals: The Cardinals need to improve their outfield defense -- especially in center -- and the acquisition of Cain would accomplish that. Cain will be a free agent at season’s end, but the Cardinals have the wherewithal to sign him to a long-term contract, something the Royals haven’t been able or willing to do. Like Wong, Cain is coming off a subpar year hampered by injuries. He has a lifetime slash line of .287/.337/.416 and in the past has hit as many as 16 home runs in a season and has stolen as many as 28 bases. He is just a year removed from being an All-Star and finishing among the top three in the AL MVP voting. He’s also an above-average defender in center field and a great clubhouse presence.

ESPN Baseball Tonight producer Gregg Colli contributed to this article.