If I were the GM of the Colorado Rockies, I would be on the phone with the Pittsburgh Pirates right now to gauge their interest in DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez. Of course, Jeff Bridich has probably already done this, but we weren't privy to that call, so we'll just have to imagine what that conversation was like.
Salary wise, this move keeps both cash-conscious clubs pretty level as Niese is set to make $9 million in 2016 and Walker is projected to get about $10.7 million in his final year of arbitration. This leaves the Pirates with Jordy Mercer, Jung-ho Kang and Josh Harrison to cover the combination of shortstop, second base, and third base. While they can do that on any given day, they need another flexible cost controlled middle infielder to get through the 162-game season. Their other option might be to call up Alen Hanson, but he posted an OPS of just .701 last season in Triple-A, so I'm not sure he's ready yet.
Enter LeMahieu, who is excellent defensively at second, can move around the infield, is entering his first year of arbitration (meaning he's under team control for three more years), and is projected to make $3.7 million. This would be a perfect fit for the Pirates who love position flexibility.
On the flip side, the Pirates have a farm system full of riches the Rockies would love to get their hands on. The problem is that LeMahieu alone wouldn't get them very far into the cookie jar. Instead, I would check in to see if there was some way the Rockies could package Gonzalez and LeMahieu together in a massive deal that could bring back right-hander Tyler Glasnow, the Pirates' top pitching prospect and the No. 7 overall prospect in MLB.
The biggest problem I see here is I'm not sure how much the Pirates need CarGo since they already have Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco in the outfield. However, if they made Cargo their everyday right fielder and used Polanco as a defensive wiz who got playing time when the others needed days off or spent time on the disabled list, you could be talking about a real powerhouse outfield with Polanco being the best No. 4 man in baseball.
It's hard to gauge what the Bucs' interest would be here. They definitely already have a great team, but I also think they're probably pretty tired of ending up in that Wild Card game and really want to win the division. Adding Gonzalez and LeMahieu would help.
To take care of CarGo's 2016 salary ($17 million), the Rockies could either take back Charlie Morton (owed $8 million in 2016) and Michael Morse (owed $8.5 million in 2016), or just kick in a bunch of money straight up. That would depend on what Pittsburgh feels it would be more comfortable with in building its 2016 team.
If that's something the Pirates are interested in, I think a deal could be had. The Pirates have an excellent group of prospects including Glasnow, Austin Meadows (OF), Josh Bell (1B), Jameson Taillon (RHP), and Reese McGuire (C). From the outside, it's impossible to know which prospect the Rockies and Pirates each covet the most individually here, but this is the pond the Rockies will be fishing in if they try to make a big deal with Pittsburgh.
This is all speculation of course, but speculation is what we do during the winter meetings when puzzle pieces appear to line up.