Top 5 MLB Reunions That Would Make Baseball Better in 2024

Looking ahead to the 2024 MLB Trade Deadline, here are five deals that would send players back to their former teams for a playoff push.

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 26: (L-R) Daniel Norris #44, Alex Avila #13 and Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers look on from the dugout during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on September 26, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Twins defeated the Tigers 6-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

There is nothing better in baseball than seeing a great player reunite with their former team. Whether it’s Andrew McCutchen coming back to the Pittsburgh Pirates, or Albert Pujols returning to St. Louis to play for the Cardinals, there is something special about seeing an iconic player return to the team where they first made a name for themselves.

While the trade deadline is still more than two months away, we thought it would be fun to look ahead and see which star players could be moved this year, and reunite them with their former teams.

For some of these players, it would be a return to the organization where they first made a name for themselves. For others it would be returning to the franchise they started their minor league career with, before being dealt and debuting somewhere else.

So without further ado, here are five MLB trade reunions that would make Major League Baseball more fun later this year.

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Justin Verlander Gets Traded Back to the Detroit Tigers

When Justin Verlander is eligible to be inducted into Cooperstown, we are going to have quite the debate about which hat belongs on his Hall of Fame plaque.

While he spent the first 13 seasons of his career with the team that drafted him second overall all the way back in 2004, Verlander may now be more synonymous with the Houston Astros than the Detroit Tigers.

Having spent parts of seven seasons in Houston, Verlander has won two World Series titles and two of his three Cy Youngs as a member of the Astros. The longevity and counting stats favor Verlander going in as a Tiger, but the sentiment may lie with Houston.

However, what would happen if Verlander got the chance to finish his career where it all started, book-ending his time in Major League Baseball with the Detroit Tigers?

The Houston Astros have gotten off to a terrible start this season, winning just 12 of their first 35 games. For Verlander, it is a situation that all too much mirrors his lone season with the New York Mets last year, where a highly-touted team has fallen flat to meet expectations.

Also like last year, Verlander missed the start of the season due to injury and is now trying to put on his superhero cape and help drive his club back into contention. The Astros have a far-better track record to pull themselves out of a hole than the Mets did, but the odds certainly aren’t in their favor to bounce back into contention.

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If the Astros are out of the race by the deadline, they will have to think long and hard about their future when trying to asses their plans at the trade deadline.

Veterans who are close to free agency typically get moved in these scenarios. This could be the case with Verlander, who has to hit 140 innings pitched this year for his $35 million club option to become available to the Astros for next season.

That option is actually a very attractive one for Houston, as the Mets are picking up half of the bill, making it $17.5 million for an ace (albeit a 42-year-old one). Now if he doesn’t hit 140 innings, the Astros risk losing him after this season, although they could always sign him in free agency.

Verlander has a full no-trade clause, so he can dictate where he would want to go, and winning another World Series would probably be the top priority. While the Tigers are not necessarily a World Series-bound team, they are one who could pull on Verlander’s heartstrings, as he could help them reach the playoffs again for the first time in a decade.

The Tigers would have to be in contention come the deadline, but they have gotten off to their best start in some time and appear to be closer to contention than still being in a rebuild. If Verlander’s option is triggered, he could be part of an even better Tigers’ team in 2025.

Tyler O’Neill Goes Back to Where He Was Drafted

One of the best stories of the season so far has been the bounce back we have seen from Tyler O’Neill after a few down years in St. Louis. Having been traded to the Boston Red Sox, O’Neill has rediscovered his power stroke and is currently among the top-three in the AL in both slugging and OPS.

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While he would probably prefer to play out the rest of his contract year in the friendly confines of Fenway Park, there is a chance the Red Sox look to shop O’Neill at the deadline if they are out of the race. Enter the Seattle Mariners.

Jerry Dipoto is always looking to swing deals to improve his team, and the Mariners could use another bat in the middle of their lineup. Adding O’Neill to the fold would be a great way to bolster their offense, without having to give up a massive haul of prospects, since he is a rental.

This would also give O’Neill the chance to come full circle with the team that drafted him as a high schooler out of British Columbia, Canada in the third round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

O’Neill spent the first five years of his professional career in the Mariners organization, before he was moved to the Cardinals ahead of the deadline during the 2017 season. Seattle acquired left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales in exchange for O’Neill, who would make his MLB debut with the Cardinals a year later in 2018.

Jazz Chisolm Teams up with Zac Gallen and the D-Backs

With the Luis Arraez trade, the Miami Marlins have officially announced to the industry that they are open for business. Soon-to-be free agents like Josh Bell and Tanner Scott are the early candidates to be moved in trades, but there is a chance the Marlins sell players who have control and really prioritize revamping their farm system and starting over from scratch.

Jesus Luzardo would be the hottest commodity on the market, assuming he can return to form when he comes off the IL, as every team is looking to acquire pitching at the deadline. One player who is polarizing but we should definitively keep our eye on though is Jazz Chisolm Jr.

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Chisolm is an electric player, who has great power and speed, although he has never put it all together for a full season when it comes to his offensive production. Maybe he could benefit from a change of scenery and realize his full potential as one of the game’s young stars.

The 26-year-old still has two more arbitration years beyond this season, so any team acquiring him would be getting plenty of control. He also has taken to his position change out to the outfield, so teams could keep him in center, move him into a corner, or return him back to the infield at second base. With that level of flexibility, when added to a skill-set you can still dream on, Chisolm could be rather attractive to teams out there, including his former team in Arizona.

Once upon a time, Chisolm was signed by the Diamondbacks as an international free agent out of the Bahamas back in 2015. Chisolm spent parts of five seasons in the D-Backs farm system before he was traded at the 2019 deadline for Zac Gallen.

In retrospect, the Diamondbacks certainly got the better end of that deal, as Gallen has become one of the premier pitchers in the National League. Could the D-Backs swing a deal that would make those two teammates all these years later?

While it is unclear where exactly he’d play in the field, there is no doubt that the Diamondbacks could use another solid left-handed bat in the middle of their lineup.

Kenley Jansen Comes Home to Los Angeles

Cue the “Coming Home” video montages on social media, as Kenley Jansen heads back to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a push to win the World Series title. This is a narrative we could very much see unfold at this year’s deadline, with Jansen playing on a Boston Red Sox team that could be sellers if they fall out of the race.

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Evan Phillips has been the primary closer for the Dodgers so far this season and has thrived in the role, converting all eight of his save chances with a sparkling 0.66 ERA. With Phillips, Daniel Hudson, and Alex Vesia, the Dodgers have plenty of top-end relievers performing well right now, but adding another arm with closer experience can never hurt a team with championship aspirations.

Jansen has gotten off to a great start this year, pitching to a 1.69 ERA across his first 11 appearances, with 14 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings pitched. He has converted five of his six save opportunities.

By acquiring Jansen, manager Dave Roberts would have the flexibility to call on Phillips whenever he needed to throughout the game, where he could face the top of a lineup if the situation presented itself earlier than the ninth inning. Whether it be in a secondary closer role, or as a set-up man, Jansen would add another lockdown arm to an already strong bullpen.

Alex Bregman Gets Traded to the Chicago Cubs

Okay, our final trade is not one that is reuniting a player with their former team, as Alex Bregman has played his entire career with the Houston Astros, who drafted him with the second overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft. Instead, this would be a reunion (or a union) of Bregman with the only guy who was drafted ahead of him back in 2015, Dansby Swanson.

Imagine the No. 1 and No. 2 picks from the 2015 MLB Draft sharing the same side of the infield at Wrigley Field? Swanson has become one of the game’s best shortstops, while Bregman has consistently been one of the best third basemen.

So far this year, Bregman has been struggling mightily for the Astros, which is a big reason why they have struggled so much as a team. We still don’t know if the Astros will be out of the race come the trade deadline, but if they are, Bregman is certainly a piece that could be on the move.

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Set to hit free agency after the season, Bregman’s time with the Astros could be coming to a close very soon, and that could be expedited at the deadline. He would have to start to play better if the Astros are going to extract any value that would exceed the comp pick they’d receive by extending him the qualifying offer, but Bregman has the track record to turn things around.

Swanson and Bregman would be a fantastic pairing for the Cubs, and if it looks as good as it sounds on paper, Chicago could very well sign Bregman in free agency next offseason.