MLB Trade Deadline: Big Names on the Move?

Jose Quintana (Cubs), JD Martinez (Diamondbacks), David Robertson (Yankees): some of the big-guns on the MLB trade market have already found new homes as contenders build their arsenals for the playoff war. The early moves won’t be the last we see before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Every time the Yankees fill a hole, it adds a little extra motivation for the Red Sox to follow suit; same goes for NL West rivals Arizona and Colorado.

Plus, any team with even a passing interest in winning the 2017 World Series has to account for the fact that the Dodgers exist. LA is an MLB-best 64-29 and an ungodly 29-4 in the last 33 games. My advice: build your best approximation of baseball’s Golden State Warriors or start looking toward 2018.

That’s not terribly helpful advice, given the dearth of marquee players left on the market. But there are still some nice pieces to be had, especially for teams looking to bulk up their rotations and bullpens.

Who’s likely to move where in the next ten days? Join me as I explore some of the more intriguing trade targets.

ODDS TO BE TRADED BY JULY 31 NON-WAIVER DEADLINE

AL HITTERS

Manny Machado running the bases
Manny Machado (Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en])

Yonder Alonso,1B,  Athletics

  • New York Yankees: 3/1
  • Los Angeles Angels: 9/1
  • FIELD: 3/1
  • Not traded: 3/2

The All-Star first-baseman is a free agent after this season, but has disclosed his desire to sign a long-term contract in Oakland, which will likely harm his value in a trade. If the As can acquire a couple prospects for him now, and then re-sign him in the fall, it would be a win-win.

The Yankees just washed away any thoughts of them staying put this season by trading for Todd Frazier and David Robertson. If New York is going for it this year, they need an upgrade at 1B.

Alex Avila, C/1B, Tigers

  • Chicago Cubs: 9/2
  • Colorado Rockies: 6/1
  • FIELD: 9/11
  • Not traded: 7/1

Avila is having his best year at the plate since his 2011 All-Star season. The Cubs could use a backup catcher with Miguel Montero off the roster, and Avila’s bat would be a nice addition to their lineup.

Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays

  • St. Louis Cardinals: 24/1
  • Los Angeles Angels: 33/1
  • FIELD: 13/1
  • Not traded: 1/6

The Jays are not actually interested in dealing former MVP Josh Donaldson. And even if they were, it would be awfully tough for a team to meet Toronto’s asking price. A 2-4 start after the All-Star break should have management thinking sell, however. While the 3B-needy Red Sox are the obvious fit, don’t expect the Jays to move Donaldson within the division unless the return is monumental.

Jed Lowrie, 2B, Athletics

  • Boston Red Sox: 7/3
  • FIELD: 13/7
  • Not traded: 13/7

Now that the Yankees stole Todd Frazier, the Red Sox are left scrambling to find an upgrade at 3B. Lowrie, a utility infielder, is slashing .267/.334/.446 this season, and is no slouch defensively. He may not be the sexy name the Red Sox want on the hot corner, but he would come much cheaper than most other options.

Manny Machado, 3B/SS, Orioles

  • Boston Red Sox: 40/1
  • FIELD: 12/1
  • Not traded: 1/9

Orioles ownership has granted Dan Duquette permission to listen to trades involving Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Seth Smith. They’d be smart to entertain offers on Manny Machado, who would fetch a massive prospect haul. But he will remain an Oriole for at least one more season.


AL PITCHERS

Justin Verlander stretching
Justin Verlander (Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])

Zach Britton, RP, Orioles

  • Washington Nationals: 8/1
  • Chicago Cubs: 9/1
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 12/1
  • FIELD: 7/2
  • Not traded: 1/1

No team has experienced more shaky play from their bullpen than the Nationals, whose 5.26 ERA from relievers is the worst in the Majors. The addition of Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle was a great start, but they still need a true closer. Washington’s offense ranks second in baseball, and the rotation is third in the bigs in ERA (3.53). The Nats will be selling themselves short if they didn’t add a shutdown closer.

All the teams listed above will also be inquiring about fellow Oriole reliever Brad Brach, who will come at a cheaper rate.

Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers

  • Colorado Rockies: 8/1
  • New York Yankees: 8/1
  • Kansas City Royals: 9/1
  • FIELD: 6/1
  • Not traded: 7/8

The Rangers have yet to confirm that Darvish is available; they’re consistently mediocre play indicates he will be. But don’t forget that whoever has Darvish also has the inside track at Shohei Otani.

The Rockies are desperate for a front-end starting pitcher, while the Yankees’ urgency has increased with Michael Pineda undergoing Tommy John surgery. With Darvish being a free agent after this season, don’t expect the Brewers to make much of a push for a rental player.

Sonny Gray, SP, Athletics

  • Houston Astros: 5/1
  • Milwaukee Brewers: 11/2
  • Colorado Rockies: 6/1
  • FIELD: 2/1
  • Not traded: 4/1

Gray has two years of arbitration ahead of him before hitting free agency, which makes him a quality target for younger rosters. The Brewers have been rumored to be the most aggressive suitor, but the AL-leading Astros will likely be prepared to match any opposing offer.

Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers

  • Colorado Rockies: 7/1
  • FIELD: 15/4
  • Not traded: 1/2

The Tigers have shut down rumors that they are actively shopping Verlander, but have also disclosed they would be willing to send some cash in a potential trade. With the struggling ace owed $28 million each of the next two seasons, Detroit is going to have to send a lot of cash to fetch any sort of value in return.

Justin Wilson, RP, Tigers

  • Washington Nationals: 6/1
  • Colorado Rockies: 7/1
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 7/1
  • FIELD: 24/25
  • Not traded: 9/1

Wilson has been dominant this season in the closer role, posting a 2.29 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. The lefty is eligible for arbitration in 2018 and free agency in 2019, making him more than just a rental. Wilson would also come at a cheaper rate than more established closers, like Zach Britton. All of the above is why more than a third of the league is calling Detroit right now.


NL HITTERS

Andrew McCutchen with the Pirates
Andrew McCutchen (Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])

Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants

  • New York Yankees: 5/1
  • FIELD: 6/1
  • Not traded: 3/7

The Yanks shored up one corner by getting Frazier from the White Sox. They still have a gaping hole at first base and Belt would fill it nicely. Belt is signed to a relatively team-friendly contract through 2021 ($72 million over five years), which makes him a lot more than a rental and sets the price-tag high for the 29-year-old. Will New York be willing to pay it after already parting with Blake Rutherford in their deal with the Chi-Sox?

Jay Bruce, OF, Mets

  • Seattle Mariners: 18/1
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 19/1
  • FIELD: 13/4
  • Not traded: 1/2

Bruce, an impending UFA, is having another really good season for the completely-out-of-it Mets (.270 BA, 24 HRs, 62 RBI). Yet interest isn’t that high and the Mets want to contend in 2018; there’s a good chance they keep him and try to work out something long-term. Bruce also has a partial no-trade clause and can block a move to eight teams (A’s, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Phillies, Rays, Twins, and Yankees). The same teams that will be in the market for Andrew McCutchen’s services (see below) would make the most sense for Bruce.

Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins

  • Los Angeles Angels: 19/1
  • Kansas City Royals: 19/1
  • FIELD: 9/1
  • Not traded: 1/4

Questions abound about Dee Gordon. Actually, question abounds about Dee Gordon: was his breakout 2015 season a product of PEDs, something he was suspended for the next year? He hasn’t put up the same numbers since. That makes the fact that he’s signed to a long-term contract ($50M over five years) less of a selling point than it is with other guys. Still, he’s having a decent 2017 and would be a definite upgrade for the Angels and Royals at second. Will there be a disconnect on his perceived value between the Marlins and the potential buyers?

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 15/1
  • Seattle Mariners: 19/1
  • Kansas City Royals: 21/1
  • FIELD: 10/1
  • Not traded: 2/7

Don’t look now but the Pirates are suddenly making a charge in the NL Central and Wild Card race. With Starling Marte coming back from his 80-game suspension, Pittsburgh fans would be irate if management orchestrated a mass sell-off right now. McCutchen has been crucial to Pittsburgh’s charge back to .500. After a dismal start to the year, he’s upped his average to .286 and leads the team with an .879 OPS and 53 RBIs. It’s not now-or-never for the Pirates with “Cutch,” either, since they have a club option for 2018 at a reasonable $14.5M.


NL PITCHERS

SFG's Johnny Cueto at a press conference
Johnny Cueto (By Arturo Pardavila III [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0])

Trevor Cahill, SP, Padres

  • Houston Astros: 9/1
  • Kansas City Royals: 9/1
  • New York Yankees: 9/1
  • Atlanta Braves: 10/1
  • FIELD: 1/1
  • Not traded: 8/1

Cahill (4-3, 3.14 ERA) is the rare Padre starter who’s over .500. He stunningly developed into a power pitcher in the middle of his career (circa 2015) and has seen his Ks-per-nine jump drastically since then, averaging just over 11 this year. He’s not the guy that will turn a mediocre rotation into a daunting unit, but he would add needed depth to a number of teams.

Johnny Cueto, SP, Giants

  • Colorado Rockies: 9/1
  • New York Yankees: 10/1
  • FIELD: 15/4
  • Not traded: 2/3

Cueto will reportedly opt out of his contract at the end of the season, seeking more money in free agency. To further complicate a possible trade, the right-hander isn’t having his best season and was just placed on the ten-day DL. It’ll be hard for SF to find a trade partner with Cueto.

Brad Hand, RP, Padres

  • Tampa Bay Rays: 8/1
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 9/1
  • Boston Red Sox: 9/1
  • Houston Astros: 19/2
  • Washington Nationals: 12/1
  • FIELD: 5/4
  • Not traded: 19/1

The Padres are asking the world for Hand, who’s having a career year (2.25 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) and is under team control until 2021. He’s going to get moved and basically every contending team could use him. No one has jumped to the fore as the front-runner yet, likely because the asking price remains so high. As the deadline nears, it will come down.

Pat Neshek, RP, Phillies

  • Boston Red Sox: 5/1
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 8/1
  • Tampa Bay Rays: 8/1
  • Washington Nationals: 8/1
  • Milwaukee Brewers: 9/1
  • FIELD: 7/3
  • Not traded: 9/1

Can you ever have enough quality relief pitching in the playoffs? The 2015 Royals say no. Neshek is having a downright ludicrous season, statistically: 1.17 ERA, .835 WHIP, 8.2/1 K-to-BB ratio. Counting on him to be that dominant down the stretch is unrealistic, but he’s a versatile right capable of slotting into multiple spots in a bullpen. He’d fit in nicely pre-Kimbrel with the Bo-Sox and give needed power to the surprising Rays. Even though the Nats already added a couple quality relievers, every player in that clubhouse is hoping for another to help their league-worst pen.


A few weeks down the road, when all the significant moves have been made, we’ll take a look at how the MLB futures landscape has changed. Here’s the before picture…

AL PENNANT ODDS

  • Houston Astros: 5/2
  • Boston Red Sox: 9/2
  • Cleveland Indians: 13/2
  • New York Yankees: 7/1
  • Kansas City Royals: 19/1
  • Minnesota Twins: 24/1
  • Tampa Bay Rays: 24/1
  • Seattle Mariners: 33/1
  • Los Angeles Angels: 35/1
  • Texas Rangers: 40/1
  • Toronto Blue Jays: 40/1
  • Baltimore Orioles: 50/1
  • Detroit Tigers: 66/1
  • Oakland Athletics: 175/1
  • Chicago White Sox: 200/1

 

NL PENNANT ODDS

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 7/4
  • Washington Nationals: 7/2
  • Chicago Cubs: 6/1
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: 10/1
  • Colorado Rockies: 14/1
  • Milwaukee Brewers: 15/1
  • St. Louis Cardinals: 33/1
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: 50/1
  • Atlanta Braves: 100/1
  • New York Mets: 100/1
  • Cincinnati Reds: 500/1
  • Miami Marlins: 500/1
  • San Diego Padres: 750/1
  • San Francisco Giants: 1000/1
  • Philadelphia Phillies: 3000/1

 

Perry

Perry is a regular contributor to MTS and a die-hard Broncos fan. Yes, he does remember the five Super Bowl losses, but likely remembers all your teams shortcomings, too. Consider yourself warned. Though his love for the Broncos may seem unconditional, Mr. Port never mixes his emotions with gambling.