As we are roughly six weeks out from Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, I decided to sit down and look at the standings and find the 15 teams with the best chance of making the postseason and what their team needs are.
That left the other 15 teams in MLB as the sellers this year and so I looked at their rosters and attempted to identify no more than five players on their active roster that could be used as trade chips.
I was able to identify three teams that could trade up to five players – Toronto, Texas and Colorado.
The Rangers and Rockies, who just met this past weekend in Arlington, could both potentially trade their primary catchers in Robinson Chirinos and Chris Ianetta, respectively.
While not all 15 teams that I see as sellers could be represented here, these are some of the trades that I could see realistically happening for the 15 teams that I see as buyers based on their current situation in the standings.
In the interest of full disclosure, before I could publish this, the Royals pulled the trigger on sending closer Kelvin Herrera to the Washington Nationals. That was actually the team that I thought he would be most likely to wind up with as a setup man out of the bullpen.
As part of this exercise, I’m not going to try and predict what prospects a team might get in return, but rather just the number of prospects that they should fetch.
Without further ado, here comes my predictions.
New York Yankees get: SP Chris Archer from Tampa Bay for three prospects and SP Cole Hamels from Texas for two prospects. The Yankees need starting pitching in a bad way to pair with the trio of Luis Severino, C.C. Sabathia and Sonny Gray. Archer’s contract goes through the 2021 season, but the final two years are both club options. Hamels, meanwhile, has a $20 million option for next year or a $6 million buyout.
Boston Red Sox get: C Francisco Cervelli and a prospect from Pittsburgh for C Blake Swihart and two prospects. In a separate trade, the Red Sox stun the MLB world by winning the sweepstakes for Baltimore SS Manny Machado in sending MI Brock Holt and two prospects to their division rival. Boston has literally gotten nothing offensively from behind the plate this season and Cervelli entered this week hitting .253 – which was nearly 40 points higher than the Red Sox catchers. This also allows Swihart a chance to perform and develop in an area that doesn’t have the media and fan scrutiny that comes with Fenway Park. Cervelli is under contract through next year while Swihart comes with four years of team control. Swihart’s lack of production at the MLB level, however, means the Red Sox are going to have to give up an extra prospect.
Cleveland Indians get: RP Kyle Barraclough from Miami for three prospects. Barraclough has one of the most valuable commodities on the trade market this season – team control and lots of it. He’s under control until 2022 and could be a lethal option for the Indians in the seventh inning to bridge the gap to Andrew Miller and Cody Allen in the late innings.
Detroit Tigers get: 1B Justin Smoak from Toronto for two prospects. In the wake of Miguel Cabrera’s ruptured biceps tendon that will sideline him for the rest of the season, the Tigers need someone who can play first base that could also serve as an insurance option for next year. Smoak has a $6 million team option that could be worth an addition $2 million based on performance escalators across the 2017-18 seasons. If he doesn’t perform worthy of the trade, his buyout is just $250,000.
Houston Astros get: RP Zach Britton from Baltimore for Brad Peacock and a prospect. Britton is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, but the Orioles are going to want someone that is MLB ready and Peacock is an easy target to not completely disrupt the Astros bullpen while being someone that can replace Britton as their closer as he is not slated to become a free agent until 2021. For the Astros, Britton can come over and immediately assume the closer’s role from Ken Giles.
Seattle Mariners get: CF Starling Marte from Pittsburgh for Andrew Romine and two prospects. Prior to Robinson Cano’s 80-game suspension, centerfield was the last thing that the Mariners needed. The fallout of the suspension has seen Dee Gordon get moved back to the middle infield and Seattle needing someone to fill the void. Marte is under contract for next year and then has a pair of team options for 2020-21 that make this a long-term deal. Romine is a player who can be used as a super-utility weapon in both the infield and outfield. If Seattle can’t get Marte, Reds CF Billy Hamilton could be a fallback option.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim get: SP Madison Bumgarner from San Francisco for three prospects. MadBum is worthy of a high price in prospects with his historical success in the postseason and he fills a void that the Angels have in the rotation as a result of Shohei Ohtani’s injury. Getting Bumgarner would help the Angels manage Ohtani’s workload the rest of the year without putting a strain on the bullpen.
Atlanta Braves get: 3B Mike Moustakas from Kansas City for a pair of prospects. The Braves have seen their share of struggles at the hot corner this year and Moustakas can solve them all singlehandedly. While he is only under contract for this season, he is trying to prove his worth after not getting a contract last winter that he felt he deserved and taking a pay cut to return to Kansas City.
Washington Nationals get: C Robinson Chirinos and RP Jake Diekman from Texas for RP Sammy Solis and two prospects. The Rangers are sure to be sellers at the deadline and trading this for pair allows Washington to get a dominant left-handed reliever while addressing its major need behind the plate. The Nationals have been ravaged by injuries this year and Chirinos brings a veteran presence that can be solid offensively. Adding Diekman allows the Nationals to further reinforce the bullpen after adding Herrera earlier this week.
Philadelphia Phillies get: UTIL Sean Rodriguez from Pittsburgh and SP Blake Snell from Tampa Bay in a three-team deal that sees the Phillies ship out five prospects for the two players. The Phillies have the most needs of any potential playoff team with outfield, third base and starting pitching being their three biggest needs. Getting the duo of Rodriguez and Snell, while costly in the price of prospects, allows the Phillies to address their needs in one move.
Milwaukee Brewers get: SP Chad Bettis from Colorado for three prospects. Bettis, who will not become a free agent until 2021, is a longshot to get traded, but the Brewers need starting pitching and can afford the price of prospects. Bettis is making $2 million dollars this year and has two more seasons of arbitration-eligibility that could lead to the Brewers potentially overpaying for him.
Chicago Cubs get: SP Noah Syndergaard from NY Mets for four prospects. That’s a steep price for a team to pay that has committed $73 million to the starting rotation this year, but Syndergaard is worth the price and won’t hit free agency until 2022 giving the Cubs plenty of time to work on a long-term extension for the 25-year-old.
St. Louis Cardinals get: RP Brad Hand from San Diego for two prospects. The Cardinals could use some help in their bullpen in order to shorten the game. The Cardinals will be getting Greg Holland back soon and adding Hand could help lesson the pressure on Luke Gregerson when he comes off the disabled list after having spent the last month dealing with a shoulder issue.
Arizona Diamondbacks get: 2B Asdrubal Cabrera from NY Mets for a single prospect. Cabrera is in a contract year and will be a free agent therefore dropping his value in the trade market. Cabrera is hitting .270/.310/.789 on the season. The batting average is right at his career mark, while the OBP is below and his slugging percentage exceeds his career averages.
Los Angeles Dodgers get: SP Jake Odorizzi from Minnesota for three prospects. With injuries hitting the Dodgers rotation hard this season, plus the looming potential for SP Clayton Kershaw to opt-out of his contract this winter, getting at least one member to add to the rotation is at the top of the needs for the defending National League champions. Odorizzi has another year of arbitration before hitting the free agent market in 2020.