A Look Ahead To The Trade Deadline

The 2020 MLB Pro Trade Deadline is now just days away. The last chance for contenders to bring in that final piece, for those rebuilding to get value for veterans or to acquire another asset as they look towards the future.

The trade deadline sparks intrigue with rumors, it sparks debate with value, it brings optimism for the future, and it can bring despair as deals fall apart.

With just days remaining, here’s a look at what league insiders believe could, should, or might happen.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles: Krishawn Holley and Steve White have each already been moved for a plethora of prospects and younger talent. One insider had this thought on the Orioles moving forward, “It’s really a two step approach for Baltimore: 1) Anthony Rizzo needs to be traded and 2) Starting with Nick Senzel, bring up some of the young guys.” Belfour, Detmer, Feitelberg, Walker in the field and the likes of Riley Ferguson and Chris Kahnke on the mound deserve a shot at big league level.

Boston Red Sox: After climbing to an 81-win season last year, the Red Sox have taken a step back again in 2020. The contracts of Dom Brown and Jesus Montero fall off the books at the end of the season and that’s a start in the right direction. Could Boston look to make some other moves to clear the books? Keep an eye on Brandon Creath, Jacob Realmuto, Dan Runzler, and George Springer. The Red Sox are another team that need to look to the future, beginning by giving Richard Davis the starting third-basemen job.

New York Yankees: “Not even worth trying to figure out what Rhett has up his sleeves. He loves his offense, but they better scramble to find another reliever or two.” That message was echoed by many. This is a Yankee team that needs to find bullpen help to feel good the rest of the season, especially after trading away Wayne Powers.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays trade deadline activity came last week with the move of Rendon to St. Louis. Will they continue to be active this week? Brett Nicholas could be a helpful pickup to a contender, as could the right-arm of Steven Matz. One source was direct when it came to Tampa, “the Rays are both calculated and reasonable, they have assets that can and will be moved between now and Friday.”

Toronto Blue Jays: The Michael Wacha acquisition was a big move at trying to help a starting rotation that ranks 9th in the AL in ERA. Wacha’s first start was anything but helpful though. Will he turn things around? A veteran team with few if any holes in the bullpen or the lineup, unless a starting pitcher falls into their lap, many expect the Jays to be quiet.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox sit a half game up on the charging Rangers for the second wild-card spot. With that, expect the White Sox to be active. Some of that activity has been rumored to be on the discussion of Kyle Cody. One insider felt that was the wrong move, going as far to say, ” WTF are the White Sox thinking trying to trade Kyle Cody or Jorge Fernandez … when the only SP they ‘should’ be trying to unload is 36-year-old Josh Johnson. If they even move anyone at all … they’re in the middle of a playoff race.” On the flip side of that comes a different insider suggesting, “if they can find a buyer for Cody, by all means, do it. A radar-gun wonder, but his track record is what it is.”

Cleveland Indians: Rod Swift’s injury threw a wrench into the plans of the Indians. Even so, for all of Ayden’s complaints of recent poor play, the Tribe still lead the division by four games. One General Manager told me this when asked about the Indians, “Stephen Strasburg is not getting any younger, they need to fix the middle-infield and bring in another bullpen piece.” Former Indian Vinnie Pestano and current Padre Andrelton Simmons would be a step in the right direction. Additionally, one insider believes that Cleveland should, “look to acquire another starting pitcher for the back end of their rotation. Nothing flashy, but someone to spell Todd Howard.”

Detroit Tigers: Jordan Lyles and Joey Votto are going to be stuck in Detroit and with teams seemingly not interested in taking on the buyout of Tommy Hanson, the Tigers might be staring at a quiet week. Perhaps a run at a bat is made, but if the asking price is Matthew Liberatore, can the Tigers really move forward with those discussions?

Kansas City Royals: The Royals have a pair of pieces that could help out most contenders. Drew Storen has been terrific against righties, while teammate Eric O’Flaherty is a true left-handed specialist. Each is not signed beyond this year, will a playoff contender come to K.C. to bolster its bullpen?

Minnesota Twins: Perhaps the hardest team to figure out in 2020. The favorites at the start of the season have struggled with both their play and their health all season long. With an aging roster, three soon-to-be free-agents highlight the Twins week. One scout believes, “Dave Wilson and Daniel Fields will not be Twins in 2021, holding out for top dollar is only a mistake that will hurt the Twins.”

American League West

Houston Astros: There might not be a team with more available bullpen pieces than the Astros. Throw in a willingness to discuss Cuyco, La, and Winterhalder and you have a team who is eager to make a change or two. If the Astros were to be enticed to make a move, keep an eye on Bill La, one scout said, “for all the rage and interest in Oakland’s Taylor Sparks, Bill La does not get enough attention. Less power, but a better defender and most importantly already locked up through 2023.”

Los Angels Angels: Recent injuries to Ryan Copeland and Anthony Kerr have seemingly sent the Angels into a tailspin. The Angels are poised to be the top example to Edwin Starr’s “War: What Is It Good For – Absolutely Nothing” as their pitching staff leads the AL in WAR despite being an utter mess that no one would pick moving forward. A league insider had this to say on the Angels, “they have the titles and I’m not going to second-guess their decisions, but they sure are giving off the vibe of a team that is quitting on the season. Beyond Funkhouser, it’s a rotation that has NO CHANCE to win multiple playoff games. I’m not even sold they make the playoffs at this point.”

Oakland A’s: Still marveling in the fact the A’s acquired assets for Felix Hernandez has many in the league wondering what the new front-office has planned for this week. Walker Buehler has been a hot commodity bringing in at least one offer filled with a team’s top prospects. Lucas Giolito is only under team control through the end of next season. Taylor Sparks has had seemingly every team in the league after him. When asked about the A’s, an NL scout had this to say, “The A’s have a ton of options, but I’m not sure those options will lead to anything good. ‘Due Diligence’ is one thing, but sometimes the right thing to do is simply be patient and wait.”

Seattle Mariners: The only thing Seattle needs to do is to conserve the arms of Danny Hultzen and Justin Hooper. As far as the deadline goes, bringing in a power arm out of the bullpen could go a long way to making the AL favorite even stronger. Talks of moving Ryan Wheeler and Elliot Jenkins need to come to an end and the M’s need to focus on this year. All that said, it’s a team that is always floating another big idea under the table, do not be surprised if something big happens out of Seattle.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers are 14-6 in July and now a key part of the Wild Card race. One GM believes though that, “I’m still not sure the Rangers can make the Playoffs with both Pete Kozma and Rafael Campos occupying spots in the lineup.” While Jason Wiley has been terrific since being acquired, the Rangers could be another team to watch when it comes to improving the bullpen.

National League East

Atlanta Braves: Last season’s mega-deal feels like ages ago. The former National League front-running Atlanta Braves are now in a battle for the 2021 #1 Overall pick. Recent trades of Wendell Ayers and Matt Manning only further prove that anything is possible with Atlanta. An AL GM had this to say, “the ONLY thing that could surprise me would be if either Brady Aiken or Kolby Allard were moved. Beyond that, I doubt Brenton even knows what he wants to do.” Porter Curran has been rumored to be on the block the past month, but recent starts have done nothing to help with his value.

Miami Marlins: Recent statements by the Marlins front-office indicate a desire to sell some pieces before the deadline. The likes of John Lamb and Pat Swain are attractive starting options while Pestano and Scheppers are veteran options out of the pen. A team with quite a few AAA pitchers on the brink of a rotation spot, I fully expect to see at least one of Lamb or Swain dealt, or the Marlins being a sneaky contender to pull off something big. One thing is certain, “even with his struggles, Ronald Acuna needs to be out of the minors. Experience against MLB pitching is what he needs.”

New York Mets: My “team to beat” for most of the season sits at 72-32 with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as their only concern moving forward. Perhaps a bullpen arm to replace Alex Rivers or an upgrade at either second-base or right-field. At 40 games above .500, the Mets have little room for improvement.

Philadelphia Phillies: 53-53, six games out of the playoffs, will the Phillies make any moves? Another team who has been decimated by injuries much of the year, the Phillies might be sending the wrong message to its players if they sell, but are they really a threat to make the playoffs? Juan Hidalgo is a player who could be an upgrade to a playoff team looking for a rental. Another insider felt that, “Cody Ponce has been a good reliever for the Phillies, but I think he could go be a big help to a contender in the rotation. For the Phillies, he’s a player that could help rebuild their farm-system with by acquiring one or two quality prospects.”

Washington Nationals: With Davis, Pickett, and Swanson all lost for the season, the Nationals hopes for a playoff spot seem far too distant. Beyond Augusto Garcia are there many pieces for the Nats to move? One reporter believes there are two potential big moves that the team at least needs to consider, “Mark Davies will almost certainly opt-out after next season, he’s hurt, but that didn’t stop a team from going after an injured and free-agent to be Mark Appel last season. The other being Ed Palmer. I think his bad season makes it unlikely, but with Devin Lewis ready, it’s at least something the Nationals should consider.”

National League Central

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have dangled the bat of Bill Lowe but have found no takers. With Bumgarner and Sandoval almost certainly stuck in Chicago with their bloated contracts, the Cubs have virtually no other players making any money in a position to be traded. It leads to a potential quiet and very tough to predict week for anyone looking at the Cubs.

Cincinnati Reds: All eyes are on J.D. Martinez. Rumored to be a player at least one American League has wanted for several weeks, trading Martinez could free up salary while bringing in young pieces for the future. With the former front-office bringing on several expensive contracts, the current regime might be hard-pressed to do much beyond Martinez. One veteran insider who has seen it all was certain of one thing, “the days of 100% retention on trades from Cincy are a thing of the past.”

Milwaukee Brewers: “If the Brewers retained 50% of Lawrie’s contract, he becomes an interesting piece for a couple of teams who will be playing in the postseason.” That was a belief that has been expressed by several across both the American and National League. For the most part, people expect a quiet deadline out of Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh Pirates: A team that created some headlines with recent statements that they will not be looking to buy much at the deadline. If the Pirates hold firm with that, will they be able to hold on to a playoff spot?

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals made a splash last week when the traded for Anthony Rendon. While Rendon has gotten off to a very quiet start through four games, his bat could help a team that ranks fifth in the NL in runs scored. The biggest addition to St. Louis moving forward will soon be the return of Clayton Kershaw from the Injured List.

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt Manning, Pat Crosby, and Pasqualino Carosi should each help what has been a poor Diamondbacks bullpen, but it’s been to the tune of three quality prospects. The offensive side is set, but will Arizona look to make another move on the mound? Rumored to have made a run at Jon Lester before talks broke down, where might Arizona turn to next?

Colorado Rockies: A 15-6 start to July has Colorado back within reach of D-Backs. The NL’s #1 offense in most categories, the Rockies main need could be in bolstering their defense as a way to solidify their pitching. The National League’s worst defensive efficiency team, a small sacrifice to their offense for a better defender could be the difference. Last season’s World Series saw their defense give up several costly runs across a few different games. Having already brought in Felix Hernandez on the mound, beyond a small bullpen addition, the Rockies likely do not have too many moves on the horizon.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Unable to get hot in July, the Dodgers are likely headed to become sellers. Jon Lester has been rumored to be on the block, but one insider suggests, “his no-trade clause will be at play.” Could that lead to Jared Cosart becoming available? With the number of teams searching for bullpen help, the Dodgers Shawn Tolleson could be a player that is asked upon frequently this week.

San Diego Padres: Having gone 17-29 since June 1st, the Padres have fallen too far to be considered a playoff contender this season. One source believes they’ll be a popular phone to ring and that, “With Matuella signed for two-more years, he’s the type of player that you know 29 other teams will try and convince the Padres to move now. I would be shocked if they do, but with the way things work, there will be a huge offer sent their way.” Beyond Matuella, Andrelton Simmons could provide a spark offensively and defensively for a playoff contender.

San Francisco Giants: Only the Angels and Cardinals have lost more days to the injured list than the Giants this season. As their core continues to age, a new era of Giants baseball will be needed to be ushered in sooner rather than later. Will there be a market of Zach Greinke? The player I still have my eyes on is Braulio Pardo, one GM told me, “Pardo would be the biggest player on the block if they went that direction. Flat out, he’s a difference maker both this season and next. I think the time to move him is now.”

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