We are just two weeks away from the MLB trade deadline, which means there are plenty of rumors regarding which players could be moved and to where. From these rumors, we look to be heading towards are very entertaining couple weeks of huge trades, with plenty of marquee players, particularly pitchers, possibly on the move. Without further adieu, let’s analyze it, grading it on the chance it happens as well as either the player-team fit or on the direction of the team (for more broad rumors).
Diamondbacks SP Robbie Ray Drawing Widespread Interest
According to MLB.Com’s Jon Paul Morosi, the Astros, Phillies, and Brewers are interested in Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray, while The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees have “historically liked” the 27-year-old. Ray seemed to be on the breakout in 2017, when he posted a 3.72 FIP, 12.11 K/9, and a 3.53 SIERA. However, he posted a meager 4.31 FIP last season, and this year, he’s only improved to the tune of a 4.04 FIP. Ray’s still striking batters out a great clip (11.76 K/9), but his command (4.54 BB/9) has faltered this season. This is consistent with his struggles from last season, so any team acquiring Ray and his 1.5 years of club control will be hoping that improvement in that area can allow him and his nasty strikeout stuff to reach his ceiling as a solid #2 to #3 starting pitcher. There’s too much urgency surrounding the Yankees to add another pitcher in the midst of a mediocre season in Ray, while the Phillies and Brewers neither have the prospect depth nor the urgency (only competing for the second wildcard), but the Astros could be an interesting fit. They’ve had success with four-seam fastball pitchers with strikeout ability, and it’s possible to see them work their usual magic with Ray, who’s cost wouldn’t be as significant as it would be for Marcus Stroman or Matthew Boyd. Still, any team trading for Ray will be trading for what he could become rather than what he currently is, and the asking price for him wouldn’t be small considering that he’s controllable and in high demand.
Yankees: 6/10-Fit, 6.5/10-Chance It Happens
Phillies: 6.5/10-Fit, 5/10-Chance It Happens
Brewers: 6.5/10-Fit, 7/10-Chance It Happens
Astros: 8/10-Fit, 7/10-Chance It Happens
Diamondbacks: 8.5/10-Expendable, 6.5/10-Chance They Trade Ray
Prediction: Ray Stays With Arizona
Cardinals Open To Trading Carlos Martinez, Tyler O’Neil, Lane Thomas
According to Rosenthal, the Cardinals are giving other teams the sense that they’re open to trading some major league pieces; pitcher Carlos Martinez and outfielders Tyler O’Neil and Lane Thomas. Martinez, 27, would bring back a massive haul in return. After moving to the bullpen this season, he’s posted a 2.87 FIP in 20.2 innings this season, while he had a 3.53 FIP in 118.2 innings as a starter in 2018. Before that, he had posted three straight seasons as a starter with a FIP of 3.91 or lower. Injuries have been a problem for him, but his success as a starter and a reliever only adds to his value. He’s controlled with an $11.5 million annual salary through 2021 and has club options of $17 million and $18 million for the following two seasons, but those are all very affordable rates for a pitcher of his caliber. Honestly, I don’t know why St.Louis is entertaining the idea of trading him at all. As for O’Neil, the 24-year-old has been an above-average hitter in terms of wrc+ in limited sample sizes in the last two seasons, but he has major plate discipline issues and has relied on unreasonable BABIPs to succeed; he certainly is expendable. The same goes for Thomas, 23, who projects to be slightly below average to average offensively, but should be a decent defender, though his value shouldn’t be too high. Both young outfielders could be in a package for a starting pitcher like Trevor Bauer, which makes sense, but as for Martinez, there’s no reason for the team to move him.
Martinez: 1/10-Expendable, 3.5/10-Chance He’s Traded
O’Neil: 8.5/10-Expendable, 9/10-Chance He’s Traded
Thomas: 9.5/10-Expendable, 8/10-Chance He’s Traded
Prediction: Martinez Stays Put, But O’Neil and Thomas Are Traded For a Starting Pitcher
Rays Interested In Mets SP Zack Wheeler
Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler recently went on the injured list but shoulder fatigues, which is concerning for all parties considering the pending free agent is an obvious trade candidate. However, despite the injury, the Rays have been asking about Wheeler, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Wheeler, 29, seems to have underperformed with a 4.69 ERA, but his 3.66 FIP and 3.85 xFIP indicate better results. Poor defense, including from his catcher Wilson Ramos, but his strikeout rate (9.83 K/9) has improved, while none of his other peripherals, despite HR/9, has changed. He’d be perfect in Tampa Bay; the Rays are one of the best defensive teams and Mike Zunino is one of the best defensive catchers. Plus, he doesn’t need to be a workhorse for them considering their very strong bullpen, which will be helpful for him after he returns from injury. This is honestly a perfect fit, though the Rays do have the prospects to aim for a controllable pitcher if they want to.
Rays: 9.5/10-Fit, 8/10-Chance They Acquire Wheeler
Mets: 10/10-Expendable, 9.2/10-Chance They Trade Wheeler
Prediction: Rays Acquire Wheeler For RHP Joe Ryan and LHP Anthony Banda
Brewers, Giants Discussing Will Smith Trade
Despite the Giants’ hot streak, their postseason hopes are still slim, meaning they’re almost certain to cash in on their trade chips. Their main one is reliever Will Smith, who has been dominant this season with a 2.12 FIP and 6 K-BB ratio. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the team has been discussing a trade that would send to 30-year-old to the Milwaukee Brewers, per Robert Murray of The Atheltic. The Brewers bullpen has been fine this season, but it’s showing cracks, while Josh Hader has already pitched 45 innings this season and is limited in the closer’s role. Smith would be a great fit, as he would allow Hader to move back into the role he thrived in last year, but there are some potential roadblocks. Currently, Milwaukee has a negative run differential, while their 48-47 record puts them 0.5 games out of the second wildcard and 3 games out of the division. A wildcard spot is definitely in play, but that’s not exactly worth going all-in for a rental, especially since Smith wouldn’t fill their biggest need: the need for a front-line starting pitcher. Middle infield prospect Mauricio Duban is a player the Giants have interest in, which I don’t exactly love for San Francisco; he’s already 24-years-old and has a very limited upside. Honestly, I don’t see a match that would benefit either team.
Brewers/Smith: 7.5/10-Fit, 6.5/10-Chance They Acquire Smith
Giants/Dubon: 7/10-Fit, 9.5/10-Chance They Trade Smith
Prediction: Smith is Traded To The Braves, Brewers Stand Pat
Phillies, Nationals Interested In Orioles RP Mychal Givens
Though he has a 4.50 ERA and a 4.68 FIP, I’m all-in with Mychal Givens being a premium trade-chip. After all, his 24.2% HR-FB rate is unsustainable, his 12.75 K/9 is elite and a career-high, and his 3.27 SIERA is very strong. Furthermore, his 2.95 road FIP compared to his 5.97 FIP at home is no coincidence; he’d benefit tremendously in a change of scenery. Teams are also buying him as a impact trade target; the Phillies and Nationals are interested in the 29-year-old, who is “definitely available”, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. This makes sense for both teams, as they’re in desperate need of bullpen help and would benefit from Givens’ 2.5 years of club control. Obviously, a deal with the Nationals will be hard to hammer out due to a dispute over MASN television rights and fees, which could put Philadelphia in the driver’s seat, though it’s unlikely Orioles general manager Mike Elias would refuse a quality offer from Washington, or any team, for that matter. It’s strange to trade Givens when his value is down, but interest in him is there, and if a suitable offer is on the table, he can make a trade that will benefit all parties.
Phillies: 9.5/10-Fit, 8.3/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Nationals: 9.5/10-Fit, 7.6/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Orioles: 8/10-Expendable, 8.7/10-Chance They Trade Him
Prediction: Phillies Acquire Givens For OF Jhailyn Ortiz and RHP Francisco Morales
Nationals Considering Royals RP Jake Diekman
With the league’s second-worst bullpen ERA, it’s without question that the Nationals need to upgrade their bullpen to help their playoff push; they’re 2.5 games ahead of the Cardinals and Phillies for the 1st wildcard spot. According to Rosenthal, Royals reliever Jake Diekman is among the reliever that they’re considering trading for. The 32-year-old has had another typical season for him; he has a 3.74 FIP and 3.82 SIERA. Furthermore, he’s continued to be tremendous striking batters out (13.03 K/9), but per usual, his command has been poor (5.45 BB/9). Still, his hard contact rate allowed is down significantly, and he’s been even better against righties than lefties this season; he has a 15.23 K/9 against opposite-side hitters. Washington relievers have somewhat struggled to throw strikes this season, making Diekman not an ideal fit, but they need multiple relievers, and he’d definitely be a solid, and cheap addition.
Nationals: 8/10-Fit, 8.5/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Royals: 10/10-Expendable, 10/10-Chance They Trade Him
Prediction: Nationals Acquire Diekman For OF Justin Connell, PTBNL
Royals In Complete Sell Mode; 2B/OF Whit Merrifield Likely To Stay With Team
Even after trading starting pitcher Homer Bailey to the A’s and catcher Martin Maldonado, the Royals aren’t close to being done. They’re in complete “sell mode”, according to Mark Feinsend of MLB.Com, and are looking to trade Diekman, outfielder Billy Hamilton, first baseman Lucas Duda, and reliever Ian Kennedy. Furthermore, outfielder Jorge Soler would be available at the right price, but the team “would have to be blown away” to trade All-Star Whit Merrifield. It’s highly unlikely a team pursues Hamilton (49 wrc+, 0.3 WAR) or Duda (33 wrc+, -1 WAR), but as we’ve discussed, Diekman should be easy to move. As for Kennedy, the 34-year-old’s salary- he’s owed $16.5 million next year- makes a deal complicated, but if they are okay with eating a large portion of his salary, there should be a large market for a reliever with a 2.26 FIP, 10.29 K/9 and a 5.11 K-BB ratio. The 27-year-old Soler (115 wrc+) brings major power potential (.271 ISO) and comes with multiple years of club control, but the demand for him will be limited considering his poor defense (-9 drs). Merrifield, who’s on a very cheap contract through 2023, would theoretically be easy to move with above-average offensive production (122 wrc+) and the ability to play multiple positions effectively, but the team’s reluctance to trade him has compromised trade talks, and likely will again. Then again, they could justify trading him in the offseason since more teams will probably be looking to add reinforcements to their lineup. So, though the Royals seem to be on the brink of a teardown, expect only Diekman and Kennedy to be traded.
Diekman: 10/10-Expendable, 10/10- Chance They Trade Him
Hamilton: 10/10-Expendable, 3/10-Chance They Trade Him
Duda: 10/10-Expendable, 0.1/10-Chance They Trade Him
Kennedy: 10/10-Expendable, 9/10-Chance They Trade Him
Soler: 8.7/10-Expendable, 2.9/10-Chance They Trade Him
Merrifield: 8.9/10-Expendable, 3/10-Chance They Trade Him
Prediction: Royals Trade Diekman To Nationals and Kennedy To Cardinals, Hamilton and Duda Don’t Draw Interest, They Come Close To Trading Soler But Don’t, and They Remain Too Loyal To Merrifield
No Yankees Prospects Are Untouchable
The Yankees are on the hunt to add starting pitching, and general manager Brian Cashman has had no fears making those intentions public. It appears that they’re ready to go all-in to do; there are no untouchable players in their farm system, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Obviously, the team won’t trade futures game participant Deivi Garcia, given his ascension to becoming the team’s best pitching prospect, for a rental, and that likely is same for top position player prospect Estevan Florial, though the 21-year-old could be moved “in the right deal”. The team seems to be searching for a controllable starter, with Noah Syndergaard, Ray, Marcus Stroman, and Trevor Bauer among the players they’re interested in. I don’t love the fit with Ray, and honestly, I’m not sure there is any controllable starter worth trading Garcia or Florial for, outside of Matthew Boyd, who doesn’t really fit with New York. It’d be better for the team to pursue a rental starting pitcher and hold on to their top prospects.
Garcia: 3/10-Expendable, 5/10-Chance They Trade Him
Florial: 6.5/10-Expendable, 6.5/10-Chance They Trade Him
Prediction: Yankees Don’t Trade Either Florial or Garcia, But Acquire Stroman
Rays Looking To Make Big Trade
With an incredibly stacked farm system, the Rays honestly have the ability to add any superstar, if their low budget allows for it. As the team looks to have the first wildcard spot in their hand, it’s not a surprise to hear that other teams are under the impression the Rays will make “an impact trade before the deadline”, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Tampa Bay has multiple needs; they need to add bullpen arms to compensate for the injury of Jose Alvarado, could use an extra starting pitcher like Wheeler, and also should be on the lookout for infield depth. Ken Giles was a fit he got injured and remains the best fit for them, but if the team felt inclined to, Will Smith could help them tremendously in the playoffs, while Wheeler remains a must add; still, a controllable reliever would be excellent, and if Giles is back from the injured list before the trade deadline, he should remain the priority for the team.
Grade: 8/10-Fit For Rental, 9.5/10 Fit For Controllable Player, 9.5/10-Chance They Make a “Big Trade”
Reds Likely To Be Buyers
At 43-48, the Reds are in last place in the NL Central, despite their +36 run differential. In appears that the front office has faith that their run differential ultimately means that their luck will change; president of baseball operations Dick Williams said that they’ll be looking to add pieces at the trade deadline. With a strong starting rotation and bullpen, upgrading a mediocre offense would seem to be a priority. To that end, Morosi has reported that the team is looking for a controllable bat. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, there aren’t many on the market, outside of Merrifield, that would be an improvement over what they already have. Plus, if they remain in last place at the trade deadline, it may be hard to refuse to listen to offers for rentals Tanner Roark and Yasiel Puig; in fact, they could sell their rentals and still look to add controllable pieces, which probably is the logical decision for the club.
Grade: 6.8/10-Logic Behind Buying, 4.5/10-Chance They Add Pieces At The Deadline
Rays, Braves, Dodgers Among Teams Interested in Tigers SP Matthew Boyd
The most valuable asset of this trade deadline may be Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd. The 28-year-old comes with 3.5 years of club control, and is having a breakout season with a 3.47 FIP and a 6.33 K-BB ratio. Therefore, it comes with no shock that several teams are interested in him. Among them are the Dodgers, Rays, and Braves, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, which adds to a derby that already included the Padres, Cubs, Astros, and a Red Sox. There’s definitely a lot of reason to buy Boyd’s breakout with an improved strikeout rate and walk rate, as well as a better ground ball rate. Yet, with the Dodgers set in the rotation, and the Cubs and Red Sox without strong farm systems, all three of the likely won’t land Boyd. The Rays, Braves, and Padres could justify going after him with their wealth of prospects, but San Diego isn’t ready to contend, Tampa Bay doesn’t have to need for a starting pitcher to go all-in on him, and the Braves still have a lot of long-term options in the rotation. That leaves one logical team in the Astros, who could center a deal around top position player prospect Kyle Tucker, yet their reluctance to move the power left-handed slugging prospect will likely hold true in talks for Boyd. In the end, despite the heavy interest in him, Boyd is likely to remain a Tiger, at least for the rest of the season.
Dodgers: 6.5/10-Fit, 3.2/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Rays: 7.3/10-Fit, 4.5/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Braves: 7.3/10-Fit, 5.1/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Cubs: 1/10-Fit, 2/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Red Sox: 3/10-Fit, 0/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Astros: 8/10-Fit, 5.8/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Padres: 6.8/10-Fit, 4/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Tigers: 9.3/10-Expendable, 5/10-Chance They Trade Him
Prediction: Tigers Come Close To Trading Boyd To Astros or Braves, But Ultimately Keep Him
Marlins Relievers Drawing Interest
The Marlins may be nearly unwatchable with a 34-57 and with little talent, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some trade-chips. According to MLB.Com’s Joe Frisaro, several scouts were on hand to look at some of Miami’s relievers, with Austin Brice, Jarlin Garcia, and Nick Anderson the most likely to be moved. Brice, 27, has been solid with a 3.73 FIP, though his current 1.88 ERA is being boosted by a way too low .233 BABIP. He does come with 3.5 years of club control though, so maybe there will be some interest in him. Garcia, 26, is a sneaky trade-chip with a 3.03 FIP, but his low K rate (6.91) and suppressed 3.6% HR-FB rate, though he has 3.5 years of team control and is a lefty reliever, so perhaps a team in need of cost-controlled relievers capable of pitching multiple innings could come calling. The most likely reliever to be moved is the 29-year-old Anderson, who has a 3.00 FIP and a 13.85 K/9 and also comes with 5.5 years of team control. He’d easily have the most value and comes with the least red flags, so Miami should try hard to trade him, and there’s definitely a decent chance they will.
Brice: 8.9/10-Expendable, 4.8/10-Chance They Trade Him
Garcia: 8.4/10-Expendable, 5.4/10-Chance They Trade Him
Anderson: 9.9/10-Expendable, 6.6/10-Chance They Trade Him
Prediction: All Three Stay Put, But Miami Comes Close To Trading Anderson
Heavy Interest In Mets SP Noah Syndergaard; Team Will Only Move Him For Overwhelming Offer
With the Mets struggling heavily – they have the NL’s second-worst record – it’s a given they’ll look to trade their rentals, including Wheeler, third baseman Todd Frazier, and starting pitcher Jason Vargas. However, could the team consider the nuclear option, and trade a controllable piece in Noah Syndergaard? The team has discussed a trade centered around the 26-year-old with at least six teams, according to Tim Healy of Newsday, including the Brewers, Padres, and Astros. Syndergaard hasn’t been the same this season with a 3.81 FIP and a 4.14 SIERA, as his strikeout rate (8.79 K/9), home run rate (1.12 HR/9), and chase rate (31.8%) have all declined. However, he comes with 2.5 years of club control, and has a career 2.87 FIP; he’d previously been a front-line starting pitcher. The Astros make the most sense given their need for a controllable starting pitcher, and if they get him to use his four-seam fastball more and two-seam fastball less, like they did with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, their rotation could remain extremely strong now and in the future. The Brewers have the need for a front-line starter, but they don’t have the resources to acquire him, and the Padres don’t have the immediate urgency and reportingly hesitant to go all-in for a starting pitcher.
Astros: 9.7/10-Fit, 6.5/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Brewers: 8.5/10-Fit, 2/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Padres: 6.8/10-Fit, 5.5/10-Chance They Acquire Him
Mets: 8.6/10- Expendable, 4/10-Chance They Trade Him
Prediction: Mets Hold Onto Syndergaard And Trade Him In Offseason To Astros