Today is July 9, meaning that the MLB trade deadline is 23 days away. In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be fun to attack some rather early predictions. A few things to remember, this is just a prediction- as we all know, baseball can be crazy.
Second, what I write is not indicative of what your team is going to do. I might have them buying, selling, standing pat or what have you. Finally, this list is not trades that I want to happen, it’s what I think could happen. So without further ado, lets dive into this.
Bonafide Active Buyers (6): LA Dodgers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals
Bonafide Moderate Buyers (8): Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers
Stand Pat (3): Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles
Bonafide Moderate Sellers (5): Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, LA Angels, Toronto Blue Jays
Bonafide Active Sellers (6): San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland A’s, Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox
A little bit of both (1): Seattle
No idea where their head is (1): Pittsburgh
Washington Nationals acquire RHP David Robertson from Chicago White Sox in exchange for C Raudy Ready and LHP Tyler Watson
- One of the most obvious facts about this trade deadline is that Washington is in need of a dependable closer. With the Royals announcing their intention to fortify the rotation, it doesn’t seem inherently likely that Kelvin Herrera is possible.
- Robertson is a good fit because the Nationals can take on his contract to ease the prospect package, he’s under team control for next season giving them continued stability at the position until Koda Glover is ready to take over, and for the time being, Robertson can help mentor the young Glover.
- The White Sox, meanwhile get out from under that contract and get a pair of decent prospects back. Ready is behind Severino and Reetz on the organizational depth chart, making him more expendable, and Watson seems like a rising stock prospect who hasn’t been noticed just yet. He could be a solid No. 4 in a year or so.
New York Yankees acquire 1B Tommy Joseph from Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for LHP Dietrich Enns
- The Yankees had two options: Give up a few strong prospects for two months of Yonder Alonso, or give up a player that they don’t have a ton of space for in exchange for a formidable offensive first baseman who can act as a stopgap until Bird or Austin are ready to take over full time.
- While I can feel the collective groan from the Bronx, Joseph has played in 187 games at the major league level. In those games, he has hit 36 home runs. Say he is the Yankees’ everyday first baseman in 2018, assuming he played everyday, it would be reasonable to expect a .250/.310/.460 line with 30 home runs and 90 RBIs. The reason he would be expendable is that the Phillies have Rhys Hoskins in Triple-A with a .289/.385/.576 line with a crazy 20 home runs in 88 games.
- Enns seems likely to be a solid No. 5 starter, and could be a nice and stable option for the Phillies rotation.
Houston Astros acquire RHP Sonny Gray and 1B Yonder Alonso from Oakland A's in exchange for RHP Franklin Perez and OF’s Gilberto Celestino, Ramon Laureano and Teoscar Hernandez.
- Houston is looking for an ace. The big three on the market are Cole, Quintana and Gray. Unfortunately, Houston will not budge on Tucker, Martes or Whitley which would almost definitely take them out of the running for the first two. Gray has a pedestrian 4.00 ERA, but his peripherals suggest that is stands to improve.
- Oakland have marketed Gray for years. Unfortunately, injuries and poor performance have caused his value to fluctuate. The A’s should see this deal and realize that this is the best offer they are going to get and they should take it before something happens to bring his value back down.
- Houston also has Nori Aoki in the outfield playing every day. Moving Gurriel to the outfield and adding Alonso to the line-up would give them a major advantage in the playoffs.
- After the season when Alonso is gone, they have Derek Fisher who they can call up to play every day in the outfield, move Gurriel back to first and still have Sonny Gray.
- Meanwhile, Oakland adds a very strong bundle of prospects including Perez who has the makings of a 22-year-old No. 3, two major league ready outfielders who are on-base fiends with solid tools, and a rookie leaguer who also specializes in getting on base in exchange for a volatile starter and an impending free agent who seems likely to depart soon. With Chapman, Olson, Nunez and Healy (and further down the pipeline, Sandber Pimental), there is no reason to even entertain the idea of extending Alonso.
- It also helps that the outfield is Oakland’s weakest position from a prospect standpoint.
Kansas City Royals acquire RHP Jeremy Hellickson and cash from Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for INF Corey Toups
- The Royals have announced that they intend to fortify the rotation, however the farm system is rather weak leaving them on the outside looking in for most pieces. Luckily for them, Hellickson has fallen out of favor in Philly and it seems likely that the Phillies would eat some salary just to recoup some value.
- Philadelphia would be getting a guy who seems like he could be a strong utility infielder by next season. While he’s nothing special, he would provide a solid glove off of the bench.
Milwaukee Brewers acquire LHP Jose Quintana from Chicago White Sox in exchange for LHP Josh Hader, OF Brett Phillips, 1B Jesus Aguilar and LHP Kodi Medeiros
- The Brewers have an exceptionally deep organization. They have the pieces to get Quintana and still have enough leftover to remain in the top-10 farm systems in the league. Hader is young (23) and is major league ready. The White Sox have been stockpiling young power arms (Giolitto, Fulmer, Dunning, Lopez, Kopech) and seem likely to continue on that route, seeing as how pitching prospects have a high bust rate.
- Phillips is the other core piece. He’s been squeezed out of the picture in Milwaukee with the emergence of Domingo Santana, the presence of Ryan Braun and the acquisition of Lewis Brinson. Even without him, the Brewers still have Trent Clark, Corey Ray and Ryan Cordell in the system as safety nets.
- Aguilar has quietly been exceptionally solid this season with a 924 OPS. Unfortunately, Eric Thames has a firm hold on the first base position. Even if the batting average remains around .230, Thames walks enough and hits for enough power to remain a contributor throughout his affordable contract. Aguilar could possibly step into the line-up on an everyday basis in Chicago in due time.
- Meanwhile, the White Sox keep piling assets. This trade would comfortably place them with the top farm system in the game.
Boston Red Sox acquire 3B Todd Frazier from Chicago White Sox in exchange for LHP Darwinzon Hernandez
- Frazier has fallen off since his breakout in Cincinnati. Considering he’s a free agent at season’s end, it makes sense for the White Sox to attempt to recoup some value.
- Hernandez is a lefty starter in Class-A ball with the potential to be a solid lefty reliever with a mid-90’s fastball.
Arizona Diamondbacks acquire RHP Pat Neshek from Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for RHP Jon Duplantier and OF Gabriel Maciel
- The National League has been rather lackluster this season, however, little do many realize, Arizona is in the thick of the NL Wild card chase. Pitching is currently their biggest concern and Neshek is just the right fit. He doesn’t cost a ton (money-wise) and pitch-for-pitch, he’s the best value player available.
- The Phillies will be acquiring a second-round pick from 2016 and an 18-year-old currently tearing up the rookie leagues, but with no former prospect pedigree. Maciel is a switch hitter, and while he is far away, he has high upside. He seems like a Klentak kind of piece.
- All in all, this is a very Hazen-Klentak move.
Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RHP’s David Phelps and A.J. Ramos in exchange for RHP Jordan Sheffield and RHP Trevor Oaks.
- First of all, LA is going to shoot for Hand initially, however, they won’t want to part with any of their second tier prospects (Calhoun, Buehler, Lux). What would make it more difficult is the fact that it would be an intra-divisional trade.
- The Dodgers would then look to their favorite trading partner in recent years, the Dodgers. The Marlins and Dodgers have matched up for trades multiple times over the past five years including the Nolasco deal, the Latos deal and the Dee Gordon trade.
- The Dodgers will fortify their bullpen with two young, solid middle relief pieces.
- The Marlins will be able to acquire a player who would almost immediately be a top-5 organizational prospect, salary relief and an intriguing pitching prospect.
Colorado Rockies acquire LHP Brad Hand and RHP’s Kirby Yates and Trevor Cahill from San Diego Padres in exchange for RHP Ryan Castellani, RHP Peter Lambert, LHP Ben Bowden and RHP Antonio Santos
- Well, here’s your surprise deal. Why the Rockies? Well, Jeff Bridich likes to shock people. He has done so ever since taking the reigns of the Rockies a few years ago. Who expected the Tulowitzki trade or the Desmond signing? Sometimes, that shock value, however, comes with the burden of a massive overpay, as Bridich seems to do quite a bit.
- Just a few examples: The Mike Dunn contract, the Ian Desmond contract and the aforementioned Tulowitzki deal (yes, the got Hoffman, but Castro and Tinoco?)
- Meanwhile, A.J. Preller is the most opportunistic GM in the league. He is very good at picking up on mistakes that general managers tend to make and taking advantage of them. He has excelled in recouping talent from buy-low pick-ups since he realized the “go-for it” wouldn’t work. Pieces such as Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit and Seth Smith have all gotten Preller some solid returns, subsequently giving San Diego a top-10 system in the game.
- While the move seems likely to help fortify the Rockies pitching staff through the stretch run, they will come to regret the trade in 2-3 years time.
Tampa Bay Rays acquire RHP Addison Reed and cash from New York Mets in exchange for OF Joe McCarthy
- It has long been reported that Tampa has been on the look-out for a reliever to help patch up their bullpen. With the Mets in sell mode for the season, Reed seems like a good bet.
- I believe that this trade will be one of those 3:59 PM trades that come out minutes after the deadline officially passes. I don’t believe there will be a robust market for Outfielders. I think Alderson and co. are going to spend the whole time trying to make deals including Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson and will simply run out of negotiating time.
- That is when the quietly solid Rays’ front office will swoop in and get a formidable reliever for pennies on the dollar. McCarthy is a solid prospect, but means nothing to the Rays, as they have a logjam in the outfield. He will, however be useful to the Mets.
Seattle Mariners acquire RHP Kyle Gibson from Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHP Steve Cishek
- This is essentially just a need based trade. The Mariners are in desperate need of rotation depth and the Twins have been looking for some bullpen depth.
- The salaries just about cancel each other out, and it fits both teams’ strategies, as the Twins are in a good position to make a run at the playoffs this season, and the Mariners not totally closing the door on this season, but looking a bit more towards next season. A change of scenery could be good for Gibson, as he could act as a back end stop gap for the Mariners for next season, as Gallardo departs.
St. Louis Cardinals acquire Shortstop Zack Cozart from Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RHP Dakota Hudson, SS Aledmys Diaz and RHP Jonathan Oviedo
- The Cardinals have been linked to Josh Donaldson, but I’m not completely convinced that the Blue Jays are going to attempt to tear it down this season. They may make some minor deals, however, Mark Shapiro is a bit more on the conservative side. I simply can’t see them trading Donaldson this summer.
- The only other legitimate infielder readily available who can push the Cardinals ahead at the cost they are comfortable with is Cozart.
- The Reds’ never seem to get as much as they should for their players, ever. Chapman, Frazier and Phillips left down for next to nothing and Cueto could have possibly picked up a little more. Either way, I believe they will realize that they are running out of time to trade Cozart, and they won’t want to give him a qualifying offer with the new compensation system, therefore they will take Hudson as the main piece, Diaz to balance salary and Oviedo as a throw in.
- Hudson isn’t a bad piece by any means. He was a Day 1 pick last season and could be a fast riser.
Chicago Cubs acquire RHP Marco Estrada from Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for SS Isaac Paredes
- Estrada is an impending free agent and has been a victim of bad luck this season. Despite the fact that his ERA is 5.17, his FIP suggests that he has pitched much better (4.36). At the very least, he will provide a solid stopgap to help fortify the struggling rotation.
- I don’t see the Jays having an incredibly busy deadline. Shapiro is certainly a conservative GM, and while he’s not afraid to make moves when he has to, his best pieces (Donaldson, Stroman and Osuna) will likely fetch a stronger return in the offseason. I believe he will be patient.
St. Louis Cardinals acquire RHP Joaquin Benoit and cash from Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for RHP Chris Ellis
- This is another one of those last minute deals that get done with minutes to go before the deadline. Benoit has been mediocre this season. He will throw seven scoreless outings in a row, and then have and implosion and repeat the cycle. Either way, he is a veteran who adds some stability to an exceptionally shaky bullpen.
- Philly will be doing what they can to recoup some value from the veteran reliever, and while Chris Ellis isn’t necessarily and exciting piece, he’s a former third-round selection, who might find something with a change of scenery or a move to the bullpen. Either way, it’s a lottery ticket.
Cleveland Indians acquire C Jonathan Lucroy from Texas Rangers in exchange for LHP Shawn Morimando and 1B Nellie Rodriguez
- Well, this is a little awkward. The Rangers have been trying to trade Lucroy, however injuries at the catcher position have been down this season. Pretty much every team competing for a playoff spot is set or acceptable at catcher with the exception of Cleveland.
- It’s a rather modest return for a guy who required a package including Lewis Brinson just a year ago, however he is a year older, he now has just two months of team control remaining and he is having a down year.
- Despite that, he is a very good fit in Cleveland as a change of scenery could be very good for him.
- The Rangers get a pair of upper minor league guys, both of which with high floors and low ceilings. Morimando seems like a back-end starter and Rodriguez could be a solid platoon bat.
Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RHP Johnny Cueto from San Francisco Giants in exchange for C Will Smith and RHP Dennis Santana
- As I was scouring the list of players available, I was just messing around with some matches, and it occurred to be that Cueto may not have as strong of a market as many people think. The Dodgers, however, are in a unique position. They need starting pitching help, they can assume the salary, and if Cueto decides not to opt out, it’s not a big deal because they have the existing money to deal with it. At the very least, Cueto gives them a durable innings eater who will help their injury ravaged rotation.
- While the Giants’ it may seem like the Giants’ are getting fleeced, they are getting out from under that contract. For a team that needs to retool, freeing up that space will help them get under the luxury tax in the near future. They were also able to get a strong offensive catcher in Will Smith and a decent High-A pitcher who could be a nice middle reliever in the future.
Winners of Trade Deadline
- Houston Astros: Adding an impact bat like Alonso and a front-line pitcher like Gray without losing any top-tier guys places the Astros in the best possible position for now and for the future. The Astros are going for it this season and it’s going to take a lot to stop them.
- Oakland A’s: While they were unable to get anything for their relievers, they added to their already impressive farm system. The future is bright in Oakland.
- Chicago White Sox: Not only were they able to cement themselves atop the rankings of MLB Farm systems, they were able to get out from under the Robertson contract.
- Milwaukee Brewers: Ladies and gentlemen, the Brewers have arrived. David Stearns made the move he needed to make to make the Brewers contenders not just this season, but for years to come. The Cubs have company.
- San Diego Padres: Wow! The Padres were able to get everything done in one deal. How the prospects will turn out, we don’t know, as they are relatively far away, however, it is a very strong move.
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Friedman did what Friedman does. He used the wealth of the Dodgers to acquire pieces without surrendering the farm. The Dodgers might just be the most talented team in the National League.
- Phillies' prospect Rhys Hoskins: With Tommy Joseph, exchanging his red pinstripes for navy ones, Hoskins has been called up and will start for the Phillies at First tonight. Hoskins has absolutely annihilated minor league pitching over the past few season and the fans in Philadelphia are ready to “Trust the Prospects.”
Losers of Trade Deadline
- New York Mets: The Mets have been an absolute dumpster fire this season, and while we heard rumors upon rumors regarding Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, nothing materialized. While August trades are certainly possible, the Mets only have Joe McCarthy to show for this disaster of a season.
- Detroit Tigers: The fact that Martinez wasn’t traded is forgivable. There wasn’t much of a market for big bats this summer, and we don’t know the offers Detroit had gotten. It might be better just to accept the draft picks. However, the fact that Wilson, Kinsler and Avila are still Tigers is inexcusable. With a poor farm system, the Tigers could have used those three pieces to recoup some value to prevent a lengthy rebuild. While they could theoretically trade each player in August, the return may equate to half of what they could have gotten had they done so last month.
- Colorado Rockies: Jeff Bridich is fearless. He stunned his fan base a few years ago by trading away the franchise icon. He befuddled the baseball world when he dished out millions to Desmond and Dunn. Yesterday, however, may have taken the cake. Without a doubt, he addressed the concerns presented to him, but the cost was exorbitant. While it may not hurt now, revisit this in two years and it could be a different story.
- San Francisco Giants: Admittedly, the Giants have a difficult task in front of them. They got old fast and now they have a bunch of big contract, no real impact prospects and no real idea if they can rebound next season. While they saved money on Cueto and while Will Smith could be Posey’s heir apparent at catcher (if Posey eventually moves to first), they should have gotten more from LA. Bobby Evans has some more learning to do.
- Kansas City Royals: To my friends in Kansas City, as a Philadelphia native I feel your pain. KC is being gutted this offseason, and while they should have used the deadline to recoup value for the players on the way out, they decided to buy... Jeremy Hellickson. Good luck!
- Baltimore Orioles: If the O’s tried to buy, they wouldn't want to take on any money and had they decided to sell, they weren't planning on eating any money. Unfortunately, that tactic doesn't work very well in negotiations therefore it is unsurprising that they stood pat.