Predicting the 2019 Trade Deadline by Craig Edwards July 24, 2019 With just a week to go before the trade deadline, it still isn’t entirely clear which teams will endeavor to make additions for a pennant run, and which teams will cash in their 2019 chips to play for another year. In the American League, nine of 15 teams have at least an outside shot at the postseason, with seven clubs having a legitimate chance. The National League is even more competitive, with every team but the Marlins possessing some chance at the playoffs, and eight clubs having a reasonable path to the postseason. Below, we’ll go through the trade scenarios for the teams considering moves. Keep in mind, much of these proposed swaps are simply a framework for how a deal might look. Also important to keep in mind? Most of these predictions will be completely incorrect! Please consume the deals below responsibly, and use this as a preview of what teams need, want, and might do over the next week. Unless any of the predicted deals happen; in that case, I expect to receive full credit. First, some things that won’t happen: Star Pitchers Are Staying Put The Tigers aren’t likely to get the kind of offer they want for Matthew Boyd, who has given up 15 homers in his last eight starts. The Mets aren’t going to get the young stars they want for Noah Syndergaard. Cleveland seems less likely to deal Trevor Bauer now that they are back in the race. Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray probably aren’t going anywhere. Even Caleb Smith of the Marlins, or Brad Keller and Jake Junis of the Royals, seem destined to stay put. The big question remaining is San Francisco, which brings us to a few things that will (maybe) happen: San Francisco Giants Everyone wants to know whether the Giants will deal Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, and Sam Dyson or will take their slim playoff hopes through the rest of the season. The guess here is that they make two big moves. First, they make a trade with the… Minnesota Twins The division title that once seemed inevitable is looking a little precarious as Cleveland has closed the gap in the Central considerably. With a tight Wild Card race looming if the Twins were to cede control of the division, we’ll see Minnesota make a big move to try and stave off the competition. The Giants won’t send Madison Bumgarner alone, and will also provide Minnesota with another reliever in Sam Dyson. Minnesota will be loath to part with Alex Kirilloff, and instead will send their third and fourth-ranked prospects in Brusdar Graterol and Trevor Larnach. As for Will Smith, the Giants will then make a deal with their rival… Los Angeles Dodgers The Dodgers don’t need much, but they could use some help in the bullpen. Will Smith fits a need perfectly, though the teams don’t match up perfectly, prospect-wise as the Giants don’t really need a catcher. The Dodgers have a lot of depth and Farhan Zaidi knows the system. Expect Smith to move without a headliner in return, but with two or three intriguing prospects. The Dodgers probably won’t stop there and will likely grab another reliever to bolster the pen for the playoffs. The Dodgers have the best record in the National League and will still make a decent-sized move, the team with the best record in the American League will go even bigger… New York Yankees The Yankees have a reasonable case to be conservative at the deadline given their huge division lead, but that means they can start making moves for the playoffs and 2020. For the most part, that means getting their rotation fixed. The team’s presumptive two best starters, Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton, have struggled lately and Domingo German has already pitched more innings than he did a season ago. With Luis Severino’s status in doubt, the Yankees could approach their division foes the Toronto Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman. Oft-rumored trade piece Cint Frazier isn’t enough to get Stroman so the clubs get creative with the Blue Jays including Ken Giles and the Yankees parting with the injured Miguel Andujar. As for the second-place team in the East… Tampa Bay Rays With the division moving out of reach, the Rays are in a tough fight for the Wild Card. A 40-man roster crunch, which will require some consolidation at the end of the season, also looms. The Rays might not score a big name, but they should land multiple players as the deadline approaches. The Orioles’ Mychal Givens is one player who might be of interest. Roenis Elias and Domingo Santana from Seattle could fit the bill as well. Among the prospects outside of their very best, Ronaldo Hernandez, Lucius Fox, Moises Gomez, Matt Krook, and Curtis Taylor are all eligible for the Rule 5 draft and could find themselves on the move. Continuing this look at the AL… Cleveland Indians Now that Cleveland has put themselves firmly in the playoff mix, they sort of have to do something, but that “something” is unlikely to be very exciting. If the team gets Corey Kluber back, their rotation should be strong up front with Trevor Bauer, Shane Bieber, and Mike Clevinger. The bullpen is in decent shape, but we could see a smaller move there. The team still desperately needs help in the outfield. Bringing in Yasiel Puig from the Reds would add a lot of excitement and while it is a possibility, it seems more likely they end up with Corey Dickerson. Speaking of teams in need of outfield help… Chicago Cubs The Cubs are still in first place and they’ve gotten great performances from their stars, but the same cannot be said of the supporting cast. They don’t need rotation help, and they already added Craig Kimbrel, but Kyle Schwarber can’t seem to hit lefties and Albert Almora can’t seem to hit at all. Chicago and Detroit have traded before and though pushing Jason Heyward to center on most days isn’t the best scenario, Nick Castellanos probably provides the biggest upgrade. Eric Sogard from the Blue Jays makes a lot of sense for the infield, and he might fit the Cubs’ price range. Toronto is like to be one big seller, but they aren’t there only one… Seattle Mariners Most of this space has been devoted to contenders, but Seattle has a lot of players it can move. Domingo Santana and Roenis Elias have already been mentioned. Mike Leake nearly threw a perfect game, and has another year on his contract. With the Brewers losing Brandon Woodruff, taking on Leake’s salary could provide the rotation a lift without giving up much in the way of prospects. Marco Gonzales has been solid, if inconsistent, and the Atlanta Braves might have some young pitching Seattle could use. Offers for Tim Beckham won’t likely be too enticing, though that hasn’t stopped Jerry Dipoto from making a move anyway. Maybe the Red Sox will swoop in with something to Seattle’s liking. In the same division… Houston Astros The Astros could use a starter, and that starter doesn’t need to take on a lot of innings in the regular season. He should be an upside play who can potentially slot in behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in the playoffs but ahead of Wade Miley. A trade with the Mets for Zach Wheeler makes a ton of sense. The Astros have a bunch of pitchers outside the top-50 overall who rate as at least 45 FV prospects and should be ready to pitch next season in the majors. Assuming the Mets are still trying to compete next season, there should be a match here. As for the other team in Texas… Texas Rangers The Rangers got off to a surprisingly good start this season, but have fallen pretty far off pace of late, and could capitalize on the lack of sellers at the deadline. Texas has a ton of smaller pieces to deal including Hunter Pence, Logan Forsythe, and Asdrubal Cabrera, though the returns won’t be great. The big prize is Mike Minor, who has another year left on his deal. Even if Texas plans to compete next season, the club could get younger, cheaper major league-ready players for Minor and hit free agency in the winter for his replacement. The Braves make a lot of sense for Minor, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cardinals dealt either Harrison Bader or Tyler O’Neill and some majors-adjacent pitching to land the Rangers’ lefty. As for St. Louis… St. Louis Cardinals The Cardinals are still in the race, but after trading for Paul Goldschmidt in the winter and declaring 2019 different from recent playoff misses, the standings don’t show much change from the last three years. John Mozeliak loves to acquire lefty relievers, and while Minor is a former lefty reliever, expect another addition there, perhaps Tony Watson. The team needs its offense to produce as-is, without outside help. Trading an outfielder (or two if an AL club is interested in Jose Martinez) would make sense as Marcell Ozuna comes back and the team is still looking for room to give Randy Arozarena a shot. The Cardinals have prospects in Nolan Gorman and Dylan Carlson to be the centerpiece in a bigger deal, but the team seems unlikely to part with either one (for good reason). As for another team unlikely to part with prospects… Arizona Diamondbacks In Arizona, the team has a shot at the playoffs, but GM Mike Hazen doesn’t seem inclined to add to the roster. He has some desirable pitching in Robbie Ray and Zach Greinke, but selling isn’t really required, either. Arizona’s top prospects are a few years away with riskier profiles so the team is likely to wait out those players to see if they can produce a star. Adam Jones and Jarrod Dyson might fetch small returns, but staying competitive the rest of this season and trying to make another run next year with an improved farm system looks like the most likely route. A team that might want to give up prospects… San Diego Padres The Padres have been searching for starting pitching since last winter, but haven’t been able to land the rotation piece they desire. The wait continues, as the price tag for the available starters right now factors in a playoff run in 2019, and that’s not a value for the fading Padres. The team likely keeps its outfielders until the offseason when it pursues a starter. The question for San Diego is what to do with Kirby Yates. The ace closer is having a great season and won’t be eligible for free agency until after next year. The Friars don’t have to trade him, but his value will likely never be higher. The team that needs him the most might also be the team willing to part with the best players… Washington Nationals The Nationals were having a rough go of it earlier this year, as multiple injuries took their toll. Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg helped fuel a healthy run to put the club in playoff position, but the team still needs help once the starters exit the game. Yates is the best available reliever, but to get him the Nationals will have to do two things. First, they’ll need to give up a decent prospect in Luis Garcia. Second, they’ll need to take on $40 million of the $60 million salary Wil Myers is owed in the three years that follow this season. Myers’ backloaded contract means the salary tax hit will end up around $7 million per year, which is palatable for the Nationals, and they’d get a first baseman to replace the currently hurt Ryan Zimmerman, whose contract runs out at the end of the season. A team unlikely to take on a big contract… Oakland A’s They are doing it again in Oakland. The team is playing well, but they could probably use another starting pitcher and an outfielder. There is a team out there potentially willing to move both… Cincinnati Reds Tanner Roark and Yasiel Puig were brought in to help make the Reds competitive, and they’ve succeeded; the Reds have a positive run differential. It hasn’t been enough, though, and Cincinnati needs to start looking to next season. Roark and Puig are free agents along with Jose Iglesias and Scooter Gennett. The team’s shortstop and second base pair aren’t likely to garner much given the former’s weak hitting and the latter’s injury-filled 2019, but they can be moved for something. As for Roark and Puig, maybe Oakland would part with former prospect Franklin Barreto, as well as Triple-A infielder Jorge Mateo and a lottery ticket pitcher for a couple of pending free agents. If Roark doesn’t go to Oakland… Los Angeles Angels The Trout-led Angels aren’t out of it, but they aren’t going to be really in it if they don’t get better starting pitching. Putting the tragic loss of Tyler Skaggs in baseball terms is unfeeling and gross. The Angels tried to fix their starting pitching in the winter by signing Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey to one-year deals. It didn’t work. The team isn’t likely to move too many prospects next week, but Ivan Nova of the White Sox might make some sense. Taking on Todd Frazier with Tommy La Stella out might help a little, as well. The Angels are kind of stuck. Another team without much to do… Colorado Rockies Colorado has nearly fallen out of the race, but they don’t have a lot of pieces to move. Scott Oberg or Carlos Estevez might make decent pen additions for some teams. If the team is still down on Jon Gray, he could land a decent return. Otherwise, most everybody else is coming back for next year as the team tries to sneak in another run with the core of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and the group of young starters who helped them to the playoffs a year ago. Continuing on this theme… Philadelphia Phillies The Phillies were a year ahead of schedule last season and faded down the stretch. The club went out and got a whole lot better in the offseason, but Andrew McCutchen went down with an injury, Odubel Herrera was suspended under the league’s domestic violence policy, and David Robertson hasn’t been healthy. With Aaron Nola taking a small step backwards and Jake Arrieta taking a big one, the Phillies are still in the race, but they need pitching help. Drew Smyly might help a little, but the high-priced relievers likely aren’t fits. Expect multiple relievers — maybe Alex Colome — to go with a Jake Diekman return in column B to help Philadelphia as it fights for a Wild Card spot. In slightly better position than the Phillies… Milwaukee Brewers A division title is still a possibility for the Brewers, but Brandon Woodruff’s injury creates some urgency for the rotation. Mike Leake is mentioned further up, though the Brewers might not stop there. Another reliever, maybe Shane Greene, is an inevitability, but another cheap starter, like Jason Vargas, makes some sense as well. As for Vargas’ current team… New York Mets With Wheeler gone to the Astros and Vargas to the Brewers in this post, the big question is Syndergaard. I don’t think he’s going anywhere, at least until winter, but the Mets have a few other players who might help contenders. Todd Frazier heads to Anaheim. Maybe somebody wants Justin Wilson, who has pitched better of late. Everybody else is either too valuable or not valuable at all. One team looking for value… Atlanta Braves The Braves have four healthy starters with Max Fried out with a finger injury and Mike Foltynewicz still working on his home run issues in the minors. The team might be looking to make a big move for a starter, but Marco Gonzales seems the more prudent, Atlanta-like choice. Expect a reliever to head to Atlanta as well, maybe Ian Kennedy with some of that payroll flexibility. The club will likely hold on to its top prospects. Notes Twenty-two teams received individual paragraphs above, with every other team mentioned at some point. Other position players on those teams who are likely to move include Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, Josh Harrison, and Justin Smoak, with Baltimore’s Trey Mancini and any White Sox position players less likely to change clubs. Other than the veteran outfielders, the Pirates probably stand pat. The Red Sox might add a reliever, but not much else. Whit Merrifield is very likely staying put given the Royals’ reported asking price. The Marlins could move Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Starlin Castro, and Martin Prado somewhere for little to no return. Nearly every contending team will add a reliever at the deadline; apologies to all the relievers not mentioned.