State of the Org: American League

At the beginning of June, I wrote about how reach-out call season had begun. As the calendar flips this week, those reach-out calls quickly turn into conversations concerning serious injuries and the initialization of actual trade talks. A lot can change in a month, and has, so let’s check in with each org and try to project the month ahead, beginning with the American League.

AL East

Boston Red Sox
June Effect: Up significantly. The Red Sox entered the month with roughly a 25% chance of reaching the postseason, but are now the overwhelming favorite to win the division (53.5%) with an 83.5% chance to make the playoffs, per our Playoff Odds.

Current Tenor: Buying mode.

What They Are After: Starters who can pitch in playoffs games and a more dependable bat at first base. Hunter Renfroe’s step forward creates less stress about the outfield situation.

Behavior: It’s hard to measure other than by using Chaim Bloom’s history in Tampa. He’ll likely aim high in terms of asks/offers, but a heavy lean on analytics can create evaluation mis-matches that allow a deal to get done.

Tampa Bay Rays
June Effect: Down. The Rays began June as a two-thirds favorite to win the division, but are now at just 19.2%, with a 56.5% chance of reaching the postseason.

Current Tenor: Opportunistic buying.

What They Are After: Offensive upgrades in the outfield, and perhaps a righty power bat for DH/1B duty against lefties.

Behavior: The Rays are always budget constrained, so they tend to play in the margins as they can’t afford to add much in the way of payroll. Their asks/offers tend to start off exceptionally high/low, at times to the point of not being constructive in terms of generating traction on a potential deal.

Toronto Blue Jays
June Effect: Steady. The chances of the Blue Jays getting to the postseason have continued to linger in the 40% range and their odds of winning the division have held steady over the last month.

Current Tenor: Early buying, especially in terms of bullpen help. They should continue to see George Springer as their biggest second-half addition.

What They Are After: More bullpen help, even after acquiring Adam Cimber on Tuesday. One could easily argue that even an average relief corp would have the Blue Jays as a strong favorite to reach the postseason.

Behavior: Aggressive. The Jays know how to get deals done. They identify players as acquisition targets, then go after them while remaining responsive and rational.

New York Yankees
June Effect: Down. The Yankees have gone from a two-thirds shot at reaching the postseason to less than a 50/50 shot after their recent slide.

Current Tenor: Holding. The Yankees have some owner-defined payroll restrictions and also some roster locks. The offense might be struggling, but at this point, they are kind of stuck riding out the season with the lineup that brought them here, for better or for worse. It’s hard to see them getting aggressive in the market unless they get hot between now and the break.

What They Are After: Starting pitching. Gerrit Cole is an obvious Game One starter, but where it goes from there is anybody’s guess. It’s either buy or stand pat, as the Yankees don’t sell unless it’s absolutely necessary, which will not be the case this season.

Behavior: The Yankees tend to work slowly and deliberately in terms of deal making. They are never rushed, and tend to line up and assess multiple potential trades as opposed to zeroing in on individual players.

Baltimore Orioles
June Effect: Steady. The only October baseball Baltimore will see is their final three games of the regular season at Toronto.

Current Tenor: Selling. Freddy Galvis’ injury probably costs the Orioles a decent prospect as he was looking like a strong middle infield target for several potential playoff clubs. Trey Mancini remains of the the best potential bats available, and the extra year of control should lead to a return the Orioles really like. They’re not going to just give him away.

What They Are After: Prospects, prospects and more prospects. Don’t be surprised to see the club look to sweeten a deal by acquiring more international money. This is still a rebuild, but they have to start showing some progress, and will likely target some young players closer to the big leagues.

Behavior: Coming from the Houston school, Elias and company will listen on anyone, and be willing to talk about any player who doesn’t have a chance to be in Baltimore if and when the team becomes more of a contender.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox
June Effect: Down slightly. The White Sox have scuffled a bit in June, but nobody in the division has really been a position to take advantage of it, and they remain the overwhelming favorites to win the Central.

Current Tenor: Buying. The White Sox might like their chances to win the division, but they need to focus on building a roster that will be more dangerous in the playoffs.

What They Are After: The much rumored acquisition of Eduardo Escobar is a perfect fit, but they are frequently rolling out a Triple-A worthy outfield and that should be their focus. Like most clubs in buying mode, the club will also look to address their bullpen depth.

Behavior: The White Sox are good to deal with. They are honest, direct and, while not to such an extent as to get in the way of completing a deal, tough negotiators.

June Effect: Up slightly. Cleveland continues to lurk in second place, seeing their chances of a playoff berth going from roughly 1-in-8 to 1-in-4.

Current Tenor: Light Buying. Cleveland is in a constant state of budget constraint, so don’t expect anything flashy on the shores of Lake Erie.

What They Are After: The team is hoping that a return to health for their rotation pieces will keep them in the race. It shouldn’t be hard to find smaller upgrades to the offensive black holes that are their outfield and right side of the infield.

Behavior: Cleveland can be a tough trade partner. They start high in terms of asks and tend to stand their ground and stay there. They have no qualms with walking away from a potential deal if it isn’t perfect for them.

Minnesota Twins
June Effect: Down slightly. The Twins have played better in recent weeks, but their biggest enemy are all the losses they racked up in the first two months of the season. It’s a case of too little too late, and they remain an extreme long shot to reach the playoffs.

Current Tenor: Starting a selling process, but only on players with expiring contracts.

What They Are After: The Twins likely see this as just a year gone bad as opposed to the start of any kind of a tear down, and rightly so. There is no need to listen on players under club control after 2021 unless somebody wants to get crazy. For now, just build some prospect depth and re-tool to take another shot at it in 2022.

Behavior: Unknown, as this is the first sell-off for Minnesota under Derek Falvey. As buyers, they have been disciplined but easy to deal with.

Detroit Tigers
June Effect: Steady. Steady from zero is still zero, but at least the team is fun to watch and showing some reasons for future optimism.

Current Tenor: Selling. They don’t have any big prizes on the shelf, but a hot Jonathan Schoop should generate significant interest.

What They Are After: Prospect depth, but an imbalanced system could creates a focus on young bats. With a plethora of pitching prospects having arrived or set to do so quickly, more advanced prospects will be preferred.

Behavior: The Tigers tend to focus on specific talents in their sells, finding a headliner that both parties can agree upon and then figuring out the rest of the deal.

Kansas City Royals
June Effect: Down slightly. The Royals were a fun team to watch early on, but clearly over their skis, and their chances of reaching the playoffs have gone from tiny to nil.

Current Tenor: Minor sellers. Dayton Moore doesn’t like tear downs, so the club is more likely to focus on expiring contracts.

What They Are After: Young bats. They surely entered the year hoping that Jorge Soler would be one of the better offensive targets come summer, but his collapse has greatly hindered their ability to provide a big boost to their already strong system.

Behavior: The Royals tend to be aggressive, and also tend to focus on athleticism, tools and upside when it comes to position player prospects, which can produce some good matchups with more data-oriented clubs.

AL West

Houston Astros
June Effect: Up. Houston’s offense is bordering on historic, and their playoff shot has gone from very likely to the most favored team in the league to reach the postseason, with playoff odds of 91.8%.

Current Tenor: Buying, but they are up against the soft cap.

What They Are After: The bullpen is the only issue but it’s a real one, and will certainly be their focus, as it has already cost them several games in the standings.

Behavior: Unpredictable. The Astros stood surprisingly pat last summer, and the industry is still waiting to see exactly how James Click will behave as part of an organization that actually spends money.

Oakland Athletics
June Effect: Down slightly. Oakland is down more because of the Astros than anything they’ve done wrong. Their chances of winning the division has slipped significantly, and while it’s still far from Wild-Card-or-bust, it’s trending that way.

Current Tenor: Buying.

What They Are After: Middle infielders and maybe a bopper in an outfield corner. While their pitching has been good overall, the ‘pen is a bit on the shallow side.

Behavior: The A’s are seen as cheap, but have been known to add bigger names at the deadline on expiring deals. If there is a team that could make a surprise trade over the next month, it’s Oakland.

Seattle Mariners
June Effect: Steady. The Mariners sat at nearly 100-to-1 entering the month, and are still there. So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Current Tenor: Light selling. That said, the Mariners don’t have a whole lot of interest to offer teams. Mitch Haniger is available, but the extra year of control complicates matters a bit. Every team looking for ‘pen help has likely already been in touch concerning Kendall Graveman.

What They Are After: Prospects they like, with a lean towards bats. The Mariners aren’t far from being an interesting team, so players closer to the big leagues, or even 0-3 types will be preferred.

Behavior: The Mariners love making trades, that’s no secret. They are one of the busiest clubs in terms of keeping talks moving and will quickly pull the trigger once they find a deal they like.

Los Angeles Angels
June Effect: Steady. The Angels have played well without Mike Trout to maintain their puncher’s chance of reaching the playoffs at around 10%.

Current Tenor: Standing pat. The odds say they should be moving expiring contracts, and there would be a considerable market for starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Heaney, but historically, owner Arte Moreno has been very hesitant in approving a sell off.

What They Are After: The Angels are trying to build a quick contender, so the focus will be on young players in the big leagues or close to it should they move into selling mode.

Behavior: Unknown, as there’s a new administration in place headed by a first-time GM.

Texas Rangers
June Effect: Steady. The Rangers were all but out of the playoffs on Opening Day.

Current Tenor: Selling. The big question is how seriously they are willing to discuss Joey Gallo and/or Kyle Gibson, who are both signed through 2022 at very reasonable rates. They’ll certainly listen on both, but can afford to be patient if nothing blows their doors off.

What They Are After: The Rangers are still in rebuilding mode and have an excellent farm system they will try to continue to improve.

Behavior: The Rangers are easy to deal with. Very direct and very reasonable. First asks and offers frequently provide a good starting point to getting something done.

Kevin Goldstein is a National Writer at FanGraphs.

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1 year ago

Love these inside looks at front office thinking and policies.