State Of The Org: National League

Yesterday, I assessed the state of each org in the American League ahead of this month’s trade deadline, detailing what effect June might have had on their approach and what they might look to achieve come the end of July. Today, we’ll consider the senior circuit.

NL East

New York Mets
June Effect: Up slightly. For all the understandable concern over the Mets offense, the team has seen their chances of reaching the playoffs creep up a bit into the 75% range.

Current Tenor: Buying.

What They Are After: On paper, the Mets need to do something about their moribund offense, but they are much like the Yankees in that what they actually need is for their exiting lineup to get/stay healthy and start producing like one would expect. A center field upgrade would be ideal, but there aren’t many candidates out there. Some rotation depth to help get to the playoffs would also be nice.

Behavior: With a first-year owner and a first-year GM, clubs are still figuring this one out. The team has money and Steve Cohen wants to win, so they are expected to be aggressive.

Washington Nationals
June Effect: Up, but not in an overly meaningful way. The Nationals entered the month as a 25-to-1 long shot to reach the playoffs, and it’s improved to roughly 10-to-1 thanks mostly to the home run heroics of Kyle Schwarber.

Current Tenor: Certainly not selling, but that would have likely also been the case had their June effect been down. GM Mike Rizzo tends to shy away from tear downs, or even sell-offs at times.

What They Are After: Should the Nats make a push, it will be for pitching, both of the starting and relief variety. A third-base upgrade, or at least a platoon partner for Starlin Castro, would help the lineup.

Behavior: The Nationals are not heavy on analytics, which can create easier trade opportunities due to evaluation asymmetry.

Philadelphia Phillies
June Effect: Down slightly, and still not good. They were at just over 11% a month ago and have dropped a few ticks since.

Current Tenor: Probably standing pat, and continuing to hope for a run that likely isn’t in the cards.

What They Are After: A minor move or two to help a dismal bullpen isn’t out of the question, but the club isn’t expected to be aggressive at this time.

Behavior: Still to be determined with a first-time GM in place. Sam Fuld and team president Dave Dombrowski approach the game from different directions and provide a old school/new school combination that has the potential for shrewd maneuvers.

Atlanta Braves
June Effect: Down. One of the bigger disappointments of the season, the Braves had a chance to get back into things entering the month, still holding on to a more than 20% chance to get to the postseason, but that number has dwindled to just over 15%.

Current Tenor: For now, letting it simmer. This is still the team many saw as division favorites entering the year, and they will likely wait until some point after the All-Star break to make a decision about the second half.

What They Are After: Unfortunate injuries have created a need for starting pitching, and the bullpen has been a disappointment overall.

Behavior: Atlanta is open-minded, responsive, and easy to work with.

Miami Marlins
June Effect: Steady. Despite a run differential that suggests they should be right in the thick of things, the chances of the Marlins returning to the playoffs this year remains microscopic.

Current Tenor: Selling. The team has already moved Corey Dickerson and Adam Cimber, and there are likely more trades to come, with several teams already having reached out on first baseman Jesús Aguilar.

What They Are After: The Marlins understandably believe they are close to turning a corner, so prospect targets will be of the more advanced variety.

Behavior: Kim Ng might be a first-time GM but she has plenty of in-room experience, as does her inner circle.

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers
June Effect: Up significantly. About a 50/50 proposition at the end of May, the Brewers got hot while their division rivals got cold and now have an 86.7% chance of getting to the postseason.

Current Tenor: Buying, and aggressively so. The Willy Adames acquisition may prove to be their biggest in-season move, but they’re not done yet.

What They Are After: Infield corner bats and rotation depth.

Behavior: Milwaukee is easy and straight forward to deal with, and can move quickly once talks gain traction.

Chicago Cubs
June Effect: Down significantly. Struggles with starting pitching have taken what was once a 41.4% chance of a playoff appearance and cut it by more than half.

Current Tenor: The Cubs looked like potential buyers in mid-June, but a disastrous week has put them back on the bubble. There is an open question in the industry as to whether the ownership group would even allow the front office to move big-ticket names like Javier Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant should the slide continue.

What They Are After: No matter how the club conducts business in the coming month, the roster will see significant changes in 2022. Instead of pure prospects, they will likely focus on 0-3 players should they look to kick-start their re-tooling.

Behavior: Still from the Epstein school, the Cubs tend to listen more than they speak, allowing potential trading partners a greater chance of over-paying.

Cincinnati Reds
June Effect: Up. The Reds continue to put runs on the board and now have a nearly 10% chance of reaching the playoffs.

Current Tenor: The team will likely ride things out through at least the All-Star break before moving in either direction.

What They Are After: Should Cincinnati decide to push some chips in, the bullpen will certainly be the priority.

Behavior: It’s GM Nick Krall’s first trade deadline in the big chair, but he’s been second in charge and many teams’ main point of contact for years, so few expect any change in behavior. Discussions with the Reds tends to be pleasant and straight forward.

St. Louis Cardinals
June Effect: Bottoming out. The Cardinals entered the month seven games over .500 with nearly a one-third chance of a playoff appearance, but are now under 5% as their offense has sputtered.

Current Tenor: It’s going to take a miracle for the Cardinals to end up in buying mode, but they’re not pushing the panic button yet.

What They Are After: Should the Cardinals sell, they’ll look find some future answers in terms of the middle infield and at catcher.

Behavior: The Cardinals have had issues in the past with trading away young players who found success elsewhere, like Luke Voit, Randy Arozarena and Adolis García. Be that by tough luck or troubles with internal evaluations, other teams are going to aim high, hoping they can continue the pattern.

Pittsburgh Pirates
June Effect: Steady… as in steady at zero.

Current Tenor: The store is open, but there is no reason to talk about dealing away Brian Reynolds, as their best player still has plenty of control and can be part of a much better Pirates team down the road.

What They Are After: Young talent in all shapes and sizes, plain and simple. Richard Rodriguez and Chris Stratton are both interesting ‘pen arms who offer an extra year of service time, which should help improve the return.

Behavior: The Pirates felt a bit reticent to make deals last summer, and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues this year.

NL West

San Francisco Giants
June Effect: Up. The biggest surprise in baseball continues to be just that, and while our playoff odds continue to see them as a long shot to win the West, they have an 80.1% chance at reaching the playoffs.

Current Tenor: The Giants have a plethora of players with expiring contracts, and will have a dramatically different roster in 2022, but their performance in 2021 demands that they go for it.

What They Are After: The Giants have a good offense and good pitching. They maximize lineups, well beyond just platoons, better than any team in baseball. Brandon Belt’s uncertain return could put them in the market for a first base solution like Jesús Aguilar, C.J. Cron or even Trey Mancini.

Behavior: Having gotten his start with the Athletics, GM Farhan Zaidi follows their model of straight-forward, no nonsense discussions.

Los Angeles Dodgers
June Effect: Steady. The Dodgers chances of reaching the postseason have been in the 95-plus percent range all year, and just under a stone cold lock. If anything, they are peaking now

Current Tenor: The defending World Champions spent the offseason building a roster to do it again, and they’re expected to be very busy this month.

What They Are After: A healthy version of this roster leaves room for improvement only at the margins. Maybe an extra infielder or a platoon bat. The baseball implications should take a backseat here, but if the team and/or Major League Baseball does the right thing and places Trevor Bauer on administrative leave while his case is adjudicated, the Dodgers could look to add another starter.

Behavior: With few if any payroll limitations and still in possession of an above-average system, the Dodgers can play table bully at times, and are often willing to overpay in order to get the players they want.

San Diego Padres
June Effect: Steady. Like the Dodgers, the Padres remain an overwhelming favorite to reach the post-season, sitting at 95-plus percent for long stretches of the season.

Current Tenor: A.J. Preller is not exactly known for sitting on his hands.

What They Are After: The Padres have an excellent everyday lineup, but their bench could use some upgrades given the significant struggles of Jurickson Profar, Ha-Seong Kim and Jorge Mateo. An arm to eat some innings through September to avoid over-working the playoff-bound arms would be a nice luxury. They’ll certainly try to make a splashy deal, but it’s hard to figure out what the big move is right now.

Behavior: The Padres are exceptionally aggressive, like 28 Days Later zombie-level aggressive. Their pursuits are relentless, and often navigate a fine line between exceptionally creative and downright wild. They frequently shoot for the moon on players seen as off limits before down shifting to something more realistic.

Colorado Rockies
June Effect: Steady. No chance.

Current Tenor: They should be selling, but are they? Owner Dick Monfort is well known for letting his emotions get in the way of what the team should do on a baseball-logic level.

What They Are After: The Rockies are a bad major league team with an equally bad minor league system. They should just focus on the latter for now.

Behavior: With all of the changes in the front office, who knows? Last month, I had multiple executives admit that they’re not even sure who to call over there. I’m sure they’ve figured it out by now, but there is no consensus on how Colorado will handle the month of July.

Arizona Diamondbacks
June Effect: Steady at zero, but they’ve certainly improved their chances of earning the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft.

Current Tenor: Sellers and have been for awhile. While no deal has gotten over the line yet, they’ve already been plenty busy.

What They Are After: The Diamondbacks have been awful, but this doesn’t feel like a total tear down, as at times their entire starting rotation has been on the IL, a situation no team could recover from. They’ll likely focus on more advanced prospects in deals.

Behavior: It’s another front office from the Epstein school. Exceedingly patient might be the best way to put it.

Kevin Goldstein is a National Writer at FanGraphs.

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1 year ago

Great article Kevin. Curious, how were the Pirates under Neal Huntingdon to deal with?

1 year ago

Thanks for the reply. Local media portrayed him as tough to deal with. But this is the same media that can’t understand why the Pirates would consider any other pick than Rocker or Leiter at 1.1.

1 year ago
Reply to  jsdspud

Right? It’s so infuriating. The talking heads don’t seem to understand that for a team like Pittsburgh, with an absurd self-inflicted salary cap, they need as many high-upside lottery tickets as possible. It’s not like they are going to pick Bryan Bullington (I hope).

1 year ago
Reply to  srpst23

Agreed. I am convinced that I know more about baseball than most of the Pittsburgh media. The worst part is that if someone defends what management is doing, they are labeled an apologist and not invited back on air.