As I’ve previously discussed, I love the MLB trade deadline. But this year’s deadline, August 31st, is unsurprisingly met with uncertainty. I mentioned earlier this year that the shortened season plus expanded playoffs could lead to a seller’s market and it appears it might, but who is actually selling. Let’s take a look at a few things that might affect who is interested in trades.
This year, the playoffs have expanded to include 8 teams from each league. At 16 total teams, this means that more than half of the league will be in the playoffs this year. But more importantly, only about 30 games into the season, there is not quite enough separation to have an idea of who those teams are. Teams you would have expected to be out of it, like the Orioles and Blue Jays, are still in the mix. There are only a handful of teams with less than 10 wins at this point (don’t count the Cardinals). The Phillies are one of them, but they just traded FOR players to help them win now. So while I think there are going to be some buyers out there, I’m questioning who the sellers are.
As you’ve probably noticed in your conversations with friends about seeing them at the ballpark, it’s gone from “maybe we’ll see you for the playoffs” to “see you next year” to “see you when we get out of this shit”. While it may not seem like a big difference in wording, it’s the type of thing that worries front offices tremendously. With an unknown of whether or not asses will be in the seats next year, it’s hard to imagine a lot of owners adding salary at the deadline past 2020.
While this isn’t the wonderful crop of free agents you use to build your SoxMachine off-season plans, there are some guys floating out there that could help a team. And adding them will not cost you a player in return. The most obvious is Yasiel Puig, but there are some other notable players. Is Aaron Sanchez healthy enough to help a bullpen? Is Tim Beckham better than the utility player you might get in a trade? Does Andrew Cashner have anything to offer a team? Can Jason Vargas channel his inner Livan Hernandez and pitch until he’s 70? And how about just a list of old friends: Matt Albers, Melky Cabrera, Addison Reed, and Zach Duke. There isn’t a lot past Puig that is above average, but none of these guys require a trade. And there are plenty more in the same part of their career.
Who could move?
This is where we need to look at who might be willing to sell. Since the Red Sox have already unloaded Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies in order to get under the luxury tax and the fact that they have single digit wins, we’ll start there:
Matt Barnes – Late inning bullpen guys are a staple of the trade deadline and Barnes qualifies as one of those.
The next team I’d look at is the Pirates as they have the worst record in the major leagues at this point. The problem is, they don’t have a lot of healthy trade pieces and they have players under contract for a while like Josh Bell and Joe Musgrove.
Gregory Polanco – Polanco has had a rough go to start this season, but it’s reasonable to believe he’ll bounce back. He’s a free agent in 2022, so he could be a guy they’re willing to move.
Keone Kela – Closers tend to move, but unfortunately, he’s day to day with a forearm issue right now. If he doesn’t pitch this week, I’d be surprised to see him move.
To me, that seems like the only teams I know will sell. I’m sure others will, but let’s take a look at some guys that would be a big splash if they indeed were moved.
Lance Lynn – Lynn has been amazing for the Rangers this year and is only signed through next year. It’s reasonable to believe they’d get a haul for him if they don’t believe they’re in it.
Trevor Bauer – If the Reds falter this week and the Cardinals and Cubs start to create some space between them, it might make sense to move the impending free agent. Imagine him getting traded to the Astros, that’d be a fund day on Twitter.
Whit Merrifield – I have to mention Whit because he’s supposed to get traded every year and simply never does. Maybe this is the year…
Ken Giles – I’d be surprised if the Jays sold with how they are currently positioned, but if they did, Giles would be the piece they’d move.
I don’t think guys like Adam Eaton who has a very reasonable 2021 option or Francisco Lindor will get moved because it really doesn’t make sense for a team to do that this year. Maybe we see Andrelton Simmons or Jonathan Schoop or Avi Garcia get moved, but are we excited about any of those? As for our White Sox, I am guessing they’ll largely avoid either side. So yeah, as I look this over, this year’s trade deadline is gonna suck.