All 30 MLB Teams' Nightmare Scenario at the 2014 Trade Deadline
The MLB trade deadline doesn't always go to plan.
From giving up on a super prospect like Oscar Taveras too soon to dealing away an ace like Jon Lester, there are all sorts of ways that the trade season can go terribly wrong. As the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaches, clubs around the league will face tons of challenging decisions—the kind that could haunt them for years if made incorrectly.
These are the nightmare scenarios they'll all be hoping to avoid.
The Houston Astros Trade Away Dallas Keuchel
The Houston Astros likely won't do much between now and the deadline.
Outside of veteran relievers Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp, Houston doesn't have a ton of trade pieces to offer. One player who should definitely stay put is 26-year-old left-hander Dallas Keuchel. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, "rival executives say the Astros seem reluctant to deal" the lefty.
That's a smart move by Houston, as controllable and effective starters are one of the most valuable commodities in baseball.
The Los Angeles Angels Have to Scramble to Find a Starting Pitcher
Having already landed Huston Street from the San Diego Padres, the Los Angeles Angels aren't likely to do anything else between now and July 31.
General manager Jerry Dipoto told Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM that he doesn't expect the club to pull off any more trades unless a starter gets hurt. The Angels had better hope that doesn't happen.
Los Angeles paid a steep price for Street, parting with top prospect Taylor Lindsey and three other minor leaguers. The club's already depleted farm system is now barren. If an untimely injury to the rotation sends Dipoto to the trade market, he won't have any chips to play.
Oakland A's GM Billy Beane Fails to Find a New Home for Jim Johnson
It's difficult to put into words just how bad Jim Johnson has been in 2014.
The right-handed reliever lost his job as closer within the first week of the season and hasn't stopped giving up runs since then. On the season, Johnson owns a 6.92 ERA. At the O.co Coliseum, the home of the Oakland Athletics, he's posted a 12.21 ERA and has been battered to the tune of a .448 opponents' average.
Johnson's terrible season has led GM Billy Beane to seek out potential trades. Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald cites a "major-league source" who said that the Miami Marlins and Oakland have been involved in "recent discussions" about a swap.
At this point, Oakland's fans certainly don't want to see Johnson on the roster when the deadline passes and would likely be willing to drive him to the airport themselves.
Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik Changes His Mind on D.J. Peterson
D.J. Peterson is safe.
At least that's what Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Mike Salk and Brock Huard of 710 ESPN Seattle. The executive explained that he doesn't have "any interest" in shipping out the powerful right-handed hitter as part of a deadline deal.
That's a shrewd stance, considering that Peterson has clubbed 23 home runs this season and was recently tabbed as the 46th-best prospect in the minor leagues, per Baseball America. Of course, Zduriencik could always change his mind and decide to sell the farm—especially with the club in the playoff picture for the first time since 2007.
The Texas Rangers Deal Adrian Beltre for Prospects
The 2014 season has been a mess for the Texas Rangers.
Expected to contend for a playoff spot, the club has instead been hit with a flood of injuries, which has left the squad a startling 22.5 games out of first place in the AL West. With the season now a lost cause, Heyman explained that the team "may be willing to trade just about anyone."
Cleaning house wouldn't be the worst idea, but moving a cornerstone like third baseman Adrian Beltre would be highly discouraging for the fanbase. The 35-year-old has anchored Texas' lineup since arriving in 2011 and has quietly been building a credible Hall of Fame resume.
The Chicago White Sox Ship out Chris Sale
Chris Sale isn't going anywhere.
The lefty has been dealing for the Chicago White Sox with a 2.03 ERA in 2014. GM Rick Hahn would have to be crazy to even entertain any trade offers for the 25-year-old. Or would he?
"We don't hang up on anybody," said Hahn when explaining his trade philosophy to Scott Merkin of MLB.com. If the White Sox deal Sale, there's a chance that there would be a riot on the South Side.
The Cleveland Indians Go All-in on 2014 and Deal Francisco Lindor
After a shaky start, the Cleveland Indians are right in the middle of the wild-card conversation.
Adding Tampa lefty David Price to the rotation would cement the Tribe's status as a serious playoff contender. In a video on Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal speculates that Cleveland could be a dark-horse candidate in the Price bidding war—that is, if the Tampa Bay Rays end up dealing him.
The cost of such a move would likely start with Francisco Lindor, whom Baseball America ranked the No. 6 prospect in all of the minors. Getting Price would be great, but losing Lindor would not.
An Injury Forces the Detroit Tigers to Make a Last-Second Move
With the acquisition of Joakim Soria, the Detroit Tigers have strengthened the bullpen and solved the club's biggest problem.
The team has also put a dent in an already sparse minor league system. The Tigers' farm was tabbed as the worst in baseball by Adam Wells of Bleacher Report in early June. As was first reported by Kyle Bogenschutz of 97.1 The Ticket, the the Soria deal cost the Tigers right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. The pitchers were ranked No. 3 and No 5., respectively, on Detroit's top 10 prospects list on MLB.com.
As it currently stands, the Tigers don't need to make any more moves between now and the deadline. If an injury hits, though, there won't be any trade ammunition in the minors.
The Kansas City Royals Become Sellers
There's no other way to put it: The Kansas City Royals are scuffling.
The club has lost seven of its last 10 contests and has dropped into third place in the AL Central. For now, GM Dayton Moore has no plans to "give up on" the club and begin selling off assets, as he explained via Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
If the Royals don't turn the season around fast, Moore will have to seriously contemplate cashing in on starter James Shields, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
The Minnesota Twins Are Unable to Deal Their Veterans
The Minnesota Twins have been better than expected in 2014.
Nonetheless, the team is in last place in the AL Central and has no reason to hold on to its pending free agents. The top candidates to be moved are Kurt Suzuki, Kendrys Morales, Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia. Not trading at least two of those players would be a serious waste.
The Baltimore Orioles Gamble in Order to Land an Ace
The AL East is uncharacteristically weak in 2014.
The situation in the division could just lead Dan Duquette, the GM of the first-place Baltimore Orioles, to think big. Adding a front-line starter to the staff would give the O's the chance to run away from the pack. Duquette has the pieces to strike just such a deal. Baltimore could ship out some combination of Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey, Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez to bring back an ace.
Parting with any of those arms could prove disastrous by the time the 2015 season rolls around.
The Boston Red Sox Punt on 2014
Thanks to a strong July, the Boston Red Sox have pulled themselves back into the playoff race.
Still, even with an 7-3 record in the past 10 games, the reigning World Series champions remain six games off the pace for the second wild-card spot. Ultimately, Boston's brain trust could decide that it's simply too little, too late and begin to sell high on its veterans.
Trading left-hander and pending free agent Jon Lester would bring back a mint, but it would also prove to be a ridiculously unpopular move.
The New York Yankees Sell off Their Remaining Prospects
Apparently the New York Yankees are going for it. Never mind the fact that the team is tied for the fourth-worst run differential in the AL or that 80 percent of the Opening Day rotation is on the shelf.
New York has brought in Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network. Admittedly, that acquisition cost the club just Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula, per Heyman.
However, GM Brian Cashman isn't done just yet.
"I have more work to do," explained the executive, via David Waldstein of The New York Times.
Yankees fans will just have to hope that the plan doesn't call for acquiring Cliff Lee for some combination of Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott.
The Tampa Bay Rays Hold on to David Price but End Up Falling out of the Race
The Tampa Bay Rays were in the tank. Done. Buried.
And now suddenly they're not. With the deadline looming, the Rays have improbably climbed right back into the mix in the playoff race. If manager Joe Maddon's team is even within shouting distance by the time July 31 arrives, there's simply no way that GM Andrew Friedman can jettison David Price.
The unfortunate scenario here would be for the Rays to hold on to the lefty ace and then promptly tumble out of the race once the deadline passes.
The Toronto Blue Jays Strike out at the Deadline
The Toronto Blue Jays need to do something.
After leading the division for much of the first half, manager John Gibbons' team is now in a tie with the New York Yankees for second place in the AL East. With Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind all on the disabled list, the Jays have to find a bat.
Standing pat would be a complete failure. It could just happen, though, considering that the market is nearly devoid of impact hitters.
The Arizona Diamondbacks Sell Low on Mark Trumbo
2014 just hasn't been the Arizona Diamondbacks' year.
The D-Backs endured a terrible start to the campaign and have been fighting an uphill battle ever since. The club has already been shipping out its veterans, and more are sure to go. Even though he's missed much of the season due to injury, Arizona could just end up fielding some calls regarding Mark Trumbo.
The right-handed hitter has power, which is nearly impossible to find on the market. Trading Trumbo, though, would be a poor choice as the 28-year-old's value is at an all-time low.
The Colorado Rockies Fail to Deal Any of Their Trade Chips
Sitting in the cellar in the NL West, with the worst record in the league (41-60), the Colorado Rockies have just one job as the deadline approaches: sell off some veterans.
Superstars like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez won't be going anywhere. However, lower-tier players like Jorge De La Rosa, LaTroy Hawkins, Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes need to be moved in order to help rebuild the farm system.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti Trades Joc Pederson, Julio Urias and/or Corey Seager
Ned Colletti has a history of making big deadline moves.
The Los Angeles Dodgers GM could just pull off another one before July 31. In a potential David Price derby, the NL West club is "one of the best-positioned" teams in baseball, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. That's thanks to the fact that the Dodgers have center fielder Joc Pederson, left-handed pitcher Julio Urias and shortstop Corey Seager working their way through the farm system.
However, dealing one or more of those top prospects would make Colletti the most unpopular man in Los Angeles.
The San Diego Padres Go Halfway on the Fire Sale
The San Diego Padres have been among the most active teams in baseball so far during the trade season.
The club has already parted ways with All-Star closer Huston Street and shipped out third baseman Chase Headley. Now is not the time to stop. There's not much difference between finishing in third place or fifth in the NL West. For that reason, the Padres need to sell off Joaquin Benoit, Chris Denorfia and any other veterans who could help to replenish the farm system.
The San Francisco Giants Miss out Completely at the Trade Deadline
San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean is going to be busy between now and July 31.
The Giants, who hold a two-game edge over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, need to make some moves before the deadline. At the top of Sabean's to-do list is finding a second baseman. Aside from that, the Giants would also benefit from bringing in a new center fielder, a bench bat and possibly even a starter.
If Sabean doesn't manage to fix at least two of those problems, the Giants will be in major trouble in the final months of the season.
The Chicago Cubs Deal Javier Baez
Suddenly, the Chicago Cubs have a surplus of shortstops.
The recently acquired Addison Russell in is Double-A, Javier Baez is in Triple-A, and then there's Starlin Castro at Wrigley Field. Baez has also been spending time at second base, but that move has yet to be made permanent, according to Tommy Birch of The Des Moines Register.
With Russell, Baez and Castro all in the fold, a trade doesn't seem out of the question. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Castro could become an option for the New York Mets. Rubin adds that "Baez is believed to be a more realistic target."
Trading away a dynamic prospect like Baez could haunt the Cubs. The 21-year-old clubbed 37 home runs a year ago and is up to 16 in 2014 after a glacial start to the season.
The Cincinnati Reds Don't Upgrade the Lineup
The Cincinnati Reds are the best fourth-place team in baseball.
With the deadline approaching, the Reds sit 5.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. With the right side of the infield on the DL, the team will need to make an offensive addition. According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM, "[GM Walt] Jocketty made it clear that he'd like a middle of the order bat."
That's a big ask from Jocketty. However, with Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto on the sidelines, failing to acquire that offensive upgrade will leave the Reds on the outside looking in on the playoff picture.
The Milwaukee Brewers Do Nothing at the Deadline
After an incredible start to the season, the Milwaukee Brewers have run into trouble.
The team is 6-12 in July and is holding on to a 2.5-game advantage atop the division. The Brewers need a spark—the kind that could arrive with a major trade. Whether that's possible is another matter. The team's minor league system was ranked No. 28 out 30 by Bleacher Report's Adam Wells.
Either way, GM Doug Melvin has to to something. Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox is a name for the Brewers to consider, as Ben Lindbergh of Grantland suggests. Doing nothing before the deadline can't happen in the crowded NL Central.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Play It Too Conservatively
Maybe Neal Huntington is just playing it close to the vest.
In a conversation with Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh Pirates GM didn't exactly sound like an executive on the verge of a blockbuster deal:
There's not a lot of teams that are looking to sell, and there are a lot of teams looking to buy. There's not a ton of players out there who are significant upgrades. There are some guys you think can be, so as a result asking prices higher than you'd like.
Huntington is spot-on in his assessment. The trade market is incredibly thin. Still, not taking a chance could prove to be a blunder. There's an absurd amount of parity in baseball this season. For a team like the Pirates, who are a legitimate playoff hopeful, the addition of an impact starter or impact bat could vault them into the status of World Series contender.
The Bucs have the pieces to make that kind of move, as the team has the No. 6 farm system in baseball, per Bleacher Report's Adam Wells. To play it conservatively would simply be a mistake.
The St. Louis Cardinals Part with Oscar Taveras
With nearly every single division up for grabs, now is the perfect moment for contenders to make aggressive moves. It's the time to mortgage the future and deal away big-name prospects for an immediate return.
One player who is exempt from that line of reasoning is Oscar Taveras. The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder is too promising to deal. Admittedly, the 22-year-old hasn't hit much in his debut with the Cards. Still, Taveras has the type of lightening-quick bat speed that will eventually translate into the left-handed hitter becoming a consistent source of high average and tons of power.
Dealing Taveras would be a move that St. Louis would inevitably regret.
The Atlanta Braves Don't Add to the Bullpen or Bench
When it comes to the trade deadline, bench bats and bullpen arms are the easiest types of players to acquire.
That works out perfectly for Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren, as those are the club's top two priorities as July 31 edges closer. As Mark Bowman of MLB.com notes, adding a left-handed reliever would be ideal. Bringing in a pinch-hitting specialist is also crucial, as Atlanta's current bench players have so far struggled in that role.
With the Braves looking up at the Washington Nationals in the NL East standings, making these moves is imperative.
The Miami Marlins Shift into Seller Mode
Who knows what would have happened if Jose Fernandez had never gotten hurt.
Before Tommy John surgery knocked the ace out for the season, the Miami Marlins were making a dark-horse run for a playoff spot. Now, as the team falls out of the wild-card hunt, the Marlins appear to be headed toward seller mode.
Closer Steve Cishek, who will be arbitration-eligible this winter, seems to be an obvious trade candidate. However, Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald cautions that dealing Cishek could come at a price. Spencer cites a scout who suggests that such a move would be poorly received by Giancarlo Stanton and undercut contract negotiation talks that could potentially take place this winter.
The New York Mets Hold on to Bartolo Colon but Deal Daniel Murphy
The New York Mets won't be going to the playoffs in 2014.
It's not ridiculous to suggest, though, that the club could make an October run in 2015. For that reason, the front office will have to tread carefully at the deadline.
Andy Martino of the Daily News warns that dealing away second baseman Daniel Murphy would send the wrong message and cause an uproar among the fans. Meanwhile, parting with the 41-year-old Bartolo Colon could actually be viewed as a positive, as such a move would clear the way for one of the organization's young starters.
However, if Murphy goes and Colon remains, that would be a bad look for the Mets.
The Philadelphia Phillies Refuse to Rebuild
The Philadelphia Phillies are way overdue on a rebuild.
With the team languishing in last place in the NL East, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has a ton to do between now and the deadline. Players like Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Antonio Bastardo, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd should all be made available on the trade market.
Many of those veterans are weighed down by exorbitant contracts while others wield no-trade clauses. Still, if the Phillies roster doesn't look substantially different by the end of the month, then Amaro has failed at his job.
The Washington Nationals Don't Line Up a Replacement for Ryan Zimmerman
The Washington Nationals might just be in the market for a bat.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is dealing with a "pretty substantial" right hamstring injury, as manager Matt Williams explained via Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. As Kilgore notes, Zimmerman's health problems could result in the club making a trade before the end of the month.
The Nats could always go with Anthony Rendon at third base and Danny Espinosa at second. However, counting on the light-hitting Espinosa would be a risk.
Note: All stats courtesy of MLB.com. All videos courtesy of MLB.com and YouTube.com.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.