6 Surprises We Could See on 2014 MLB Trade Deadline Day
If you’ve been following the news surrounding the MLB July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, there is no doubt some confusion. There are so many rumors going around that making any sense out of the madness is an effort in futility.
We are not going to try and change that. After all, that’s part of the fun this time of year.
We are here to look at six potential surprises on MLB’s day of all days.
Not all surprises are good, however. Some of these are clubs that will do a whole bunch of nothing when an overhaul is in order. Others will try as hard as possible yet come up short in the pursuit of that one player who will put them over the top.
Here are six surprises we could see on the day of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
The Kansas City Royals Will Stand Pat
Going into action on Wednesday, the Kansas City Royals ranked 10th in the AL in runs scored (417) and slugging (.374), 13th in on-base percentage (.312) and last in home runs (61) and walks (250). That is no way to compete with a club like the Detroit Tigers.
True, they have improved greatly since Dale Sveum took over as hitting coach, but left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez were the only two players with slugging percentages over .387 when play began on Wednesday.
In other words, manager Ned Yost is trying to win games with half a roster.
Despite the glaring deficiencies, the only move general manager Dayton Moore has made since completing a trade with the Texas Rangers for relief pitcher Jason Frasor is sending Danny Valencia to the Toronto Blue Jays for right-handed pitcher Liam Hendriks and catcher Erik Kratz.
It was a move that added depth at third base for the Blue Jays but did nothing to help Yost’s stagnant offense.
To be sure, there have been rumors about the Royals trying to add some pop in the outfield.
Most recently, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted that the club had legitimate interest in Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd.
As Rosenthal pointed out, those talks have ”stalled” because Byrd has a no-trade clause to four teams, including the Royals, that he would only waive if his $8 million option in 2016 was picked up. It is a guarantee that Moore is unwilling to make.
So what do the Royals do now?
One option includes Rangers outfielder Alex Rios. He will assuredly cost quite a bit in the way of prospects and has a $13.5 million option ($2 million buyout) next season. In other words, the cost is still prohibitive from multiple perspectives.
Moore could also try to land someone like Josh Willingham from the Minnesota Twins, but Mike Berardino from the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweeted that he is "staying put (for now)."
The Royals are also said to be interested in Emilio Bonifacio, per the good folks at Beyond the Box Score.
It is going to come down to Moore's willingness to part with talent and add payroll. If he does, the club will improve. If he doesn't, Yost will have to try to find a lineup combination that works.
On the whole, however, chances are that Moore sits tight at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and tries to work out a waiver trade in August.
The San Francisco Giants Are Going to Throw Down
The San Francisco Giants were sitting on top of the baseball world not too long ago. Then the wheels fell off, culminating in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers this past weekend.
The pressure has been mounting for some time. So has a sense of relegation to the fact that the options to improve the club are limited. Per the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea in early July:
Like the A's, who have the Angels on their tail, the Giants' main competition comes from Southern California. Though in the Giants' case, it's more about their own collapse than the Dodgers' rise. Sabean called it ‘an impossibly frustrating place to be in,’ suggesting on Comcast SportsNet that if the Giants don't start winning, ‘I guess turning into a pumpkin was bound to happen.’
Sabean looks to next season and sees no third baseman, second baseman, left fielder or closer, considering the contracts of the men with those titles are expiring. With his team losing regularly, trading prospects to upgrade the roster could be pointless.
Strong words from general manager Brian Sabean. But the reality of his roster’s shortcomings is harsh.
To be sure, it is not an enviable position to be in, and making matters more difficult for Sabean is that he is chasing the same thing almost every other contender is—offense.
Heading into play on Wednesday, the Giants sat in the middle-ish of the National League in most offensive metrics and had large holes at second base, shortstop and in center field.
The eventual returns of Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt should help, of course, but the team needs an impact bat, or two.
As such, the Giants are going to surprise many and pick up both Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians and Emilio Bonifacio from the Chicago Cubs.
Regarding Bonifacio, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman noted on Wednesday that the Giants were one of three teams taking a long look at him, and he would certainly provide the type of versatility at the plate and in the field that manager Bruce Bochy needs.
Also, Cabrera has been on Sabean’s list for some time, per Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi.
Think the Giants can’t add them both? Think again.
Sabean will use the considerable pitching depth in the minor leagues to land each player. It stands to reason that No. 1 prospect Kyle Crick is safe given the fact that neither Bonifacio nor Cabrera is a superstar.
However, guys like Adalberto Mejia (No. 4), Ty Blach (No. 6) and Clayton Blackburn (No. 7) will certainly be used to leverage each player away from his organization.
Simply put, Sabean is going to put the Dodgers on notice with two phone calls.
The Chicago White Sox Won't Move Anyone
Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn did well for his club this past offseason.
Hahn also did his team right when he acquired Avisail Garcia in the deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox in advance of last season’s July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and unloaded the contract of Alex Rios, among others.
As a result, the need to be active this season is considerably lessened. To that end, Hahn was quoted by MLB.com’s Scott Merkin saying that the White Sox will “have a better sense of what our potential holes are and how we're going to go about filling them over the coming months.”
In essence, getting a grasp on the roster and the talent in the minor leagues takes precedence over forcing a trade.
Not that the White Sox don’t have pieces to move. Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham are just two of the players who would fit a need on several contending teams.
And if Hahn were eager enough, he could assuredly find someone to take Adam Dunn off his hands for a minimal return.
The biggest surprise, though, will be that left-hander John Danks, who is 9-6 with a 4.40 ERA in 21 starts heading into a matchup with the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, is still on the 25-man roster after the deadline passes.
See, unless the price is right, Hahn would just as soon keep his No. 3 starter. After all, the window for contending on the South Side could open as early as next season, and there is no doubt that Danks has the chance to help the club compete.
Not that there isn't a market to acquire him, though. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman went so far as to state that “Danks may be among the most likely rotation candidates for the [New York] Yankees, if not the most likely” as other options aren’t on the table for various reasons.
Given the nature of New York's rotation, he would certainly be an upgrade.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman won't offer enough, however, and Danks will not be traded. He could end up getting moved in August, of course, but that will be a trade made on Hahn's terms.
Matt Kemp Will Still Be with the Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp’s status is noteworthy because he was mentioned in a piece from ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes.
The much-publicized report noted that “the right-handed-hitting Kemp could be the major piece in a trade for Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, especially with the Dodgers reluctant to part with top outfield prospect Joc Pederson.”
And with that, speculation ran rampant across most outlets, and it only intensified when John Farrell said that Lester had been scratched from his last scheduled start amid “all the uncertainty surrounding” the left-handed pitcher, via WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Alex Speier.
The trouble is that Kemp’s enormous contract and past health issues make him too risky to acquire. If the Dodgers are going to add Lester (or any other front-line starter), they had better be willing to send multiple prospects in exchange.
Not that Kemp is playing poorly this season, of course.
In fact, he has been one of the better offensive weapons the Dodgers have. In 340 at-bats when play began on Wednesday, he had a .282/.347/.453 slash line with 10 home runs, 44 RBI, 22 doubles and three triples.
Since getting moved to right field, he is slashing out at .462/.548/.808 and has two home runs and eight RBI in seven games.
Production aside, there is still a surplus of outfielders on the active roster and in the minor leagues, meaning that something will have to budge.
Just don’t expect it any time soon. Sure, an August trade remains a possibility, but if Kemp continues to be the best hitter in the lineup, he isn’t going anywhere—no matter what’s offered.
The Philadelphia Phillies Will Not Move Any of Their Stars
But let’s back up for a minute and look specifically at Hamels’ saga.
After weeks of endless speculation, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported on Tuesday evening that, “according to one-ranking official directly involved with the talks, the Los Angeles Dodgers recently asked for Hamels.”
The response the Dodgers received from Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was that “the price would be three of their top prospects - center fielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias.”
Talk about a brazen demand.
As with any good rumor, however, the speculation was apparently inaccurate. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted the next day that there hasn’t been any “meaningful dialogue” between the two teams.
And to put a nice little bow on everything, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman had this to add:
Everyone who has talked to the Phillies about star left-hander Cole Hamels comes to the same conclusion: Philliy isn't serious about trading the lefty.
The Phillies are said to have requested packages of multiple top prospects from at least the Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees, with no suggestion yet that any of the other teams have realistic hope to land Hamels.
All told, there is a lot of noise being generated on the topic, but there is absolutely nothing of substance to back any of it up.
And that is exactly why none of the other players are going to be moved. The urgency to get a deal done isn’t there. Hamels is easily the best trade chip Amaro Jr. has, and he's playing games.
On top of the shenanigans, there are other things that are hindering trade efforts.
Byrd has a limited no-trade clause to consider. Lee is expensive and getting older by the minute. Papelbon is owed a bounty next season, and while he is a fantastic pitcher, he comes with the type of baggage that will give teams just enough pause as to reconsider his acquisition.
Maybe, just maybe, Kyle Kendrick gets moved, but the players who would net the Phillies the most in a trade will be wearing the same uniform on August 1.
The New York Yankees Will Whiff on Adding Another Starter
The New York Yankees don’t have many options when it comes to adding another starter to an injury-depleted rotation. As a matter of fact, it seems as though Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks may be their best, if not only, hope.
From CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:
Danks may be among the most likely rotation candidates for the Yankees, if not the most likely, as there's no evidence they're even talking to the Padres about Ian Kennedy. And several other available pitchers aren't possibilities for them. The Yankees, who've lost four of their original five starters to injury, already added right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who looks like a superb pickup so far; however, a second rotation piece won't be easy.
Unfortunately for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, White Sox GM Rick Hahn doesn’t have to unload talent, per MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
Sure, if the package is big enough, Hahn could be persuaded to part with Danks, but there are a lot of other variables at play that are out of Cashman’s hands.
None of this is to say the Yankees won’t add a starter this season. It just may be after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Speaking of which, Heyman noted in a separate article that the Philadelphia Phillies "are said to be willing to pay down some of Cliff Lee’s rather large and backloaded contract to facilitate a trade, if they can get the right prospects.”
Given the Yankees' substantial coffers, the money will likely not be an issue, but Cashman would have to find a set of prospects, including catcher Gary Sanchez, to make a trade for Lee a reality.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of game time on Wednesday, July 30. Transaction information, injury information, scouting reports and prospect rankings are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information was pulled from Cot’s Contracts.