2015 MLB Trade Deadline Predictions for Every Team
Depending on where your allegiances lie, the week leading up to baseball's non-waiver trade deadline either represents the most wonderful time of the year or the one week that you wish you were stranded on a desert island without any way to reach the outside world.
We've already seen two high-profile starters find new homes, with Houston acquiring Scott Kazmir from Oakland and Kansas City landing Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati. But that just scratches the surface of what's shaping up to be a very active deadline.
Will the Detroit Tigers buy or sell? Can San Diego break down its roster as quickly as it assembled it over the winter? Will the Toronto Blue Jays go all in? Will Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon finally escape from Philadelphia?
Based on the rumors and speculation floating around, along with each team's specific needs and the trade chips they have to acquire the pieces they seek, we'll attempt to answer all those questions and more as we present our predictions for how Friday's trade deadline will shake out for each of MLB's 30 teams.
The Atlanta Braves Will Continue to Stockpile Young Talent
John Hart has done a terrific job of bringing in young talent with some upside since being named Atlanta's president of baseball operations last October, and there's no reason to expect him to stop as the deadline approaches.
A trade of veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski—who is an expendable veteran piece on a reasonable one-year deal—to Minnesota isn't going to land the Braves high-end talent. But he should bring back some additional young, controllable assets for Atlanta to continue its rebuilding effort.
The Arizona Diamondbacks Will Do Nothing
It's going to be a quiet trade deadline in Arizona this year.
Veteran reliever Brad Ziegler is the team's most sought-after player but one the club has said it'd have to be "overwhelmed" to move, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. For as good as Ziegler is (1.21 ERA in 44.2 IP), there's not a team in baseball that's going to make an overwhelming offer for a 35-year-old reliever.
With neither infielder Aaron Hill nor deposed closer Addison Reed drawing interest, the Diamondbacks will stay the course and head into August with the same roster they end July with.
The Baltimore Orioles Will Sell Off Secondary Pieces
Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters are all free agents at season's end and are represented by Scott Boras, which, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes, makes re-signing them a difficult task for Baltimore.
But owner Peter Angelos has never been one to embrace the idea of selling, and the Orioles plan on extending qualifying offers to all three after the season, per CSN Baltimore's Rich Dubroff. If three compensatory draft picks are all the O's have to show for them in 2016, so be it.
Instead, they'll look to ship out some of their secondary pieces, namely relievers Tommy Hunter and Darren O'Day, along with corner infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce and, if anyone will take him, starter Bud Norris in an attempt to add some depth to a weak farm system.
The Boston Red Sox Will Add a Controllable Starter And...
It's not an ideal scenario, but rather than add a veteran starter who figures to start breaking down toward the end of his deal (Cole Hamels), Boston will add a young, front-of-the-rotation arm in Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco, who is due less than $40 million through 2020.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal originally reported Boston's interest in Carrasco, who would certainly be the kind of younger, controllable pitcher that WEEI.com's Rob Bradford said the Red Sox are prioritizing at the deadline.
Instead of raiding the farm system to put a deal together, Boston will send two midlevel prospects to the Indians while agreeing to take on one of their bad contracts in the form of Swisher, who is due $15 million in 2016.
While his inability to stay healthy is a major concern (he's played in only 127 games since the start of 2014), he could serve as Boston's short-term replacement for Mike Napoli (a free agent after this season) at first base.
The Chicago Cubs Will Add Another Starter
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote of the Chicago Cubs' interest in Cincinnati's Mike Leake earlier this month. And rather than surrender multiple top prospects from their farm system for a more high-profile arm, the Cubs may decide to strike a deal with their division foe for the former first-round pick.
Leake, 27, doesn't have eye-popping numbers (3.78 ERA, 3.94 FIP), but he's shown over the course of his career (this season, especially) that he's closer to a No. 2 or 3 starter than a back-of-the-rotation arm. As he's a free agent after this season, his arrival likely won't have any impact on the team's offseason plans.
The Chicago White Sox Will Trade Jeff Samardzija
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman hears from teams that Chicago's asking price for Jeff Samardzija is a four-player package. But with other clubs beginning to turn elsewhere for their pitching needs, the team is becoming far more realistic about its potential return.
Eventually, general manager Rick Hahn should find common ground with Toronto's Alex Anthopoulos and come to an agreement on a three-player package built around pitcher Jeff Hoffman. The right-hander was the ninth overall pick in last year's draft and has already reached Double-A in his first professional season.
The Cincinnati Reds Will Sell Off Some, but Not All of Their Valuable Pieces
With three high-upside left-handed arms already added to the organization (Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Cody Reed) courtesy of the Johnny Cueto trade with Kansas City, Cincinnati will continue to move some of its pending free agents, sending starter Mike Leake to the Chicago Cubs and veteran catcher Brayan Pena to the Seattle Mariners.
But that's it. Outfielders Jay Bruce, Marlon Byrd and All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman will remain in Cincinnati as the Reds hope to get back into contention next season.
The Cleveland Indians Will Trade a Starting Pitcher
Multiple teams, including the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, have asked about some members of Cleveland's starting rotation, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. While the Indians would prefer to keep their starters, the opportunity to shed some payroll will be too tempting for the Tribe to pass up.
Rather than insist on high-upside prospects in return, the Indians should convince one of those big spenders to take Carlos Carrasco (who is due only $19 million through the 2018 season and $37.5 million through 2020 if both of his team options are picked up)—along with Nick Swisher, who is due $15 million in 2016.
Creating some much-needed payroll flexibility will allow the club to address other areas of concern when the offseason arrives.
The Colorado Rockies Won't Do Anything
It's shaping up to be a quiet trade deadline for the Colorado Rockies.
Speculation on the immediate and long-term futures of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki has been at a minimum, with general manager Jeff Bridich only saying "we're at least open to considering" a trade involving the latter during an appearance on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio.
Translation: The Rockies will think about moving one of the two faces of the franchise. But they will ultimately decide that the duo is more valuable in Colorado than elsewhere. Breaking them up might make sense from a baseball standpoint, but not necessarily a business one. Fans still come out to watch them play.
As for the mishmosh of veteran relievers they could move, which includes John Axford and Rafael Betancourt, the returns would be minimal. If the Rockies aren't going to make a big splash, there's no point in them making any splash at all.
The Detroit Tigers Will Add a Starting Pitcher
Despite their place in the standings (48-50, 3rd in the AL Central), Detroit should be selling at the deadline. The farm system is a mess, and Yoenis Cespedes and David Price (both of whom are impending free agents) would go a long way toward restocking the team's cupboard.
But owner Mike Ilitch has never been one to wave the white flag, and he's not about to start now. As ESPN's Buster Olney reports, the team's focus is on trying to win—and to do that, it's going to need rotation reinforcements.
Detroit doesn't have the high-upside prospects it's going to take to land any of the top arms, but it does have an owner who's willing to spend money. Look for the Tigers to agree to take on far more of the $65 million still owed to James Shields than any other team is willing to and send San Diego a three-prospect package that isn't overly impressive.
The Houston Astros Will Add a Flamethrower
Having bolstered the team's starting rotation with the addition of Scott Kazmir, Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow can turn his attention to the bullpen, which is missing a piece.
“I think you can always use another good arm. You look at the arms we have in the bullpen: we’ve got a sinker baller, a slider guy, different looks. [Pat] Neshek is a funky guy. The one guy we’re probably missing is the flamethrower guy," Luhnow told the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich.
“Could we be a better team with a guy like that at the end, in the mix those last few innings? Probably, but those guys are hard to find. Certainly we’re going to keep our eyes open.”
San Diego's Craig Kimbrel—armed with the third-fastest heater in the game, per FanGraphs—is known to be available, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, and the Astros have the pieces it would take to put a deal together.
The Kansas City Royals Will Add a Second Baseman
Kansas City made its big splash well in advance of the trade deadline, acquiring the best pitcher available in former Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto. Now, the team has shifted its attention to the lineup, with Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reporting that the club has its eyes on Miami's Martin Prado.
Bringing Prado aboard will cost more in terms of prospects than you'd expect, but the Royals need the Marlins to pick up some of the $16 million left on his deal, which runs through 2016. The best way to do that is to offer higher-caliber prospects.
While Prado will primarily man second base for the Royals, his versatility will give manager Ned Yost options as he looks to give some players additional rest down the stretch.
The Los Angeles Angels Will Trade for Gerardo Parra
No team in baseball has gotten less production out of left field this season than the Los Angeles Angels, a team that needs an upgrade at the position and could use a leadoff hitter as well. Milwaukee's Gerardo Parra solves both issues.
As MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez recently tweeted, "[Parra] makes a lot of sense" for the Angels.
Trading for Parra will probably cost a bit more than people think he's worth. But he's not going to command the inclusion of top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb in a deal, and it's safe to assume that third baseman Kyle Kubitza—now in the majors filling in for the injured David Freese (finger)—is off-limits as well.
Everyone else down on the farm, however, is fair game. And the Angels have enough intriguing pieces to hammer out a deal with the Brew Crew.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Will Add a Pair of Starters
While the Dodgers would prefer to add a third ace to join Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke atop the rotation, the club will likely miss out on Cole Hamels and find David Price unavailable, forcing it to turn to Plan B.
That means Texas' Yovani Gallardo, who is an available pitcher the team is known to have interest in, per Fox Sports' Jon Morosi. Not only is Gallardo a quality, experienced starter in the midst of a terrific season for the Rangers, but he's the active leader in home runs (12) among pitchers, an added bonus.
Los Angeles will part with a three-player package headlined by right-handed pitching prospect Zach Lee, who is expendable, given the club's minor league pitching depth.
The Miami Marlins Will Trade Mat Latos and Mike Morse
Miami has a handful of veteran pieces that contenders have varying degrees of interest in, but ultimately, the Marlins will part ways with right-handed starter Mat Latos and first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse.
Both will be thrust into playoff races, with Latos heading to the New York Yankees in exchange for two upper-level prospects. Morse, meanwhile, will likely rejoin the San Francisco Giants, the team he won the World Series with last season, in exchange for a slightly lesser return as the Marlins will be happy to shed his $8.5 million salary from next year's payroll.
Milwaukee Will Shake Things Up
Milwaukee doesn't want to trade Mike Fiers, according to Fox's Ken Rosenthal, but the chance to add multiple, controllable, high-upside pieces will be too great an opportunity to pass up. Therefore, the Brewers should package Fiers with closer Francisco Rodriguez in a six-player deal with the Toronto Blue Jays built around southpaw Daniel Norris.
But the Brew Crew won't stop there. Outfielder Gerardo Parra will find his way to the Los Angeles Angels, while first baseman Adam Lind will wind up as part of a platoon at the position in St. Louis. Both center fielder Carlos Gomez and shortstop Jean Segura will remain with the club.
The Minnesota Twins Will Bring Back A.J. Pierzynski
After having one of the most surprising runs of the 2015 season, Minnesota isn't about to move any of its best young talent—a list that includes Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano—to bolster itself for the stretch run.
But it will add the catcher whom Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press says it's looking for, trading a pair of prospects to Atlanta for 38-year-old A.J. Pierzynski. The former Twin's .758 OPS is far superior to the .590 mark belonging to incumbent Kurt Suzuki.
The New York Mets Will Add the Big Bat They Need
New York appears likely to return recently promoted outfielder Michael Conforto to the minors, according to Newsday's David Lennon and Marc Carig, and San Diego's Justin Upton has long been on the team's radar.
While the Mets balked at the Padres' initial asking price, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the 27-year-old outfielder has the ability to add significant production to the middle of the club's lineup. The fact that he's a free agent at season's end and adds no future payroll to the mix is a bonus for the Mets.
As for the money remaining on Upton's $14.5 million salary, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson chided reporters who questioned whether the club could add additional payroll, as ESPN.com's Adam Rubin noted.
Alderson will prove it by taking on all of Upton's remaining salary—and surrendering a slightly higher-caliber prospect—to placate an angry fanbase and try to position the team to make a run at catching Washington for the National League East crown.
The New York Yankees Will Add Depth to the Rotation
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman says that the New York Yankees have stuck four prospects with the "untouchable" label—first baseman Greg Bird, outfielder Aaron Judge, shortstop Jorge Mateo and right-handed starter Luis Severino. That all but takes them out of the running for the top arms still available.
But it doesn't preclude them from adding a second-tier starter, and it's likely they will in a deal with the Miami Marlins for 27-year-old Mat Latos, whom the team looked into acquiring from San Diego back in 2011.
Latos will provide depth and insurance for a rotation that could use a little bit of both, and the move will be well worth the two upper-level prospects it will cost the club to bring him on board.
The Oakland Athletics Will Continue Selling
Oakland kicked off the deadline by shipping starter Scott Kazmir to Houston for a pair of prospects, but that was only the beginning of general manager Billy Beane's wheeling and dealing.
The A's still have four pending free agents on the roster, and three of them—the versatile Ben Zobrist, along with veteran relievers Tyler Clippard and Edward Mujica—will be wearing different uniforms come August 1. The fourth, reliever Eric O'Flaherty, will be peddled but should ultimately stick around.
Beane will also listen to offers for right fielder Josh Reddick, but he'll remain with the club through at least the end of the season.
Philadelphia Will Finally Trade Cole Hamels
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman lists the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers as the favorites to land Cole Hamels, as both teams have the need for the ace and the prospects it would take to satisfy Philadelphia.
But Texas, one of the few teams Hamels cannot block a trade to, will offer a four-player package, including catcher Jorge Alfaro and right-handed starter Chi Chi Gonzalez. The Dodgers won't be willing to match that offer, and the Hamels era will come to an end in Philadelphia.
The same can't be said for embattled closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has all but offered to pay his way out of Philadelphia. Despite Heyman's report of interest from multiple clubs, he'll remain a member of the Phillies.
Why? For some clubs, Philadelphia's asking price remains an obstacle. There's also the issue of the $13 million option on his contract for 2016 that is likely going to vest and eat up a significant chunk of a team's payroll, perhaps limiting its ability to improve other areas during the offseason.
Pittsburgh Will Not Make Any More Moves
Pittsburgh's biggest need was to bolster the left side of its infield, which injuries decimated in July, when the team lost starting third baseman Josh Harrison (thumb) and starting shortstop Jordy Mercer (MCL). Jung Ho Kang is good, but he couldn't play both positions simultaneously.
The Pirates solved that issue with the addition of Aramis Ramirez from Milwaukee, bringing the retiring veteran's career full circle, as he broke into the majors in Pittsburgh back in 1998.
There is nothing else glaring enough to warrant the club making another swap.
San Diego Will Shed Significant Salary
Three of San Diego's biggest additions between last year's trade deadline and the one rapidly approaching this Friday—reliever Craig Kimbrel, starter James Shields and outfielder Justin Upton—will all be wearing different uniforms come August 1.
Kimbrel will find his way to Houston with all of the $24 million remaining on his contract, while Detroit will offer to take on more of the $63 million still coming to Shields than any other team. Neither player will bring back a tremendous return for San Diego.
While early attempts at a deal to send Upton to the New York Mets fell apart, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the two sides should work out their differences and get the struggling slugger to the Big Apple.
San Francisco Will Bring Back a Familiar Face
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro first reported that Miami could trade first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse to the San Francisco Giants, and with the defending champions looking for some additional firepower, bringing back a key contributor from last year's squad makes a whole lot of sense.
Morse fills San Francisco's need for a right-handed bat with some pop on the bench, and his ability to play first base or left field gives skipper Bruce Bochy some additional flexibility when it comes to giving players days off.
With the Giants agreeing to take on all of Morse's remaining contract, which includes an $8.5 million salary in 2016, the midlevel prospect they'll send to Miami will be inconsequential.
The Seattle Mariners Will Add a Veteran Catcher
Seattle wants to add a catcher who can handle full-time duty and offer something at the plate, which would allow the club to send Mike Zunino down to Triple-A, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
While he's not quite the pitch-framer or home run threat that Zunino is, the Mariners will find their man in Cincinnati's Brayan Pena. A free agent after the year, Pena's ability to make consistent contact and get on base (.345 OBP this season) makes him an ideal addition for a club hoping it's got one more run left in it.
St. Louis Will Add a Left-Handed Bat Who Can Play First Base
As Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wrote, the St. Louis Cardinals need a left-handed bat in the worst possible way: "The bat doesn’t have to be an All-Star. A platoon type will do. Just somebody to restore order to a lineup unable to average four runs a game and a bench that served as a strength in April but became an eyesore due to overexposure by June."
Milwaukee's Adam Lind, who has been crushing right-handed pitching this season and would form an excellent first base platoon with Mark Reynolds, fits that description. With a reasonable $500,000 buyout of an $8 million team option for 2016, the club could part ways with him after the season, making room for the return of Matt Adams, who is on the 60-day DL due to quad surgery.
He'll cost the Cardinals a pair of quality prospects to obtain, including right-handed starter Luke Weaver, but it's a move that the club simply can't afford not to make.
The Tampa Bay Rays Will Trade Kevin Jepsen and Jake McGee
Even if the Tampa Bay Rays remain in the hunt for a playoff spot, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the club is more likely to trade away pieces from the major league roster than it is to trade for another bat.
Topkin specifically points to the bullpen, with Brad Boxberger, Kevin Jepsen and Jake McGee the most likely trade candidates. Of the three, Boxberger is the most valuable but least likely to go as the All-Star doesn't become arbitration eligible until 2017.
Jepsen and McGee, however, could both wind up with 2016 salaries approaching $5 million through arbitration, which is far too much for a cash-strapped franchise like Tampa Bay to pay out.
The Texas Rangers Will Trade Away—and Trade For—a Starting Pitcher
Texas general manager Jon Daniels isn't about to give up on his team despite its place in the standings (47-50, third in the AL West). “We’re realistic about where we are, but we still believe in the team," he told the Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson. "We've got a run in us."
That run will be spearheaded by the arrival of Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, who fits Daniels' desire to add players who are controllable past season's end and can replace Yovani Gallardo atop the rotation.
Gallardo, whom Fox Sports' Jon Morosi says is expected to be dealt, will be heading back to the National League—though he won't be part of the package that brings Hamels to Texas.
The Toronto Blue Jays Will Add 2 Starters
Toronto will decide to play some of its most valuable trade chips as the deadline approaches in order to bolster its pitching staff, landing Mike Fiers and Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers and Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago White Sox.
While neither one is a bona fide ace, Fiers and Samardzija will give the Blue Jays a pair of quality starters who will eat innings and have little trouble keeping Toronto in the game, given the team's high-powered offense.
They will also allow Toronto to strengthen its bullpen by sliding Aaron Sanchez into a late-inning role while solidifying the ninth with Rodriguez, who is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his 14-year career.
This trio won't come cheaply, of course, with the team's top two pitching prospects, lefty Daniel Norris and right-hander Jeff Hoffman the centerpieces of packages heading to Milwaukee and Chicago, respectively.
The Washington Nationals Will Add a Veteran Reliever
Washington has been linked to multiple relievers, most recently Philadelphia's Jonathan Papelbon, per Fox's Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal. But the team will find a perfect addition with a motivated seller in San Diego's Joaquin Benoit, whom ESPN's Buster Olney recently tweeted is expected to be moved.
Benoit has flourished in just about every possible bullpen role, making him an ideal fit for the Nationals, who already have a terrific closer in Drew Storen. By taking on the rest of his $8 million salary, which will satisfy the Padres' desire to shed some payroll, Washington will be able to obtain him for a package of low-level prospects.
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