MLB Trade Deadline 2015: Complete Predictions 1 Week from Deadline Day
Some years, baseball's trade deadline hands us a monthlong extravaganza. This year, it's looking more like a weeklong sprint to the finish.
A year ago, Billy Beane picked up Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on July 5, giving him plenty of time to work on adding Jon Lester on deadline day. By July 22, 2014, Brian Cashman had already made three trades.
And this month? Nothing, at least until Beane got things underway Thursday by shipping Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros. Then the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Aramis Ramirez from the Milwaukee Brewers.
There's more to come—plenty more. It could even be exciting, especially if the guy pictured here gets in the middle of it.
So, Dave Dombrowski, what are you and your disappointing Detroit Tigers going to do? Buy, sell or hold?
If Dombrowski really does trade David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, he could shake up the whole market. Even if he doesn't, it figures to be quite a week.
So get ready for seven days of fun, with our bold (and some not so bold) predictions on what will happen before 4 p.m. ET on July 31, the last time this season teams can deal players without waivers.
The predictions come with no guarantees. Some have been talked about for weeks. Some we're not sure anyone (including the teams involved) have discussed.
They all make sense (at least to us). So let's get going.
The Tigers Will Wait and Wait...and Sell
There's no question the Tigers are thinking about selling. There's no question they should be thinking about selling.
They're below .500. They're double-digit games behind in a division led by maybe the best team in the league, the Kansas City Royals.
Even if they find their way into the playoffs, the bullpen is the usual mess, and the rotation beyond David Price is undependable. Not only that, but they're almost certainly not going to re-sign Price after the season, so keeping him now means losing him for just a draft pick, significantly hurting their chances of winning in 2016 or 2017.
Then again...the Tigers are just four games out of a wild-card spot, chasing a Minnesota team that hardly looks imposing. None of the other wild-card contenders look any better than the Tigers, and none of the other contenders is going to add Miguel Cabrera into its lineup sometime next month. They're a team built to win and an organization that has been going for it since 2006. And if the Tigers get in the playoffs, they have Price atop the rotation and Cabrera in the middle of the lineup, so they're dangerous.
Oh, and the Tigers' next six games are against the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, so it's not hard to imagine them going on a winning streak that has them at or near the wild-card lead by July 31.
But remember, the Tigers just went 3-4 on a homestand against the underwhelming Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners.
This isn't an easy call, and it's ultimately going to come down to what owner Mike Ilitch says.
Prediction: After a rough weekend in Boston, the Tigers make the tough call to sell.
The Dodgers Will Trade for a Third Ace
Having a rotation full of aces doesn't guarantee you anything. Ask the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels) or the 2014 Detroit Tigers (Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Price).
But wouldn't you want to take your chances in a short series with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Price (above)? Or with Kershaw, Greinke and Hamels? Or Kershaw, Greinke and Johnny Cueto?
The Dodgers have been thinking big this month, which is no surprise for a team that has already committed $271 million toward ending a 27-year championship drought. L.A. has money, prospects and a need (the back of their rotation, as of now, is Mike Bolsinger and couple of question marks).
The Dodgers have long been considered the favorites to land Hamels, but if Price gets to the market, he could be an even better fit. General manager Andrew Friedman had Price with the Rays and never wanted to trade him away. Now he has the financial resources to get him back and keep him (and keep him away from Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs).
Prediction: David Price to the Dodgers (but if they don't get him, they'll still get an ace).
The Blue Jays Will Make a Splash
Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been suggesting that a starting pitcher is a bigger priority than a reliever.
Why not get both?
The Jays are said to have some financial restrictions, but they also have big motivation to deal (and deal big). They haven't been to the playoffs since 1993, and after three years in serious win-now mode, it's time to actually win. Besides, with change coming at the top of the organization (club president Paul Beeston is in his final year), Anthopoulos may not have much more time.
The Jays have been in on just about every pitcher out there (and probably on some who aren't out there). We know they've been talking to the Cincinnati Reds, who have both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake available.
But the Reds also have Aroldis Chapman, and while they don't need to move him, the indications have been that they would.
Could the Blue Jays afford both Chapman and one of the starters? Only Anthopoulos and his bosses know for sure, but if this is going to be the year the Jays finally win, it's time to really try.
Prediction: Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman to the Blue Jays.
Whatever Sandy Alderson Does, Mets Fans Won't Like It
A month ago, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he was "prepared to overpay" to acquire a hitter. A week later, Joel Sherman of the New York Post identified Ben Zobrist as the hitter Alderson wanted to overpay to get.
Zobrist still isn't a Met, and this week various Mets writers (including the Post's Mike Puma and the Record's Bob Klapisch) had downgraded a Zobrist deal to either "long shot" or "virtually no chance." Sherman now suggests the Mets are more likely to end up with someone like Gerardo Parra, Ryan Raburn or Juan Uribe.
That might actually make sense for a team that was always going to be better positioned in 2016 (money coming off the books, innings limits less of an issue) than in 2015. For the Mets to win this year, they needed underperformance from the Washington Nationals (check) but also health and production from David Wright and Michael Cuddyer (didn't happen).
But Mets fans have already been told to wait for too long. The Mets tried to sell tickets this year by using the word "playoffs" as much as possible.
Now they're the lowest-scoring team in the National League. Thursday night against Clayton Kershaw, four of the nine players in the Mets lineup had batting averages below .180 (including cleanup hitter John Mayberry Jr. and No. 5 hitter Eric Campbell).
And their idea of a big deadline addition is Raburn?
That's not going to go over well.
Prediction: Raburn to the Mets, and it gets ugly again in Queens.
The Royals Are Going for It
The Kansas City Royals probably don't need to add a pitcher to get to the playoffs. They do need a pitcher if they're going to win once they get there, though.
The Royals know it. They've been looking hard for weeks. They've looked at outfielders too, since Alex Gordon went down, but he should be back before October.
They were interested in Scott Kazmir, but he went to the Houston Astros on Thursday. At one point, they were said to have more interest in Mike Leake than in Johnny Cueto, but they've talked about Cueto too, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
Cueto is a free agent at season's end, which could keep his price within the range the Royals are comfortable with. There have been questions about his elbow, but he seems to be healthy now. He's a top-of-the-rotation starter and a difference-maker.
Prediction: Royals trade for Johnny Cueto.
Cole Hamels Will Get Out of Philadelphia
If the Tigers don't trade David Price, Cole Hamels could end up as a Dodger. The San Diego native probably wouldn't mind that, but at this point he might not mind anything that gets him away from the misery that is the 2015 Phillies (OK, maybe not Toronto or Houston).
The Phillies have waited forever to trade Hamels, looking for the right deal. There's no guarantee they'll find it this month, and when ESPN.com's Jayson Stark listed Hamels' options this week, he had "nowhere at all" as a real possibility.
Hamels isn't a free agent at season's end, so the Phillies could justify not trading him if they don't get an offer they like. But really, it's time for them to move on.
Because he isn't a rental, Hamels could interest teams without a real chance to win this year, and Stark mentioned both the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox as possibilities (along with the Dodgers and Cubs). Hamels is signed through 2018, with an option for 2019.
The Phillies have also been trying to trade closer Jonathan Papelbon, and he has been more vocal than Hamels about wanting to leave. But it seems he's also proving tougher to deal.
Prediction: Phillies trade Hamels to the Rangers, but Papelbon goes nowhere.
The Padres Will Shake Things Up...Again
The San Diego Padres were one of the big stories of the winter. New general manager A.J. Preller earned plaudits for how hard he worked and how much he made happen.
It was a good idea in a town that was tired of constant losing and constantly being lied to. Preller didn't lie, but what he tried didn't really work either. The Padres are under .500 and out of the race again.
Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler insisted to the San Diego Union-Tribune that the team hasn't yet decided to sell, but it seems inevitable.
Preller won't be able to undo everything he did last winter—do you want Matt Kemp?—but he does have some valuable pieces he can move. Justin Upton could be switching teams again, assuming the oblique injury that has sidelined him the last four games isn't too serious. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross have value but high price tags, and James Shields may have value despite a big contract and poor 2015 numbers.
And then there's Craig Kimbrel. When the Padres acquired him from the Atlanta Braves just before Opening Day, it was the biggest sign they were going for it. They don't need to trade him now, but plenty of playoff teams could use an elite reliever, and Kimbrel (while his numbers are down a little this year) remains elite.
No one knows that better than the Washington Nationals. In 42 career appearances against Washington, Kimbrel has a 1.74 ERA. Drew Storen has been doing well as the closer, but a Kimbrel-Storen combo would look good heading to the playoffs.
Prediction: Padres trade Kimbrel to the Nationals.
Billy Beane Isn't Done
Billy Beane made the first big July trade when he sent Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros. That may not be the last trade the Astros make this month (they could still use an outfielder, perhaps someone like Carlos Gomez), and it won't be the last trade Beane makes either.
He's ready to deal, and he has players of value, including Ben Zobrist (above) and Tyler Clippard.
Zobrist was an early pick to go to the New York Mets, but he might be a better fit on the other side of town. Stephen Drew has been one of the worst hitters in baseball, and it doesn't look like the Yankees trust Rob Refsnyder. Zobrist can handle the American League East, and on a team with too many designated hitters, he would give Joe Girardi some nice flexibility.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told various reporters this week that he was just as likely not to make a significant move. But while it's true the Yankees are no longer the trade-deadline monsters they once were, Cashman always downplays the chances right before he does something.
Some have suggested that move could be another reliever (perhaps even Aroldis Chapman, as suggested by ESPN.com's David Schoenfield) to team with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. But if the Yankees could get Zobrist, it would be an even better fit.
Prediction: A's trade Zobrist to Yankees.
There Will Be More Big Names Mentioned
Remember Jeff Samardzija? He went from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland A's last July and from Oakland to the Chicago White Sox in December.
He could well be on the move again, perhaps to the Toronto Blue Jays, perhaps somewhere else. So could Yovani Gallardo of the Texas Rangers in what could be a crowded pitching market.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan mentioned on Twitter that the Cleveland Indians might discuss Carlos Carrasco. The Miami Marlins would definitely deal starters Mat Latos and Dan Haren, as well as reliever Steve Cishek.
The Reds would trade Jay Bruce. The Brewers would trade Francisco Rodriguez. The Phillies would trade Ben Revere. The Padres would trade Will Venable.
There will be more names, but that's enough for now. We've got all week.
There Will Be Teams Trying to Be Creative
Once again this week, Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington accepted the blame for the team's dismal state. That's fine, but what's more important is accepting the responsibility for fixing it (he says he wants to do that too). It won't be easy, but you can be sure that over the next week, Cherington and his aides will be looking for ways.
They'll need to be creative, for sure. It's not as simple as saying let's trade Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. It's not as simple as saying let's make that move for Cole Hamels, after all.
But the trade deadline is a perfect time to think big, and the Red Sox are one of the teams with a history of trying to think big. Cherington's old boss Theo Epstein was a master at it, and you can bet Epstein will spend the next week thinking big in Chicago.
Don't worry if you didn't see your favorite team listed here. It doesn't necessarily mean it's not doing anything. More likely, it means I didn't have an idea for a crazy prediction.
The Angels still need offensive help, no matter how well they've played this week. The Pirates still need a reliever, after getting Aramis Ramirez to play third base. The Cardinals could still use a left-handed bat. The Orioles could use a hitter, although at this point you wonder if it would make a difference.
And if the Tigers don't sell and instead decide to go for it, they could use a reliever.
It's been a quiet month so far. But it should be quite a week.