Your MLB Team Should Run Away from These Top Trade-Deadline Targets

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2018

Your MLB Team Should Run Away from These Top Trade-Deadline Targets

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Sometimes, as the saying goes, jazz is about the notes you don't play. Likewise, the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline is sometimes about the players you don't acquire.

    With that in mind, here are a half-dozen potential deadline targets who will surely churn through the rumor mill and who possess the track record and name recognition to warrant attention.

    In the end, however, your favorite team should take a hard pass. Why? Let's examine.

James Shields, RHP, Chicago White Sox

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    As recently as 2014, James Shields was a stud who picked up stray MVP votes with the American League champion Kansas City Royals.

    Today, he's a 36-year-old veteran toiling for a Chicago White Sox club with "youth movement" all but scrawled above the entrance to the clubhouse.

    His 4.63 ERA raises red flags. The seven home runs he's surrendered in 26 June innings raise even more. 

    Shields is earning $21 million this season ($11 million of it paid by the San Diego Padres) and is owed a $2 million buyout in 2019.

    The ChiSox will surely shop him. But despite his resume as a postseason-tested innings-eater, he makes little sense.

Starlin Castro, 2B, Miami Marlins

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Miami Marlins sold their entire 2017 starting outfield this winter along with speedy second baseman Dee Gordon. The Fish will try to unload more assets at the deadline.

    Veteran second baseman Starlin Castro is a prime candidate. He's a four-time All-Star who has postseason experience with the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees.

    He's also owed more than $11 million next season and a $1 million buyout or $16 million team option for 2020.

    Castro is hitting .273 for Miami but has managed only three home runs while posting an anemic .660 OPS in June. And he's no whiz with the leather, as evidenced by his career minus-11 defensive runs saved at the keystone sack.

    Any buyer seeking a second baseman should pursue the Cincinnati Reds' Scooter Gennett, who's hitting .336 with 12 home runs.

Michael Fulmer, RHP, Detroit Tigers

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Almost every contender could use another starting pitcher. The Detroit Tigers are in rebuild mode despite a surprisingly decent 36-37 start.

    The Tigers also employ right-hander Michael Fulmer, who won American League Rookie of the Year honors in 2016, was an All-Star in 2017 and is under club control through 2022.

    That said, Fulmer sports a ho-hum 4.13 ERA and has coughed up nine home runs in 14 starts with a career-high 3.1 walks per nine innings.

    The 25-year-old has value. Given his controllability and early track record, Detroit would probably demand a gaudy prospect package.

    The Tigers don't need to trade Fulmer. A prospective buyer would need to wow them.

    So far, the young righty's results haven't screamed (or even murmured) "wow."

Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Most of the chatter surrounding the last-place Baltimore Orioles' inevitable deadline sell-off has been focused on Manny Machado. It makes sense: Machado is a generational talent who can capably play shortstop or third base and would improve any team.

    Other impending Orioles free agents could be on the block, however, including outfielder Adam Jones.

    A five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner in center field, Jones has a pedigree that commands attention. His recent results? That's where things get dicey.

    Jones' .770 OPS is his lowest since 2008. More disturbingly, his defense has tumbled off the cliff. He hasn't rated as above-average with the glove since 2015, but his minus-18 DRS thus far is a career low.

    Without the hitting chops to be a plus corner outfielder or the defense to capably man center, the 32-year-old is on the downslope of his MLB tenure.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Adrian Beltre could one day land in the Hall of Fame. He's hitting .326 in June and .322 overall for a Texas Rangers team that's going nowhere in the AL West.

    Contenders seeking power and veteran leadership will come calling.

    Now, to apply the wet blanket: The 39-year-old missed significant time with a hamstring injury. He's also been boosted by a .372 batting average on balls in play that's well above his career mark of .301.

    Defensively, Beltre isn't finished, but his minus-1.5 ultimate zone rating is a career low.

    If the Rangers are simply giving him away? Sure. But they won't. In which case, buyers ought to shop elsewhere.

Matt Harvey, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    The New York Mets finally threw in the towel on the Matt Harvey experiment and shipped the once-great, oft-injured, underperforming right-hander to the Cincinnati Reds in May.

    With no hope to contend in the top-heavy National League Central, the Reds will listen to offers for Harvey, who was an All-Star and top-five NL Cy Young Award finisher in 2013 and an ace-level arm as recently as 2015.

    The 29-year-old has tumbled since then and hasn't managed to resurrect his career with Cincinnati. In seven starts with his new squad, Harvey has yielded seven home runs in 35.1 innings next to 10 walks and 26 strikeouts. Overall, his ERA for the season sits at 5.92.

    Reclamation projects are well and good. Buyers may look at Harvey, squint and remember the good times. Those times are past.

    Stick a fork in him and walk away briskly.


    All statistics and contract information current as of Tuesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.