Likeliest Player on Each MLB Team to Move by the Trade Deadline
MLB's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is nigh. Soon, guys will start swapping uniforms.
While we wait, let's take a look at the player on each team most likely to be traded, based on the club's status as a probable seller or buyer, the latest rumors and a dollop of old-fashioned gut feeling.
In the case of perceived buyers, we're considering minor league assets. In the case of sellers, we're looking at established big leaguers.
American League West
Houston Astros: OF/1B Yordan Alvarez
The Houston Astros are a pretty darn complete team as they mount a defense of their 2017 world championship. They could always add more, however, including to a bullpen in which Tony Sipp is the lone left-hander.
The San Diego Padres' Brad Hand is an interesting possibility, and while the 'Stros should hang on to outfielder Kyle Tucker and right-hander Forrest Whitley, they could build a package around No. 3 prospect (per MLB.com) Yordan Alvarez.
The powerful Cuban hit .325 at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A and should be enough to perk up the Pads or any other suitor.
Los Angeles Angels: RHP Garrett Richards
The Los Angeles Angels employ Mike Trout, the best player on the planet until further notice. They're also buried behind the Astros, Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in the American League West. Add a raft of injuries, and the Halos are looking increasingly like sellers.
If they sell, right-hander Garrett Richards should garner interest.
The 30-year-old missed time in June with a hamstring strain and is an impending free agent, but he's posted a 3.42 ERA with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 15 starts. He could lure any number of pitching-hungry contenders, including the New York Yankees, and help restock the Angels' farm.
Oakland Athletics: RHP Blake Treinen
It's possible the A's will opt to make a playoff push rather than sell at the deadline. It's also possible they'll keep right-hander and recently minted All-Star Blake Treinen, who has been a late-innings revelation.
If the small-market Athletics decide to sell, however, the 30-year-old could fetch a gaudy return. In 45.2 innings, Treinen has notched 56 strikeouts with a 0.79 ERA.
Every contender is looking for bullpen help. Treinen, who can't hit free agency until 2020, will be at the top of everyone's shopping list.
Seattle Mariners: OF Braden Bishop
The Mariners are trying to break a 16-year postseason drought, the longest in baseball. They could also stand to add starting pitching without having to decimate their farm system.
A reunion with J.A. Happ, now of the Toronto Blue Jays, is on the table, per MLB Network's Jon Morosi.
The M's shouldn't part with top prospects such as outfielder Kyle Lewis and first baseman Evan White. But outfielder Braden Bishop, who's hitting .289 at Double-A, could headline a haul that would net an impact starter.
Texas Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels
The Texas Rangers are among baseball's more obvious trade-deadline sellers, and they employ a playoff-tested southpaw who sports an ERA of 4.28 but has struck out 106 in 103 innings.
We're speaking of Cole Hamels, who comes with warts but also a wealth of October experience and can be bought out for $6 million in 2019.
If the Mariners miss on Happ, they could try to snag Hamels from their division rivals. The Yankees will kick the tires. And so on.
It's possible Hamels finishes the season in Arlington, but it isn't likely.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: RHP James Shields
The Chicago White Sox are clearly a year or more away from contention in the American League Central, despite their stable of young talent. They employ the 36-year-old James Shields, a useful pitcher for a contender but a disposable asset for a rebuilding squad.
The ChiSox won't be able to command a king's ransom for Shields, who owns a 4.53 ERA. The veteran posted a 3.38 ERA in May and a 3.82 ERA in June, however, and has extensive postseason experience with the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals.
Chicago won't net any blue chips for Shields, but a contender looking for back-of-the-rotation buttressing will answer the phone.
Cleveland Indians: 3B Nolan Jones
The Cleveland Indians ought to run away with the AL Central without any additions. At the same time, they could add to a bullpen that ranks 28th in baseball with a 5.13 ERA.
Enter a move for the Padres' Hand, the Baltimore Orioles' Zach Britton or any number of other late-innings arms.
The Tribe should resist dealing catcher and top prospect Francisco Mejia or right-hander Triston McKenzie but could leverage Singe-A third baseman Nolan Jones to strengthen a squad that hasn't hoisted a Commissioner's Trophy since 1948.
Detroit Tigers: SS Jose Iglesias
The Detroit Tigers are in unambiguous rebuild mode even after a decent start. Shortstop Jose Iglesias is a pending free agent who's hitting .272 and would be a solid role player for multiple buyers.
The 28-year-old won't light the world on fire, but he hit .304 in June and could add depth for clubs such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals.
Kansas City Royals: 3B Mike Moustakas
Next up could be third baseman Mike Moustakas, who has 17 home runs in 86 games and could interest contenders from the Atlanta Braves to the Cardinals with his combination of pop and postseason experience.
The 29-year-old would also be a minimal obligation with a $15 million mutual option and $1 million buyout left on his contract.
Minnesota Twins: 2B Brian Dozier
The Minnesota Twins lost 103 games in 2016 and won the American League's second wild-card berth in 2017. This year, they're stuck somewhere in the middle.
Yes, Minnesota could contend in the anything-goes AL Central, but more realistically, the small-market Twins should stock up for next season.
As such, they could move second baseman Brian Dozier, who's hitting only .223 but boasts 18 doubles and 13 home runs and has drawn interest from the Dodgers, per Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.
Dozier would be a rental, but his power pedigree from the middle infield will elicit a look-see from virtually every contender.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: SS Manny Machado
Do we need to say a whole lot?
The Orioles are in last place in the American League East, buried...let's check...a billion games out of first place (give or take). Manny Machado is an impending free agent and one of the best players in baseball. The writing is scribbled on the wall.
Will Machado go to the Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals, Chicago Cubs or some other suitor? It'll be among July's biggest stories.
Will he remain an Oriole as the calendar turns to August? That's as close to a hard "no" as you're going to get.
Boston Red Sox: RHP Tanner Houck
With third baseman Michael Chavis serving an 80-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension and right-hander Jay Groome sidelined by Tommy John surgery, the Boston Red Sox's farm system is diminished.
At the same time, the Sox are locked into a prize fight with the archrival Yankees in the AL East and may need to boost their bullpen or otherwise add reinforcements at the deadline.
If Boston wants to get bold, it could deal right-hander Tanner Houck. The 24th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Houck has the stuff to be a mid-rotation fixture or late-innings stud and could net the Red Sox a game-changing acquisition such as Britton, who was linked to the Sox by Fancred's Jon Heyman.
New York Yankees: OF Clint Frazier
The Yankees could use pitching in a starting rotation that lost Jordan Montgomery to Tommy John surgery, got Masahiro Tanaka back Tuesday from a pair of hamstring strains and is counting on Sonny Gray and his 5.85 ERA.
New York will almost inevitably make a play for a top-shelf starter such as Hamels as it tries to keep contact with Boston and angle for a 28th world championship.
Clint Frazier could be a piece of the future in the Bronx in a crowded outfield depth chart, but he might also headline a package for an arm after posting a .958 OPS in High-A and Triple-A and tasting the big leagues for a second consecutive season in 2018.
Tampa Bay Rays: LHP Blake Snell
The Rays are perennially retooling and surely accept reality as they gaze up at the Yankees and Red Sox.
They also have Blake Snell, whose 2.09 ERA leads the AL and who would immediately improve any contender with his 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
The 25-year-old isn't eligible for free agency until 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for a gargantuan prospect payday if he's traded.
Toronto Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ
As mentioned, Happ could reunite with the Mariners. He could also join the Yankees or land in any number of alternate destinations.
Happ's 4.44 ERA through 18 starts isn't overly impressive, but he's struck out 115 in 105.1 innings and has logged a 3.72 ERA in 19.1 playoff innings.
He could likely be had for a package that doesn't involve any blue chips and boasts the pedigree and recent performance to inspire a degree of confidence.
Sounds like the definition of a deadline rental.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: 1B Pavin Smith
Who will get Machado from the Orioles? It's the question of the offseason.
The answer isn't unequivocally the Diamondbacks, but the Snakes are at the forefront of the discussion.
As MLB.com's Steve Gilbert noted, "the D-backs have never stopped being interested in Machado." That computes, considering the left side of their infield depth chart is topped by shortstop Nick Ahmed (.226 average) and third baseman Jake Lamb (.234 average).
Machado would be a rental, but he'd also command glitzy prospects. The Diamondbacks could begin with a package featuring polished first baseman Pavin Smith, who's blocked at the MLB level by a guy named Paul Goldschmidt.
Colorado Rockies: 3B Colton Welker
The Colorado Rockies are locked in a scrambling scuffle in the National League West and could decide to sell or at least stand pat come late July.
If they buy, the Rocks will look for pitching help and could deal third baseman Colton Welker, who is hitting .319 with an .854 OPS at High-A but is blocked in a crowded infield that includes four-time All-Star Nolan Arenado.
If Colorado decides it's out of it in the coming weeks, it should hold its chips. If it gets hot and has a crack at a second straight playoff push, it should consider a swap.
Los Angeles Dodgers: OF Alex Verdugo
The Dodgers lost star shortstop Corey Seager to Tommy John surgery. Machado is dangling as a tantalizing possibility.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, L.A. and Baltimore have discussed top Dodgers outfield prospect Alex Verdugo, though "he hasn't been made available."
That doesn't mean he won't be. Trading blue chips for rentals hasn't been the M.O. of executive Andrew Friedman since he took the reins in SoCal, but things can change when you're trying to break a nearly three-decade title-less streak.
San Diego Padres: LHP Brad Hand
As mentioned, Hand is having a strong season for the Padres, with a 2.91 ERA, 24 saves and 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
The list of contenders who could use his services is as long as the list of contenders, and he's signed to an affordable deal that runs through 2021 with a team option.
The Friars don't have to trade him, but if they do, he'll reap a healthy reward.
San Francisco Giants: OF/1B Chris Shaw
The San Francisco Giants are hanging above .500 and in the postseason mix. Chances are, they'll buy come late July.
They'll also likely try to maintain their modest MiLB stockpile, which could mean trading the powerful Chris Shaw, who has hit 18 home runs at Triple-A but is blocked on the big league roster by first baseman Brandon Belt, who can also play outfield when catcher Buster Posey needs a respite at first.
The Giants could roll Shaw into a package to add a bullpen arm or rotation depth as they attempt to make one more even-year surge.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: RHP Jose Albertos
The Cubs aren't desperate heading into the deadline. They're in second place in the National League Central, nipping at the heels of the Milwaukee Brewers.
That said, the Cubbies aren't merely trying to make the playoffs. They want to get back to the World Series and win after breaking the curse of the billy goat in 2016.
They could thus try to bolster their bullpen or starting rotation by trading from a farm system that is no longer flush with blue chips but does feature interesting names such as 19-year-old righty Jose Albertos, who struck out 17 in 13 innings at Single-A and could fetch a playoff-push piece for the win-now club.
Cincinnati Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett
The Dodgers could be in the market for any number of bats or arms. Add the Cincinnati Reds' Scooter Gennett to the list.
According to Passan, L.A. has "had conversations" about Gennett, who is hitting .322 for the last-place Reds.
Cincinnati could opt to build around the 28-year-old, who's inked through 2019, and sign him to an extension. As the Reds drop further from contention, however, the chances they will trade Gennett to a contender increase.
Milwaukee Brewers: INF Keston Hiura
What are the chances the Brewers would trade Keston Hiura, the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft?
Pretty good, considering the Brew Crew are positioned to win the division.
Granted, the Brewers don't have to trade Hiura or any other top prospect. But they can overtake the Cubs and Cards for alpha NL Central status and should be willing to do what it takes, whether it be trading for a top-shelf starter or late-innings bullpen arm.
Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Corey Dickerson
After a hot start, the Pittsburgh Pirates have faded from contention. As general manager Neal Huntington put it, per Jerry DiPaola of the Tribune-Review: "Sometimes, reality sets in. The optimism has turned to realism."
As such, the Bucs could unload several veterans, including outfielder Coroey Dickerson. The 29-year-old is hitting .309 and boasts a 1.143 OPS in July.
He could entice contenders in search of power and add chips to a team floating between rebuilding and retooling.
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson
The Cardinals are fluttering around the National League playoff picture but could use a boost to an offense that ranks 17th in OPS and 20th in runs scored.
They might go all-in for Machado or seek a lesser target such as the Royals' Moustakas.
Either way, they may need to dip into a deep store of young pitchers and part with a promising arm such as Triple-A righty Dakota Hudson, who owns a 2.42 ERA and 12-2 record in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: RHP Ian Anderson
The Braves have blossomed ahead of schedule and are on track to make the playoffs. At the same time, they could use a power bat and help in the bullpen and boast the game's top farm system, per Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter.
Atlanta shouldn't cash in any top chips such as outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. or second baseman Ozzie Albies, but it could dangle a high-upside arm such as right-hander Ian Anderson to land a playoff-tested hitter such as Moustakas or, possibly, use him as part of a package to acquire Machado.
The Braves are a serious contender. They ought to act like it.
Miami Marlins: C J.T. Realmuto
The Miami Marlins are in everything-must-go mode after having traded their entire 2017 starting outfield and speedy second baseman Dee Gordon this offseason.
Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has a .919 OPS and is an All-Star.
The Fish could keep the 27-year-old, who's under club control through 2020. Multiple suitors are sure to swoop in, however, including the division-rival Nationals and Brewers.
This could be a chance for the Marlins to add more young talent to their blowup/rebuild.
New York Mets: 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
The hottest trade chatter surrounding the New York Mets will involve ace pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. If the Mets are wowed by an offer, they could move one or both.
More realistically, New York will deal veteran second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, an upcoming free agent who's hitting a solid .282 with 16 homers and would be a solid fit for a team such as the Dodgers, to whom he was linked by Passan.
Maybe the Mets will blow it up and deGrom and Thor will tilt the balance of power. Cabrera, though, is the better bet to exit Queens.
Philadelphia Phillies: 3B Maikel Franco
The Philadelphia Phillies' interest in Machado has been widely reported, and Heyman added fuel to the fire when he noted third baseman Maikel Franco's name had been "bandied about" in trade talks.
Heyman didn't specify a Machado swap and instead name-dropped Moustakas. Clearly, though, the Phils are in the market for a hot-corner upgrade.
It would take more than Franco to pry Machado from Baltimore, even for less than a half-season. But Philadelphia has more pieces in a relatively deep farm system and ample payroll flexibility to possibly ink Machado to an extension before he reaches free agency.
No matter what, the 25-year-old Franco may not be long for the City of Brotherly Love.
Washington Nationals: SS Carter Kieboom
With Bryce Harper likely in his D.C. swan song, the Nationals seem unlikely to trade top prospect Victor Robles, especially in light of the elbow injury that sidelined the 21-year-old for almost three months.
That said, with the clock ticking on the Harper era, the Nats are in unambiguous win-now mode. And they're locked in an unexpectedly tough fight in the National League East with the upstart Braves and Phillies.
If Washington wants to call the cavalry to the bullpen, rotation or lineup at the deadline, it could jettison shortstop Carter Kieboom, who is rising through the Nats' system but is blocked at short by Trea Turner.
Whether the Nationals want to shift him to another position or cash him in and try to get past the division series for the first time since arriving in the nation's capital remains to be seen.