Predicting MLB Trade Deadline's Winners and Losers Post-All-Star Break
MLB trade season has kicked into high gear, as a pair of All-Stars have switched teams since Tuesday night's Midsummer Classic.
First, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent five prospects to the Baltimore Orioles to plug their hole at shortstop with slugger Manny Machado, and Yusniel Diaz headlined the return package.
Then, the Cleveland Indians shipped top prospect Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres for closer Brad Hand and promising reliever Adam Cimber to shore up a leaky bullpen.
Ahead we've made our predictions for who will walk away as the biggest winners and losers of this year's trade deadline.
This is purely speculation, but it will also serve as a preview of sorts for what to expect in the days leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Loser: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Jacob deGrom's agent, Brodie van Wagenen, didn't mince words when talking about his client's future, per Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network:
"We have discussed Jacob's future with the Mets at length. Jacob has expressed interest in exploring a long-term partnership that would keep him in a Mets uniform for years to come.
If the Mets don't share same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now. The inertia of the current situation could complicate Jacob's relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision."
Asking for clarity on his short- and long-term future is a reasonable request from one of the game's best pitchers.
That said, he might not get it.
The Mets will test the market for the 30-year-old, but their asking price will be extremely high. That's to be expected for a pitcher who is leading the majors in ERA (1.68) and features team control through 2020.
There's a good chance no one will gut their farm system for him, and when the dust settles on the trade deadline, deGrom's situation won't be any clearer.
Winner: J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays
J.A. Happ has flown under the radar during his second stint with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Here's a look at where he ranks among starters with at least 400 innings since the start of 2016, when he signed a three-year, $36 million deal.
- W: 40 (T-6th)
- ERA: 3.57 (14th)
- ERA+: 122 (T-13th)
- WHIP: 1.22 (22nd)
- WAR: 8.7 (18th)
Those are excellent numbers, yet the 35-year-old is still overlooked on a national level.
That could change with one trade.
He's the top rental starter on the market and is a virtual lock to be dealt before the deadline.
Whether he steps into the No. 2 starter spot in the New York Yankees rotation, gives the Chicago Cubs a boost at the back end of their staff or winds up somewhere else, Happ should have a chance to gain well-deserved notoriety on a contender.
A strong showing down the stretch and into October would also boost his free-agent stock as he tries to secure another multiyear deal.
Losers: Minnesota Twins
A 9-2 stretch leading up to the All-Star break has provided the Minnesota Twins with something dangerous for a team on the fringe of contention.
Despite that run, the Twins are 7.5 games back in the AL Central and a whopping 12.5 back for the second wild-card spot.
Still, after making a surprise charge to the Wild Card Game last year, the Twins entered the season with modest expectations, and they could see their recent stretch as a jump-off point for a big second half.
If that's the case, they'll likely avoid selling at the trade deadline, and that would be a mistake.
MLB Trade Rumors listed Eduardo Escobar, Brian Dozier, Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke as plausible trade chips if the Twins sell. They also mentioned Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi as possible buy-low options for contenders in need of starting pitching.
Dozier and Escobar are each headed for free agency after this season. Dozier is not producing at the level we've seen in recent seasons, but he's still capable of making an impact, while Escobar is having a career year and provides versatility. With several teams in the market for middle infield help and Machado no longer an option, both players could fetch a sizable return.
Rodney (37 G, 21/26 SV, 3.12 ERA) and Duke (42 G, 11 HLD, 3.38 ERA) are both having solid seasons, and teams always need cheap bullpen help.
FanGraphs places the Twins' postseason chances at 1.8 percent. Standing pat would be a mistake, but there's a good shot they do just that.
Winners: Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds have done an excellent job of turning spare parts into viable trade chips.
MLB Trade Rumors included Matt Harvey (9), Scooter Gennett (57), Jared Hughes (66) and David Hernandez (67) on their list of this year's top 75 trade candidates July 18.
Here's how they picked up those players:
- Harvey: Acquired from the New York Mets May 8 in exchange for Devin Mesoraco and cash. Harvey had a 7.00 ERA in 24 innings at the time of the trade, but he's gone 5-3 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 12 starts since joining the Reds.
- Gennett: Claimed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers before last season. After a breakout 2017, he's been even better this year. The 28-year-old is leading the NL with a .326 batting average and has 16 home runs, 63 RBI and 3.1 WAR.
- Hughes: Signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal during the offseason that includes a $3 million option for 2020. He's appeared in 43 games and posted a 1.44 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 7.0 K/9 with nine holds and six saves for 2.3 WAR.
- Hernandez: Signed a two-year, $5 million deal during the offseason. He's appeared in 29 games and posted a 1.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 with 10 holds and 1.1 WAR.
All four of those guys will draw interest from multiple teams in the upcoming days.
While there's a good chance Gennett will stay put, they could flip the other three for quality prospects—something that would not have seemed possible when the season began.
Losers: Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks' hopes of winning the NL West took a double hit when the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Machado.
Not only will the All-Star slugger move to their division, but the D-backs were also hot on the trail of the market's top rental bat.
It's been a trying offensive season for Arizona:
- BA: .229 (28th in MLB)
- OPS: .702 (24th in MLB)
- HR: 107 (16th in MLB)
- R/G: 4.34 (18th in MLB)
Getting any sort of production from Steven Souza Jr. (84 PA, .195 BA, 50 OPS+, 1 HR) would provide a nice in-house boost, but this still looks like a team that needs to add at least one impact bat to return to the postseason.
But where will it turn?
Dozier could be a fit if the D-backs are open to shifting Ketel Marte to shortstop and putting Nick Ahmed's elite glove on the bench. They won't be the only team vying for his services, though, and as we already touched on, the Twins are by no means a lock to sell.
Would Asdrubal Cabrera or Derek Dietrich move the needle? Not likely.
There's still time to put something together, but missing out on Machado looks like it could be a crushing blow.
Winners: Milwaukee Brewers
Bold prediction: The Milwaukee Brewers will come out on the other side of not landing Machado with a flurry of mid-level additions that make them a serious postseason threat.
Catcher and second base could both be upgraded, and veterans Wilson Ramos and Cabrera would fit nicely at those respective positions. Or maybe they'll aim higher and snag Dozier.
Ramos has a hamstring injury that could keep him sidelined until mid-August, but that might simply serve to lower his acquisition price. He'd be a huge upgrade over the incumbent trio of Erik Kratz, Jacob Nottingham and Manny Pina.
Maybe they'll even explore a package deal with the Rays that also brings starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi into the mix.
What they really need is a legitimate staff ace to front a rotation full of quality, mid-level arms, so a strong push for someone such as Tampa's Chris Archer is also a possibility.
We won't try to predict exactly what they'll do, but expect the Brewers to be busy and to come out on the other side of the deadline looking like a serious threat.
They've cast off the rebuilding tag and are ready to make a push toward the postseason, and despite a rocky first-half finish, they're still in a strong position to do just that.
Losers: Toronto Blue Jays
Oh, what could have been.
The Toronto Blue Jays opted against an aggressive offseason sell-off in favor of making one final push with their core group, knowing if they fell out of the race they could still reap the rewards of a busy trade deadline.
Or so they thought.
Happ should fetch a decent return as the market's top rental starter, but what once looked like a treasure trove of trade chips is now depleted.
Josh Donaldson has been sidelined since May 28 with a calf injury, and he suffered a setback in his recovery at the end of June. There's a good chance he'll return before the July 31 deadline passes, but he won't net nearly the same haul he might have during the offseason or if he were healthy.
In fact, the Blue Jays may wind up favoring a qualifying offer and the subsequent draft-pick compensation.
Marco Estrada (17 GS, 4-7, 4.72 ERA) had a chance to join Happ as a valuable rental arm if he could return to his 2016 form. Instead, it's unlikely he'll bring back anything of significance, as he has middling numbers and a $13 million salary.
Relievers Tyler Clippard (48 G, 3.15 ERA) and Seunghwan Oh (45 G, 2.82 ERA) might be the team's two best trade chips, but what can they realistically expect to get for either beyond a mid-level prospect?
Simply put, keeping Donaldson and putting off the rebuild was a huge mistake.
They'll get to see the full scope of that error Aug. 1.
Winners: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are already winners.
They added Machado without parting with the likes of Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, Keibert Ruiz or Gavin Lux.
Yusniel Diaz has a chance to be an impact player, and there were other intriguing prospects who went to Baltimore in that deal, but the Dodgers did extremely well to add one of the game's top hitters without gutting the farm.
And they're likely not finished.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the focus will turn to finding setup help for closer Kenley Jansen.
The Dodgers system is flush with high-ceiling prospects beyond the above marquee names, so the team should be able to add a quality arm or two without doing much damage to the farm.
L.A. added Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani last summer, and it could take a similar route this time, targeting one rental reliever and one bullpen arm with team control.
Zach Britton, Jeurys Familia and Joakim Soria all fall into the first category.
Raisel Iglesias, Kyle Barraclough, Kirby Yates and Keone Kela are names to watch from that second group.
At any rate, the Dodgers once again seem prepared to do whatever it takes to put the best roster on the field for the stretch run.
The rest of the National League might be in trouble.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through July 18.