Deal or No Deal: MLB Trade Predictions 1 Week from the Deadline

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJuly 23, 2018

Deal or No Deal: MLB Trade Predictions 1 Week from the Deadline

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    Will the Mets trade Jacob deGrom?
    Will the Mets trade Jacob deGrom?Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Manny Machado, Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia are just the start. Many more trade matters must be resolved in the final week before Major League Baseball's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

    For this, we have a few ideas.

    Ahead are a dozen predictions for the final days of MLB's summer trade season. These cover a few trades that won't happen but mostly concern deals that will happen. In any event, these predictions are strictly speculative.

    Starting with the deals that won't go down, let's take it away.

Cole Hamels Will Stay Put in Texas

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, it's likely Cole Hamels will be moved by July 31. The Texas Rangers are terrible, and he's nearing the end of his contract, so that adds up.

    And yet, complications abound.

    Money is one of them. Hamels is pulling in $22.5 million this season, and he'll be owed at least a $6 million buyout this offseason. Not many teams can afford to take on those commitments.

    Meanwhile, the 34-year-old has recently been sabotaging his trade value. After posting a 3.38 ERA through his first 10 starts, his ERA has ballooned to 5.51 over his last nine. That makes it hard to ignore that he wasn't so great in 2017 either, as he finished with a 4.20 ERA across 24 starts.

    The Rangers are going to be hard-pressed to dump Hamels' remaining money or get real prospects back if they agree to eat the bulk of it. Their best play may be to hold on to Hamels and hope to move him during the August waiver period.

Chris Archer Will Stay Put in Tampa Bay

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Speaking of former aces on the trading block, there's also Chris Archer.

    Archer has been a living, breathing trade rumor for several years at this point, and it sounds like he's grown wary of living in uncertainty with the Tampa Bay Rays.

    "I turn 30 in a couple months," he told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "I want to play the game for 10 more years, but there's nothing guaranteed in life. I want to experience winning."

    It's possible the market will grant Archer's wish. According to Ken Rosenthal's latest video for Fox Sports, there's "significant interest" in the right-hander.

    However, that came with the caveat that the player would "almost certainly" have to reclaim some value in his final outings before the trade deadline. His 13-strikeout performance from Sunday can only help, but this is still a guy with a 4.10 ERA since 2016. Archer also recently missed a month with an abdominal strain.

    The Rays won't need to sell low on Archer if he can't fulfill this tall order. Their future is actually pretty bright, and Archer is contracted to be a part of it through 2021.

Neither Jacob deGrom nor Noah Syndergaard Will Leave the Mets

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Lastly in the category of aces who shouldn't have to make moving plans in the near future are Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

    The New York Mets opened for business when they traded Familia to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. Now they stand to make a killing if they can find the right offers for deGrom and Syndergaard. The former is an elite pitcher. Despite being on the disabled list with hand, foot and mouth disease, the latter is an elite talent. And both are under club control through at least 2020.

    But this will be easier said than done.

    Joel Sherman of the New York Post highlighted the many reasons why ownership will hesitate to approve trades of the team's two best starters. Beyond that, James Wagner of the New York Times covered how few teams both need deGrom or Syndergaard and have the prospect wealth to deal for one of them.

    In short, the Mets don't want to trade two players who they don't have to trade, and their list of suitors is limited anyway. Such conditions aren't conducive to deal-making, and the ticking of the clock should only help steer interested parties toward alternative targets.

The Yankees Will Settle for J.A. Happ

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The New York Yankees might be the only team that checks all the boxes of a realistic suitor for deGrom or Syndergaard. If they wanted to, perhaps they could make the Mets an offer they couldn't refuse.

    Instead, they're much more likely to end up with J.A. Happ.

    The Yankees haven't made it much of a secret they're looking to upgrade their starting rotation, which has been wildly inconsistent outside of Luis Severino and CC Sabathia. But they have a list of "realistic" options, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred, and Happ is near the top of it.

    Though the Toronto Blue Jays left-hander has struggled with a 6.03 ERA (which doesn't even count Mookie Betts' dramatic grand slam) over his last six starts, that doesn't completely undermine his appeal. Go back to Aug. 4, 2015, and he has a 3.34 ERA over his last 88 starts.

    Plus, Happ's $13 million salary looks mighty reasonable relative to Hamels'. If the Yankees offer to take on the remainder of that, they may get Happ without having to give the Jays any top prospects.

The Red Sox Will Snag Kirby Yates

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    How will the Boston Red Sox respond if their biggest rival upgrades its rotation?

    Probably by adding the kind of reliever they covet. According to one evaluator who spoke to's Jerry Crasnick: "They're looking to get a guy. A real guy."

    Boston has many options in that regard, but it may not be able to resist one in particular: Kirby Yates.

    The San Diego Padres right-hander was an afterthought coming into the year. But with help from his split-finger fastball, the 31-year-old has broken out with 1.43 ERA and 4.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

    Even better, Yates' .215 OPS versus right-handed batters is the best of any righty pitcher who's faced at least 50 of them. Come October, he could be Boston's secret weapon against Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman.

    Though the Red Sox surely haven't forgotten the controversy that arose from their last trade with the Padres, Yates' being a perfect fit isn't the only thing that could compel them to deal. Per Crasnick, Yates should be available for less than a king's ransom by virtue of being a late bloomer.

The Astros Will Win the Zach Britton Sweepstakes

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    If the Yankees and Red Sox find pitching upgrades, it will be the Houston Astros' turn to respond in kind.

    Survey says Zach Britton is the guy for them.

    This isn't the first time Britton has been mentioned as a fit for Houston. The Astros also wanted him last year, and they came close to landing him before negotiations with the Baltimore Orioles fell apart.

    According to Crasnick, the Astros are among those going after Britton (who's been pitching well following a slow start to his return from a ruptured Achilles tendon). And of the bunch, they're the club that makes the most sense for the veteran lefty.

    For one thing, Houston is 66-35 and is one good reliever from having a straight shot at back-to-back World Series titles. For another, Britton would fit like a glove. The Astros could use a tried-and-true relief ace, and his penchant for ground balls would work well in tandem with their excellent infield defense.

The Indians Will Trade for Adam Jones Next

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    By landing Hand and Adam Cimber in a blockbuster with the Padres, the Cleveland Indians patched the huge hole in their bullpen.

    Now they need an outfielder, and nobody fits the bill like Adam Jones.

    According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Indians and Orioles have already had discussions about the five-time All-Star. Like Machado and Britton, he's a pending free agent whom Baltimore would be wise to cash in. And they may find no trade partner more willing than Cleveland.

    The Indians have gotten minus-0.2 wins above replacement out of center field and right field, according to Baseball Reference. Even with his prime squarely behind him, the 32-year-old Jones would be a fix. Beyond that, the Cleveland lineup needs his right-handed thump.

    To boot, the Indians may not have to give up any substantial prospects to get Jones. They may only have to take on the remainder of his $17.3 million salary.

    The only question is whether Jones would waive his 10-and-5 rights to go to Cleveland. Since he's made it clear how much he wants to win, that should be doable.

The Diamondbacks Will Go for Asdrubal Cabrera

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Meanwhile in the National League West, the Arizona Diamondbacks are tasked with getting back ahead of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies.

    Winning the Machado sweepstakes would have helped in that regard. But the D-backs didn't have the prospects to satisfy the Orioles. And now that he's on the Dodgers, their need for an impact hitter is that much greater.

    Asdrubal Cabrera would work.

    Per Mark Feinsand of, the Snakes are among the teams that are in on the 32-year-old. He's obviously nowhere near being on Machado's level, but he fits the Diamondbacks to two extents: His acquisition cost shouldn't be too high, yet he's a relatively safe bet to boost the offense.

    He's flown under the radar while doing so, but Cabrera has put together a career-high .820 OPS and slammed 17 home runs. The D-backs could use numbers like those at second base, and shifting Ketel Marte into a platoon with Nick Ahmed could subsequently upgrade their shortstop offense.

The Brewers Will Land Brian Dozier and Lance Lynn

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    It's easy enough to predict the Milwaukee Brewers will land Brian Dozier.

    According to Rosenthal, Dozier is a likely target for the Brewers since they lost out on Machado. Dozier's .724 OPS would be a boon to a second base spot that's produced just a .650 OPS. Milwaukee can also hope Dozier, a free agent-to-be, will live up to his track record as an excellent second-half hitter.

    But if the Brewers are going to deal with the Minnesota Twins, they might as well insist on Lance Lynn, too.

    They also need a starting pitcher, after all. And while they've yet to be connected to Lynn this summer, they were in on him in the offseason before the Twins picked him up on a one-year, $12 million contract.

    Lynn struggled to live up to his deal at first, but he's come around with a 3.81 ERA over his last 11 starts. That's more like it for a guy who put up a 3.38 ERA in six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.

    In all, this is a bit of one-stop shopping that could get the Brewers back on track in the National League Central.

The Phillies Will Pivot to Eduardo Escobar

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Elsewhere among the rentals the Twins have to offer is Eduardo Escobar, a versatile infielder who's broken out with an .836 OPS and 52 extra-base hits.

    Nobody needs him as much as the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Like the Brewers, the Phillies also went deep in the Machado sweepstakes before he ended up with the Dodgers. And Philadelphia arguably needed him the most, as its shortstops have posted minus-1.7 WAR this season.

    Escobar isn't a true shortstop, but it's a position he's played 21 times this season and 328 times throughout his eight-year career. Given that Phillies shortstops have managed just a .638 OPS, his bat would be the main appeal anyway.

    According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies are indeed interested in the 29-year-old. All they have to do now is go get him, which shouldn't require sacrificing too much of their farm system.

The Braves Will End Up with Mike Moustakas

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    If the Phillies grab a bat, the Atlanta Braves would be wise to grab one for themselves.

    Granted, augmenting their bullpen should be their priority in their quest to reclaim first place in the National League East. But they can't afford to ignore how their offense is trending:

    • March/April: .781 OPS
    • May: .748 OPS
    • June: .737 OPS
    • July: .694 OPS

    The most obvious area of need is at third base, which requires upside beyond what Johan Camargo is capable of.

    Hence their interest in Mike Moustakas, according to Crasnick. Though he's slowed following a warm start, he's still rocking a .766 OPS and 19 home runs. He could also benefit from a move to SunTrust Park, which is more friendly to left-handed sluggers than Kauffman Stadium.

    It shouldn't take too much for the Braves to rent Moustakas. Because they're only taking their first step out of a rebuild that's been years in the making, it's in their interest to make deals like that.

The Nationals Will Go All-In on J.T. Realmuto

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    While we're on the NL East, we might as well end this thing with a bang: The Washington Nationals will trade for J.T. Realmuto.

    This is something that's more possible than it is probable or likely. Realmuto is in the midst of an All-Star breakout highlighted by an .886 OPS and 3.8 WAR, and he's under club control through 2020. Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, it would take an "astronomical" offer to sway the Miami Marlins.

    But if any team is going to go for it, it's the Nationals.

    The minus-2.5 WAR they've gotten out of their catchers reflects how badly they need to upgrade behind the plate. And if, per Heyman, the Nats were willing to "revisit" Realmuto even when old friend Wilson Ramos was also available, they figure to be even more willing now that Ramos is on the disabled list.

    The Nationals could center a package around top prospect Victor Robles and hope Realmuto helps boost them to the top of the NL East. If Washington doesn't regain its perch, it could rest easy knowing Realmuto would be around for two more years.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.