MLB Rumors: Analyzing Latest 2018 Trade Chatter

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 24, 2018

TORONTO, ON - JULY 21: Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles delivers a pitch in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on July 21, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Almost all of the contending teams in Major League Baseball are in search of roster upgrades ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. 

The Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers jumped in front of every buyer on the market by acquiring Brad Hand and Manny Machado, respectively, and filling their biggest needs. 

Each of the other four division leaders, as well as some franchises in contention for wild-card positions, are interested in Zach Britton, who is the top name on the market. 

However, the 30-year-old isn't the only coveted asset who could have a new home by the time the non-waiver trade deadline passes. 

Below is a look at some of the latest buzz swirling around the majors and what may materialize in the coming days. 


Teams Lining Up For Britton 

The Baltimore Orioles could end up as the biggest winner of the selling teams after the non-waiver trade deadline passes. 

After dealing Machado to the Dodgers during the All-Star break, the Orioles are fielding a high number of offers for Britton. 

The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, who are both in need of finding a closer at the moment, have been heavily linked with the southpaw, per Fancred's Jon Heyman: 

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal noted Houston's deep farm system as an advantage, and he also reported the Arizona Diamondbacks displayed interest in Britton: 

The New York Yankees are also involved in the race for Britton, and the second-place team in the American League East is showing serious interest in the reliever, per SNY's Andy Martino: 

Houston appears to be in the best shape of all the contenders exploring a deal for Britton, as it contains a strong farm system and is in need of a consistent closer. 

Since demoting Ken Giles to Triple-A, the Astros have relied on Hector Rondon to finish off the majority of their games, and Britton would be seen as an upgrade to both. 

The ideal scenario for the World Series champion is acquiring Britton and getting Giles back on track, which would lead to a strong 1-2 punch for September and October. 

Chicago became a likelier destination for Britton once closer Brandon Morrow went on the 10-day disabled list with right biceps inflammation. 

If the Cubs land Britton, they would be able to let Morrow heal without rushing him back, and once the closer returns to the mound, the National League Central leader would possess a dangerous combination in the eighth and ninth innings. 

If Britton were to move within the AL East to the Yankees, he would be a setup man for Aroldis Chapman, while a potential deal to Arizona would reinforce a bullpen led by Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley.

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Baltimore might do more business after Britton, but he's the only player remaining on its roster who could bring in a haul of prospects as Machado did. 

If the Orioles want to receive the most out of the Britton trade, the Astros would be the best suitor, but if a better deal comes along, the team in the AL East cellar would have to consider that as well.


Brewers Looking Over A Few Potential Upgrades

The Milwaukee Brewers are exploring deals to improve their roster on a few fronts. 

The Brewers missed out on Machado, but that could turn out in their favor if negotiations with sellers fall in a certain way. 

On the pitching front, the Brewers are looking at Britton and Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer, as Rosenthal noted: 

The second-place team in the NL Central is also inquiring about Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas, per MLB Network's Jon Morosi: 

Going after Britton comes with a slight advantage, as the Brewers are aware of which prospects the Orioles like from the failed negotiations for Machado.

However, they may be forced to leave the Britton negotiations and focus on acquiring a starting pitcher after Brent Suter suffered a torn UCL

Archer would be one of the top starters on the trade market if the Rays opt to make him available, but he's struggled a bit in 2018. 

The good news for any prospective suitors, including the Brewers, is the 29-year-old looked strong in his Sunday outing against Miami, when he struck out 13 batters over six innings. 

As for Moustakas, he would provide extra power to the lineup, as he's hit 19 home runs and driven in 59 runs for the Royals. But a trade for the third baseman would require Travis Shaw to shift to second base, which is one of the biggest holes in the Milwaukee lineup. 

The Brewers need to improve their roster in a few different places to keep up with the Cubs in the NL Central, but which positions they will actually upgrade remains to be seen.

With a new focus on the starting pitcher market, the Brewers could devote more time there and hope to get a cheaper reliever once Britton is dealt elsewhere. 

Meanwhile on the position-player front, Moustakas would be an intriguing option, although there are some middle infielders out there who could be a more direct fit.


Marlins Getting Calls On Multiple Players

While Baltimore is seen as the top seller on the trade market right now, the Miami Marlins could eclipse it if they offload some of their trade targets. 

According to Heyman, the Marlins received calls on a handful of players, including Justin Bour, Derek Dietrich, Dan Straily, Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider: 

Barraclough and Steckenrider are two of the best relievers on a struggling team in MLB, but as Heyman noted, the price is steep for both players. 

If the price is too high for the pair of setup men, closer Brad Ziegler might be targeted, and there's interest from the Atlanta Braves and others, per Morosi: 

Then there's catcher J.T. Realmuto, who would be the most coveted player on the market if the Marlins make him available. 

The Washington Nationals showed interest in making a deal for the catcher in recent weeks, per Heyman, but nothing has come of it since. 

A roster purge would be nothing new in south Florida, but the Marlins might have to wait until the Britton trade talks conclude before setting the price tag on Barraclough, Steckenrider and Ziegler. 

Barraclough has struck out 50 batters over 44 innings while recording 10 saves, Steckenrider possesses a 1.295 WHIP with 51 strikeouts in 48 appearances, and Ziegler has 10 saves with a 1.318 WHIP and 4.20 ERA. 

All three players would be nice additions for contenders, but since the relief market is saturated, the Marlins might not get the ideal return for the trio. 

If Miami wanted to, it could have yet another franchise fire sale and load up on prospects, but until a few other top trade targets are dealt, it might not receive the ideal offers for its coveted players. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference


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