MLB Trade Deadline 2018: Hottest Rumors Leading Up to Tuesday's Deadline

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJuly 29, 2018

Chris Archer is once again the focus of MLB's hot stove before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.
Chris Archer is once again the focus of MLB's hot stove before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

Realizing the pitfalls of procrastination, MLB teams have completed several significant deals before Tuesday afternoon's non-waiver trade deadline. Anyone expecting a windfall of activity at the final hour may be disappointed, but a few important dominoes remain in place.

One longtime resident of the hot stove could actually get dealt this time. Maybe. Another slumping star has watched most other pending free agents find a new home, so his options have dwindled.

And who would have thought the New York Yankees would need more offense? With the clock ticking to Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET cutoff point, let's look at some of baseball's hottest deadline gossip.


Chris Archer Talks "Intensifying"

The Tampa Bay Rays reportedly want a package befitting an ace for Archer.
The Tampa Bay Rays reportedly want a package befitting an ace for Archer.Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images

The Chris Archer buzz is brewing beyond what-if fantasizing.

According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, discussions for the Tampa Bay Rays starter have gained steam. Yet the Rays want a high return for someone who possesses a 4.31 ERA:

Jerry Crasnick @jcrasnick

The #Rays trade talks on Chris Archer are "intensifying'' as the deadline nears, sources say. Still hard to handicap if anyone will ante up with the return Tampa Bay wants. It's a No. 1 starter type of price tag, and he's under team control through 2021. Multiple teams involved.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal identified three teams pursuing the 29-year-old righty:

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

#Yankees, #Dodgers and #Padres among teams trying for #Rays’ Chris Archer, sources tell me and @JimBowdenGM.

Trade speculation has made Archer the center of MLB's Joe Flacco question: Is he an ace? His 836 strikeouts—topped only by Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber—and 3.40 fielding independent pitching (FIP) since the start of 2015 point to the affirmative. Yet he'll need a strong finish to avoid his third straight season with an ERA above 4.00.

As noted by Rotowire's Jason Collette, Archer has struggled against enhanced American League East competition:

Jason Collette @jasoncollette

For Archer's career, he's thrown 48% of his pitches against teams in the AL East. Here are his splits for different metrics ALE vs Rest: ERA: 4.02 / 3.40 wOBA: .311/.293 K-BB% 17% / 20% HR/9: 1.12 / 0.88 SwSTR%: 11.8 / 13.5 Chase%: 26.9/29.5 Needs a relocation https://t.co/DERzLdUyy1

He could flourish by moving to the National League. One possible destination is surprisingly the last-place San Diego Padres. While they won't compete this year or even next year, they have a stacked farm system to leverage into an immediate rotation anchor who can hopefully orchestrate a 2020 playoff push.

That's quite the gamble to take on a pitcher who has already hurled 1,063 innings over his major league career. Yet if they're so inclined, the Padres are best positioned to present the Rays an offer too tempting to refuse.

Fancred's Jon Heyman said San Diego is seen as a primary candidate to land him, but there's "no guarantee Archer gets dealt at all."


Cleveland, San Francisco Targeting Brian Dozier

Brian Dozier is having a rough season after hitting 76 combined home runs in the last two years.
Brian Dozier is having a rough season after hitting 76 combined home runs in the last two years.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Sensible suitors for Brian Dozier have shifted their focus elsewhere.

The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Minnesota Twins teammate Eduardo Escobar for their infield. Seemingly the perfect match, the Milwaukee Brewers will instead move Travis Shaw to second base after landing third baseman Mike Moustakas.

While the Boston Red Sox would still benefit from ascertaining Dozier's power, Crasnick dispelled that scenario:

Jerry Crasnick @jcrasnick

Two prime Brian Dozier landing spots came off the board when the #Dbacks picked up Escobar and #Brewers traded for Moustakas. #RedSox have been mentioned as a possibility because of Pedroia's health, but Boston's focus remains the bullpen. Dozier to Boston "highly unlikely.''

At least two teams remain interested in the 31-year-old righty. Per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, the Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants have scouted Dozier during the week.

Dozier is having his worst season (.226/.308/.408) since 2012, but Jason Kipnis has fared even worse at the plate (.220/.306/.362). The incumbent second baseman could move to center field, an experiment Cleveland tried late last year.

Fourth in the NL West at 52-54, the Giants have not made much noise on the rumor mill. While they would have to leapfrog multiple teams to snag a playoff berth, they're a reachable six away from the wild card.

It's nevertheless a strange fit, as second baseman Joe Panik is currently on a Triple-A rehab assignment. Boston stands out as the ideal landing spot, but Cleveland is the better fit of the two rumored teams.


Yankees Looking for Another Hitter

Jose Bautista could help replace the injured Aaron Judge by switching New York allegiances from the Mets to Yankees.
Jose Bautista could help replace the injured Aaron Judge by switching New York allegiances from the Mets to Yankees.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Despite leading MLB in home runs (166) and weighted runs created plus (114 wRC+), the Yankees are suddenly in need of extra lineup depth.

Three games after returning from the disabled list, Gary Sanchez went right back because of a groin injury. Aaron Judge followed his All-Star teammate to the shelf after getting hit by a pitch on the wrist Thursday. Jacoby Ellsbury (back) and Clint Frazier (concussion) are not immediately available to replace the 6'7" slugger, who needs at least three weeks before swinging a bat again.

"The three weeks is a possibility that he could be in a game," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Judge, per ESPN.com's Coley Harvey. "Whether that's a rehab or whether it's before that or just after, that all remains to be seen."

According to Heyman, the Yanks are now searching for an extra right-handed hitter:

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

yankees have interest in a bat -- preferably a righty, & preferably one who can play the OF -- to fill in while judge/sanchez are out. Frazier could be back in a week but that's uncertain. some who fit: hunter renfroe, joey bats, Cameron Maybin (h/t @JackCurryYES). not urgent.

Of course, they can always just fill their right-field void with an MVP. Giancarlo Stanton can return to the diamond on a full-time basis after spending most of 2018 as the designated hitter. This allows the Yankees to play the streaking Neil Walker at third—moving Miguel Andujar to DH—or acquire the best available position player.

Among the names Heyman mentioned, Jose Bautista particularly makes sense. Although no longer a potent power source, the 37-year-old righty has recorded a .385 on-base percentage since joining the New York Mets in May. Having played third base and right field this season, he'd give Boone some flexibility in filling out his lineup card.

Best of all, the pending free agent should only cost the Bronx Bombers one unspectacular prospect. Yet this assumes the Mets are willing to work with their geographic foes, which didn't happen for Walker or Jay Bruce last summer. They have only agreed to two trades within the last decade.

Batting .308/.430/.446 in July, Cameron Maybin would also serve as a steady August placeholder whose speed would come in handy off the bench as a postseason pinch runner.


Note: All advanced stats are courtesy of FanGraphs.