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MLB Trade Deadline 2018: Latest Rumors on Chris Archer, Brian Dozier and More

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 29, 2018

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 27: Starting pitcher Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 27, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Through Saturday, 18 Major League Baseball teams had winning percentages of .500 or better. It's an unusual year in the standings, as a handful of struggling clubs have been playing out the string since late April.

On the flip side, the talent gap is creating an interesting playoff race down the stretch. Of note, five teams are within 3.5 games of each other for the second National League wild-card spot.

That may create an intense buildup to the non-waiver trade deadline at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The action has already been fast and furious, as many notable names have changed cities.

                  

Cleveland Indians Looking to Add Outfielder

The Cleveland Indians can sleepwalk to the American League Central title. The four other teams in the division are in various stages of rebuilding, and three of them are 16 games under .500 or worse. The fourth team, the Minnesota Twins, is 48-55.

While the Tribe can win their division with their roster, they are a leg behind the American League's elite.

The Indians traded for some bullpen help, with the star piece there being former San Diego Padres left-hander Brad Hand. Now they must look to solidify the outfield, which has seen its share of injuries and inconsistent play outside left fielder Michael Brantley.

Per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (h/t Connor Byrne of MLB Trade Rumors), the Indians are looking into Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson, Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton and Miami Marlins infielder/outfielder Derek Dietrich.

Granderson could form a solid platoon with Brandon Guyer in right field, with the former facing right-handers and the latter taking on southpaws. At 37, however, Granderson is at the back end of his career, and he's a free agent after this season. Is Cleveland willing to acquire what may be a rental even though Granderson has a .784 OPS against righties?

Hamilton would shore up the team's defense in center field; he's amassed a 6.7 defensive WAR during his career, per Baseball Reference, and can do things like this:

Cincinnati Reds @Reds

ICYMI: Billy Hamilton made a grab with a 2% catch probability. Because of course he does. #Statcast https://t.co/ByhV3W9KU2 https://t.co/iRE0tYr5RC

However, Hamilton struggles at the dish, and he's managing just a .602 OPS this year. He's also on pace to finish far below his usual stolen-base par—he has 22 through Saturday compared to 56-plus each of the past four full seasons).

Dietrich may be the best pickup of the aforementioned players. He can play infield or outfield and is the best hitter from this trio. For the season, the Miami Marlin has hit 13 home runs and earned an .802 OPS. If the Tribe can pull it off, Dietrich should be the No. 1 target.

                                    

Brian Dozier

The Minnesota Twins recently moved infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks. That, in essence, was a waving of the white flag, It thus figures that they would look to trade other players prior to the non-waiver trade deadline.

Per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier could be next, and the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians are involved in talks:

Mike Berardino @MikeBerardino

Two more potential landing spots for Brian Dozier, per sources: #SFGiants and #Indians. Both clubs have been scouting #mntwins 2B this week. Panik is on DL (groin) and Kipnis is having another down year (.629 OPS vs RHP). CLE still considering 2B/3B/OF options, I hear.

The infielder market is dwindling, as Escobar, Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Moustakas have all moved in recent days. The Twins may not get the return they want for Dozier, a slugger who has hit 167 home runs during a seven-year career.

Cleveland seems like the best fit of the two teams. First, the Tribe are coasting to the playoffs and could use more bats. They could conceivably move second baseman Jason Kipnis to the outfield (he's played there in the past) to fill a gap there and then play Dozier at second base. If Cleveland finds a corner outfielder, the lineup would then be postseason ready.

San Francisco seems less likely because its postseason hopes are dwindling. The Giants are two games under .500 and sitting in fourth place in the National League West. They may be better off looking to sell than buy.

                       

Chris Archer

The rumors are starting to fly about Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer.

Per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, Archer is available, but the asking price is understandably huge. Still, a few teams are involved:

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.

Per journalist Ken Rosenthal, the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are in the mix:

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

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

Archer's strikeout rate this year (24.7 percent) is a bit down compared to previous years (it's 25.7 percent lifetime, per FanGraphs), but he still sports an excellent 3.62 xFIP. He's also been on the wrong side of luck in 2018, as evidenced by the .343 BABIP opposing hitters have managed.

Eventually, that will normalize to .300, and Archer may find even more success. The question is, where will that be?

The Yankees just traded for Toronto Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ, but their starting rotation has been so inconsistent this year that it's possible they add more depth. They have some excellent prospects to deal to Tampa for Archer if they so choose, although the team may decide the asking price for a deal is too high.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' starting rotation is stacked, with six pitchers capable of taking the mound any given day and throwing a gem. A move west seems less likely.

The San Diego Padres are in rebuilding mode, but they need an ace to anchor the staff as they look toward a bright future—Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report ranks the Friars' farm system third in the bigs. In that sense, San Diego could work out.

The guess here is that Archer gets moved to the Padres over the other two teams listed if a trade does occur.

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