Final Predictions for Impact MLB Trades Before the Waiver Deadline
Although the July 31 non-waiver deadline has come and gone, Major League Baseball's summer trade season will really end with Friday's waiver trade deadline.
That's the last day for contenders to acquire players who will be eligible for the postseason. For that, we have a few last-minute trade predictions.
We're only considering players who have passed through waivers and are thus eligible to be traded to any team. It's a relatively short list. The list of realistic trade candidates is even shorter.
Nonetheless, here are five trades to watch out for.
Francisco Liriano to the Mariners
According to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, two prominent Detroit Tigers pitchers have cleared waivers: Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano.
Between his expensive contract ($50 million remaining after 2018) and his inconsistent production, Zimmermann almost certainly isn't going anywhere. Liriano, on the other hand, is a $4 million rental who'll probably be on the move soon.
The 34-year-old is far removed from his days as a top-of-the-rotation starter, and he's struggled with a 6.00 ERA in 11 appearances since returning from a hamstring strain. However, he offers versatility and an ability to slay left-handed batters. His .458 OPS against lefties is sixth-best among southpaws who've accumulated at least 90 left-on-left matchups.
If nothing else, the Seattle Mariners are a probable fit for Liriano because general manager Jerry Dipoto is always a good bet to make a trade. Beyond that, their need for pitching depth is as strong now as it's been all season. That's partly because Zach Duke hasn't been the impact lefty the Mariners hoped he would be when they acquired him in July (8.10 ERA in 13 appearances).
Liriano wouldn't single-handedly wipe out the Mariners' five-game deficit in the American League wild-card hunt. But it may be good enough for them that he can help.
Jose Iglesias to the Phillies
According to Fenech, Jose Iglesias is another Tiger who's cleared waivers.
The 28-year-old is an affordable ($6.3 million) free-agent-to-be, and he's riding one of his better seasons onto the open market. His .704 OPS is solid by his standards, and ultimate zone rating has him as an elite defensive shortstop. Certainly, he's always looked the part to the eye test.
Of course, most contenders are already set at shortstop. The Philadelphia Phillies are the only real exception. They've gotten fewer wins above replacement out of the position than any other team.
Initially, Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford were the problem. Now it's Asdrubal Cabrera, who has just a .617 OPS since joining the team ahead of the non-waiver deadline.
It's also a variation on a theme that Cabrera isn't much of a defensive presence at short. Per UZR and defensive runs saved, the position has been a black hole this season. Considering that Phillies pitchers tend to induce ground balls, that's well short of optimal.
With Philadelphia having fallen behind in the National League East and wild-card races, it doesn't have much choice but to seek additional upgrades. As much as any other, Iglesias is one who can help.
Curtis Granderson to the Astros
Granderson's former stardom is long gone by now. But with a .765 OPS for the Toronto Blue Jays, he remains a productive hitter overall. As per usual, he's even better when he has the platoon advantage. He owns a .792 OPS opposite right-handers. And like Liriano and Iglesias, he's a cheap rental. He's pulling in only $5 million this year.
The New York Yankees are the most noteworthy of the trade fits for Granderson. A reunion with the 37-year-old would bolster an outfield that sorely misses Aaron Judge.
The Yankees may not go out of their way to acquire Granderson, however. They already have a playoff spot pretty well in hand. They can also count on Judge to return from his fractured wrist eventually.
This could be the Houston Astros' cue to swoop in. They face a tall task in fending off the Oakland Athletics in the AL West race, so there's no time like the present to resolve their left field weakness. Inserting Granderson to platoon with Marwin Gonzalez would be a fine way to do so.
Gio Gonzalez to the Brewers
The Washington Nationals have already moved Matt Adams and Daniel Murphy. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Wieters and Ryan Zimmerman are three more veterans who've cleared waivers.
Wieters and Zimmerman are more than likely staying put. For his part, Gonzalez's situation is complicated somewhat by his relatively expensive salary. He's earning $12 million in his final season before free agency.
Still, Gonzalez has legit credentials. He's a two-time All-Star who was a sneaky Cy Young Award contender just last season. And while his ERA is up to 4.35 this year, it was 3.78 as recently as July 28.
Quite a few contenders could use Gonzalez, 32, in their starting rotations. But no team seems more desperate for a starter than the Milwaukee Brewers.
Although their rotation has pitched to a respectable 3.95 ERA, the Brewers lack anyone resembling a top-of-the-rotation starter. Hence why they've been a regular in trade rumors involving name-brand starters. Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, their failed bid for Matt Harvey is only the latest.
Assuming the Brewers are still game to make a move, they can't do any better than Gonzalez. He could only help them hold on to the NL's second wild-card spot.
Andrew McCutchen to the Indians
If a contender is keen on adding a former MVP for the stretch run, there's always Andrew McCutchen.
The 31-year-old isn't the same player now that he was when he captured the 2013 NL MVP as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. But with the San Francisco Giants, he can still hit. He has a .771 OPS and 15 home runs overall and a .782 OPS and six homers since the All-Star break.
According to Murray, McCutchen cleared waivers Aug. 22. Now it's just a question of who wants him and who's willing to pay at least a portion of what's remaining on his $14.75 million salary.
Although there are a number of contenders that could use McCutchen's bat, the best fit for him is with the Cleveland Indians.
Apart from Michael Brantley, Cleveland's outfield is a puzzle the team has been struggling to solve all season. So it goes now. Leonys Martin will miss the rest of the season recovering from a life-threatening bacterial infection. And while Melky Cabrera and Greg Allen have been playing well lately, it would be best if both were confined to part-time roles.
Acquiring McCutchen would allow the Indians to make that change. He would also be another weapon for October. With just a 36-37 record outside the AL Central, the Indians need as many of those as they can get.