One 2019 Trade Season Prediction for Every TeamJune 5, 2019
One 2019 Trade Season Prediction for Every Team
It's just about trading season in Major League Baseball, and we have ideas for how each of the league's 30 teams will play it.
The July 31 trade deadline—i.e., the only deadline in 2019—isn't far off, so teams ought to have clear ideas of what they need to buy and/or sell. In essence, our predictions cover what will and won't be sold in the coming weeks.
We'll proceed in alphabetical order by city.
Arizona Diamondbacks: They'll Keep Zack Greinke
The Arizona Diamondbacks have lately been playing their way out of contention, so it's time to boot up the Zack Greinke trade watch.
The ace right-hander is having another All-Star-caliber season with a 3.09 ERA and a 6.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Jeremy Cluff of AZCentral.com), the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies have interest in him.
Of course, the D-backs would have to eat a chunk of Greinke's remaining money (close to $100 million) to get young talent back for him. The 35-year-old might also use his no-trade list (which includes the Yankees and Phillies) to leverage additional money out of a deal, which would only complicate things.
Altogether, there are about as many hurdles in the way of a Greinke trade now as there's always been.
Atlanta Braves: They Won't Make Any Blockbusters
The Atlanta Braves have one of the best farm systems, and they're spending less on their 2019 payroll than they did on their 2018 payroll.
These two things seem to point the Braves in the direction of a blockbuster trade or two. The team also appears to have big needs to fill, especially on its pitching staff.
However, said pitching staff has been just fine (3.90 ERA) during the club's 15-7 run since May 10. The Braves also don't need to use the trade market to add stars. They could just as easily sign Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel. According to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM, both are on Atlanta's radar.
If signing Keuchel and/or Kimbrel doesn't keep the Braves out of the market for blockbusters, they might simply protect their best prospects. That's recently been their M.O., after all, and free agency will leave them with a few holes this winter.
Baltimore Orioles: They Won't Gain Any Top-100 Prospects
The Baltimore Orioles are on pace for a second straight season of 110-plus losses. And according to MLB.com, their farm system contains only four top-100 prospects.
The Orioles will be selling at the trade deadline, and among their wares will be some solid hitters (Trey Mancini and Jonathan Villar) and pitchers (Andrew Cashner, Dylan Bundy and Mychal Givens).
Trouble is, the Orioles would only be selling high on Mancini, and even he may only be worth so much. He's a good hitter who's under club control through 2022. Yet he isn't a great hitter, and he's a lousy defender.
The Orioles' best recourse for filling their system with fresh top-100 talent would be to shop younger breakout players like Dwight Smith Jr., Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino. But since they're guys to build around, the Orioles may hesitate to do so and settle for what they can get with their other trade chips.
Boston Red Sox: They'll Trade for Will Smith
Although the Boston Red Sox's bullpen ranks seventh in FanGraphs wins above replacement, cracks have formed in it over the last two weeks.
The Red Sox would benefit from adding a shutdown reliever. And now that he's free of draft-pick compensation, it's hard not to wonder about a reunion with Craig Kimbrel.
But given how far over the $206 million luxury-tax threshold the Red Sox are, it's more likely they'll go for a cheaper option on the trade market. Perhaps the easiest to speculate about is San Francisco Giants left-hander Will Smith.
The 29-year-old has dominated with a 2.50 ERA and a 5.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the last two seasons, and he's making only $4.2 million in his final year before free agency. As far as the Red Sox should be concerned, Smith has the perfect combination of impact and affordability.
Chicago Cubs: They'll Trade for Ken Giles
The Chicago Cubs bullpen is like Boston's but with worse peripherals.
Sure, there's virtually no difference between the two bullpens' ERAs. Yet there are sizable disparities in their rates of strikeouts and walks per nine innings. A fully operational Brandon Morrow (elbow) would help, but the Cubs shouldn't hold their breath for that.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Cubs are eyeing 31-year-old Craig Kimbrel as a possible fix. An alternative, however, would be to follow through on their reported interest (per Buck Martinez, via Bruce Levine of 670 The Score) in a younger, arguably better flamethrower: Toronto Blue Jays closer Ken Giles.
After a brutal 2018 season, the 28-year-old righty has bounced back with a 1.13 ERA and 5.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2019. He's also earning a reasonable $6.3 million in his penultimate season of club control.
Chicago White Sox: They'll Keep Jose Abreu
The Chicago White Sox are technically still rebuilding, and Jose Abreu is a veteran slugger who's slated for free agency at the end of the year.
Abreu, 32, should thus be an obvious trade chip, but the White Sox aren't treating him like one. For general manager Rick Hahn, it's a matter of respect and, potentially, a continued relationship beyond 2019.
"He's been here throughout the early stages of this rebuild, and it's certainly very likely that he'll be here for the more enjoyable stages that lie ahead of us," Hahn recently said on MLB Network.
Somewhat more recently, another reason for the White Sox to hold on to Abreu has arisen. Although their 29-31 record is a non-factor in the AL Central race, it does put them in the mix for the AL's second wild card.
Cincinnati Reds: They'll Keep Derek Dietrich
The Cincinnati Reds have mostly played well since a 1-8 flop out of the gate, but selling at the deadline nevertheless appears to be in their future.
Neither the National League Central nor the wild-card race is cutting them any slack, after all. Plus, they have some rentals (e.g., Yasiel Puig, Tanner Roark and Scooter Gennett) they'll have to cash in while the getting's good.
The Reds might also deal Derek Dietrich while his value is sky-high. Although he was a good hitter before he arrived in Cincinnati, the 1.073 OPS he has this season reeks of unsustainability.
But since Dietrich, 29, is controlled through 2020, the Reds don't have to trade him. And given how long they've already been rebuilding, it's understandable if they want to keep him out of fear of bad PR and/or a belief that they can make a quick turnaround in 2020.
Cleveland Indians: They'll Keep Trevor Bauer
The Cleveland Indians won three straight AL Central titles between 2016 and 2018, but they find themselves buried deep underneath the Minnesota Twins.
This has been a cue for talk that the Indians might cut their losses, starting with a trade of Trevor Bauer. The 28-year-old righty broke out as a Cy Young Award contender in 2018, and he's already one of Cleveland's most expensive players ($13 million salary) in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility.
Bauer wasn't an ace before 2018, however, and he hasn't pitched much like an ace recently. He had a 5.75 ERA in May, wherein he surrendered at least four runs in five of his six starts.
If this continues, there could be a discrepancy between what the Indians are demanding for Bauer and what other teams are offering for him. Rather than give in, the Indians could always keep him for 2020 or for a possible trade over the winter.
Colorado Rockies: They'll Trade for Yasiel Puig
The Colorado Rockies probably won't catch the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West race, but a 28-16 stretch since April 14 has put them firmly in the wild-card race.
As for how the Rockies might dig in, Kyle Freeland's recent demotion may be a precursor to a deal for a starter. Or, they could see to their frustrating shortage of dependable hitters around Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon.
Since there's inherent risk in bringing new pitchers to Coors Field, the Rockies may prefer a deal for a hitter. And since an opportunistic trade would be appropriate, Yasiel Puig may be the guy for them.
The 28-year-old has struggled with a .642 OPS, yet his impending free agency might give the Cincinnati Reds little choice but to sell low on him. The Rockies could pick up Puig for cheap and hope Coors Field and a spot in a pennant race energize his bat.
Detroit Tigers: They'll Keep Matthew Boyd
The Detroit Tigers will almost certainly find takers for rental slugger Nicholas Castellanos and righty closer Shane Greene.
According to Rosenthal, the Tigers might even be willing to move Matthew Boyd, who has broken out with a 3.01 ERA and 6.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Provided, of course, that a team offers a "premium young hitter" for the left-hander.
That's an appropriate ask for Boyd, and not just because the Tigers need such a player. By way of his outstanding numbers and club control through 2022, the 28-year-old also has considerable trade value.
However, the list of clubs that can and would pay such a price for Boyd is probably short. And since the Tigers could be done with their rebuild before he hits free agency, they don't need to be desperate to move him.
Houston Astros: They'll Trade for Edwin Encarnacion
The Houston Astros have been relatively weak at first base all season, and putting an offensive upgrade there suddenly looks like more of a necessity than a luxury.
The Astros have George Springer (hamstring), Carlos Correa (rib) and Jose Altuve (knee) on the injured list, and it doesn't seem like a given that any of them will be back before July.
That could make the AL West race a little too interesting for the Astros' liking, so perhaps they'll finally follow through on their sporadic interest (see here and here) in Edwin Encarnacion.
The 36-year-old was something of a buy-low addition for the Seattle Mariners over the winter, and he's paid off, courtesy of an .844 OPS and 15 home runs. The Mariners might be able to dump the bulk of their $16.2 million commitment to Encarnacion on the Astros and get a prospect back from them.
Kansas City Royals: They'll Keep Alex Gordon
Young stars Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier notwithstanding, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported Saturday that the Kansas City Royals are willing to trade anyone.
That makes sense, given that the Royals are speeding toward a second straight 100-loss season. But of the many veterans they could trade, Alex Gordon figures to be the most difficult to move.
The 35-year-old is owed $20 million this year with a $4 million buyout coming in the offseason. While the six-time Gold Glover was hitting well enough to justify these figures in April, he promptly came back to earth in May.
Plus, Gordon has 10-and-5 rights that he can use to block any trade. And he seems ready to use them, telling Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com: "I don't want to play anywhere else."
Los Angeles Angels: They'll Keep Tommy La Stella
What Derek Dietrich is to the Cincinnati Reds, Tommy La Stella is to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels nabbed La Stella, 30, in a risk-free trade with the Chicago Cubs last November. He's since taken advantage of regular playing time by breaking out to the tune of an .872 OPS and career-high (yes, already) 12 homers. Yet it's mostly been wasted by the Angels, who've sputtered.
But while there are surely teams around MLB that would love to get their paws on La Stella, the Angels control him through 2020. And due to their perpetual efforts to build a winner around Mike Trout, they're probably not in a hurry to cash in his value.
Despite their sputtering, the Angels are also still in the mix for the AL's second wild card. Whether they'll sell any of their parts is a good question.
Los Angeles Dodgers: They'll Trade for Sean Doolittle
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a seemingly endless supply of pitchers to pull from, yet they've struggled to establish a functional bullpen in 2019.
No thanks to veteran closer Kenley Jansen's struggles, Dodgers relievers have a 4.66 ERA. They've also had issues with left-handed hitters, so the front office may be in the market for a southpaw who could work either as a specialist or a shutdown arm.
Basically, Sean Doolittle.
The 32-year-old is in the last guaranteed year of his contract, so he's a candidate to be purged by the disappointing Washington Nationals. As far as the Dodgers might be concerned, Doolittle dominates lefty batters and has generally pitched at an All-Star level for eight seasons.
Miami Marlins: They'll Also Fail to Add Any Top-100 Prospects
To give credit where it's due, the Miami Marlins have played well of late with an 12-5 record since May 17.
Yet they're still on pace to lose 100 games, so it shouldn't be long before they're open for business on the summer market.
Assuming his quadriceps strain heals in a timely fashion, veteran utility man Neil Walker should be in demand. The Marlins might also shop fellow veteran hitters such as Starlin Castro and Curtis Granderson, and veteran pitchers such as Sergio Romo and Adam Conley.
Like the Orioles, however, the Marlins will be held back by how little collective value their trade chips have. There's a possibility that a farm system with only three top-100 prospects won't get any new ones.
Milwaukee Brewers: They'll Trade for Anthony Rendon
Although the Milwaukee Brewers have recently caught the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central, they have too many flaws to think about resting easy.
Specifically, the Brewers still need more offense around reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich. It wouldn't hurt to add an impact player at either corner infield spot, neither of which has produced much offense.
In short, the Brewers may be the candidate to trade for Anthony Rendon.
Since he's due for free agency, there's little reason for the Nationals to keep Rendon on their sinking ship. He's also having a career year with a 1.111 OPS, so they can demand a king's ransom for him. To this end, they might like the idea of taking a young arm or two off Milwaukee's hands.
Minnesota Twins: They Won't Make Any Blockbusters
The Minnesota Twins are already the best team in Major League Baseball, and they have it in mind to get even better.
According to La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune, the Twins are interested in signing both Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel off the free-agent market. With their 2019 payroll below what they spent in 2018, they may have the flexibility to do exactly that.
If the Twins can even get one, they'll have an excuse to play it safe on the summer trade market by avoiding blockbuster deals.
There's also another factor that could keep the Twins out of the blockbuster market. In light of how many of their best prospects have been injured this year, there's a question of whether any of them have peak value to capitalize on.
New York Mets: They'll Stand Pat
The New York Mets' failure to live up to high expectations in 2019 surely has teams around the league hoping they'll sell.
At the least, hard-throwing righty and impending free agent Zack Wheeler should be available. At best, the Mets would also put fellow hard-throwing righties Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz on the table.
But even at 28-32, the Mets haven't been buried in the NL wild-card race just yet. And according to SNY.tv's Andy Martino, there's some "doubting" among other clubs that the Mets will sell in the wake of new GM Brodie Van Wagenen's "we will win now" offseason maneuvers.
Ultimately, the Mets may be paralyzed into letting it ride for the rest of the year. If they break apart their roster, it'll probably be this winter.
New York Yankees: They'll Also Stand Pat
Elsewhere in New York, it could be a quiet trading season for the Yankees as well.
The Yankees are already atop the AL East, and that's despite the fact that they're only now making progress toward being 100 percent healthy. Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances and Troy Tulowitzki will be back in June. It's possible Aaron Judge and Luis Severino will be back before July 31.
In any case, the team's best additions over the coming weeks will come from within. That will at least strengthen their position in the AL East and perhaps even allow them to run away and hide with the division lead. They won't need to subtract any more from what's already a middling farm system.
Instead, they may sign Dallas Keuchel. According to Feinsand, they're one of the favorites for the veteran lefty.
Oakland Athletics: They'll Trade for Tanner Roark
With a 10-game win streak between May 16 and May 27, the Oakland Athletics seemed to finally recapture some of the magic that carried them to 97 wins last season.
But then came a five-game losing streak that dropped them back below .500. They may well be a pretender, in which case they'll sell at the trade deadline.
Since the AL wild-card race isn't leaving them behind, however, the A's might look to stick around with the help of an opportunistic trade or two. Preferably, one such deal would upgrade their starting rotation.
Perhaps it's a stretch, but a deal with the Cincinnati Reds for Tanner Roark could be there for the A's. If the 32-year-old gets lost in the shadows of more high-profile aces, the A's might rent him cheaply and pair his pitch-to-contact style with their outstanding defense.
Philadelphia Phillies: They'll Trade for Mitch Haniger
The Philadelphia Phillies' trade for Jay Bruce is suddenly looking like a mere Band-Aid for their outfield.
Odubel Herrera is likely out of the picture for a while following a domestic violence charge. Andrew McCutchen, meanwhile, is out for the rest of the year after tearing his left ACL on Monday.
Factor in how the Atlanta Braves are suddenly right behind the Phillies in the NL East, and they would seem to be in a drastic-times/drastic-measures situation. That's why a trade for Mitch Haniger would be appropriate.
The 28-year-old hasn't been as good in 2019, but he played at an All-Star level for the Seattle Mariners in 2017 and 2018. And after the Bruce and Jean Segura trades, the Mariners should have a sense of what they'd like from the Phillies farm system.
Pittsburgh Pirates: They'll Ultimately Sell
The Pittsburgh Pirates bought at the 2018 deadline even though they were only kinda-sorta in the NL playoff picture. According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, they may be gearing up for more of the same this summer.
Reality may have other plans for the Pirates, however. They've recently been losing ground in the NL Central and wild-card races, and their minus-75 run differential points to an even more prolonged tailspin.
Assuming said tailspin materializes, the Pirates won't have much choice but to cut their losses—if not by starting up a fire sale, then certainly by at least putting their rentals on the table.
Of the bunch, outfielder Melky Cabrera, righty Jordan Lyles and lefty Francisco Liriano are three veterans with solid value for the Pirates to cash in before setting their sights on 2020.
San Diego Padres: They'll Trade for Marcus Stroman
The San Diego Padres have won more than they've lost in the wake of their active offseason, but they're still not satisfied.
According to Rosenthal, the Padres are in the market for a No. 1 starter. That comes as no surprise, as there have been reports linking them to various aces ever since last summer's trading season.
Per Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, Toronto Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman was front and center on San Diego's radar as recently as of last December. As luck would have it, Jayson Stark of The Athletic recently reported that the Blue Jays are ready to trade the 28-year-old right now.
In light of his 2.84 ERA and club control through 2020, Stroman's value is pretty high. But since they have arguably baseball's best farm system, it's nothing the Padres can't afford.
San Francisco Giants: They Won't Move Any Albatross Contracts
The San Francisco Giants will soon be open for business, and on their shelves will be some appealing rentals.
The best are veteran lefties Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith. Albeit with a player option for 2020, fellow lefty Tony Watson is also there. Then there's utility man Pablo Sandoval, who's been the Giants' best player largely on the Boston Red Sox's dollar.
The Giants may also have it in mind to offload some of their big contracts, such as the ones belonging to Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Jeff Samardzija, Mark Melancon and even Buster Posey.
But good luck with that. Belt is the only one who's still reasonably within his prime, and he's sharing a first base market with less risky options such as Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak. He and San Francisco's other albatross contracts are probably stuck where they are.
Seattle Mariners: They'll Be Stuck with Felix Hernandez, At Least
The Seattle Mariners aren't messing around.
They've already traded Jay Bruce, and MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that they're also actively shopping Edwin Encarnacion, Ryon Healy, Dee Gordon, Mike Leake and Tim Beckham. And according to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Mariners are willing to eat "significant money."
That opens up a question of who won't be purged by the Mariners ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. To this end, probably the only person who's safe is Felix Hernandez.
King Felix is 33, and he hasn't been an above-average pitcher since at least 2016. He also put up a 6.52 ERA in his first eight starts of 2019, and he's on the injured list with a shoulder strain. At this point, the Mariners probably couldn't give him away.
St. Louis Cardinals: They'll Trade for Madison Bumgarner
Young righties Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson have been coming around lately, but the St. Louis Cardinals should still be worried about their starting rotation.
And they clearly are, as Heyman reported they're among the clubs eyeing Dallas Keuchel. But since that race includes plenty of heavy hitters, they should be prepared to pivot to alternatives on the trade market.
Madison Bumgarner would be one such option, and perhaps the perfect one for the Cardinals. Bumgarner, 29, has typically offered reliability in spades throughout his career, and the 4.05 ERA he has this year doesn't do him justice. He has a 4.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he's regularly gone six innings for the Giants.
One catch is that the Cardinals are on Bumgarner's no-trade list, so he may insist on an extension as a condition for approving a trade to them. However, the Cardinals are familiar with extending apparent rentals.
Tampa Bay Rays: They'll Trade for Shane Greene
The Tampa Bay Rays have hitched their wagon to their ability to prevent runs, and it's working just fine. Their MLB-low 3.3 runs allowed per game has led the way to a 35-23 record.
The Rays are asking a lot of their bullpen, however, and that's begun to have an effect. Their relievers rank in the middle of the pack in FanGraphs WAR over the last 30 days.
In what seems like a related story, the Rays have been circling Craig Kimbrel, according to Rosenthal. But since it's a good bet he'll land beyond their price range, they might be forced to consider their options on the trade market.
Shane Greene is perhaps their perfect choice. The 30-year-old has dominated with a 1.08 ERA and 4.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. He'd come at a high cost, but the Rays would be able to rest easy knowing they'd control him through 2020.
Texas Rangers: They'll Keep Mike Minor
According to Nightengale, "virtually every team in baseball" wants to pry Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers.
That's perfectly understandable. The 31-year-old has a 2.74 ERA this season and a 2.84 ERA in 22 starts since the 2018 All-Star break. To boot, his contract is paying him just $9.8 million for 2019 and 2020.
But it's highly unlikely the Rangers will part with Minor.
They came into the year insisting they weren't tanking, and they sure don't look like they are. There might be doubts about the sustainability of their 30-28 record, but the fact is that it's good enough for the AL's second wild-card spot. Still another fact is that the competition for said spot is weak.
Toronto Blue Jays: They'll Keep Aaron Sanchez
According to the previously mentioned report from Stark, the Toronto Blue Jays are looking to move Aaron Sanchez in addition to Marcus Stroman.
Like Stroman, Sanchez is a live-armed righty who's under club control through 2020. And Sanchez's upside arguably goes higher, as he peaked as an All-Star and the American League's ERA champion in 2016.
That was a while ago, however, and the ensuing years haven't exactly been kind to Sanchez. The 26-year-old has battled a litany of hand and finger injuries, and he's posted a pedestrian 4.48 ERA when he has been healthy.
More recently, Sanchez has a 5.40 ERA in seven starts since May 2, and he briefly had his finger issues reappear in late May. This isn't a guy with peak value, so the Blue Jays may well decide to hold off on trading him until the winter or even next summer.
Washington Nationals: Only Their Rentals Will Go
The Washington Nationals were supposed to be contenders even after saying goodbye to Bryce Harper. But two months into 2019, they're a non-factor in the NL playoff picture.
The Nationals figure to salvage something from their lost season with trades of short-term assets, the most notable of which are Anthony Rendon and Sean Doolittle.
There is, however, an argument that the Nationals should pursue a more thorough teardown. In that scenario, they would seek to move Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and/or Patrick Corbin before their massive contracts become problematic.
But don't count on it. The Nats will probably get calls about their three aces, but it would be more in their character to hang up and formulate plans to retool for 2020. Given how much money they might have coming off their books this winter, these plans could indeed be viable.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Payroll and contract data courtesy of Roster Resource.