Fact or Fiction on the Biggest MLB Trade Buzz 1 Month from the Deadline

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2019

Fact or Fiction on the Biggest MLB Trade Buzz 1 Month from the Deadline

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    The MLB July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is slightly more than a month away. But expect swaps to start coming hard and fast in the coming weeks, if not days.

    With that in mind, let's examine the latest buzz and play fact or fiction with a half-dozen of the hottest rumors and speculation.

    We'll aim our focus at top-shelf talent and apply the "fact" or "fiction" label based on inside sources and a healthy dollop of informed speculation.

Fact: The San Francisco Giants Will Trade LHP Will Smith

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    Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

    Will Smith might be the most obvious trade asset on the market. The San Francisco Giants left-hander owns a 2.12 ERA with 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings and 19 saves.

    He's being paid an eminently affordable $4.23 million this season and is an impending free agent, so the 29-year-old is the definition of a low-risk rental with huge upside.

    "I just like to play, and as long as I have a uniform on, I'll play my hardest for that team," Smith told reporters. "Right now, we'll play hard for the orange and black, and whatever happens, happens. 

    Virtually every contender is looking to boost its bullpen at or before the trade deadline, and Smith should return a significant haul for the last-place Giants as they accept an inevitable rebuild.

Fiction: The New York Yankees Will Acquire LHP Madison Bumgarner

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Speaking of San Francisco southpaws, the Giants also figure to dangle lefty starter and postseason legend Madison Bumgarner.

    MadBum is healthy and averaging more strikeouts per nine innings (8.7) than in any year since 2016. Suitors should line up for the October-tested 29-year-old ace in his contract yearbut he might not go to one seemingly logical destination.

    That would be the New York Yankees, who must improve a rotation that's without right-hander Luis Severino (strained lat).

    "The Yankees have to be at the top of that list," ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said of Bumgarner's suitors on San Francisco's KNBR 680 (via Yahoo News).

    On the other hand, as Kurkjian noted, the Yankees may be unwilling to part with a player such as recently demoted outfielder Clint Frazier, who would be an excellent fit for San Francisco but seemingly too tall an ask.

Fact: The Cleveland Indians Will Trade RHP Trevor Bauer

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    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Indians play in the American League Central, arguably the game's softest division, yet are stuck nine games behind the Minnesota Twins at 39-35. 

    The Indians should face the harsh reality and deal from a position of strength: the top tier of their starting rotation.

    Right-hander Trevor Bauer was an All-Star and top-six AL MVP finisher in 2018, has struck out 9.7 per nine frames in an MLB-leading 108.1 innings and is under club control through 2020.

    The 28-year-old is a key player for Cleveland this season, but the Tribe could leverage him for maximum value.

    MLB.com's Mark Feinsand outlined the Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins as potential trade matches. Expect one of them, or a surprise squad, to do what it takes to make this trade happen.

Fiction: The San Diego Padres Will Trade Kirby Yates

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    San Diego Padres right-hander Kirby Yates has been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball with a 1.13 ERA, an MLB-leading 26 saves and 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

    Should the Friars make him available, he'd be a top target for every contender trying to buttress its bullpen...also known as every contender.

    That said, to hear Padres skipper Andy Green tell it, Yates is likely to stay put.

    "We want Kirby closing games for us," he said, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. "We plan on contending and winning, and a guy like him is incredibly valuable to that."

    A massive package would possibly pry Yates from San Diego. But seeing as he's controllable through 2020 and the Padres are on the verge of contention, a deal seems like a long shot at best.

Fact: The Chicago White Sox Will Trade 1B Jose Abreu

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Chicago White Sox are nearly finished with their rebuild. They're also 35-37 and 12 games out in the weak American League Central.

    They should deal first baseman Jose Abreu, who is in his contract year. The 32-year-old has an .814 OPS with 17 home runs and ought to interest any number of surefire contenders, including the Houston Astros.

    General manager Rick Hahn made overtures to the contrary while speaking with MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian.

    "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 said.

    OK. But the ChiSox could trade Abreu for prospects now and then re-sign him this winter.

    This feels like a swap destined to happen, even if the Cuban slugger eventually ends up back on the South Side.

Fiction: The Washington Nationals Will Trade RHP Max Scherzer

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    We outlined possible suitors for Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer. As the Nats sputter under .500 and in third place in the NL East, it's at least worth discussing.

    The 34-year-old right-hander owns a 2.62 ERA and an NL-leading 146 strikeouts in 106.1 innings. He' a three-time Cy Young Award winner for a franchise that just lost Bryce Harper to free agency.

    Can they send him away from a PR standpoint? Signs point to "no."

    "I'm pretty sure that Max Scherzer will not be traded at this point," MLB Network's Jon Heyman said on the Big Time Baseball podcast.

    The Nationals may wave the white flag and swap their ace. Much more likely, they'll keep him and try to build a winner next season.


    All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.