MLB Divorces That Need to Happen During 2019 Trade Season
Every relationship between an MLB player and team must end eventually. Sometimes it ends with a sentimental retirement send-off. Often, however, it ends with a trade.
With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, let's examine a half-dozen baseball divorces that should happen this summer.
Whether it's a talented youngster who's blocked on the depth chart or a veteran whose value will decrease or disappear after this July, these six players and their respective clubs should change their relationship statuses posthaste.
Clint Frazier and the New York Yankees
Clint Frazier began to deliver on his considerable promise for the New York Yankees in 2019. In 53 games, the 24-year-old outfielder hit .283 with 11 home runs and an .843 OPS.
On June 16, however, the Yankees demoted Frazier to Triple-A after they acquired veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners. With Encarnacion in the fold and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge having recently returned from injuries, the Yankees have no room in the outfield for Frazier at the moment.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Frazier told reporters. "It's never fun, especially with how much I felt like I've contributed to the team this year."
The Yankees could use pitching, and any number of teams could use a toolsy outfielder on the doorstep of his prime. Expect the Frazier rumors to heat up quickly and for him to shed the pinstripes for a different uniform soon.
Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland Indians
It's time for the Cleveland Indians to trade Trevor Bauer. Just ask Trevor Bauer.
"In 2020, when my salary raises up to like the $20 million range [via arbitration], then [my] surplus value isn't nearly as much," Bauer said in November 2018 on MLB Network's Hot Stove. "And they're most likely not going to be able to sign me in free agency, even on one-year deals. So it would make sense to trade me and get some prospects in return."
OK, so he said 2020, his final year of arbitration. Really, though, it makes more sense for the Tribe to trade him this summer. That extra half-season of control means his value will be greater to prospective buyers looking for more than a rental.
Sure, the Indians are in the playoff hunt at 42-35 entering play Monday. But they're eight games behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central and need to upgrade an offense that ranks 22nd in baseball with a .721 OPS.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand suggested the Indians should target Frazier, whom they drafted fifth overall in 2013 and then traded to New York in 2016.
It wouldn't be the first time someone (in this case, the Indians) got divorced and later got back together with their ex.
Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks
Zack Greinke is owed around $90 million through 2021. He's 35 years old. On the other hand, he's enjoying a typically strong season with a 2.91 ERA in 102 innings.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, meanwhile, are hanging around .500 and remain on the fringe of the National League wild-card scramble.
If ever there was a moment to unload Greinke, it's now.
Sure, the D-backs could technically sneak into the postseason. And maybe Greinke will age like a fine wine into his late 30s. But Arizona will likely miss the playoffs, and Greinke might become a declining albatross over the next two seasons.
If the Diamondbacks are willing to swallow a little cash and accept a modest return, they may be able to dump a large portion of Greinke's salary onto a pitching-hungry contender.
Greinke has a 15-team no-trade list that includes possible suitors such as the Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox.
Notably absent from the list? The Milwaukee Brewers.
Greinke pitched for the Brew Crew in 2011 and part of 2012, and they could use a postseason-tested ace.
Marcus Stroman and the Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays entered play Monday at 29-49. A full-blown rebuild is their only course of action.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman is enjoying a resurgent season after a rough 2018, with a 3.04 ERA in 100.2 innings. He's 28 years old and remains under team control through 2020.
The Jays could hang on to him until next summer, but why wait? They can command a far richer prospect haul now.
As for Stroman, he deserves to pitch for a winner in the midst of his prime and get another shot at October.
Stroman and the Jays advanced to two straight American League Championship Series in 2015 and 2016, but this divorce feels inevitable.
Yasiel Puig and the Cincinnati Reds
After a frigid start, Yasiel Puig is heating up.
The mercurial Cuban slugger has posted a .995 OPS in June and is hitting .400 with five home runs over the past 15 days.
He's also in a contract year with the Cincinnati Reds, who are under .500 and tied for last place in the NL Central. The odds of them entering the postseason picture are slim to none, and if they really love Puig, they can always re-sign him this winter.
A contender seeking an infusion of power and energy for the stretch run would surely offer something of value based on the way Puig has been swinging as of late.
Even if you don't love his bat-licking antics, the postseason is always more entertaining with Puig in it.
Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants
What a ride it's been for Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants.
Along with catcher Buster Posey and manager Bruce Bochy, Bumgarner was the consistent backbone of each of the team's even-year titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The third time around, he essentially carried the Giants through October and delivered one of the most iconic pitching performances in postseason history.
But to quote the late, great George Harrison, "all things must pass."
Bumgarner is an impending free agent, and the Giants are in last place in the NL West. The run is over.
MadBum isn't the pitcher he used to be, but his solid 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings and impeccable playoff pedigree should fetch a decent prospect return from a team looking to bring a legend to the World Series.
Bumgarner has a no-trade list that includes the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals. That knocks out a number of his most logical landing spots. However, the Giants could still trade him elsewhere or persuade him to waive his no-trade rights.
Either way, this is a bittersweet parting that needs to happen.
All statistics current as of Monday and courtesy of Baseball Reference.