MLB All-Stars Most Likely to Be Traded Pre-2019 Deadline
Some of the players going into the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in one uniform may be wearing a different one come August 1.
Specifically, we think there are nine All-Stars who could be moved ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. These are players who are obviously talented yet who potentially have more value to their clubs as trade chips than as everyday workers.
Guys like Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Mike Minor and Brad Hand would have been worth considering several weeks ago. But now that their teams are firmly in contention, not so much.
As for the nine players who did make the cut, we'll begin with the least likely to be traded and end with the most likely.
Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Zack Greinke Trade Watch marches on.
Sure, he's an All-Star with a 2.73 ERA and a 7.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And sure, the Arizona Diamondbacks' 46-45 record puts them only 1.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League's second wild-card spot.
Just like they did in 2018, however, the D-backs have faded since getting out to a strong start. They're 26-32 since May 5. Arguably the best thing for them is to pivot off contending this season and stock up for the future.
To this end, a Greinke trade would mean jettisoning some of the remainder of his six-year, $206.5 million contract and potentially also getting younger, cheaper talent in return.
Trouble is, the 35-year-old ace can block trades to half the league, according to The Athletic's Zach Buchanan. That includes two teams that reportedly have interest in him: the Phillies and New York Yankees, USA Today's Bob Nightengale told Doug & Wolf (h/t Arizona Republic). Speculatively, he might demand more guaranteed money in order to waive his no-trade protection.
That would add yet another complication onto what already figure to be immensely complicated trade negotiations. And that's assuming there even are negotiations, as the D-backs may throw caution to the wind and go for October glory.
Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Hypothetically, at least, now is the best time for the Chicago White Sox to trade Jose Abreu.
The 32-year-old first baseman is slated for free agency at the end of the season. And while the White Sox have achieved a halfway-decent 42-44 record, it's not quite good enough to signal the end of their rebuild.
Meanwhile, Abreu can still hit. He was at his best between 2014 and 2017, but the .838 OPS and 21 home runs he has this year were good enough to get him to the All-Star Game.
However, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said this about Abreu on MLB Network (h/t Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors) in May: "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."
For his part, Abreu told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he doesn't expect a trade. Indeed, he hopes to stay in Chicago for "a very long time."
Perhaps the right offer would get the White Sox to budge. But all things considered, their idea of the "right" offer for Abreu might be too much for interested parties.
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins are a respectable 23-24 since May 17. Yet in the big picture, they're still a last-place team with the No. 23 farm system in MLB.
Hence why they're open to drastic measures on the trade market, up to and including dealing from their young and talented starting rotation.
"I think you look at ways to get better," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. "I think you look at where we are organizationally, and we've said our pitching is a little bit ahead of our position players."
Pitching-needy contenders may call about Sandy Alcantara, who's the Marlins' lone All-Star representative by way of a 3.82 ERA through 17 starts.
Of course, the right-hander is only 23 years old and under the Marlins' control through 2024. They'll presumably only move him if a team offers an exorbitant package of prospects.
That might happen, but it's not likely. If interested parties don't scoff at the fact that Alcantara only made it to Cleveland because somebody from Miami had to go, they might take issue with his unspectacular peripherals. To wit, he's struck out only 70 batters in 101.1 innings.
Felipe Vazquez, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
There probably isn't a contender in MLB that wouldn't love to add Felipe Vazquez to its bullpen.
The 28-year-old left-hander is throwing about as hard (98.1 mph) as Aroldis Chapman, and all that velocity has gone toward a 2.11 ERA and a career-best 14.1 strikeouts-per-nine rate through 35 appearances.
What's more, Vazquez has a team-friendly deal that's guaranteed through 2021, plus $10 million club options for both 2022 and 2023. Assuming he stays on his current trajectory, he'll be worth all that and then some.
However, Pirates GM Neal Huntington threw cold water on Vazquez speculation during a recent radio interview on 93.7 FM The Fan (h/t Adams): "Our expectation and anticipation is that Felipe will be closing out playoff games, be it this year or in the future with us."
This could be a smokescreen, but the Pirates' 44-45 record counts for more in the NL Central than it would in any other division. They're only 2.5 games out of first place.
The Pirates may only listen on Vazquez if they fall flat coming out of the All-Star break. And even then, they wouldn't need to accept anything less than their asking price.
Kirby Yates, RHP, San Diego Padres
More so than Vazquez from the Pirates, relief-needy contenders might have better luck prying Kirby Yates from the San Diego Padres.
The 32-year-old quietly emerged as an All-Star-caliber reliever in 2018, and he's absolutely deserving of actually being an All-Star this season. Through 38 appearances, Yates boasts a 1.15 ERA and a 6.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
At 45-45, the Padres are technically in the National League playoff picture. But they're only in the wild-card section of it, as the Los Angeles Dodgers have long since established dominance in the NL West race.
Given that Yates is past 30 and only controlled through 2020, the Padres might determine that their best course is to get something for him while the getting's good.
According to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, however, the Padres may be in a more optimistic mood: "The club faces a rare opportunity in the second half of the season. Team sources have indicated that, barring an unforeseen haul, Yates is likely to stay put."
The Padres don't need prospects, after all, and the season they're having may be a stepping stone to more serious contention in 2020. Having Yates around to close games would help.
Whit Merrifield, INF/OF, Kansas City Royals
According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Whit Merrifield is one of many players the Kansas City Royals are willing to move ahead of July 31.
Not so fast, says Royals GM Dayton Moore. Or, as he actually put it to MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan: "It's our job to do our due diligence with any proposal and listen. But we're motivated to keeping our good players here."
Merrifield definitely qualifies as a "good" player. He has an .850 OPS, 11 homers and 13 stolen bases this season, as well as 11.9 wins above replacement since 2017, according to Baseball Reference. To boot, the Royals just signed him to a team-friendly four-year deal in January.
Yet the Royals can't afford not to listen on Merrifield. They're ticketed for a second straight 100-loss season, after all, and their farm system only ranks at No. 19 in MLB. They need young talent, and the 30-year-old Merrifield is an ideal guy to swap out for it.
There may be plenty of teams willing to do such a deal for Merrifield. As a good hitter who can play all around the infield and outfield, he fits all sorts of needs for multiple contenders.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Contrary to the first six players on this list, there isn't much doubt about Marcus Stroman's availability.
Reports from MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal (via Mike Johnston of Sportsnet.ca) and Jayson Stark of The Athletic have indicated that the Toronto Blue Jays are willing to move Stroman, who has a 3.18 ERA in his penultimate season under their control.
The logic behind their thinking is easy to deduce and hard to argue with. In players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Cavan Biggio, the Blue Jays have begun building a good young core. However, their 34-57 record is a strong indication that they need more prospects.
Unlike earlier in the year, Stroman himself isn't lobbying to stay in Toronto.
"[A trade is] not something that I'm thinking about daily. I'm just truly living day to day. Whatever happens, happens. That's kind of how I feel about it," he told MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
The 28-year-old will appeal to contenders who need a starter for both 2019 and 2020. That's a lengthy list of teams, and one of them is bound to pay the price for the right-hander.
Shane Greene, RHP, Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers raised some eyebrows when they got off to an 8-4 start, but they're just 20-53 since then.
Now their focus is presumably on their farm system, which must be infused with more talent before the end of their rebuild can come any closer. It ranks as MLB's 11th-best, and it features a notable lack of impact position players.
Among the players the Tigers might trade to address these issues are breakout lefty Matthew Boyd, slugging right fielder Nicholas Castellanos and their one and only All-Star: righty reliever Shane Greene.
The 30-year-old's performance has fluctuated since he transitioned into a full-time relief role in 2016, but it's peaking right now. He has a 1.09 ERA through his first 33 appearances of 2019.
One catch is that Greene has struck out only 34 batters in 33 innings, which could lead to a discrepancy between what contenders are offering and what Detroit is willing to accept. But in light of how much work their rebuild needs, the Tigers might be the ones to blink first.
Will Smith, LHP, San Francisco Giants
To hear president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi say it, the San Francisco Giants might not be compelled to trade anyone this month.
"It's always a good thing when you have players other teams want, but that usually means you want them yourself," Zaidi said, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're going to have to see how these next few weeks go, but we don't feel we have any imperatives over these last few weeks."
But if ever there were a blatant smokescreen, this is it. The Giants are on track for a third straight losing season, and their farm system ranks at No. 22 in MLB. They can't get away with retooling anymore. They need a proper rebuild.
Assuming the Giants give in, Madison Bumgarner will be the most famous player they can offer. The best, however, will be Will Smith.
The lefty, who turns 30 on Wednesday, made the NL All-Star squad on the strength of a 1.98 ERA and 6.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 37 appearances. He's also ticketed for free agency at the end of the year.
A guy in his shoes is to be cashed in, not kept.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.