Likeliest Player from Each MLB Team to Be Moved by the 2019 Trade Deadline
We are now less than two weeks from the MLB trade deadline, and with no August waiver deals this year, contenders looking to bolster their rosters for the stretch run will need to act by July 31.
That should set the stage for a flurry of activity leading up to deadline day, and with tight races in multiple divisions and both wild-card standings, as many as 22 teams could be in a position to either add or at least stand pat.
With so many teams looking to acquire talent, the players readily available on the market could generate bidding wars and fetch bigger returns than expected.
At any rate, ahead we've identified the player from each MLB team who is most likely to be on the move at the deadline, whether it's a veteran on a non-contender or a valuable prospect on a contender.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: RP Mychal Givens
The Orioles have already traded starter Andrew Cashner, and the asking price on controllable slugger Trey Mancini is going to be high, so that leaves closer Mychal Givens as the most likely trade chip.
As Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com wrote, "The Orioles definitely are open to trading Givens, according to multiple sources, which is a dramatic shift from their previous stance."
The hard-throwing right-hander has swing-and-miss stuff with 51 strikeouts in 36 innings, and while he's struggled a bit in his ninth-inning role, he has a long track record of success as a setup man.
Boston Red Sox: 3B Brandon Howlett
It sounds like the Red Sox plan on holding on to their top prospects this summer.
"We're trying to win," president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters. "We have a chance to win. We know we have to play better. But also we're trying to rebuild our system. And I think we're getting to the point where we're starting to get to that."
With Bobby Dalbec among the team's top prospects and 22-year-old Rafael Devers entrenched at the MLB level, third baseman Brandon Howlett could be viewed as a superfluous piece among the team's second-tier prospects.
The 19-year-old is hitting .252/.360/.370 with 21 extra-base hits at Single-A Greenville. He has the ability to develop a solid hit tool and decent pop with the glove to stick at the hot corner.
New York Yankees: SP Deivi Garcia
The Yankees have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, but it's somewhat lacking in elite talent. Right-hander Deivi Garcia may be the best of the bunch, and it sounds like he'll be in play if the right trade opportunity presents itself.
As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote: "As the Yankees pursue pitching help, for better or worse, here stands the reality about their farm system: No one is untouchable. No one should be unattainable."
Garcia, 20, is one of the few top-tier prospects in the system who is close to reaching the majors. He has a 3.18 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 73.2 innings and was recently promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It would take a controllable arm like Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer to pry him loose, not just a rental.
Tampa Bay Rays: 2B Vidal Brujan
With Brandon Lowe enjoying a terrific rookie season at second base and Willy Adames expected to man shortstop for the next decade, the Rays can afford to deal from their middle infield depth as they push for a playoff spot.
As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times noted, Brujan will need to be added to the 40-man roster during the offseason along with several other notable prospects. So using him as a trade centerpiece could help ease the impending roster crunch.
The 21-year-old is hitting .291/.358/.398 with 18 extra-base hits and 34 steals between High-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery this season. MLB.com gave him a 60-grade hit tool and 70-grade speed.
Toronto Blue Jays: 1B Justin Smoak
There is no shortage of potential trade chips on the Blue Jays roster.
Marcus Stroman is the biggest name being floated, but with team control through next season, the Blue Jays don't need to trade him now unless someone is willing to meet their high asking price. The same is true of closer Ken Giles, while smaller pieces like versatile second baseman Eric Sogard and reliever Daniel Hudson could bring back a modest return.
With all that in mind, rental slugger Justin Smoak is by far the most likely player to be dealt. A switch-hitting power hitter with a team-friendly $8 million salary should interest any contender looking to add some pop, and the Blue Jays have every reason to free up his spot in the lineup for one of their young players.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: RP Alex Colome
The White Sox look like a prime candidate to hold at the trade deadline.
No outside team will value Jose Abreu at the same level they do for not only his production but also his veteran clubhouse presence, so he looks like a safe bet to stay put. With no other obvious rental candidates, closer Alex Colome will be the name talked about most.
The 30-year-old has nailed down 20 of his 21 save chances with a 2.21 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in 37 appearances. He has one year of arbitration remaining, and the White Sox have every intention of trying to contend in 2020, so it would take a big offer to convince them to move their bullpen anchor.
Cleveland Indians: SP Trevor Bauer
As much as any team in baseball, the Indians rely on cost-controlled, homegrown talent to stay competitive.
To that point, it's hard to imagine they would trade top-tier prospects like Triston McKenzie, Nolan Jones and Tyler Freeman or low-level, high-ceiling minor leaguers like George Valera, Brayan Rocchio and Luis Oviedo.
The most likely deadline scenario will be a few small additions that don't cost much in the way of prospect talent, similar to last year's trade for Leonys Martin. If they make a blockbuster deal, however, it will likely be as a seller.
Trevor Bauer is earning $13 million this year, and his salary could push $20 million next season in his final year of arbitration. The Indians were looking to cut costs this offseason, and that will continue to be a motivating factor. If the right package comes along, Bauer could be moved.
Detroit Tigers: RP Shane Greene
The asking price on Matthew Boyd is high because of his three-plus years of remaining club control. The Tigers might also be better off holding on to Nicholas Castellanos and making him a qualifying offer. He's a lock to reject it in search of multiyear security, and there's a good chance no team will be willing to offer a return better than the draft pick compensation.
That leaves relievers Shane Greene and Joe Jimenez as the most likely Tigers to be on the move.
An All-Star for the first time this season, Greene has been lights-out in the ninth inning with 22 saves in 24 chances and a pristine 1.06 ERA. He also has the added value of team control through 2020. At the same time, his 3.65 FIP is a good indication he's pitched over his head, so selling high now before he inevitably regresses would be wise.
Kansas City Royals: CF Billy Hamilton
Unless the Royals are willing to eat a sizeable chunk of the $16.5 million owed to Ian Kennedy in 2020 or someone blows them away with a franchise-altering offer for Whit Merrifield, it's shaping up to be a fairly quiet deadline.
Lefty reliever Jake Diekman and speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton are the two most likely trade chips, and with Hamilton on the bench in favor of the recently promoted Bubba Starling, he gets the nod.
While he doesn't hit enough to warrant regular playing time with a brutal 48 OPS+ in 273 plate appearances, Hamilton would add plenty of value to a contender as a glove-first fourth outfielder and dangerous pinch runner.
Minnesota Twins: RF Trevor Larnach
The Twins can get an impactful deal done without parting with anyone from the top-tier prospect trio of Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Brusdar Graterol.
Right fielder Trevor Larnach (No. 86) and right-hander Jordan Balazovic (No. 88) rank among Baseball America's top 100 prospects, and either could be the attractive centerpiece of a blockbuster deal.
With Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler entrenched in the big league outfield, steering things in the direction of Larnach makes perfect sense. The 22-year-old is hitting .315/.381/.457 with 26 doubles and six home runs, and he was recently promoted to Double-A Pensacola.
American League West
Houston Astros: SP J.B. Bukauskas
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Astros were willing to include J.B. Bukauskas in talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks about first baseman Paul Goldschmidt during the offseason.
The Astros have been unwilling to discuss Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley in the past, and there's no reason to think that has changed. Right-hander Corbin Martin is out for the season, and Josh James is contributing at the MLB level.
So despite a 5.91 ERA and 5.9 walks per nine innings at Double-A Corpus Christi, Bukauskas might be the best prospect made available by the Astros this summer. The raw stuff is there for him to make an impact, and his ceiling is still high.
Los Angeles Angels: RF Kole Calhoun
The Angels are in an interesting position at four games over .500 but in fourth place in the American League West and with just a 3.9 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to FanGraphs.
It's unlikely they'll buy at the deadline, and standing pat probably makes the most sense, but they could opt to sell a short-term piece or two. To that point, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com identified right fielder Kole Calhoun as the most valuable trade chip.
The 31-year-old has a 113 OPS+ with 21 home runs, and he's well on his way to eclipsing his previous career high of 26 long balls. With a $14 million team option for next year and top prospect Jo Adell champing at the bit to join Mike Trout and Justin Upton in the MLB outfield, trading Calhoun makes sense if the Angels are willing to waive the white flag on 2019.
Oakland Athletics: 2B Franklin Barreto
A former top prospect who has never received an extended look at the MLB level, Franklin Barreto looks like a prime candidate for a change of scenery.
With Marcus Semien holding down the shortstop position and Jurickson Profar at second, Barreto could be expendable, and teams will surely be interested in buying low on a 23-year-old with everyday middle infielder upside.
Back at Triple-A for the third straight year this season, Barreto is hitting .296/.379/.549 with 24 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs and 13 steals in 14 attempts.
Seattle Mariners: RP Roenis Elias
There is always a market for reliable left-handed relievers, and Roenis Elias has emerged as just that for the Mariners.
The 30-year-old has converted 11 of his 13 save chances with a 4.07 ERA and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings—not exactly eye-popping numbers but more than enough to make him a trade chip.
His $910,000 salary and team control through 2021 add to his value, and with the Mariners well out of the postseason race, flipping him seems like a no-brainer.
Texas Rangers: SP Mike Minor
While the Rangers have been a pleasant surprise, they still face an uphill battle in their push to secure a postseason spot. In fact, FanGraphs places their playoff chances at just 1.6 percent.
It makes sense then that they're at least willing to listen to offers for ace Mike Minor, according to TR Sullivan of MLB.com.
The 31-year-old is enjoying the best season of his career with a 2.73 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 121 strikeouts in 122 innings, and he's signed for a reasonable $9.8 million next season. The asking price will be high, but it's one that contenders might be willing to pay.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: SP Kyle Muller
One would think top-tier prospects Cristian Pache, Ian Anderson, Drew Waters, Kyle Wright and William Contreras are off-limits in trade talks with the Braves.
There's still more than enough talent in the system to get a significant deal done without including anyone from that group, and with so many promising young arms, they could be willing to move Kyle Muller, Joey Wentz, Kolby Allard or Huascar Ynoa.
Muller, 21, has a 3.50 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 100.1 innings at Double-A Mississippi. For a team that believes he can improve on his 5.6 walks per nine innings, he offers enough upside to be the centerpiece of a major trade.
Miami Marlins: 2B Starlin Castro
According to Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald, teams have "reached out to the Marlins" about second baseman Starlin Castro.
The 29-year-old is hitting a dismal .252/.278/.350 for a 68 OPS+ and minus-0.5 WAR. His $16 million club option for 2020 is a lock to be bought out for $1 million, and with prospect Isan Diaz raking at Triple-A New Orleans, the team already has an in-house replacement waiting in the wings.
Even if the Marlins have to eat a good portion of what's left of his $11.9 million salary for this year, a modicum of financial relief and a flier prospect would make it worthwhile.
New York Mets: 3B Todd Frazier
The obvious trade chip for the Mets was Zack Wheeler—before he was placed on the injured list with shoulder fatigue. Now, his value may have dropped to the point that the team is better off going the qualifying-offer-and-draft-pick-compensation route.
That leaves free agent-to-be Todd Frazier as the most obvious trade candidate. Dealing him and moving All-Star Jeff McNeil to third base would open up a spot for Brandon Nimmo in the outfield for when he's healthy and give more playing time to J.D. Davis in the interim.
Frazier, 33, has posted an .834 OPS with nine home runs and 25 RBI since the start of June. He has also crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .328/.397/.574 line in 68 plate appearances, so he could be a great fit in a platoon role on a contender.
Philadelphia Phillies: SP Francisco Morales
After going all-in during the offseason, the Phillies will likely prefer to trade prospects still residing in the lower levels of the minor leagues as opposed to guys such as Alec Bohm, Adonis Medina and Spencer Howard, who are on the cusp of contributing.
Teenage shortstop Luis Garcia will also likely be off the table because trading him now would be selling low since he's scuffled in his full-season debut. That leaves right-hander Francisco Morales as the most logical prospect centerpiece in any major trade.
The 19-year-old has a 3.90 ERA with an 87-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .219 opponents' batting average in 62.1 innings at Single-A Lakewood. An uptick in his command this season has him looking like a safer bet to reach his middle-of-the-rotation ceiling.
Washington Nationals: SP Tim Cate
The Nationals will likely be looking for bullpen help at the deadline, and they have shown a willingness in the past to pay a steep price to bolster their relief corps, sending Blake Treinen, Jesus Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse to the Athletics in the trade that netted them Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson.
Blessed with one of the best curveballs in minor league baseball, left-hander Tim Cate is a prospect on the rise.
The 2018 second-round pick has a 2.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 98.1 innings between Single-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac this year, and he has the polish to move quickly toward a spot at the back of a big league rotation.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: CF Ian Happ
The Cubs made the surprising decision to send Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa at the start of the season. Nearly four months later, he has yet to make his 2019 MLB debut.
An untenable strikeout rate was the reason for his demotion, and despite solid power production, he's hitting just .237 with a 27.5 percent strikeout rate.
Things have picked up of late via a .327/.435/.635 line and seven extra-base hits in July. That surge, coupled with his track record of production at the MLB level amid the strikeouts and his remaining control through the 2023 season, should give him trade value similar to a top-100 prospect.
Cincinnati Reds: 3B Jonathan India
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Reds were "quietly shopping" Jonathan India during the offseason, in the sense that they would steer trade talks to India.
With Eugenio Suarez entrenched at third base and Nick Senzel having moved from the infield dirt to center field, it makes sense that the 2018 first-round pick would be expendable.
After a disappointing pro debut, he's hitting .255/.348/.417 with 28 extra-base hits in 83 games at High-A Daytona.
The Reds have their sights set on buying at the deadline, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic, and India looks like the most obvious prospect centerpiece.
Milwaukee Brewers: SS Mauricio Dubon
If the Brewers are committed to Keston Hiura and Orlando Arcia as their long-term middle infield tandem, Mauricio Dubon would be a valuable trade chip as an MLB-ready middle infielder.
The 24-year-old is hitting .303/.340/.480 with 19 doubles and 14 home runs at Triple-A San Antonio, and he's proved to be a capable defender on both sides of the second base bag.
He was specifically named as a "player of interest" in talks with the San Francisco Giants regarding closer Will Smith, according to Robert Murray of The Athletic, and it stands to reason they are not the only rebuilding team with interest in a plug-and-play middle infielder.
Pittsburgh Pirates: LF Corey Dickerson
There's a good chance no one will meet the Pirates' asking price on closer Felipe Vazquez, and with a team-friendly contract that runs through 2023 with club options, they have no reason to lower their demands.
That leaves someone from the team's outfield logjam as the most likely player to be on the move. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Pittsburgh's preference in June was to trade Corey Dickerson, despite contenders' interest in low-cost veteran Melky Cabrera.
With free agency looming for Dickerson, who has a sizeable-by-Pirates-standards salary of $8.5 million, it would make sense for the Pirates to flip him. If they can save a few bucks and add a low-level prospect, it'd be a solid move to address a roster surplus.
St. Louis Cardinals: CF Dylan Carlson
Despite a disappointing 47-46 record, the Cardinals are built to win now, and the National League Central is wide-open, so expect them to be buyers at the trade deadline.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported they are open to moving ace-turned-closer Carlos Martinez and young outfielders Tyler O'Neill or Lane Thomas in the right deal, and we've seen their front office make swaps of MLB talent in the past.
A prospect-based deal to acquire a frontline starting pitcher or some late-inning relief help, however, still has to be considered the most likely approach. St. Louis already has a crowded outfield, so breakout prospect Dylan Carlson could be dangled in the right deal, though his rapidly rising stock makes it unlikely he would be flipped for a rental.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: SP Robbie Ray
Zack Greinke is still an intriguing hypothetical trade chip, but given the D-backs' remaining financial commitments to him, it's much easier to envision them finding a deal for fellow starter Robbie Ray.
The 27-year-old took a step backward last year after a breakout 2017 season, and he's settled in the middle this year with a 3.81 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 111 innings. He's also walked a National League-high 56 batters and posted a 1.31 WHIP, so there are some red flags.
Still, with a reasonable $6.1 million salary and another year of arbitration, he would be a welcome addition to any contender's staff.
Colorado Rockies: C Chris Iannetta
Finding an obvious trade candidate on the Rockies is tricky.
At three games under .500 with a 6.8 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, per FanGraphs, they don't look like a candidate to buy. At the same time, there are no obvious veteran pieces to sell.
Perhaps a contender looking to add catching depth will have a use for veteran backstop Chris Iannetta.
The 36-year-old has played the lighter end of a platoon with Tony Wolters, posting an 84 OPS+ with six home runs in 129 plate appearances. The Rockies could promote Drew Butera to replace him and not lose much.
Again, finding a viable trade chip was tough. Expect them to stand pat.
Los Angeles Dodgers: CF DJ Peters
If recent history is any indication, the Dodgers will cling tightly to farm system headliners Keibert Ruiz, Gavin Lux and Dustin May.
However, they may be willing to part with outfielder DJ Peters, who has little left to prove in the minors and no clear path to playing time in the majors. Alex Verdugo, A.J. Pollock and Cody Bellinger make up the Dodgers outfield of the present and future.
The 6'6" slugger will always have a fair amount of swing-and-miss to his game, but he has huge raw power and has shown an improved approach at the plate with his walk rate climbing from 8.1 to 11.2 percent.
He also moves well for his size and has proved capable of handling center field, which adds further value. It's not out of the question to think he could be the trade chip who brings back a solid late-inning reliever.
San Diego Padres: RP Kirby Yates
Will the Padres sell high on Kirby Yates?
It's one of the biggest questions of the summer, and the decision will have a ripple effect on the rest of the trade market, specifically for the Giants (Will Smith) and Blue Jays (Ken Giles), who will have the two top bullpen arms if Yates is not available.
As Dennis Lin of The Athletic wrote, "Team sources have indicated that, barring an unforeseen haul, Yates is likely to stay put."
Then again, similar things were said about Brad Hand last year before the Indians offered Francisco Mejia and the Padres pounced. Yates, 32, has converted 30 of his 32 save chances with a 1.10 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 14.0 strikeouts per nine innings. He's also arbitration-eligible in 2020, so he's more than just a rental.
San Francisco Giants: RP Will Smith
While Kirby Yates and Ken Giles are under club control in 2020, Giants closer Will Smith would be a straight rental, and even with the team's recent push toward a wild-card spot, he's still a prime candidate to be moved.
With players such as Sam Dyson and Tony Watson capable of stepping into the ninth-inning role, the Giants—if they're set on contending—could target MLB-ready players in a Smith trade and spin it as trying to improve the team now and for the future.
Madison Bumgarner is the other big name in play, but he'd be much tougher to replace if they're looking to ride their momentum into the final months. Both players could still be traded before July 31, but the odds of Smith being dealt are just a bit higher.