MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Big Names on 2020 Trade MarketAugust 19, 2020
Look into the Baseball Reference wins above replacement (WAR) leaders for 2019 and you will find a pair of Texas Rangers: left-hander Mike Minor and right-hander Lance Lynn.
Minor ranked first bWAR for pitchers, while Lynn ranked third. And both placed ahead of American League Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander and former Astros ace Gerrit Cole.
Some purists might argue Baseball Reference WAR is not a good estimation of pitchers. Indeed, Minor falls to 19th on the FanGraphs WAR (fWAR) leaderboard. Lynn, on the other hand, ranked third in fWAR last year, still ahead of Verlander and just behind National League Cy Young Award-winner Jacob deGrom.
All this is to say, Lynn is an incredibly valuable arm to have in the rotation. With the 2020 trade deadline rapidly approaching, it would seem opposing teams agree.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Friday that the Rangers are "already drawing interest" when it comes to the 33-year-old and his availability, though he also stated the team (10-12) might choose to retain their ace given they could be fighting for a playoff spot in the expanded bracket. Rosenthal also noted Lynn is also under contract through next year.
On the one hand, the Rangers absolutely need the Indianapolis native in the rotation in order to make the playoffs.
He has been arguably the best pitcher in the early goings of 2020. He is 3-0 with a 1.11 ERA in five starts, including a complete game against the Colorado Rockies on Friday. He has given up just 12 hits in 32.1 innings of work, also striking out 36 and giving up just two homers.
Simultaneously, it seems unlikely the Rangers will contend for a title in the near future, and Lynn might not have many peak years left.
Texas might be able to leverage the additional year of control into a big haul. Lynn has been one of the most underrated pitchers of the past eight-plus years. He ranks 16th in fWAR between 2012 and 2019. Aside from a lackluster 2018 campaign, he has never posted an ERA above 4.00. Not to mention, he is posting the highest strikeout rates of his career.
The Rangers have a choice to make. Do they want to keep the band together and see how far Lynn can take them? Or do they want to add to a farm system ranked 21st in baseball by MLB.com entering this year?
Retaining Lynn gives the Rangers the best chance to stay in the playoff hunt, but moving him might net them a pair of premium prospects who could compete for a contender in the next few years.
Either way, Lynn is a name to keep an eye on in the next couple of weeks.
Is Bogaerts Boston's New Centerpiece?
Red Sox fans lamented the loss of star outfielder Mookie Betts this past offseason. With the team struggling, it would seem more positional stars are susceptible.
Indeed, Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said last week on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" the team does not have any player deemed off limits in a potential trade (h/t Ryan Hannable of WEEI):
“You look at this team and we still have a really young group of core players that you'd like to see with the Red Sox for a long, long time. We'd never label anyone untouchable, just given the fact that sometimes to re-tool and restructure for the future, you do have to sometimes make difficult decisions, as you saw with the Mookie (Betts) transaction. I don't think anybody would be untouchable as it were, but there are certainly guys who have grown up in the system that we'd like to keep with the Sox for a long, long time."
Might this mean Boston would be open to trading designated hitter J.D. Martinez or Xander Bogaerts?
Martinez would appear to be the more logical option. He has a player option in each of the next two offseasons, per Spotrac, and could choose to seek a new home on a team with a more competitive future. At the same time, those opt-outs might make for a lesser haul than if Boston traded the "X-Man."
Bogaerts signed a six-year, $120 million extension with the club prior to the start of last season. The deal keeps the shortstop in Boston through 2025, with a vesting option for 2026. Although any club acquiring him would be saddling themselves with a lofty financial commitment, they would also be acquiring a legitimate star.
The 27-year-old had an enormous 2019, slashing .309/.384/.555 with 33 homers and 117 RBI en route to finishing fifth in the AL MVP Award voting. He has driven in at least 100 runs in each of the last two seasons, and he has also already won three Silver Slugger Awards at his position.
Rosenthal reported the Red Sox see Bogaerts as an "extremely important" piece going forward, which makes sense given he is a star at a premium position. Not to mention, it might be "preposterous," as Rosenthal said, to trade him shortly after giving him a lucrative extension.
If the Red Sox find the right suitor, though, they could get a large haul to restock the farm, something they desperately need going forward.
Boston's farm was ranked 25th in baseball by MLB.com, and that was only because they added Jeter Downs as part of the Betts trade.
Speaking of Downs, he looms as an eventual successor to Bogaerts. Perhaps the Red Sox will trade their current shortstop in the hopes the 22-year-old is the star of the future.
In any case, the Red Sox are likely to be sellers at the deadline, lending plenty of intrigue to the status of their positional stars.
All stats obtained via Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.