Win-Win MLB Trade Predictions 2 Weeks from 2020 Deadline

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

Win-Win MLB Trade Predictions 2 Weeks from 2020 Deadline

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Aug. 31 MLB trade deadline is fast approaching. The 16-team playoff format and COVID-19 concerns could make this year's summer swap-a-thon less eventful than usual.

    Still, multiple contenders have holes. And a trade is often the best way to fill them.

    Based on credible rumors and a healthy dose of informed speculation, let's parse eight deals that would be win-win propositions for both the buyer and seller in question.

Atlanta Acquires Matthew Boyd from Detroit Tigers

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    Atlanta is in the thick of the National League East race and could make a deep postseason run if star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. returns from a wrist ailment.

    But with burgeoning ace Mike Soroka lost to season-ending Achilles surgery and veteran lefty Cole Hamels out indefinitely with a forearm injury, the team should upgrade a starting rotation that ranks 24th with a 5.27 ERA.

    Ace-level arms will be hard to come by at the trade deadline, but Atlanta could take a chance on Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd.

    The 29-year-old has posted an unsightly 9.64 ERA in five starts. But he's amassed 27 strikeouts in 23.1 innings one year after averaging 11.6 K/9. And he's controllable through 2022, meaning he'd be more than a rental.

    Atlanta should keep outfielder and top prospect Cristian Pache off limits from the top of a farm system we ranked No. 3 after the 2020 draft. But it could build a package around outfielder Drew Waters, an expendable piece of organizational depth who would be a boon for Detroit.

Chicago Cubs Acquire Mychal Givens from Baltimore Orioles

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Chicago Cubs sit stop the National League Central and have a real shot at a deep postseason run. Any talk of dealing stars such as third baseman Kris Bryant will be put off until the offseason.

    But the Cubbies could improve a bullpen that ranks 23rd with a 5.50 ERA.

    The North Siders are at a disadvantage with a ho-hum farm system we ranked at No. 26. But this feels like a win-now moment.

    Chicago could link up with the Baltimore Orioles. The O's are surprise postseason contenders in the odd 2020 season, yet they should set their sights on a rebuild after losing 108 games in 2019.

    Specifically, the Orioles could dangle right-hander Mychal Givens, who has fanned 13 in nine scoreless innings and is controllable through 2021.

    In exchange, the Cubs could offer left-hander Brailyn Marquez, whose electric fastball could make him a sterling late-inning reliever.

Cleveland Acquires Mike Yastrzemski from San Francisco Giants

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Shortstop Francisco Lindor can become a free agent after the 2021 campaign and low-budget Cleveland will probably be unable to pay what it takes to keep him.

    Serious Lindor trade talks will wait until the offseason, however. The club is in contention behind a pitching staff fronted by ace Shane Bieber, who has struck out 54 in 34.2 innings.

    Cleveland needs to upgrade an offense that ranks last in the AL with a .640 OPS. None of the team's outfield regulars has posted a .700 OPS.

    The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, are in last place in the NL West and in the midst of a rebuild. Center fielder Mike Yastrzemski is slashing .311/.436/.656.

    He'll turn 30 on Aug. 23, but is controllable through 2025. Cleveland could offer outfielder George Valera to deepen the Giants' MiLB stash while adding a proven bat that could help this season and beyond.

Los Angeles Angels Acquire Johnny Cueto from San Francisco Giants

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Angels sit at 8-16 with a minus-19 run differential. They also employ Mike Trout, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Trout has played in a scant three postseason games, which is a crime against both logic and the game.

    If the Halos hope to improve upon that ignoble record, they'll need to augment a pitching staff that ranks 23rd with a 4.93 ERA.

    The Angels should call the Giants and inquire about right-hander Johnny Cueto.

    He threw 69 innings combined through 2018 and 2019 while coming back from Tommy John surgery. So far this year, he's tossed 25.1 innings with a 4.62 ERA. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Dodgers on Aug. 8 and logged seven innings of three-hit, two-run ball against the Oakland Athletics on Aug 14.

    He's owed $21.8 million in 2021 with a $5 million buyout and a $22 million club option in 2022. That means the Giants would need to eat some cash.

    If San Francisco is willing to offset the financial burden, however, Cueto is a difference-making arm with postseason experience.

    The Halos could dangle high-upside outfield prospect Jordyn Adams and take back money to make this work for both sides.

Los Angeles Dodgers Acquire Whit Merrifield from Kansas City Royals

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Dodgers are a largely complete team with a real chance to claim their first title since 1988. 

    They could improve at second base, however, where Enrique Hernandez and his .685 OPS tops the depth chart with Gavin Lux still marinating in the minors.

    After leading MLB in hits in both 2018 and 2019, Whit Merrifield is hitting .300 with an .876 OPS for the Kansas City Royals, who are in last place in the AL Central and at least a few years away from contention.

    Merrifield is signed at least through 2022 with a $10.5 million option for 2023. But the 31-year-old will likely be past his prime before K.C. is again a full-fledged contender.

    Right-hander Josiah Gray has a strong fastball/slider combo that gives him front-of-the-rotation potential. With a depth of young arms including Dustin May, the Dodgers could deal him and add an experienced hitter to their already strong attack.

Philadelphia Phillies Acquire Greg Holland from Kansas City Royals

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Phillies are in the mix in a wide-open NL East at 9-10. Bryce Harper leads the offensive attack with a 1.141 OPS, and Zack Wheeler has upgraded a starting corps that already included Aaron Nola.

    However, Phillies relief pitchers rank last in MLB with an 8.11 ERA. Unless Philadelphia reinforces its bullpen, its postseason foray will be truncated (if it happens at all).

    We already established that the Royals should be sellers. Count right-hander Greg Holland among their assets. An All-Star as recently as 2017, Holland has a 3.09 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. 

    The 34-year-old is an impending free agent, which means he won't break the Phillies' farm system and likely could be had for a projectable arm such as right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, who saw big league action in both 2018 and 2019.

San Diego Padres Acquire Trevor Rosenthal from Kansas City Royals

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The San Diego Padres are legitimate contenders in the NL West behind an offense led by superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

    But it's time to sound the alarm on a bullpen that ranks 27th with a 6.08 ERA and lost closer Kirby Yates to season-ending elbow surgery.

    Like the Phillies, the Friars can turn to the rebuilding Royals and target right-hander Trevor Rosenthal, who owns a 0.90 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings. 

    He's an impending free agent and would therefore be a rental, but San Diego could likely acquire him for a package headlined by 20-year-old left-hander Joey Cantillo, who has the stuff to slot in as a mid-rotation arm.

Tampa Bay Rays Acquire Josh Bell from Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Rays are 15-9 and full-fledged contenders in the AL. But they could use an infusion of thump into a lineup that's tied for 15th in home runs.

    The Rays won't trade any top-shelf blue chips from their No. 1-ranked farm system, nor should they. But they could surrender someone such as infielder Xavier Edwards to highlight a package for a talent like Josh Bell.

    The 28-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman hit 37 home runs with a .936 OPS in 2019 and is controllable through 2022. 

    The Bucs would add an MiLB chip, while the Rays would gain a switch-hitter with fence-clearing abilities now and for the foreseeable future.


    All statistics current as of Wednesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference.


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