Latest MLB Trade Predictions 1 Week Before the 2020 DeadlineAugust 24, 2020
Latest MLB Trade Predictions 1 Week Before the 2020 Deadline
There is no telling how much action there will be at the 2020 MLB trade deadline.
Obviously, there are some complicating factors this year. For starters, the deadline falls just over a month before the conclusion of the regular season. Then there is the obvious complication of trading players amid a pandemic.
Nevertheless, the deadline presents the best and final opportunity for contenders to put the final touches on their respective rosters. While "blockbuster" deals appear slightly unlikely, teams will do their due diligence to see which players could be available.
Here are the latest MLB trade predictions one week before the Aug. 31 deadline.
Yankees Flip at Least 1 of Frazier, Andujar for Pitching
It only seems fitting to start with the New York Yankees.
History has repeated itself this season, as injuries have once again ravaged the Bronx Bombers. Yet, like last year, the Yankees are firmly in contention, and they have a pair of young assets who might be of interest to any number of rebuilding teams.
Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar have plenty of promise. Andujar was the runner-up for the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year Award, but he missed nearly all of 2019 because of shoulder surgery and has since been supplanted at third base by Gio Urshela. Frazier, meanwhile, has given the Yankees production amid the absences of both Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) and Aaron Judge (calf).
But both players figure to see limited playing time at best. Andujar was optioned to the team's alternate training site, while Frazier could return to the bench once Judge returns, given Mike Tauchman's performance (.333/.404/.431).
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Yankees remain high on Frazier, but an NL executive also said he believes the outfielder's available behind the scenes.
Both Frazier and Andujar could start for any number of teams, but they have no place on this Yankees club. It seems like New York could try to flip at least one, if not both, of the youngsters—possibly for a marquee starter like Lance Lynn or another impact reliever.
Indians Sell Mike Clevinger
On one hand, the Cleveland Indians would appear foolish to deal Mike Clevinger.
The 29-year-old has established himself as one of the best starters in baseball, and he is under team control through the 2022 season.
But he and fellow Indians pitcher Zach Plesac angered teammates when they broke protocol and went out in Chicago earlier this month, and Jeff Passan of ESPN reported veteran reliever Oliver Perez threatened to leave the team if the two pitchers rejoined the Indians as soon as they were eligible.
The Atlanta Braves might look to capitalize on this tense situation.
Atlanta needs starting pitching. Ace Mike Soroka is out for the year after tearing his Achilles, and Cole Hamels (triceps) still has not thrown a pitch this season. Meanwhile, Sean Newcomb has struggled, and Touki Toussaint has had command issues, with four hit batters and 4.9 walks per nine innings.
Moreover, the Braves have the kind of assets the Indians would desire.
Cleveland's outfield ranks 29th in FanGraphs WAR (fWAR), and quality outfield depth has been a consistent issue for the club in recent years. The Braves have a pair of impact outfield prospects in Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, and they could also offer the Indians a young arm such as a Kyle Wright or Ian Anderson.
Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been hesitant to deal top prospects in the past, but Clevinger can bolster the Braves rotation and help the team contend for a World Series.
Angels Make a Play for Lance Lynn
The Los Angeles Angels hoped to take steps toward contention this year after they signed Anthony Rendon to bolster a Mike Trout-led squad, but it simply has not happened.
While L.A.'s offense has been productive, the pitching staff has been a disappointment. Dylan Bundy has been an excellent acquisition, but Shohei Ohtani's injury issues have persisted, and right-hander Julio Teheran has a 10.38 ERA in four appearances.
Still, there are reasons to believe the Angels could be buyers at the deadline, even if they are all but out of the 2020 playoff picture.
Several controllable arms might be on the market, including Texas Rangers right-hander Lance Lynn. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported a number of teams have already shown interest in the right-hander.
Lynn has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. The 33-year-old has a 1.37 ERA and 0.81 WHIP through six starts and has quietly been one of the most valuable starters in the sport over the past couple of years.
The Angels would be a good trade partner for the Rangers. Los Angeles' No. 2 prospect, outfielder Brandon Marsh, has no clear path to regular playing time. Meanwhile, the Rangers are in desperate need of young outfield talent.
If L.A. is serious about contending as soon as possible, then the club might as well buy at the deadline to fill a pressing need.
The Angels need starters who can go deep into games and put together quality starts. Lynn would be a good option, particularly considering he is under contract through next year.
Mets Gamble on Taijuan Walker
The New York Mets don't have the same kind of marquee prospects as some of the other teams on this list, but they desperately need to acquire pitching.
New York's rotation took a big hit this spring when Noah Syndergaard had Tommy John surgery, and it lost another key contributor after Marcus Stroman opted out.
Left-hander Steven Matz has struggled and was sent to the bullpen, while Robert Gsellman has been subpar as the fifth starter. That does not include the continued decline of veteran Rick Porcello.
Still, the Mets find themselves in the playoff chase. The outfield of Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto has thrived, while Robinson Cano has had an excellent bounce-back campaign. The Mets are scoring runs, even though Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramos have struggled and Pete Alonso has yet to get it going.
New York is probably more than just one pitcher away from title contention, but Walker would be a low-risk play.
The Seattle Mariners right-hander should be a fairly cheap acquisition given he is on an expiring contract and has a history of injuries. But the 28-year-old has also put together consecutive quality starts after tossing seven innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, and MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported the pitcher is generating some trade interest.
Walker might also be a cheap option if the Mets can't re-sign Stroman this offseason.
Athletics Add Impact Bat in Mitch Moreland
The Oakland Athletics have one of baseball's most explosive offenses, but they could use another left-handed slugger.
Matt Olson has nine homers, though he has struggled to get going. Tony Kemp provides solid defense and has been drawing walks, but he is hardly a middle-of-the-order run producer. Not to mention, veteran designated hitter Khris Davis has just one homer and a sub-.600 OPS.
Fortunately, the A's have a substantial opportunity to remedy this issue.
The Boston Red Sox have gotten off to one of the worst starts in franchise history and might look to sell expiring contracts. This especially pertains to first baseman Mitch Moreland (2021 club option), who might be one of the most readily available and affordable bats on the market.
Moreland has gotten off to a flying start, with seven homers and a 1.288 OPS. But he is not a regular since the Red Sox use J.D. Martinez as their DH and Michael Chavis gets looks at first base.
The Athletics are competing for a World Series, and Moreland would address a crucial need for left-side production.
Oakland also has an intriguing mix of both infield and pitching prospects to pique Boston's interest.
Padres Supplement Bullpen with Keone Kela
The San Diego Padres bullpen was supposed to be a strong suit.
Kirby Yates had asserted himself as one of baseball's top closers in 2019, leading MLB with 41 saves while also posting a 1.19 ERA and striking out 15 hitters per nine innings. The Friars also acquired star reliever Emilio Pagan from the Tampa Bay Rays, seemingly giving them one of the top one-two punches at the back end of the bullpen.
But things have not gone according to plan. Yates struggled early before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. Pagan, meanwhile, was dealing with command issues and had already given up three homers in his first 12 appearances.
Suddenly, the Padres—in the thick of the playoff race in the NL West—are in desperate need of a late-game reliever, and Keone Kela might be the one of their best options.
The Pirates reliever has only made a few appearances this year after sitting because of COVID-19, but he posted a 2.12 ERA in 2019 and has a career strikeout rate of 11 per nine innings. Kela exited Friday night's game with forearm tightness, but manager Derek Shelton said he was removed as a precaution.
Kela is on an expiring contract, so he is unlikely to cost the Padres any of their top prospects. There is also a chance—if Kela pitches well—he could be a cheaper alternative to Yates, given Yates will also be a free agent this offseason. Plus, at 27, he is six years younger than Yates.
The Friars could wheel and deal for Kela knowing they could try to re-sign him as Yates' replacement.
Blue Jays Seek Reclamation Project in Matt Boyd
The Toronto Blue Jays made it clear they were prioritizing starting pitching in the offseason when they signed Hyun Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark and acquired Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers.
However, it seems the Blue Jays are intent on adding to the rotation, particularly after top prospect Nate Pearson was placed on the injured list with an elbow issue Wednesday.
Toronto general manager Ross Atkins told reporters Thursday the focus is on starting pitching, and Matt Boyd might well be the guy who makes the most sense for the Blue Jays.
The 29-year-old left-hander is under team control through 2022, which would give him time to settle in alongside the rest of Toronto's young core.
Boyd has strikeout stuff. He posted 11.6 punchouts per nine innings last year and has a respectable career walk rate of 2.9 free passes per nine innings.
The problem for Boyd has been the long ball. He was at the bottom of the the AL in giving up 39 gophers last year and has already given up an AL-worst eight this season.
Yet, Boyd has a wipeout slider that boasted a 43.6 percent whiff rate last season, per Baseball Savant. He has also had more success mixing in his looping curveball.
Perhaps a change of scenery will do Boyd some good. The years of control should also appeal to the Blue Jays, who are trying to build a sustainable winner.
Reds Get Veteran Relief Help with Ian Kennedy
The Cincinnati Reds have a trio of aces in their rotation, with Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer and Luis Castillo leading the way. Tyler Mahle has also emerged as a strong option.
However, the Reds could use another power arm in the later innings. Raisel Iglesias' 2.05 fielding independent pitching (FIP) suggests he has succumbed to some bad luck in the face of a 6.75 ERA, and Lucas Sims has been solid in the setup role. But adding another strikeout guy capable of high-leverage innings would surely make manager David Bell more comfortable.
Unfortunately, the Reds do not have a ton of assets for such a swap. They have a fairly shallow farm, and guys like Phil Ervin and Josh VanMeter may have soured their value with poor starts.
That said, Kansas City Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy would be a good option for Cincinnati.
The 35-year-old is on an expiring pact, and the Royals are unlikely to demand much in return given Kennedy's age and contract status.
Kennedy has fallen victim to home runs this year, giving up six in his first 10 appearances. However, he is still striking out 10.6 per nine innings, and his 0.9 homer-allowed rate in 2019 suggests the his woes might be an aberration.
The Reds would make a good suitor for Kennedy, particularly if they can get the Royals to send some cash their way. In fact, the Royals might also be amenable to grabbing someone like VanMeter or Ervin, despite the poor starts.
Diamondbacks Grab Mychal Givens
The Arizona Diamondbacks are contending for a playoff spot in a crowded NL West, and general manager Mike Hazen made it clear he will prioritize bullpen needs at the deadline.
Hazen recently noted he feels teams are better equipped for the home stretch when they have more "firepower" out of the bullpen, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, which makes Mychal Givens seem like the ideal target.
Givens has showcased the kind of stuff that also put his name in trade speculation at least year's deadline, striking out 13 hitters per nine innings while not conceding a single home run, a marked improvement from last year. He has thrived in a setup role, and the D-backs need another live arm in the later innings.
Closer Archie Bradley has converted six of seven save opportunities, but traditional setup man Andrew Chafin recently hit the injured list with a finger sprain and had an 8.10 ERA.
The Orioles are clearly still in rebuilding mode and will be keen on adding young talent in exchange for Givens, who still has another year of arbitration in 2021.
Arizona has a wealth of top outfield prospects and could offer Baltimore the likes of Corbin Carroll as part of a package to solidify a deal.
Cubs Get Former Division Rival
The Chicago Cubs have reportedly shown interest in Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield in the past.
The North Siders could make overtures to the Royals this summer, but this time for a veteran reliever.
Trevor Rosenthal was once a marquee arm in the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen, and the Cubs should have interest in bringing him back to the NL Central. Rosenthal has seemingly gotten his career back on track in Kansas City, posting a 0.87 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 10.1 innings.
Meanwhile, the Cubs still need quality bullpen depth. Chicago's 'pen ranks 23rd in fWAR, and manager David Ross would likely prefer to have another late-game option alongside Jeremy Jeffress and Rowan Wick.
Rosenthal is on an expiring contract, and the Cubs might be able to entice Kansas City with prospects such as outfielder Cole Roederer or young catcher Miguel Amaya, or perhaps even an MLB-ready defensive ace like Albert Almora Jr., though the latter has struggled mightily at the plate in recent years.
In any case, Chicago will probably be searching for impact bullpen arms, and Rosenthal could be one of the top options available at the deadline.
All stats obtained via Baseball Reference or FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract information obtained via Spotrac. Prospect rankings via MLB.com.