MLB Rumors: Analyzing Latest 2020 Trade Chatter

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2020

Boston Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts (2) leads from third base during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles , Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Tommy Gilligan)
Tommy Gilligan/Associated Press

The 2020 MLB season is only one month old, and the trade deadline is already right around the corner. General managers have until Aug. 31 to finalize any deals they may have in the works.

The condensed schedule probably makes it unlikely any landscape-altering trades are completed in the next week. The net effect of playoff expansion might mean diminishing those odds even further. Contending teams have a clear incentive to improve, but now more teams can plausibly tell themselves they're in the postseason hunt.

Here are some players who were the subject of trade rumors within the last few days.


Xander Bogaerts

If the Boston Red Sox were willing to trade Mookie Betts, then one would expect anybody on the roster could be moved for the right price.

Unlike Betts, Xander Bogaerts isn't nearing the end of his contract; it's quite the opposite. The two-time All-Star is in the first year of his six-year, $120 million extension. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal also spoke to a source who said the Red Sox see Bogaerts as "extremely important."

However, Rosenthal also noted Bogaerts will have a full no-trade clause added to his contract once he's credited with seven years of service time, which will happen at the end of this season.

Trade or not, the star shortstop may not see out the entirety of his contract in Boston, either. He can opt out and become a free agent in 2023. That leaves enough time for MLB to fully recover from the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, so his $20 million annual salary might not reflect his market value.

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Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said on The Greg Hill Show the team doesn't feel any added pressure to trade Bogaerts before the deadline because of his impending no-trade clause:

"I don't want to get into specific contractual details although I saw what was reported. The one thing I would say is that I don't think something like that would change our approach here. We see him as a core player that we want to have here for a very long time. I know that news has been out there but it's not something that is at front of mind for us in terms of how we're approaching the deadline."

Bogaerts' opt-out could be another story when the time comes, since Boston parted ways with Betts when losing him as a free agent became a distinct possibility.


Trevor Bauer

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds are one of the teams who might have looked to sell in a normal season but could be approaching the deadline differently. Cincinnati is 11-15 but only 2.5 games off the second wild-card spot in the National League.

According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Reds' attitude is evident in their preference to hold on to Trevor Bauer, who's due to hit free agency in 2021.

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

The Reds’ trade conversations thus far have revolved around adding @MLB talent — they’re only 1/2-game out of a playoff spot — as opposed to making pending free agent Trevor Bauer available. However, that approach could change if they play poorly this week. @MLBNetwork

Bauer would clearly be a big trade asset, even though the shorter regular season further limits how much he'd help a new team this year. The 2018 All-Star owns a 0.68 FIP and sits sixth among all pitchers in WAR (1.2), per FanGraphs.

FanGraphs gives the Reds a 48.2 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, and the front office appears to be looking to contend beyond 2020. Cincinnati immediately signed Sonny Gray to an extension upon acquiring him from the New York Yankees in January 2019, and the team added Nicholas Castellanos, Wade Miley and Mike Moustakas through free agency in the offseason.

Bauer projects to be the best starting pitcher on the market this winter.

Prior to the pandemic, the 30-year-old probably wasn't in a position to match the contracts of Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million), and the effects of the pandemic could hurt his earning power more.

The Reds might have a shot at re-signing Bauer, and if not, he's clearly worth a qualifying offer that would net Cincinnati a compensation pick if he signed elsewhere.

Barring a monster offer, trading Bauer wouldn't make any sense.


Trevor Rosenthal

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Whereas neither Bogaerts nor Bauer will likely change teams this season, the same can't be said of Trevor Rosenthal.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand called Rosenthal "one of the hottest names on the trade market" and reported multiple teams have shown interest in the Kansas City Royals right-hander.

Rosenthal profiles as a prime trade candidate.

He only signed a $2 million minor league contract with the Royals, so he carries a minimal financial burden for any team acquiring him. Kansas City is also 5.5 games back in the American League wild-card race, so the front office is presumably looking to sell.

Rosenthal has made 11 appearances, striking out 14 batters and allowing one earned run and four walks over 10.1 innings.

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

Trevor Rosenthal is a very intriguing trade candidate, as @Feinsand reports. Rosenthal has been as dominant as ever this season -- 0.871 WHIP and 6 saves among 11 appearances -- since reuniting with Mike Matheny in Kansas City. @MLB @MLBNetwork https://t.co/kNo24Kla6k

Strengthening the bullpen is always a priority for contenders as they prepare for the stretch run and playoffs, and a dominant reliever is far more of a luxury than a necessity for somebody in the Royals' position.

Throw in the fact Rosenthal is hitting free agency and Kansas City has little reason to keep the 30-year-old beyond the deadline.