The 1 Player on Every MLB Team Most Likely to Be Moved Ahead of Trade Deadline

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

The 1 Player on Every MLB Team Most Likely to Be Moved Ahead of Trade Deadline

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The MLB trade deadline is less than a week away. Will Monday feature a flurry of activity or be mostly quiet?

    Most teams are at least on the edge of contention thanks to the 16-team playoff format, and many may opt to stand pat in what could be an extreme high-demand/low-supply market.

    Still, we should see at least a few significant swaps as clubs look to plug holes and strengthen weaknesses for the stretch run.

    Let's examine one player on each team who is most likely to be dealt by month's end. In some cases, it's veterans who have featured in multiple rumors. In others, it's prospects with high upsides who are expendable, or at least not untouchable.

    In the case of prospects, we only considered players who are on a 60-man roster, since they're the only ones eligible to be traded this season.

Arizona Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Arizona Diamondbacks are in last place in the National League West at 13-17 and should be sellers at the deadline, despite making aggressive moves to upgrade the roster in the offseason.

    Left-hander Robbie Ray has wobbled to an 8.33 ERA while allowing an MLB-worst 25 walks in 27 innings. But he has flashed bat-missing stuff with 35 strikeouts and should interest multiple pitching-hungry contenders as a change-of-scenery candidate.

    USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported Monday that multiple suitors are interested in utilizing Ray and his live arm in relief.

    The 28-year-old is set to hit free agency after the season, so he wouldn't command a huge haul for the Snakes. But they should be able to net at least a couple of interesting prospects, and Arizona could always re-sign him this offseason if it were so inclined.

Atlanta: OF Drew Waters

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    Atlanta is in first place in the NL East at 16-12. But the team faces competition in a crowded division and could use help in the starting rotation, as it lost budding ace Mike Soroka to a season-ending Achilles injury.

    Atlanta might also go shopping for an upgrade at third base since the duo of Johan Camargo and Austin Riley have offered minimal production.

    Top prospect Cristian Pache should be untouchable. But with Pache, star Ronald Acuna Jr. (when he returns from a wrist injury) and veteran Ender Inciarte (signed through 2021 with a team option for 2022) already in the outfield, Atlanta could trade prospect Drew Waters.

    The 21-year-old hit .309 with an .819 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019 and would interest any numbers of teams.

    He could be part of the future in Atlanta. But if the team chooses to go all-in at the deadline, he may be the piece to move.

Baltimore Orioles: RHP Mychal Givens

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    After losing 108 games in 2019, the Baltimore Orioles have emerged as surprise playoff contenders with a 14-14 record. But Baltimore's focus should be on building for the future.

    Their most obvious veteran trade candidate is right-hander Mychal Givens.

    The 30-year-old has a 0.77 ERA in 11 appearances with 16 strikeouts. He also has ninth-inning experience with 20 career saves. Givens is controllable through 2021, which should add to his value. 

    Relief help is always in high demand at the deadline, and the Orioles could likely add a few nice pieces to their minor league stash.

Boston Red Sox: 1B Mitch Moreland

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    After winning the World Series in 2018, the Boson Red Sox have sunk to last place in the AL East at 9-20. It's time to sell any bankable assets.

    The Sox have several, even after moving closer Brandon Workman and reliever Heath Hembree to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.

    At the top of that list is veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland, who has posted a 1.237 OPS in 18 games and would be a nice addition for a team seeking a power-hitting lefty.

    Moreland also has an affordable $3 million club option for 2021, so an acquiring club would get to choose whether or not to make him a rental.

Chicago Cubs: C Miguel Amaya

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    The Chicago Cubs, who sit in first place in the NL Central at 18-10, have a chance to make another run with the core that won them a drought-busting World Series in 2016.

    But they could use depth in both the starting rotation and bullpen and may want to add an ancillary power bat.

    Chicago isn't rich with prospects in a farm system we ranked No. 26 after the 2020 draft. But the Cubs should generate interest if they dangle catcher Miguel Amaya.

    The 21-year-old hit 11 home runs and 24 doubles at High-A in 2019, but he is blocked at the big league level by Willson Contreras with the 27-year-old Victor Caratini also in the mix.

    Catchers with pop are always at a premium, and Chicago could leverage Amaya to net the help it needs to win another title.

Chicago White Sox: C James McCann

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Speaking of catchers, the Chicago White Sox's James McCann is hitting .340 with a .936 OPS and might be the most overqualified backup backstop in baseball.

    He's a useful piece for the ChiSox as they try to crash the postseason party with their strong young core and solid 17-12 record, good for second place in the AL Central. But with Yasmani Grandal ensconced as the starter, McCann is expendable.

    The 30-year-old is an impending free agent. For a team looking to rent a veteran with pop who rates in the top half of pitch-framers, per Baseball Savant, he would be a useful addition.

    Chicago could flip him to bolster its bullpen or starting rotation and avoid selling any young assets.

Cincinnati Reds: RHP Trevor Bauer

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Reds are one of several teams on the buy/sell bubble. They're mired under .500 at 11-16 and are in fourth place in the NL Central. But, after adding key pieces in the offseason with an eye on contending, they may be hesitant to throw in the towel.

    That said, the Reds should strongly consider dealing right-hander Trevor Bauer. An impending free agent, Bauer has a sterling 1.65 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 32.2 innings.

    He has the stuff to upgrade any staff, and Cincinnati could incite a bidding war for his services and bring back a fine haul of young talent. And, as we pointed out with Robbie Ray, it could always try to re-sign him in the offseason.

    Assuming the Reds don't turn in a strong burst between now and Monday, a Bauer deal simply makes sense.

Cleveland: RHP Mike Clevinger

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Mike Clevinger has posted a 3.24 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 16.2 innings for Cleveland, one season after he posted a 2.71 ERA and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 21 starts.

    So why would the team trade the 29-year-old right-hander, who is controllable through 2022?

    For one, he's probably going to keep getting more expensive after earning $4.1 million in arbitration this year. That's a consideration for penny-pinching Cleveland.

    More importantly, he may have irreparably damaged his relationship with teammates and the front office when he and teammate Zach Plesac violated COVID-19 safety protocols.

    Cleveland should be able to drum up plenty of interest on the trade market while keeping intact a strong starting rotation headlined by Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco and Aaron Civale.

Colorado Rockies: 1B Michael Toglia

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    The Colorado Rockies have dipped below .500 at 14-15 and are looking up at the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

    But, despite dropping 10 of their last 12, they looked like a strong postseason contender out of the gate. If they keep tumbling between now and Monday, they might opt to sell or at least stand pat.

    If they choose to buy and add bullpen depth or a bat, top prospects such as infielder Brendan Rodgers should be off-limits.

    The Rox could dangle first baseman Michael Toglia, who posted an .852 OPS in 41 games at Low-A in 2019 yet could be blocked at the big league level when Rodgers takes over at second base and Ryan McMahon slides over to first.

    His high-upside power should interest rebuilding teams and could be enough to snag a solid deadline addition to help right the ship for Colorado.

Detroit Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    After a decent start, the Detroit Tigers are 11-16 and should focus on continuing their rebuild at the deadline.

    They aren't loaded with obvious veteran trade assets. The name likely to get the most attention is left-hander Matthew Boyd.

    Boyd hasn't exactly boosted his trade value with an 8.48 ERA and an MLB-leading 27 earned runs allowed in 28.2 innings.

    But the 29-year-old is averaging 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings a year after averaging 11.6. That type of strikeout stuff, coupled with the fact that he's controllable through 2022, should interest teams that believe in a change-of-scenery bounce-back.

    The Tigers have multiple young arms in the wings, including Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal, and should unload Boyd for the right return.

Houston Astros: RHP Forrest Whitley

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The Houston Astros are still without injured ace Justin Verlander (forearm). Closer Roberto Osuna (elbow) is almost surely out for the season. And center fielder George Springer just went down with an elbow bruise on a hit-by-pitch Monday.

    The 'Stros are in the AL playoff race at 16-13, but they're in danger of falling out of the Junior Circuit's top tier.

    Houston doesn't have a lot of pieces to trade from a depleted farm system that fell to No. 18 in our rankings. But it could see if a seller wants to take a flier on right-hander Forrest Whitley.

    A touted prospect whom the Astros selected 17th overall in 2016, Whitley has had oblique, lat and shoulder injuries and is nursing a sore arm.

    Still, the 22-year-old has tremendous upside. It would be a sell-low proposition for Houston, but in a win-now moment, it could receive some value given Whitley's ceiling.

Kansas City Royals: RHP Trevor Rosenthal

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The rebuilding Kansas City Royals are in last place at 11-18 in the AL Central and are one of few clear-cut deadline sellers.

    They have multiple assets to offer, but the most obvious is veteran right-hander Trevor Rosenthal.

    The 30-year-old owns a 1.59 ERA with six saves and 15 strikeouts in 11.1 innings and is having easily his best campaign since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017.

    His average fastball velocity sits at a healthy 98.3 mph, a tick above his career average of 98.2 mph. Clearly, the stuff is there.

    He also has extensive postseason experience with a 0.69 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 26 career playoff frames.

    Add it up, and you've got a quintessential reliever rental for whom contenders will be lining up.

Los Angeles Angels: RHP Dylan Bundy

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Even with the expanded 16-team playoff format and the big offseason signing of third baseman Anthony Rendon, the Los Angeles Angels are going to fail yet again to get superstar Mike Trout to the postseason.

    It's a crime against baseball that the game's best player will be sitting home in October. But at 9-21, it's time for the Halos to sell.

    Right-hander Dylan Bundy sits atop their list of assets. The 27-year-old has a 2.58 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. 

    He's also controllable through 2021, his final year of arbitration, so he could help a team for the stretch drive and next year. That should be enough for the Angels to land some prospects and try again to get Trout over the hump next season.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 3B Kody Hoese

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most complete teams in the game and may have already made their big trade for the season when they acquired right fielder Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox in February.

    But, as they try to win their first championship since 1988, they could look to gild the lily with pitching depth or a bat with defensive flexibility.

    Top prospects such as second baseman Gavin Lux will be non-starters in trade talks. But L.A. could move a youngster from its deep farm system, such as third baseman Kody Hoese.

    The 23-year-old posted an .863 OPS between rookie league and Class A in 2019 and should interest sellers with his high-upside right-handed power.

Miami Marlins: 1B Jesus Aguilar

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    After a COVID-19-induced hiatus and a brief run of winning, the Miami Marlins have lost seven of 10. Yes, they're a game over .500 at 12-11 and in second place in the NL East.

    But the Fish, like the Baltimore Orioles, should focus on continuing their rebuild and adding young pieces.

    They have veterans to deal, headlined by first baseman Jesus Aguilar. The 30-year-old hit 35 home runs as recently as 2018 and this season owns a solid .815 OPS.

    He's controllable through 2022, so Miami may hold on to him at least until the offseason. But his value could be highest now for a deadline shopper seeking to add power.

Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Brett Anderson

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Milwaukee Brewers sit at 12-15, in third place in the muddled NL Central. They have a path to the postseason but are unlikely to trade any top assets from a thin, No. 28-ranked farm system.

    The Brew Crew may be most likely to stand pat and see if they can slip into October as is. Or they could shop ancillary veteran pieces and try to boost their weak MiLB cache.

    If they go the latter route, left-hander Brett Anderson should drum up interest. The 32-year-old owns a 3.52 ERA through five starts and has playoff experience with the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers.

    He wouldn't get a massive return, but he's sure to be enticing for a club looking to bolster the back end of its rotation. 

Minnesota Twins: RHP Jhoan Duran

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Twins are in first place in the AL Central at 20-10 and have no glaring flaws to address at the deadline.

    But with Jake Odorizzi on the 10-day injured list with a chest contusion after being hit by a line drive and Homer Bailey on the 45-day IL with tendinitis in his bicep, Minnesota could be in the market for starting pitching.

    The Twinkies' top three prospects—shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielders Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach—almost surely aren't going anywhere.

    But if Minnesota tries to land an impact arm, it could dangle young right-hander Jhoan Duran, who posted a 3.76 ERA and averaged 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings between High-A and Double-A in 2019.

    The Twins could instead opt to give the 22-year-old a call-up from the alternate site and a shot in the rotation. If they want certainty, though, they'll acquire a veteran.

New York Mets: LHP Kevin Smith

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    At 12-14, the New York Mets are yet another team on the edge of the postseason picture. Will they buy, sell or stand pat?

    General manager Brodie Van Wagenen offered a clue when he told reporters the club was "going to be very careful" at the deadline. That suggests Mets fans should expect Monday to come and go without any eventful deals.

    If New York reels off a few wins and opts to buy, it could dangle left-hander Kevin Smith. The team's No. 12 prospect, the 23-year-old posted a 3.15 ERA with 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings between High-A and Double-A in 2019.

    Like with all their intriguing minor league assets, the Mets might be better off keeping him. But he could fetch a decent return without raiding the top 10 of their No. 27-ranked system.

New York Yankees: OF Clint Frazier

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Once a highly regarded prospect, Clint Frazier has struggled with injuries and inconsistency since making his MLB debut with the New York Yankees in 2017.

    In eight games since being recalled from the alternative site, however, he's hit .333 with a pair of home runs and three doubles.

    The 25-year-old could be a key piece for the 16-9 Yanks as they push toward the playoffs. Or he could be an enticing bit of trade bait who might bring back big league-level pitching.

    Why would New York move Frazier? There's his uneven track record. There's his less-than-stellar outfield defense. And there's the fact that the Yankees have Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and Mike Tauchman in the outfield and just activated Aaron Judge from the injured list.

    If and when Giancarlo Stanton returns from a hamstring injury, he's the designated hitter.

    That could make Frazier expendable. New York could wait until the offseason to shop him, since he's controllable through 2024. But this might be a sell-high moment with Frazier hitting well—and an opportunity to maximize a return of instant-impact talent.

Oakland Athletics: INF Sheldon Neuse

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    At 20-10, the Oakland Athletics look like one of the best teams in both the AL and all of baseball. Like other top contenders, they don't have many glaring holes.

    One area wherein the A's could add depth, however, is the starting rotation, which ranks 19th with a 4.80 ERA.

    The small-market Athletics are unlikely to part with any blue-chip, top-five prospects. But they could dip a bit deeper into their MiLB ranks and offer up No. 7 prospect Sheldon Neuse.

    The 25-year-old posted a .939 OPS at Triple-A in 2019 and earned a 25-game audition with Oakland. But his future at third base, where he saw the bulk of his action in the minor leagues, is blocked by Matt Chapman.

    Assuming he's expendable, Neuse could be enough to land Oakland a rotation reinforcement.

Philadelphia Phillies: RHP Adonis Medina

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Phillies already pulled off a trade by acquiring Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from Boston to boost a suspect bullpen. At 10-14, they're in last place in the NL East, but they clearly want to win this season. And they're only four games out of first place.

    Assuming they choose to keep dealing for impact players, the Phillies could offer right-hander Adonis Medina.

    The 23-year-old posted a 4.94 ERA at Double-A last season but has the stuff to profile as a solid mid-rotation starter, including a solid mid-90s fastball.

    That's not an asset Philadelphia should simply give away, of course. But if it could net the team still more late-inning bullpen arms, a starting pitcher to add to the rotation or even a power bat to join an offense that ranks fifth with a .796 OPS, it should pull the trigger.

Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Keone Kela

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Reliever Keone Kela looks like an obvious trade candidate for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who sit in last place in the NL Central at 7-17.

    After returning from an extended COVID-19 absence, Kela notched three strikeouts in two innings and showcased the high-90s fastball that helped him post a 2.12 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 2019.

    Kela's stock took a dip when he left a game Friday with forearm tightness. But the Pirates are hopeful he can return soon.

    If he comes back before Monday and shows enough to convince buyers he's healthy, the Bucs should take what they can get for the 27-year-old who's set to hit free agency after the season.

San Diego Padres: SS Gabriel Arias

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    The San Diego Padres are 18-12, in second place in the NL West and looking like a team that won't just make the postseason but will also make noise when it gets there.

    The Friars could use depth at catcher and should add to a bullpen that ranks 24th with a 5.45 ERA. If they want to dangle an intriguing prospect, they should opt for 20-year-old shortstop Gabriel Arias.

    Arias slashed .302/.339/.470 with 17 home runs last season at High-A. So, why would up-and-coming San Diego trade him?

    You may already have guessed the answer: He's blocked in the big leagues by emerging superstar and face of the franchise Fernando Tatis Jr.

    Arias' best use for the Padres could be as trade bait, and many sellers would surely come calling.

San Francisco Giants: RHP Kevin Gausman

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The San Francisco Giants have been surprisingly competitive and sit at 14-16. Yet they're in fourth place in the NL West, behind Colorado, San Diego and Los Angeles. They'd have to leapfrog at least one—if not two—of those teams to make the postseason.

    As such, San Francisco should continue its rebuild and look to add young talent.

    The team doesn't have many obvious veteran trade assets, but keep an eye on right-hander Kevin Gausman.

    The 29-year-old has an unremarkable 4.65 ERA but has struck out 42 in 31 innings and looked dominant at times. He's an impending free agent but could boost the middle of many contenders' rotations and net the Giants a bankable prospect or two.

Seattle Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Seattle Mariners aren't in last place in the AL West thanks to the woeful Angels. But at 11-19, they're clear rebuilders.

    Seattle already dealt struggling 2019 All-Star Daniel Vogelbach to the Toronto Blue Jays. It could add to its already loaded collection of MiLB talent by offering right-hander Taijuan Walker next.

    The 28-year-old has a 4.00 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 27 innings. He'd be a rental, but like Gausman and others, he could be an attractive mid-rotation option for many contenders.

    It's hard to imagine general manager Jerry Dipoto, aka "Trader Jerry," letting the deadline pass without making more deals. 

St. Louis Cardinals: 3B Elehuris Montero

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Cardinals lost some time to COVID-19 but sit at 10-8 and in second place in the NL Central. They may want to boost an offense that ranks 21st with a .710 OPS before the deadline.

    If so, St. Louis could offer third baseman Elehuris Montero.

    The 22-year-old ranks below hot-corner prospects Nolan Gorman and Jordan Walker but rates as the Cards' No. 8 prospect. He hit just .194 between the rookie leagues and Double-A last season but features plus power that could translate to 20-homer potential at the big league level if he continues to develop.

    He wouldn't bring back anything huge, but for a St. Louis team that could easily stand pat at the deadline, he's the type of prospect who could be dealt without depleting the farm system too much. 

Tampa Bay Rays: LHP Shane McClanahan

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    The 19-11 Tampa Bay Rays are nipping at the Yankees' heels in the AL East and look like legitimate contenders in the American League.

    The Rays aren't resting on their success, however, and "are being very aggressive" on the trade market, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

    Tampa Bay could look for an upgrade at catcher and reinforcements in both the rotation and bullpen. To do so, it could dangle left-hander Shane McClanahan.

    The southpaw posted a 3.36 ERA with 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings between Single-A, High-A and Double-A in 2019 and could easily be a part of the Rays' future.

    But if they are in an aggressive win-now mode, he could fetch an impact player to help the team compete for the first title in franchise history.

Texas Rangers: RHP Lance Lynn

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The Texas Rangers are 11-17 and have lost eight of their last 10. A team that entered the season hoping to compete should shift into sell mode.

    Their best asset is right-hander Lance Lynn, who has posted a 1.59 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 45.1 innings. He's also signed for an affordable $9.3 million in 2021.

    The Rangers could hang on to him at least until the offseason or even until next year's deadline, but this is a sell-high moment at which Lynn could net Texas multiple impact prospects to build up its No. 21-ranked farm.

    Certainly, he'd be among the most sought-after starters on the market, especially with his extensive (54.1 IP) postseason experience.

Toronto Blue Jays: SS Jordan Groshans

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Blue Jays are 14-13 and indicated they're willing to make deals by acquiring Daniel Vogelbach from Seattle for cash considerations as a low-risk reclamation project.

    They might make higher-profile moves to build around their exciting young core and could add depth to a starting rotation that ranks 16th with a 4.74 ERA.

    They may not deal any top prospects. But if they do, it could be shortstop Jordan Groshans.

    The 20-year-old hit .337 with a .909 OPS last season at Single-A. But he's blocked at the big league level by rising star Bo Bichette and topped on Toronto's prospect rankings by Austin Martin (though Martin may profile better in the outfield).

    It would take a significant return for the Blue Jays to move Groshans, but it would also signal their seriousness about making a run right now. 

Washington Nationals: RHP Cade Cavalli

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    The Washington Nationals are 11-15 and in fourth place in the NL East. But the defending champions are only four games out in the division.

    As general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters, "We're here to win, and we're very, very competitive. If we see a place to improve ourselves in a deal that makes sense for us, we're never afraid to pull the trigger."

    That may be especially true with Stephen Strasburg lost for the season after undergoing surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.

    The Nats could dip into their deep collection of right-handed pitching prospects and offer Cade Cavalli.

    The 22-year-old has the stuff to profile as a mid-rotation starter, and Washington could demand a good return while dealing from a surplus of righty prospects that also includes Jackson Rutledge, Wil Crowe and Cole Henry.


    All statistics current entering Tuesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.


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