Final MLB Trade Predictions for All 30 Teams 2 Days from the 2020 Deadline
Now that the MLB trade deadline is as soon as Monday, teams across Major League Baseball are officially in crunch time.
That means it's time for us to offer a fresh round of predictions for what they'll do.
Ahead are our projections for which players will stay, which players will go and where the latter will end up. In some cases, these predictions were informed by actual rumors. In most others, we made educated guesses.
We'll proceed in alphabetical order by city.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Robbie Ray Goes
The Arizona Diamondbacks came into this season with plans to contend in the National League West. Instead, they've sunk to the bottom of the division.
Because many of the club's key pieces are controlled into 2021, this experience likely hasn't shifted Arizona's front office into "everything must go" mode. If the Diamondbacks do sell, they'll presumably put only their pending free agents on the block.
More so than fallen slugger Jake Lamb and injured left-hander Andrew Chafin (finger), lefty starter Robbie Ray would figure to attract interest.
Though he's struggled with a 7.84 ERA through seven starts, he's continued to show swing-and-miss stuff with 43 strikeouts in 31 innings. At the least, an enterprising team might like the idea of using him as a reliever/swingman in September and October.
Atlanta: They Get Mike Clevinger
Atlanta is holding on atop the National League East, yet the club badly needs starting pitching.
Young southpaw Max Fried is ascendant with a 1.35 ERA through seven starts. But due to injuries and other unfortunate circumstances, Atlanta's rotation is otherwise comprised of question marks.
The bright side is that Atlanta's trade prospects are heightened by the club's collection of, well, prospects. It has the league's No. 3 farm system, which is headlined by outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters.
It's hard to ignore the potential match between Atlanta and Cleveland, the latter of whom has pitching to spare and a dire need for outfield help. If the two clubs do deal, live-armed right-hander Mike Clevinger (who's controlled through 2022) could be the one going to Atlanta.
Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb and Mychal Givens Go
After losing 223 games across 2018 and 2019, the Baltimore Orioles were supposed to be very bad in 2020.
In actuality, they're good enough to be in contention for the eighth and final spot in the American League's expanded playoff field. And yet they're still rebuilding for the future, so their surprising performance actually puts them in a tough spot.
Our guess is that the Orioles' future plans will ultimately guide its deadline-day plans. And while they don't have a whole lot to sell right now, the time is right to move right-handers Alex Cobb and Mychal Givens.
Cobb, who's signed through 2021, is healthy and pitching well with a 3.73 ERA through six starts. Givens, who's also controlled through next season, has only allowed two runs in 12 appearances.
Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez Stay
Whatever chance the Boston Red Sox might have had of overcoming their slow start to 2020 is kaput. Now the only question is who'll stay and who'll go.
Relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree have already gone, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Boston has "no untouchables." If so, even star shortstop Xander Bogaerts and slugger J.D. Martinez might be had.
However, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom doesn't sound like he wants to trade Bogaerts. Given that Bogaerts is signed for just $20 million per year through 2025, Bloom may indeed be sincere about that.
It's more likely that Martinez will go, yet perhaps not as probable as you'd think. With his looming opt-out and poor numbers (i.e., a .663 OPS) complicating his value, it may make sense for Boston to keep him.
Chicago Cubs: They Get Tony Watson
The Chicago Cubs have hit some roadblocks since getting out to a 13-3 start, but they're still atop the NL Central.
There also isn't a whole lot that the Cubs truly need. Their pitching staff has gotten a boost from Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana coming off the injured list. Meanwhile, their offense is waiting for Kris Bryant (finger) to get healthy.
Per Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein's main priority is to find a lefty reliever. There are a few of those on the block, including Tony Watson.
He's making his 10th major league season count with a 0.93 ERA through 11 appearances for the San Francisco Giants. The Cubs shouldn't have to give up much to rent him for the stretch run.
Chicago White Sox: They Get Alex Cobb
Just as they hoped, the Chicago White Sox are making a run at the postseason in 2020.
Their slugger-rich offense is one of the best in baseball, and their experience on the mound has included good starting pitching from Lucas Giolito (including his no-hitter), Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease. The Pale Hose also quietly have one of the league's more effective bullpens.
Now that they've deepened their outfield with a deal for Jarrod Dyson, the White Sox's next move might be for rotation depth. Ideally, they would get someone controllable beyond 2020, yet without an exorbitant acquisition cost.
Cobb would work. Even if the Orioles were to eat the bulk of his $15 million salary for 2021, the White Sox likely wouldn't have to sacrifice any top prospects to complete the deal.
Cincinnati Reds: Trevor Bauer Stays
The Cincinnati Reds were also hoping to return to contention in 2020, but their hopes have thus far been dashed by a handful of underperforming veterans.
Hence the questions about ace right-hander Trevor Bauer. He has a 1.65 ERA through five starts, and he's due for free agency at the end of the season. As such, he could potentially be the market's top rental.
However, there's also a question of how much just one month of Bauer is worth. For the Reds, it may not be enough to dissuade them from keeping him and hoping to make a run in September.
Which, by the way, is far from out of the question. The Reds are already that much closer to being back in the race after winning their third straight game on Friday.
Cleveland: Zach Plesac Stays
Though Cleveland is in the running for a playoff spot, it's within the realm of possibility that one of its best pitchers could be moved in the next couple days.
At the outset of the season, Clevinger and Zach Plesac were dominating with an aggregate 2.15 ERA through six starts. But then they broke quarantine protocols, invoking the ire of their teammates and earning themselves demotions.
Clevinger has since been recalled, but Plesac is still in the dog house. Ironically, though, Cleveland's willingness to showcase the former likely only makes him more tradable.
If Cleveland were to trade Plesac right now, it would surely be selling low. And despite his misdeeds, that's just not a good idea relative to his 3.42 career ERA and club control through 2025.
Colorado Rockies: They Get Kevin Pillar
Even when the Colorado Rockies were atop the NL West at 11-3, their season had a palpable "this can't possibly last" energy to it.
It hasn't, yet the nature of the NL playoff race is such that even the fallen version of the Rockies still has a shot at October. At the least, they could use a right-handed bat to balance out an outfield that leans decidedly to the left.
For instance, they might rent Kevin Pillar from Boston.
Detroit Tigers: Matthew Boyd Stays
The Detroit Tigers were yet another early surprise when they got off to a 9-5 start, but surely nobody is surprised that they've since reversed course.
Rest assured, Detroit is in sell mode. Rentals like Jonathan Schoop, Austin Romine and Cameron Maybin figure to go, and even the club's controllable talent likely isn't untouchable.
This time last year, the notion of landing lefty Matthew Boyd through the end of his club control in 2022 was an intriguing prospect. He was, after all, showing All-Star potential with a strikeout-happy approach.
Right now, though, Boyd has an 8.48 ERA through six starts. Another chance to sell high on him may come at a later date, but now would certainly be the wrong time for Detroit to cash him in.
Houston Astros: They Get Robbie Ray
The Houston Astros are at once worse than expected and yet better than they have any right to be.
After all, they're winning games despite injuries to Justin Verlander (forearm) and Roberto Osuna (elbow) and disappointing performances from Jose Altuve and George Springer. Their offense also has missed and will continue to miss Yordan Alvarez, who had season-ending knee surgery.
The Astros could upgrade either their pitching or their offense by Monday, but the former will likely take priority. And if ever there was a time for them to acquire Ray, it's now.
Notably, Houston's front office was coveting Ray last summer. There have obviously been some leadership changes since then, but he's still very much an Astros-style project: a pitcher with great stuff who just needs some fine-tuning.
Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield Stays
The Kansas City Royals have the relief aisle of the trade market pretty well cornered.
They can offer fireballing closer Trevor Rosenthal, who's conquered last year's control issues and whiffed 21 batters in 13.2 innings. Greg Holland and Ian Kennedy, who are fellow free-agents-to-be, can also help a team.
Yet the Royals' shiniest trade chip is surely Whit Merrifield. In addition to a good bat, good speed and a versatile glove, he offers a club-friendly contract that runs through 2022, with an option for 2023.
But as per usual, Merrifield figures to be trade bait more so in theory than in reality. Royals general manager Dayton Moore has resisted moving him in the past, and the steady progression of the club's rebuild may only be hardening his resolve.
Los Angeles Angels: Dylan Bundy Stays
Though Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon have been the dynamic duo that the Los Angeles Angels envisioned, wins have nonetheless been hard to come by.
The Angels figure to cut their losses by dangling rentals like shortstop Andrelton Simmons and utility man Tommy La Stella. Per Nightengale, teams are also calling about ace right-hander Dylan Bundy.
Why wouldn't they? The Angels are that bad, after all, and Bundy himself has been that good with a 2.58 ERA through six starts. What's more, he's under club control through 2021.
Yet that could also be the reason he stays where he's at. As far as general manager Billy Eppler is concerned, keeping Bundy could mean the difference between a winning season in 2021 and his job being in jeopardy.
Los Angeles Dodgers: They Stand Pat
The Los Angeles Dodgers have the look of a very rare sort of team: one that's so good it can approach the trade deadline with total indifference.
The Dodgers really are that good, folks. And even if one were to go on a nitpicking mission with their roster, there really isn't a whole lot there. Whatever shortcomings they have on offense and on the mound could potentially be resolved from in-house stars getting either hot or healthy.
In the words of manager Dave Roberts: "I can't sit here and say what we need or what I think because I think because I think we're in a good spot."
So, don't be surprised if the Dodgers stand pat.
Miami Marlins: They Get Greg Holland
The Miami Marlins should have faded by now. But they haven't, and the possibility of them getting even better is indeed very real.
For one thing, they have a whole bunch of talent waiting to come off the injured list. For another, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported the club has its eyes on relief pitchers, specifically ones currently pitching for the Royals.
Because even the Marlins probably didn't anticipate arriving so ahead of schedule, any buying they do presumably won't be at the expense of their excellent farm system. That could take them out of the running for Rosenthal.
But Holland? Perhaps not. And with a 3.38 ERA through 16 outings, he's having a solid year in his own right.
Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader Stays
No thanks to their woeful offense, the Milwaukee Brewers have had a hard time getting going this year.
It's little wonder that Josh Hader's name is starting to appear in trade rumors. And according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Brewers are willing to listen to offers for the ace reliever.
However, the price for Hader is said to be "bananas," which surely would be the case for Milwaukee. Hader is an elite reliever who's yet to even allow a hit through nine appearances this year, and he's controlled through 2023.
Trouble is, he's currently operating with reduced velocity and a lesser strikeout-to-walk ratio. Such things could leave buyers reluctant to meet Milwaukee's asking price. Of course, there's also the reality that the Brewers aren't squarely out of the NL playoff picture.
Minnesota Twins: They Get Trevor Williams
The Minnesota Twins entered Friday as one of only four teams with at least 20 wins, yet they're facing a tough fight for first place in the AL Central.
If the Twins do make a move, it'll likely be for a starter. With Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey slated for free agency, said starter would ideally be controlled beyond 2020.
One relatively low-risk, potentially high-reward possibility is Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams. His 5.37 ERA since the start of 2019 undersells his abilities as a pitcher, and his control runs through 2022.
New York Mets: They Get Martin Perez
The New York Mets aren't good, per se, yet they're not bad enough to give up on the playoffs.
This puts the Mets in a difficult spot, as they would be positioned to be one of the market's top sellers if that was the easy road to take. Specifically, their list of rentals includes Rick Porcello and Justin Wilson.
Instead, the Mets might look to make an addition to their thinned-out starting rotation, preferably one that would carry over into 2021. Sort of like last year's deal for Marcus Stroman, except presumably with less risk involved.
Not many trade chips would fit with this approach, but Red Sox left-hander Martin Perez is one of them. He's typically good for five innings per start, and his 2021 option would pay out only $6.3 million.
New York Yankees: They Get Lance Lynn
There are obvious reasons why the New York Yankees haven't had it so easy since getting out to a 9-2 start.
The injury bug has once again taken a large bite out of them, and it only exacerbated a preexisting shortage of depth on the mound.
Assuming they have a sense of urgency to return to the World Series, the Yankees could be willing to take a big risk in a trade for a starter. As in, one that would involve landing a No. 1 starter with control beyond 2020.
Former Yankee Lance Lynn—who has a 1.59 ERA in 2020 and a contract that runs through 2021—is a realistic possibility. And with the Texas Rangers in need of young hitters, Clint Frazier or Miguel Andujar could make for an intriguing centerpiece.
Oakland Athletics: They Get Kevin Gausman
After remaining frustratingly stuck behind the Astros in 2018 and 2019, the A's are now the class of the AL West.
Still, certain limits should be put on expectations for the A's at the deadline. They typically don't go all-in on buying operations, and the one time they did (i.e., the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel/Jon Lester trades of 2014) didn't make for an experience they're likely in a hurry to repeat.
But after adding utility man Tommy La Stella on Friday, the A's might now look for an undervalued talent for a rotation that hasn't been very reliable to this point. Across the bay, the Giants have a good one in Kevin Gausman.
Though the right-hander only has a 4.54 ERA, he's struck out 48 batters and allowed only eight walks in 35.2 innings. He'd be a good rental for Oakland's playoff push.
Philadelphia Phillies: They Get Johnny Cueto
The Philadelphia Phillies have hit enough to get themselves in the vicinity of the .500 mark, but they're going to need more pitching if they want to get and stay over it.
To this end, the Phillies have already upgraded their bullpen. They must now consider addressing a rotation that features a drop-off in talent after Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.
With a fair deal of money set to come off their books after 2020, it might make sense for Philadelphia to pursue a salary-dump trade. Out of the options in that arena, Johnny Cueto is arguably the best.
Granted, the Giants right-hander isn't an ace anymore. But he can eat innings, and the Phillies likely wouldn't have to pick up too much of his $21 million salary for 2021 in a deal.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell Stays
Coming into 2020, it was easy to see the Pittsburgh Pirates as a team that could flop hard and ultimately pursue a trade-deadline fire sale that resulted in, among others, Josh Bell leaving town.
Trouble is, only half of this prophecy is coming true.
The Pirates are obviously a bad team that should and probably will sell ahead of the deadline, but Bell's value isn't what it was in 2019. After posting a .936 OPS with 37 homers amid an All-Star breakout, he has only a .538 OPS and two homers this year.
Because Bell is under the Pirates' control through 2022, chances are they'll keep him and hope he can rebuild his value in 2021.
San Diego Padres: They Get Christian Vazquez
The San Diego Padres have emerged as one of baseball's most exciting teams, and they may be happy enough with their roster to stand pat at the deadline.
"The focus has been mostly internal," general manager A.J. Preller told reporters on Tuesday. "We like our group and our team."
But if there's one thing the Padres might not want to solve internally, it's their catching conundrum. The Austin Hedges-Francisco Mejia duo had potential, but the .483 OPS they've put up just isn't cutting it.
Meanwhile in Boston, the Red Sox could potentially part with Christian Vazquez—who's a solid hitter and an elite defender, with a contract that runs as far as 2022—if it meant doing business with a prospect-rich club. The Padres match that description.
San Francisco Giants: Mike Yastrzemski Stays
Because the Giants are technically in contention, it should perhaps go without saying that they're going to keep their best player.
Yet there is a case for the Giants to trade Mike Yastrzemski. His value is at a peak by way of his .998 OPS and seven homers. And while he's under club control through 2025, he's also 30 years old.
At that age, Yaz's grandson's prime may be over before the Giants finish their rebuild. As it happens, this particular rebuild still needs talent.
But even if the Giants wanted to trade Yastrzemski—and there's no evidence they do—his age might work against his market value in such a way that he has more value in San Francisco than he does elsewhere. So no matter what, he's probably staying.
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager Stays
The Seattle Mariners have already dealt right-hander Taijuan Walker. Now the question is, "Who's next?"
The most intriguing possibility is a trade of veteran third baseman Kyle Seager. He was on a clear decline for a couple years, but he rebounded with a solid season in 2019, and he's now working on an .871 OPS in 2020.
Yet Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto doesn't seem to be in a rush to cash in Seager. In his own words: "We've never really wavered on Kyle Seager, he's here for a reason."
A smokescreen? Maybe. But given the strength of the club's farm system, it could also be a case of Dipoto seeing a window to contend in 2021. Even at $18.5 million, it would be good to keep Seager around for such a scenario.
St. Louis Cardinals: They Get Wilmer Flores
The St. Louis Cardinals have played well even though a coronavirus outbreak paused their season and stripped some key players from their active roster.
To the latter end, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak hinted that he's fine with the club's additions coming from within: "In a lot of ways our trade deadline is first getting guys back."
Still, the Cards might consider dealing for a right-handed hitter who could platoon with Brad Miller, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong. The Giants have just the fella in Wilmer Flores.
Flores is an above-average hitter in general, yet he mainly specializes in crushing left-handers. Between that, his defensive versatility and a contract that runs as far as 2022, he'd be a good get for St. Louis.
Tampa Bay Rays: They Get Mike Minor
If the Rays don't want to leave well enough alone, their next move might be to upgrade a starting rotation that's weaker than its 3.97 ERA indicates. If so, it would be like them to target a depreciated asset and fix him up in time for October.
Mike Minor, for example.
After leading MLB in rWAR in 2019, the Texas Rangers lefty has put up a 5.60 ERA through seven starts this year. If that's effectively reduced the value of the final month of his contract, the Rays might jump at the chance to get a good deal on him.
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo Stays
Setting aside the potential availability of Minor and Lynn, the other Rangers player who carries a great amount of trade intrigue is Joey Gallo.
He's mainly (and rightfully) known for his booming power, but last season saw Gallo become more of a complete player. To wit, he elevated his on-base percentage to .389 and put his underrated athleticism to good use in the outfield.
Such things presumably have the attention of rival front offices. Likewise, so does Gallo's club control through 2022.
But then again, his value is down a bit because of his .333 OBP and .772 OPS. That, plus the Rangers' hope that fans will be able to come to Globe Life Field in 2021 are two good excuses to keep him.
Toronto Blue Jays: They Get Chad Kuhl
The Toronto Blue Jays have already made a move, acquiring Taijuan Walker from Seattle on Thursday. But per someone who would know, the club's not going to stop there.
"I would expect us to be extremely active," GM Ross Atkins told reporters on Thursday.
With their offense already humming and shortstop Bo Bichette due to return from a knee sprain in September, the Blue Jays may double down on their pursuit of pitching depth. For instance, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported they were eyeing Pirates hurlers Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl before landing Walker.
Of the two, Kuhl would make sense because he could serve Toronto in a swingman capacity. As a bonus, he's under club control through 2022.
Washington Nationals: They Get Nathan Eovaldi
The Washington Nationals have skidded out of the gate, but they're still planning on being buyers ahead of the deadline.
As GM Mike Rizzo told reporters: "If we see a place to improve ourselves in a deal that makes sense for us, we're never afraid to pull the trigger."
With ace Stephen Strasburg done for the year after having surgery on his wrist, it's hard not to notice the gaping hole in Washington's rotation. Sans a deep farm system, the Nats' best hope of filling that hole may be spending some money.
As it happens, the Red Sox would probably love to move Nathan Eovaldi and the $34 million he's owed through 2022. And while his reliability is lacking, he can be as nasty as anyone when he's on.