Buying or Selling Trevor Bauer, Josh Hader and More MLB Trade Rumors

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterAugust 28, 2020

Buying or Selling Trevor Bauer, Josh Hader and More MLB Trade Rumors

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    Will the Milwaukee Brewers get what they want for Josh Hader?
    Will the Milwaukee Brewers get what they want for Josh Hader?Associated Press

    The end of August is here. And in 2020, that means the Major League Baseball trade deadline is nigh.

    What do you say we break down the biggest rumors in the air?

    With Monday's deadline just days away, we hand-picked 10 rumors worth discussing and analyzed just how much sense they make. Once we did that, we concluded whether to buy or sell their chances of happening.

    Let's get to it, starting with the least juicy rumors and ending with the juiciest.

Will the Pirates Hold a Fire Sale?

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    Josh Bell
    Josh BellGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Source: Mark Feinsand of

    At the bottom of the National League Central reside the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are following an ugly 93-loss season in 2019 with an equally ugly 9-19 campaign in 2020.

    This is happening under first-year general manager Ben Cherington, who a rival National League executive says is "trying to sell everything" by Monday's deadline, per Feinsand. In theory, that would include closer Keone Kela, starter Joe Musgrove and perhaps even slugging first baseman Josh Bell.

    However, the aforementioned exec also cautioned: "It'll be interesting to see what kind of return they can get on their guys in this market."

    No kidding. For a variety of reasons—the truncated schedule and absence of a minor league season among them—this summer's trade market isn't conducive to actual trades. And even if the Pirates do want to hold a fire sale, there's the matter of Kela (forearm tightness) and Musgrove (triceps) being on the injured list and Bell's value being down amid his struggles. For that matter, the list of Pirates players with real value is short.

    This is not to suggest that the Pirates won't trade anyone. But a full-on fire sale? Probably not.

    Verdict: Sell

The Marlins as Buyers? With Royals Relievers in Their Sights?

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    Trevor Rosenthal
    Trevor RosenthalAssociated Press

    Source: Jon Morosi of MLB Network

    At least in the National League, there's been no bigger surprise than the Miami Marlins.

    They came into 2020 with a 105-loss 2019 season fresh in their wake, and then they succumbed to a coronavirus outbreak. Yet they're chugging along at 14-12, placing them second in the NL East.

    Granted, Miami's minus-two run differential suggests the club has been riding a potentially unsustainable wave of good luck. Yet it's not a given that anyone else in the NL East will overtake them, as the other three teams in the division all have real issues.

    As such, there is some logic to the idea of their being buyers, as Morosi reports they are. Likewise, the Marlins do indeed need help for a bullpen that's been worse than even its 4.74 ERA indicates.

    The Marlins presumably aren't in a hurry to subtract too much from their No. 5 farm system. But that shouldn't be an issue regarding Royals right-handers Trevor Rosenthal, Greg Holland and Ian Kennedy, each of whom is on an expiring deal.

    Verdict: Buy

A 50 Percent Chance of Johnny Cueto Leaving the Giants?

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Source: MLB Network's Jon Heyman on the Big Time Baseball podcast

    The San Francisco Giants went into Thursday riding a seven-game winning streak, which put them within range of third place in the NL West.

    And yet the Giants may be ready to sell anyway. Among their trade chips is veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto, who supposedly has a 50 percent chance of being dealt by Monday, per Heyman.

    The Giants' reported willingness to sell may be the result of their learning a lesson from 2019. They notably opted not to move Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith in the wake of a 17-3 run between June 30 and July 23. That came back to bite them when they fell off the pace in August and September.

    Ah, but what is Cueto's value? He only has a 5.29 ERA in 11 starts since returning from Tommy John surgery last season. Plus, he's due to make $21 million next year.

    The Giants would have to eat a big chunk of Cueto's 2021 salary to get any real prospects for him. Even then, the odds of his moving may be less than 50-50.

    Verdict: Sell

Slim Odds of the Red Sox Trading Xander Bogaerts or J.D. Martinez?

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    Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez
    Xander Bogaerts and J.D. MartinezMichael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Source: Heyman

    At this point, selling is the only way the Boston Red Sox can salvage anything from a season that's produced a 10-21 record.

    At the least, the Red Sox figure to move impending free agents like outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar. There are also first baseman Mitch Moreland and left-hander Martin Perez, who have options for 2021.

    Yet Boston's biggest prizes are shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who's signed through 2025, and slugger J.D. Martinez, whose contract runs through 2022. By Heyman's reckoning, their odds of moving are 20 and 25 percent, respectively.

    Those might seem a little too far on the low end, specifically where Martinez is concerned. With the designated hitter in the National League for 2020, there's no time like the present to move him.

    However, both Bogaerts (after 2022) and Martinez (after 2020 and 2021) have opt-outs in their contracts that complicate their value. Moreover, the latter has sunk his stock with a .686 OPS, while the former, at 27, is young and talented enough to still be in his prime on the other side of a potentially short rebuild.

    Verdict: Buy

Will Trevor Bauer Stick Around in Cincinnati?

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    Trevor Bauer
    Trevor BauerAssociated Press

    Source: Feinsand

    The Cincinnati Reds came into 2020 looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2013. At 13-17, they're not exactly on their way there.

    Yet this doesn't necessarily mean the Reds will trade ace right-hander Trevor Bauer. As one NL executive told Feinsand: "I think they are going to try and win. I suppose if they lose for a week straight, they could consider it, but it would surprise me."

    At least in theory, the Reds arguably should shop Bauer. They're presently out of the race, after all, and he's an impending free agent with a 1.65 ERA and two shutouts through five starts. 

    However, there is a question of how much Bauer is even worth. The Reds would only be offering one month of his services, and even the prorated version of his $17.5 million salary isn't exactly cheap.

    Plus, it wouldn't take much of a winning streak to put the Reds right back in the thick of an NL Central race that's wide-open behind the 18-12 Chicago Cubs. So why not keep him and see what happens?

    Verdict: Buy

Will the Angels Capitalize on Interest in Dylan Bundy?

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Source: Bob Nightengale of USA Today

    There's been perhaps no greater disappointment on the diamond in 2020 than the Los Angeles Angels, who have won only 10 out of their 32 games.

    Things just haven't come together in Anaheim. Though the Angels have gotten excellent offense out of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and David Fletcher and strong pitching from Dylan Bundy, few others on their roster have played well.

    With good pitching in short supply elsewhere, it's little wonder that the Angels are getting "numerous inquiries" on Bundy, per Nightengale. After flaming out with the Baltimore Orioles, he's been reborn and carries a 2.58 ERA through six starts with the Angels.

    But while the Angels should at least listen on Bundy, there is the question of why they shouldn't just keep him. They're not rebuilding, after all, and the right-hander is under their control through 2021.

    Besides, even if the Angels should trade Bundy, general manager Billy Eppler may be compelled to keep him out of a sense of self-preservation.

    Verdict: Sell

Is Lance Lynn on His Way out of Texas?

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    Lance Lynn
    Lance LynnAssociated Press

    Source: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic

    Elsewhere in the AL West, the Texas Rangers are also being pressured to sell amid a disappointing season.

    They're not much better than the Angels at 11-19, and they may have even fewer standout players. The big exception is veteran right-hander Lance Lynn, who has a 1.59 ERA through seven starts. Accordingly, offers are coming in, and the Rangers are "entertaining" them, per Rosenthal.

    The Rangers frankly should consider trading Lynn. This is slated to be their fourth straight losing season, and their 21st-ranked farm system doesn't give much hope of a quick turnaround.

    Lynn is not only very good, but he's also experienced in the playoffs and signed through next season for just $8 million. Even amid all the uncertainty on this summer's market, he could command a good price.

    But with fans hopefully set to show up to Globe Life Field for the first time in 2021, the Rangers may have it in mind to run out at least a watchable team next year. And like Eppler, Rangers GM Jon Daniels might see keeping Lynn as being good for his job security.

    Verdict: Sell

Could Cleveland Trade an Established Starter?

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    Mike Clevinger
    Mike ClevingerTony Dejak/Associated Press

    Source: Morosi

    At 19-12 through 31 games, it seems likely that Cleveland will be one of three playoff representatives from the American League Central.

    Yet "some in the MLB industry" believe Cleveland will trade a starter by Monday, per Morosi. Presumably, it would be either Mike Clevinger or fellow right-hander Zach Plesac.

    These are the pitchers who broke the club's quarantine protocols and were subsequently optioned to the alternate site. Though Clevinger returned to Cleveland on Wednesday with a strong start opposite the Minnesota Twins, Plesac is still waiting to be welcomed back.

    To be sure, Cleveland doesn't have to trade either pitcher. Both of them may yet win over teammates who were rightfully outraged by their reckless behavior. Plus, Clevinger is under team control through 2022, and Plesac isn't a free agent until after 2025.

    But given just how badly Cleveland needs offense, it might make sense for the club to subtract from its pitching surplus. To this end, it's possible Cleveland was quick to recall Clevinger because it wants to showcase him.

    Verdict: Buy

Mike Clevinger or Kevin Gausman for the Yankees?

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    Kevin Gausman
    Kevin GausmanJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Sources: Andy Martino of SNY (here and here)

    Never mind whether the New York Yankees will trade for a pitcher at all. It's more a question of which one.

    A couple of early possibilities have come to light. Per Martino, the Yankees have been in touch with Cleveland—possibly about Clevinger—and with the Giants about right-hander Kevin Gausman.

    None of this should surprise anyone. The Yankees were thin on starting pitching even at the outset of the season. Now they have James Paxton (elbow) on the injured list and generally nothing but question marks after aces Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka.

    One issue facing the Yankees is they only have baseball's No. 23 farm system. Yet they can spare major league hitters who offer youth, upside and controllability. Namely, outfielder Clint Frazier and utility man Miguel Andujar. 

    Either could be a centerpiece in a deal for Clevinger or any other talented starter with years of control beyond 2020. It would surely cost the Yankees a lot less to land Gausman, who's on a cheap one-year deal.

    Verdict: Buy

Will the Brewers Trade Josh Hader for a 'Bananas' Asking Price?

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    Josh Hader
    Josh HaderAssociated Press

    Source: Rosenthal

    As the Milwaukee Brewers struggle to catch up in the NL Central, interested parties are asking about their trade assets.

    Without question, the best the Brewers can offer is All-Star closer Josh Hader. The Brewers are listening on him, but a rival executive described their asking price as "bananas," per Rosenthal.

    If we assume this exec wasn't speaking literally, that makes sense. By way of a 2.42 ERA and a rate of 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings, Hader was arguably the best reliever in MLB from 2017 to 2019. And so far in 2020, he's yet to allow a run or even a hit through nine outings. He's also controlled through 2023.

    Yet there may be a divergence between how the Brewers value Hader and where his value is for other teams. Despite his results, he's undercutting himself with lesser velocity and a diminished strikeout rate.

    Beyond the reality that there's no hurry to move him, the Brewers may also feel compelled to keep Hader just for the sake of 2020. After all, they only need a few wins to climb right back into the NL Central race.

    Verdict: Sell


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.