8 Last-Second MLB Blockbuster Trades That Can Still Happen Ahead of Deadline

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterAugust 31, 2020

8 Last-Second MLB Blockbuster Trades That Can Still Happen Ahead of Deadline

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    Could Cleveland trade Mike Clevinger? Sure.
    Could Cleveland trade Mike Clevinger? Sure.Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The likes of Trevor Rosenthal, Tommy La Stella, Taijuan Walker, Jose Martinez and others have already moved, and the actual trade deadline for the 2020 Major League Baseball season hasn't even passed yet.

    So, let's look at some blockbusters that might happen before 4 p.m. ET on Monday.

    This is less of an exhaustive list of all trade candidates and more of a roundup of the most likely candidates to be moved for big hauls. These are star players who are currently on potential sellers, and who should have plenty of interested buyers on the trade market.

    We'll cover eight possibilities, moving in order from least likely to most likely.

The Milwaukee Brewers Trade Josh Hader

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Milwaukee Brewers are in the running for the National League Central's second playoff spot, so it's beyond unlikely that they'll trade All-Star closer Josh Hader.

    Yet the door isn't entirely closed either. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Brew Crew is at least "listening" to offers for the 26-year-old left-hander.

    Hader is 161 appearances into his major league career, and his extraordinary success is evident in his 2.39 ERA and eye-popping rate of 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings. So far in 2020, he's yet to even allow a hit through 10 outings.

    To boot, Hader is under club control through 2023. So if the Brewers are going to move him, it's presumably only going to be for a huge haul that would help both their present and their future.

    Though this isn't likely, some contenders may be worried enough about their bullpens to consider it.

The Los Angeles Angels Trade Dylan Bundy

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Angels have already traded utility man Tommy La Stella. In light of their 12-23 record, now it's just a question of who's next.

    Per Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the guy everyone wants right now is right-hander Dylan Bundy. 

    For one thing, he's still only 27 years old even though he first debuted for the Baltimore Orioles all the way back in 2012. For another, he's finally breaking out with a 2.47 ERA through seven starts with the Angels. For yet another, his club control runs through next season.

    Yet one catch here is that the Angels aren't likely to enter into a rebuild anytime soon. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post outlined, still another catch is that general manager Billy Eppler may not have license to move any controllable talent while he's on the hot seat.

    Still, this is a "never say never" situation. If the Angels get an offer for Bundy that they can't refuse, perhaps they'll take it.

The New York Yankees Trade Clint Frazier

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The New York Yankees have been struggling of late, so there's logic in them holding on to one of their hottest hitters.

    Then again, the Yankees also need depth for a starting rotation that's been unreliable outside of Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. So there may indeed be logic in them selling high on outfielder Clint Frazier.

    Frazier, who turns 26 on September 6, first came to the Yankees via the Andrew Miller trade in 2016. He experienced various growing pains between 2017 and 2019, but he's made the most of the 13 games he's played in this year. He's put up a 1.054 OPS and three home runs.

    Between that, his youth and his club control through 2024, Frazier may have enough value to be the centerpiece in a blockbuster for a top-of-the-rotation starter.

    For his part, the man himself is rather zen about being involved in trade rumors: "Obviously, it's not a bad thing. And my name is getting mentioned in there because maybe it shows interest of other teams."

The Boston Red Sox Trade Christian Vazquez

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Boston Red Sox still have some lesser trade chips left after their deals of Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and Mitch Moreland. Among them are outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar and left-hander Martin Perez.

    If it's a blockbuster they fancy, the Red Sox might make shortstop Xander Bogaerts or slugger J.D. Martinez available. But compared to those two, it's more probable that catcher Christian Vazquez will move.

    The 30-year-old has struggled at the plate so far in 2020, but he's coming off a 2019 campaign that was marked by a .798 OPS and 23 home runs. He also got props from outside observers as the best defensive catcher in the American League.

    Further, Vazquez is on an extremely team-friendly contract. He'll make just $6.3 million in 2021, with a $7 million option for 2022.

    According to Brittany Ghiroli and Eno Sarris of The Athletic, the Tampa Bay Rays are sniffing around Vazquez. Understandably, Boston Sports Journal's Sean McAdam claims Boston has placed a "crazy" asking price on the backstop.

Cleveland Trades Mike Clevinger

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Cleveland is in the running for first place in the American League Central, yet it's not out of the question that the club will trade one of its best players.

    No, it probably won't be Francisco Lindor. Though Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that Lindor has been mentioned in "preliminary" trade talks, it's simply hard to imagine Cleveland trading its superstar shortstop with a World Series run within reach.

    Mike Clevinger could be a different story. With a 3.20 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings to his name, the 29-year-old right-hander has been one of baseball's top pitchers since 2017. Yet his breaking of Cleveland's quarantine protocols resulted in his temporary banishment and effectively made him trade bait.

    According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Cleveland's asking price for Clevinger is said to be "ridiculous." It should be, considering his talent and club control through 2022. 

    If he does move, chances are it'll be for an impact bat that will boost Cleveland's offense. Specifically, said bat is badly needed in its outfield.

The Texas Rangers Trade Lance Lynn

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The Texas Rangers came into 2020 with contention in mind, but they now find themselves pretty much out of it with a record of 12-21.

    Between this and the less-than-great nature of their farm system, it's not terribly surprising that the Rangers are considering trades of ace Lance Lynn and slugger Joey Gallo, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. Of the two, the former certainly presents a clearer sell-high opportunity.

    The 33-year-old right-hander quietly posted a 3.67 ERA over 208.1 innings in 2019, and he's now working on a 1.93 ERA through his first eight starts of 2020. He's also logged an MLB-high 51.1 innings, making him a rare workhorse in a season that's been marked by frequent pitching changes.

    Lynn is also signed through 2021, wherein he'll make only $8 million. So all things considered, he's arguably the most valuable pitcher on the trade market. 

    The interest is there. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and Morosi, the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox are three teams with interest in Lynn.

The Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Trevor Williams

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Whatever hopes the Pittsburgh Pirates had of contending in 2020 have rapidly faded as they've sunk to the bottom of MLB at 10-21.

    The further bad news for the Pirates is that potential trade chips like closer Keone Kela, starter Joe Musgrove and infielder Colin Moran are all on the injured list. With first baseman Josh Bell struggling, yet another potential trade chip has lost value.

    Luckily, the Pirates still have right-handers Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl, both of whom are controlled through 2022. And of the two, Williams could command a surprisingly high price.

    He only has a 5.37 ERA over the last two seasons, but it wasn't that long ago that he put up a 3.11 ERA over 170.2 innings in 2018. And even this year, he's only had one bad start and his Statcast metrics underscore a real talent for managing contact.

    So if the Pirates were to trade Williams, they surely wouldn't be giving him away.

The Arizona Diamondbacks Trade Archie Bradley

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    With four teams ahead of them in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks may sell in the face of long odds to make the postseason.

    If they do, Rosenthal reported that closer Archie Bradley and center fielder Starling Marte might be available. Both are controlled through 2021, and both are having strong 2020 seasons in the meantime.

    But if the D-backs are going to sell high on only one of them, it'll probably be Bradley. 

    The 28-year-old right-hander only has a 4.22 ERA through 10 appearances, but with four times as many strikeouts (12) as walks (three) through 10.2 innings. The bigger issue is that his fastball velocity is down from 95.5 mph in 2019 to 94.2 mph this year. If that's his new normal, his value may only descend from its current peak.

    For now, the Snakes could probably command a couple of prospects for Bradley in a trade.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, and are current as of Sunday, August 30.