MLB Trade Deadline 2020: Hottest Rumors Leading Up to Monday's Deadline

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2020

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger gets another ball after giving up a home run in the first inning in a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

A most unusual 2020 Major League Baseball season comes with an equally unusual trade deadline. After 4 p.m. on Monday, August 31, teams will no longer be able to make in-season deals. This means that teams have had just over a month to decide whether they're going to be buyers or sellers.

The Cleveland Indians sit at 20-12 and are tied for first place in the AL Central. Theoretically, they should be buyers at the deadline, but recent buzz indicates that they're willing to let starting pitcher Mike Clevinger go at the right price.

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, that price isn't going to be cheap, though, and a deal may be more likely in the winter:

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Clevinger is definitely being talked about in trade scenarios. Indians are known to listen on everyone and some see winter trade as more likely. Price said to be “ridiculous.” But it should be. Talented (141 ERA plus), young (29) and not a free agent for multiple more years.

This meshes with what Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com recently had to say on a potential Clevinger deal.

"I think it would be difficult for the Indians to make a trade involving Clevinger by Monday’s deadline. He’ll have two years of control left after this season," Hoynes wrote. "It’s not like their main goal is to dump salary. They’d have to get a significant return to help them this season and in the future."

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer might seem like a more realistic trade target, as Cincinnati holds a 14-17 record and could lose him to free agency in the offseason. According to at least one league executive, however, the Reds are likely to push for the postseason.

"I think they are going to try and win," an NL exec said, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. "I suppose if they lose for a week straight, they could consider it, but it would surprise me."

While Cincinnati is under .500, a spot in the expanded playoff isn't out of the question. Therefore, the Reds can likely be scratched off the seller's list.

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Reds are planning to go for it — meaning buy, not sell. So ace Trevor Bauer is likely to stay put. Reds mainly need to get hitters and relievers to play to their abilities. They are underperforming at 13-17 but are only 1 game out of 8th playoff spot.

Cincinnati's division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates, though? They might just be in a selling mood. According to Feinsand, Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington is "trying to sell everything."

"It'll be interesting to see what kind of return they can get on their guys in this market," one executive said, per Feinsand.

The Pirates sit at 9-20 for a reason. Their roster isn't exactly chock-full of talent, and there aren't a ton of trade chips likely to attract attention at the deadline. Closer Keone Kela might net some interest, but he was recently placed on the 10-day injured list.

The Pirates may be sellers, but they're not likely to find a robust market for what they're selling.

The San Francisco Giants might have better luck, especially if they're willing to deal a player like pitcher Johnny Cueto. Though San Francisco is 15-19 and within striking distance of a playoff spot, Heyman recently told the Big Time Baseball podcast that the Giants are willing to sell.

 According to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez, however, the Giants might actually be looking to buy at the deadline.

"A rival executive wouldn't rule out anything with them at this point," Gonzalez wrote.

At this point, no team's approach to this unusual trade deadline would be truly shocking.