MLB Trade Deadline 2020: Examining Teams in Need of Upgrades for Playoff Push

Martin FennCorrespondent IAugust 30, 2020

San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. smiles as he waits to bat in the on-deck circle in the first inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The 2020 MLB trade deadline is almost upon us, and most teams have completed more than half of the regular season.

Some teams are clear-cut buyers ahead of the deadline, while others will be looking to sell. Then there are those in-between teams that must make a choice before 4 p.m. ET on Monday. Those choices are made that much more difficult considering the postseason's expansion means there will be 16 playoff teams.

In any case, a number of squads will be looking to address needs and make upgrades to their respective clubs prior to Monday's deadline. Let's take a closer look at three teams in need of reinforcements.


Teams in Need of Upgrades for Playoff Push   

San Diego Padres   

Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

The San Diego Padres addressed a major need on Saturday by acquiring Kansas City Royals closer Trevor Rosenthal, giving the Friars a power arm at the back end of the bullpen in the absence of Kirby Yates.

It would seem a starting pitcher is next on the docket.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported the Padres are expected to be "active" in the starting pitcher market, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic later stated San Diego was among the teams interested in Texas Rangers ace Lance Lynn.

An upgrade in the rotation would improve the Padres' chances of making a deep playoff run. San Diego entered Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies as the second-highest scoring team in baseball, per ESPN. The Padres also made led the majors in OPS. In other words, the lineup is in goof shape.

But 2019 ace Chris Paddack is having a bit of a sophomore slump, and Garrett Richards is grappling with command issues after years of injury problems. While Dinelson Lamet has been an elite strikeout pitcher (12.0 punchouts per nine innings), he has not exactly been able to eat innings and alleviate pressure on the bullpen.

Lynn could be the ideal addition. The 33-year-old is a workhorse, having gone at least five innings in all eight of his starts this year. Lynn has also been extremely effective, posting a 1.59 ERA in his first seven starts before another quality outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

San Diego must be wary of pushing all its chips on the table. The Padres still have elite pitching prospects, and figure to be among the more competitive teams in the National League for years to come. Simultaneously, Lynn is under contract through next season, and acquiring a legitimate ace might make the Padres a top contender in the NL.


New York Yankees   

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The New York Yankees were World Series favorites coming into the year and still appear to be one of the top teams in the American League.

But they have been totally dominated by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays are 6-1 against the Bronx Bombers this season and lead the AL East by four games after beating the Miami Marlins on Saturday night. Both teams have been ravaged by injuries, but the Rays have coped better, thanks in part to the highest-scoring offense in the AL.

However, the Yankees have the depth to deal with the absences of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the time being, especially now that D.J. LeMahieu has been activated. What they need is another starting pitcher.

The Yankees rank just 17th in rotation fWAR, per FanGraphs. Plus, left-hander James Paxton is on the injured list, and J.A. Happ has been mostly ineffective aside from a brilliant performance against the Mets on Saturday.

New York has not made much noise in the rumor mill, even though a controllable starter like Lynn would make sense for them as well, given both Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka will be free agents at the end of the year.

It would not be a surprise to see the Yankees pursue a rental like San Francisco Giants right-hander Kevin Gausman, given his sturdy peripherals. Andy Martino of SNY.tv recently reported the Yankees previously called the Giants about the 29-year-old.


Chicago White Sox   

Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

The Chicago White Sox signed a host of veterans this offseason so as to complement the team's young core and, ideally, contend for a playoff spot.

Indeed, the White Sox are squarely in contention in the AL thanks to one of the best offenses in baseball, and they are hungry to make a run in 2020.

Chicago's primary need at the deadline, like the other teams on this list, is starting pitching.

Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel have been an excellent one-two punch. Dylan Cease has managed to post a decent ERA through his first seven starts, but he is also stranding well over 80 percent of base runners, per FanGraphs, and has also given up eight homers in 36 innings of work.

Meanwhile, left-hander Gio Gonzalez has struggled with his command early, and Reynaldo Lopez has a 9.00 ERA in his first three starts.

The South Siders are actively pursuing a top arm. Rosenthal reported they were among the teams in on Lance Lynn, while MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported the White Sox were also interested in Los Angeles Angeles right-hander Dylan Bundy, who had a 2.58 ERA in his first six starts and threw 5.1 frames of one-run ball on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners.

Chicago's farm is rife with top pitching prospects, and it has assets to exchange as it seeks an upgrade in the rotation.


All stats obtained via Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.