One Realistic Trade Each MLB Team Should Make Before Deadline

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJuly 7, 2021

One Realistic Trade Each MLB Team Should Make Before Deadline

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    Colorado's Trevor Story
    Colorado's Trevor StoryDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is less than a week away, and that means we are less than a week from entering the heart of trade-rumors season. The second half of July is always full of dugout hug watches, fake Ken Rosenthal Twitter accounts, and equal parts breaking news and wild speculation as we try to get a sense of which teams are buying and selling before the July 31 deadline.

    Before that madness fully envelops us, we wanted to get a sense of what each of the 30 teams has to trade and what it might want in return.

    For about a quarter of those teams, it's still unclear whether they're ready, willing or able to go all-in on winning in 2021, or if they're going to try to sell off their impending free agents in hopes of trying again in 2022. Once those pieces fall into place, we'll have a better idea of whether this summer will feature a buyer's or a seller's market.

    Until then, who is best suited to win the Trevor Story sweepstakes?

    Which team has the prospects and/or the cash on hand to make the biggest splashes?

    And is there a single contender that is comfortable with its allotment of relief pitching?

American League East

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    Baltimore's Freddy Galvis
    Baltimore's Freddy GalvisJulio Cortez/Associated Press

    Toronto Blue Jays: Catching prospect(s) for middle relief

    Aside from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto may be the only franchise with a surplus of talent at catcher. Granted, it doesn't feel like that right now with Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire batting a combined .224 with four home runs. But between that duo, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno and Riley Adams, the Blue Jays have five capable catchers either 26 or younger.

    In exchange for a young backstop, the Blue Jays need bullpen help. Aside from Jordan Romero, they have been a hot mess in the late innings.

    To that end, the Angels might be Toronto's best trading partner. Kurt Suzuki (37) isn't getting any younger, and the Halos don't have a single catcher among their top 30 prospects. They also have five relievers on expiring contracts, including Raisel Iglesias and Steve Cishek.


    Baltimore Orioles: Freddy Galvis for anything with future value

    The Orioles would assuredly love to get out from under Chris Davis' monster contract, but that's never going to happen. They just have to ride out his $21 million salary for the rest of this season and next and then enjoy making his Bobby Bonilla-like deferred payments from 2023-37.

    But perhaps they can start building toward a post-Davis future by flipping Freddy Galvis for someone under more team control.

    They signed the 31-year-old shortstop to a one-year, $1.5 million bargain of a contract after he had a disappointing 79-game stay in Cincinnati dating back to August 2019. He's currently on the IL with a quad strain, but he has been one of Baltimore's better hitters this season. That isn't saying much, but there's bound to be a team willing to part with someone from its farm system for two-plus months of a middle infielder with more than 100 career home runs and a .720 OPS this season.


    Tampa Bay Rays: Middle infield prospect(s) for some immediate pitching help 

    In Brandon Lowe and Wander Franco, the Rays should be set at second base and shortstop for years to come. Yet they still have Vidal Brujan, Xavier Edwards, Taylor Walls and Greg Jones in a farm system that is top-heavy with middle infielders.

    Meanwhile, they have a starting rotation that leaves much to be desired, particularly with Tyler Glasnow sidelined indefinitely with an elbow injury. Shane McClanahan might be their best active starter, and he has yet to pitch into the seventh inning of a game in his MLB career.

    If the .500 Angels decide to become sellers, perhaps Tampa Bay could reacquire Alex Cobb. Or maybe the Rays could be the third wheel in a Trevor Story trade in which they ship some prospects to the Rockies, Colorado deals the shortstop to Mystery Team X, and Tampa Bay gets a solid starting pitcher. 


    Boston Red Sox: Try to get another starting pitcher on the cheap

    Boston doesn't need much of anything. With Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts leading the way, the Red Sox are averaging more than five runs per game. And if they have a lead by the sixth inning, they're most likely going to hang onto it, because they have six relievers who have each made at least 24 appearances with an ERA below 2.80.

    But if they're able to upgrade upon Garrett Richards or Martin Perez in the starting rotation without breaking the bank or mortgaging the future, they should absolutely do so.

    As things stand, the starting rotation is...fine. The thought of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez lining up against basically any other playoff rotation's top three is a bit terrifying, but Boston has the bats and the bullpen to more than get by with an average rotation. With that said, fans sure wouldn't be complaining if they could snag a guy like Max Scherzer or Danny Duffy.


    New York Yankees: Trade away dreams of staying below $210M luxury-tax threshold in order to improve the flailing lineup

    It's almost unfathomable that the Yankees have scored fewer runs than any other team in the American League considering they are paying more for five batters than the entire payrolls of Baltimore, Cleveland or Tampa Bay. (Giancarlo Stanton, D.J. LeMahieu, Rougned Odor, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge have a combined 2021 salary of $77.3 million.) 

    But after opening the season as the significant favorites to win the American League, missing the playoffs isn't an option for the Yankees. That likely means exceeding the luxury-tax threshold, but they need to trade for someone who can actually hit the ball.

    Trevor Story is the name that keeps popping up among hopeful fans, but Cleveland's Eddie Rosario, Arizona's Eduardo Escobar and Detroit's Jonathan Schoop would also be good, less expensive options.

American League Central

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    Kansas City's Danny Duffy
    Kansas City's Danny DuffyEd Zurga/Associated Press

    Cleveland: Trade away upcoming free agents, perhaps for a 1B prospect

    Cleveland is only a few games back in the wild-card race, but its three best pitchers (Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac) are all on the IL, and its overall lineup ranks among the worst in baseball. It's a small miracle Cleveland is above .500, but selling off free agents seems like the most prudent move.

    Reliever Bryan Shaw is on a one-year, $1 million deal after several awful seasons in Colorado and Seattle, but he has made 37 appearances with a 3.25 ERA this year. He also boasts a career-best 11.3 K/9 rate. A bunch of postseason hopefuls would pay a pretty penny for that type of help in middle relief.

    Cleveland also has Eddie Rosario on a one-year deal, albeit for $8 million. He was a fringe AL MVP candidate in both 2019 and 2020, and he has been slowly heating up over the past month or so after a brutal start to the season. If they don't mind dealing the former Minnesota Twin to yet another division rival, the Chicago White Sox could be interested in his services. Oakland should also be intrigued.


    Kansas City Royals: Danny Duffy, Jorge Soler and/or Greg Holland for prospects

    The Royals are almost certainly going to miss the postseason for a sixth consecutive season, but they are set up nicely for 2023-2025. They already have Sal Perez and Hunter Dozier locked up through 2025, Adalberto Mondesi, Whit Merrifield and Mike Minor are each signed through 2023, and they have a respectable farm system headlined by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and pitchers Daniel Lynch and Asa Lacy.

    But the expiring contracts of Danny Duffy, Jorge Soler and Greg Holland? Those should up for grabs.

    Both Soler and Holland have a negative FanGraphs WAR and might be tough to move, but the former is a streaky slugger and the latter is a three-time All Star with more than 200 career saves. There's bound to be some interest in both.

    Duffy might also be tough to move, but because of finances, not production. He had a 1.94 ERA through his first seven starts and just recently returned from a six-week stint on the IL for a forearm strain. If he can reharness his pre-injury form, that $15.5 million 2021 salary wouldn't be a deal-breaker for a .500-ish big-market team in desperate need of starting pitching (*cough* Chicago Cubs *cough*).


    Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop for low-level prospects and/or draft picks

    The Tigers are paying Miguel Cabrera $30 million this year and $32 million in each of 2022 and 2023. He's only six home runs away from his 500th, but they're basically paying $94 million for that moment in history and three seasons of irrelevance otherwise. They should be targeting 2024 as the next time they could viably make a postseason push.

    In the interim, Detroit should be taking a hard look at what it can get for Jonathan Schoop. He's on a one-year, $4.5 million deal, is batting .278 with 16 home runs and can play either first base or second base.

    If Detroit doesn't mind helping out a division rival, Schoop could be exactly what Cleveland needs to close its AL Central gap with the Chicago White Sox. Seattle and the Chicago Cubs could also clearly benefit from his services.


    Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz for a pitching prospect with starting potential in 2022

    The Twins have a bunch of intriguing guys on expiring deals, including Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ and Andrelton Simmons. Without question, though, the one with the most value on the open market is Nelson Cruz.

    Although he just turned 41 last week, he's slashing .306/.381/.571 with 18 home runs. His bat would be a \welcome addition to virtually any lineup.

    However, Cruz has only played nine games in the field since the start of the 2017 season, so he almost has to be traded to a postseason contender in the American League with an opening at DH. That narrows the field to Seattle, Tampa Bay or Toronto, but maybe the Twins can instigate a bidding war within that trio.


    Chicago White Sox: A young pitcher for a home run rental

    Chicago has arguably the best pitching staff in baseball, and it could improve organically if Lucas Giolito ever manages to regain his 2018-19 form.

    But the lineup could benefit from an infusion of power, as only two players on the roster have reached 10 home runs this season, and one of them (Yasmani Grandal) is batting below the Mendoza Line.

    Maybe they'll just sit tight and hope the slugging will improve when Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez return from their lengthy stays on the injured list, or maybe they'll be willing to part with some young pitching to beef up the bats.

    The White Sox have Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, Liam Hendriks, Michael Kopech and Garrett Crochet under team control through at least 2023, so they could afford to part with Aaron Bummer's team-friendly contract. He could be viewed as a bullpen building block if, say, the Texas Rangers are looking to deal Joey Gallo, or if the Washington Nationals fall out of contention and decide to deal Kyle Schwarber.

American League West

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    Texas' Ian Kennedy
    Texas' Ian KennedyJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Angels: Ask again in two weeks

    If they do anything at the deadline, the Angels are probably going to be sellers. They're about 10 games back in the AL West and six games back in the AL Wild Card picture and won't be getting Mike Trout back until shortly after the All-Star break.

    Unless things change for the better in a hurry in the next two-to-three weeks, Los Angeles will likely look to deal impending free agents Alex Cobb (SP) and Raisel Iglesias (closer)each of whom has a drastically better xFIP than ERA and should be viewed as a buy-low candidate.

    If they happen to get hot and close the gap, though, look for the Angels to aggressively peruse the starting pitcher trade block. They have a 5.00 team ERA and cannot seem to count on anyone aside from Shohei Ohtani. What they can offer in order to improve that staff is more than a bit unclear, but any chance to get Trout and Ohtani into the postseason must be explored.


    Houston Astros: Pitching prospects for immediate bullpen help

    The Astros have a solid starting rotation, one of the most reliable current closers in Ryan Pressly and a lineup loaded with guys who can hit for both average and power. They have everything covered for a World Series run except for the pesky problem of getting guys out in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

    The good news is there are always out-of-contention teams willing to deal respectable, expiring relievers for pitching prospects, and the Astros have a decent supply of those. They aren't going to part with Forrest Whitley or Hunter Brown, but anyone else should be available if it means bringing in guys like Ian Kennedy, Raisel Iglesias or Taylor Rogers.


    Oakland Athletics: Find some Moneyball magic or break the bank for Story/Bryant

    After an offseason in which it looked like he might be done with baseball, might Oakland general manager Billy Beane be one of the most active trade partners at the deadline?

    He probably won't tinker with what has been a solid pitching staff, but adding another bat or two would be huge. Because heading into play on July 5, there were 110 players with at least 50 plate appearances and a slugging percentage of .453 or better, and Oakland had just one of those players (Matt Olson). As a result, Oakland has by far the worst run differential (plus-29) among the American League's "would be in if the season ended today" teams.

    At the least, Oakland needs to be calling Colorado regularly to find out what it would take to get Trevor Story. The A's should also be feeling out the Chicago Cubs with "How much for Kris Bryant if you decide to sell at the deadline?" inquiries.

    Unfortunately, Oakland has one of the worst farm systems and has long been one of the thriftier franchises, so it will either take a lot of creativity or a changing of stripes for the A's to land one of the biggest names available.


    Seattle Mariners: Just about whatever it takes to improve the starting rotation

    Despite losing James Paxton to Tommy John surgery after just 1.1 innings in early April, the Mariners are surprisingly within striking distance of a playoff spot. And if any team is going to mortgage its future for a chance to sneak into the postseason, it's probably going to be the team that hasn't been to the postseason since 2001.

    It would be a major surprise if they gave up Jarred Kelenic or Julio Rodriguez, rated by as the fourth-best and fifth-best prospects in baseball. But if that's the going rate for a guy on an expiring deal who can actually get outs, they might need to consider it, because they have two guys in the starting rotation (Justus Sheffield and Marco Gonzales) with ERAs north of 5.80. That's no way to make a playoff push, let alone win in the postseason.


    Texas Rangers: Ian Kennedy to the highest bidder

    There is always, always, always at least one playoff contender that's willing to pay good money for a two-month rental of a moderately reliable reliever.

    That is going to make the bidding war for 36-year-old soon-to-be-free-agent Ian Kennedy a fun one to watch.

    He had a couple of minor duds in June that inflated his ERA a bit, but through the first two months (20 appearances), Kennedy had a 1.77 ERA. He entered July with 14 saves and only one blown save. This comes two years after he logged 30 saves for the 59-win Kansas City Royals.

    Two years ago, Daniel Hudson, Shane Greene and others were dealt at the deadline for prospects. Expect something similar for Kennedy. Also, expect that prospect/those prospects to be of the pitching variety, given how depleted Texas' farm system is.

National League East

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    Miami's Starling Marte
    Miami's Starling MarteMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    Atlanta Braves: Pitching prospects for pitching help

    Even with a sub-.500 record, Atlanta has a reasonable chance of winning the NL Eastwhere the last-place Miami Marlins have the best run differential in the division.

    To get the job done, the Braves need to improve their pitching.

    Only one guy on the entire staff with at least two innings of work has a sub-3.00 ERA. Additionally, feel free to ask any Atlanta fan how they feel about the idea of Luke Jackson (1.80 ERA) being their most reliable pitcher, considering he had a 4.59 ERA from 2017-20.

    Atlanta does have a bunch of quality pitching prospects, though, so maybe they could trade a Kyle Muller or Tucker Davidson to get an arm or two that can help today.


    Miami Marlins: Starling Marte to the highest bidder

    If he can keep his batting average where it's at, this will be the ninth consecutive season in which Starling Marte hit at least .275 while stealing 10 or more bases. He has been an impressively consistent source of hitting, speed and fielding throughout his career, albeit without much national fanfare because he spent most of that career in Pittsburgh and is now in Miami.

    He's approaching free agency, though, and might finally land on a team willing to spend for a shot at the World Series. Both the Yankees and the Giants could certainly use him.


    New York Mets: Pitching prospects for outfielder

    The Mets might win the trading deadline without making a single trade, as they could be "acquiring" both Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco in the next month or two. Neither has pitched yet this season, but they both had ace-level stuff once upon a time. Get those guys healthy and pair them with Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker and, by golly, that's probably the best starting rotation in baseball.

    Where they could use some external help is in the outfield, as both Kevin Pillar and Michael Conforto are scuffling through one of the worst seasons of their careers.

    Would they be willing to sacrifice fielding in order to get significantly improved hitting? Nelson Cruz would be a fine answer if that's the case. Alternatively, the Mets could call the Rockies about their "other" multi-time All-Star approaching free agency, Charlie Blackmon. He has had a rough year at the dish, but a change of scenery might help.


    Washington Nationals: Somehow acquire a starting pitcher if buying; have a minor fire sale if selling

    Full disclosure: I am a Nats fan and I have no clue whether this team should be buying or selling. The recent four-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers coupled with the injury to Kyle Schwarber really sucked the winds out of the sails that rose during the impressive run through June. And yet, they are still just four games back in what is by far the most up-for-grabs division in baseball.

    This stance may well change in the next three weeks, but as things currently stand, might as well give it the ol' college try, right?

    If so, what this team desperately needs (aside from better injury luck) is another at least semi-reliable starting pitcher. Jon Lester had a great career, but his K/BB ratio has dropped off a cliff, and he has gone 4.0 innings or fewer in five of his past nine starts. Couple that with Patrick Corbin looking nothing like the guy who thrived in 2018 and 2019, and it feels like every non-Max Scherzer start is a game of roulette.

    If they decide to sell, though, they sure do have a lot to sell and an awful lot of work to do to improve the farm system. Max Scherzer, Brad Hand and Daniel Hudson are all free agents after this season and would be welcome additions just about anywhere. Yan Gomes is also on the cusp of free agency and has been one of Washington's most valuable players this season.


    Philadelphia Phillies: A lifetime supply of cheesesteaks for anyone who can pitch in the eighth or ninth innings

    If you've ever wanted to watch someone go through all five stages of grief in 30 seconds, ask a Phillies fan about their bullpen. Hector Neris has a 15.26 ERA over his past 7.2 innings of work, yet up until two weeks ago, he was still getting save opportunities because Jose Alvarado, Brandon Kintzler, Sam Coonrod and Connor Brogdon haven't been much better.

    They don't have much to offer, though. The farm system is rather depleted, and Philadelphia has a ridiculous amount of money tied up in guys like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Zack Wheeler and Jean Segura for several years to come. But if the Phillies are willing to part with top prospect Spencer Howard in order to get a guy who can actually convert saves, there are a few teams that would answer that phone call.

National League Central

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    Cincinnati's Nick Castellanos
    Cincinnati's Nick CastellanosAaron Doster/Associated Press

    Milwaukee Brewers: Trade relievers (not Josh Hader, of course) for better hitters

    The Brewers have already been active in the trading game, shipping relievers Trevor Richards and Bowden Francis to Toronto for first baseman Rowdy Tellez on Tuesday afternoon.

    They still have arms to trade and need more bats, though, as they entered Tuesday hitting .220 as a team. Keston Hiura (.161), Jackie Bradley Jr. (.172) and Travis Shaw (.191) have been especially problematic.

    We'll discuss them both shortly, but Pittsburgh's Adam Frazier and Cincinnati's Nick Castellanos would both be extremely intriguing if Milwaukee can pull off either of those intradivisional trades. Miami also has plenty of compelling rental options in its outfield.


    St. Louis Cardinals: Find out if Adam Wainwright is willing to waive his no-trade clause

    It's highly unlikely Nolan Arenado will exercise his opt-out clause, considering the Cardinals are on the hook for $35 million next year before another player opt-out option. That leaves Adam Wainwright as St. Louis' most intriguing soon-to-be free agent.

    He has a full no-trade clause, though, and has spent his entire career in St. Louis. The almost-40-year-old might not be interested in relocating for a few months, even if it means a much better chance of pitching in the postseason one more time.

    But if he's open to a moveand if the sub-.500 Cardinals are willing to admit defeat on this seasonWainwright would be the belle of the ball. He has a 3.49 ERA and entered Tuesday's start against the Giants riding a streak of six consecutive quality starts. In a summer when guys like Michael Pineda, Jon Gray and Danny Duffy currently look like the best options likely to be available, Wainwright would fetch a king's ransom from a team (Boston Red Sox? New York Mets? Atlanta Braves?) desperate to find that missing piece of the rotation.


    Chicago Cubs: Let the fire sale burn

    A lot can change in two weeks, eh? On June 24, the Cubs were tied with the Brewers for first place in the NL Central and were just two games behind the Dodgers for the second wild card spot. But after a 10-game losing streak coupled with a hot stretch by Milwaukee, the Cubs are eight games back in the Central, seven games back in the wild card and staring a fire sale square in the face.

    Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Zach Davies and Jake Arrieta are all free agents after this season, which will reduce Chicago's payroll by more than $66 million. And if they really want to hit the reset button, dangling Craig Kimbrel ($16 million this year, $16 million next year, free agent after 2022) on the trade block could set off quite the bidding war.

    There's always the possibility that Rizzo, Bryant and/or Baez re-signs with the Cubs this winter, even if they get traded this July. You hate to see faces of the franchise essentially sold for parts like this, but if they can get some solid prospects in return, that's better than risking letting them walk for nothing.


    Pittsburgh Pirates: Adam Frazier for a pitching prospect

    Save for Bryan Reynolds, Adam Frazier has been Pittsburgh's most valuable player this season by a considerable margin. He's neither a slugger nor a speedster with just four home runs and four stolen bases on the season. However, he ended June with a .327 batting average and an OPS of .865. Per FanGraphs, he has provided the sixth-most wins above replacement among second basemen in 2021.

    Frazier's 2021 salary is $4.3 million, and then he is arbitration-eligible in 2022 before becoming an unrestricted free agent. He's already one of the priciest players on one of the worst teams in baseball, and the Pirates probably aren't interested in ponying up another $5 million or more to keep him for one more seasonparticularly considering says three of the top four prospects in their farm system are middle infielders.

    It's not even really a question of whether the Pirates are willing to trade Frazier, but whether they can find a team able to flip them a pitching prospect or two for him, as this might be the worst pitching staff in all of baseball.


    Cincinnati Reds: Add relievers if buying; move Nick Castellanos if selling

    The Reds have a ginormous four-game series coming up at Milwaukee from July 8-11. They are currently six games back of the Brew Crew, but can start to close that gap by winning at least three of those games. At that point, they would likely become aggressive buyers in the bullpen market. Cincinnati has spent the entire season trying to find a closer, saddled with relievers who presently have a collective ERA of 5.20.

    However, if that series goes in the opposite direction and the Reds fall eight or 10 games behind the Brewers, then it's time to find out what they can get for Nick Castellanos.

    Castellanos is arguably a top-five candidate for NL MVP right now, batting .338 with an MLB-best 106 hits and 27 doubles. He can (and very likely will) opt out of the remainder of his contract after this season, so the Reds would be wise to make him the most coveted player on the trading block if they decide to wave the white flag on this season.

National League West

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    Arizona's Eduardo Escobar
    Arizona's Eduardo EscobarGregory Bull/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Eduardo Escobar for relief pitching

    After a dreadful 2020 campaign, Eduardo Escobar has bounced back in a big way in 2021. He clubbed 35 home runs for the Diamondbacks in 2019 and is roughly on pace to do the same this year.

    Some lot of good it's doing Arizona, though, which suffered its 60th loss of the year before any other team acquired its 55th L. There's no time like the present to find out what the D-backs can get for the third baseman who will be a free agent this winter. His 2021 salary is around $7.7 million, but the Diamondbacks might be willing to eat a good chunk of what's left on that if it means getting something of value for 2022 and beyond.

    Per FanGraphs, Arizona has the worst bullpen in the majors. And their highest-paid relievers (Joakim Soria, 37, and Tyler Clippard, 36) aren't getting any younger. The trick, of course, is going to be finding a team with a surplus of relatively young relief pitching and a need for a slugging third baseman. Maybe the Washington Nationals?


    Los Angeles Dodgers: Depends on what happens with Trevor Bauer

    Trevor Bauer is on seven-day administrative leave while MLB investigates allegations he sexually assaulted a woman. If he's ruled eligible to return to the mound, the Dodgers probably don't need to do anything at the deadline. After all, they already have the highest payroll in baseball by a margin of nearly $50 million, and they clearly aren't going to be sellers as they make their NL West and World Series pushes.

    If Bauer is unable to return in the near future, though, the Dodgers might need to make a deal for another starting pitcher. A four-man rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin with David Price as a spot starter for a bullpen game when necessary is still a heck of a lot better than most pitching staffs. But removing the 2020 NL Cy Young winner from the mix takes them from an A+ to a still-solid B+.


    San Francisco Giants: Can they trade away the injury bug?

    Nearly $44 million of San Francisco's $154 million payroll is currently on the IL, with Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt the most noteworthy names of the bunch. I suppose that's the risk you run when all four of your starting infielders and your starting catcher are each at least 33 years old, but the Giants have continued to thrive in spite of only having two players (Brandon Crawford and Wilmer Flores) appear in at least 70 of the team's 84 games.

    Even if we foolishly assume they enter the postseason at full strength, though, the Giants could benefit from an upgrade in the outfield. Steven Duggar has been solid, but Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater and Mike Tauchman are each batting below .235 in nearly 800 combined plate appearances.

    Miami's Starling Marte would be a fantastic target if the Giants are willing to go with a two-month rental. Given the average age of San Francisco's roster, though, it can't afford to deplete the farm system, as it's going to need those Triple-A guys in the next year or two. 


    San Diego Padres: Tucupita Marcano for late-inning help

    The Padres bullpen is being held together by duct tape, smoke and mirrors. Their five most frequently used relieversMark Melancon, Craig Stammen, Emilio Pagan, Tim Hill and Nabil Crismatteach has a FIP of 3.70 or worse, as well as an xFIP that is worse than his ERA. If and when that regression occurs, they best hope it doesn't hit all five guys at once, or they're liable to crash and burn over the second half of the season.

    The alternative to crossing their fingers is to swing big on the reliever market. With the Cubs in a downward spiral, Craig Kimbrel should be available for the right price. Minnesota would perhaps be willing to part with Taylor Rogers. Detroit and Texas both have quality relievers who figure to be on the trade block.

    And they ought to be willing to move infield prospect Tucupita Marcano to improve that 'pen.

    Fernando Tatis Jr. isn't going anywhere any time soon, and CJ Abrams is San Diego's top middle infield prospect. That means Marcano's path to everyday playing time in San Diego is quite obstructed, despite his sky-high ceiling. He should have a lot of value on the market, though, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the Padres make one of the biggest splashes at the deadline.


    Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story for multiple young players/prospects

    Trevor Story has been the No. 1 high-profile name on the trade block since long before the 2021 season began. In early February, the Rockies shipped Nolan Arenado to St. Louis (and agreed to eat more than $50 million in the process) for a bunch of prospects in what was widely regarded as one of the worst trades in recent history.

    At that point, it became apparent that they're hitting the reset button and won't be re-signing Story to a nine-figure contract.

    It's a situation reminiscent of 2004, when the Kansas City Royals unloaded Carlos Beltran in a three-team deal and got back John Buck, Mark Teahen and Mike Wood, each of whom spent multiple seasons in KC.

    It's just a question of when they trade him and how much they can get in return. (It certainly won't happen before the All-Star break. Trading the face of the franchise right before hosting the Midsummer Classic would be a PR nightmare.) But if the Yankees can figure out how to make it happen and avoid the luxury-tax threshold, don't be surprised if they are making calls to Denver ASAP after the ASG next Tuesday.


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