MLB Rumors: Analyzing Latest 2021 Trade Chatter

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 24, 2021

Minnesota Twins' Max Kepler (26) celebrates with third base coach Tony Diaz after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Sunday, July 4, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The New York Yankees should be one of the most active teams before the MLB trade deadline.

The American League East side is dealing with a slew of injuries in the outfield and needs more quality within its lineup to contend for the division title with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

According to NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, the Yankees have been in touch with the Miami Marlins regarding Starling Marte and with the Minnesota Twins about the status of Max Kepler.

Minnesota could be one of the biggest sellers ahead of Friday's deadline. It already sent Nelson Cruz to the Rays, but its asking price is reportedly high for Kepler.

While the Yankees are not the only AL team looking for lineup upgrades, they are the highest-profile team in search of them.

Over in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners are exploring the market for Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

The MLB's hit leader should have plenty of suitors in the next week, so if Seattle wants him, it may have to pay a decent-sized price for him.


Analyzing Latest Trade Chatter

Yankees Searching for Outfield Help 

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

On Friday, the Yankees trotted out an outfield of Brett Gardner, Ryan LaMarre and Greg Allen for their series opener with the Red Sox. Estevan Florial pinch-hit for LaMarre in the contest.

New York's lineup is without Aaron Judge, who is on the COVID-19 injured list, and it could be missing Gary Sanchez in the coming days since he left Friday's game with back spasms.

That leaves the Yankees with DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres as the top threats in a lineup that seems to get weaker by the day.

The Yankees are nine games back of the Red Sox in the AL East, but they are only 4.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the final wild-card position. If the Yankees go on a run over a seven- or 10-day span, they could vault themselves closer to a playoff position. But they need more bats to achieve that feat.

Marte and Kepler provide the Yankees with contrasting options on the trade market. Marte is in the final year of his contract, while Kepler is under team control until 2024.

According to Kuty, "Minnesota's asking price on Kepler has been exorbitant". Kepler has 12 home runs and 37 RBI in 64 games, but he is only batting .218 and owns a .756 OPS. Some of those numbers could be ignored if Kepler were to provide power to the Yankees lineup. As a left-handed hitter, he could benefit from the short porch in right field.

Marte could be the more realistic option of the two in terms of asking price. The Yankees might be inclined to make that deal more in the case they need to trade prospects elsewhere to acquire more help at other positions.

The center fielder has a .294 batting average, .842 OPS, seven home runs and 19 stolen bases in 60 contests for the Marlins. He would bring more defensive pace in the outfield as well, which adds to his intrigue on the trade market.

If the Yankees pull off a Marte trade, they could have him and LeMahieu bat first and second to get on base for their power hitters. However, obtaining Marte in a trade could be difficult since he could have multiple suitors as a rental player who becomes a free agent this offseason.


Mariners In Market for Frazier, Infielders

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

According to Rosenthal, the Mariners "are actively pursuing controllable infielders, including Adam Frazier."

Frazier most likely will not be a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates when August begins. He is one of the most coveted trade targets because of his high on-base rate.

He has 123 hits in 96 games, is hitting .326 and owns an .841 OPS from 377 at-bats for the last-place team in the National League Central.

Seattle finds itself in an interesting position seven games back of the Houston Astros in the AL West. They are also 3.5 games behind the A's for the final wild-card position.

The Mariners could make up some of that ground with head-to-head victories if they bring a stronger lineup to those games. Seattle already has a decent leadoff man in J.P. Crawford, but it could use more support in front of Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager.

Unlike the Yankees, the Mariners are not in win-now mode only. They would go after Frazier with success in 2022 and beyond on their minds.

Seattle called up top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert recently, and it could become more of a long-term contender, with Frazier under control until 2022.

The Mariners should face competition from the Chicago White Sox for Frazier. The White Sox need to fill the second base hole created by Nick Madrigal's season-ending injury.

If Chicago adds Frazier, it could have the most dangerous lineup in the AL since Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert are working back from injuries.

Meanwhile, if Seattle pulls off a deal for Frazier, it could make a serious push for a postseason spot, which was not expected before the season began.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.