Final Blockbuster Trade Predictions for 2021 MLB Deadline Day
MLB trade deadline day is upon us!
Teams have until 4 p.m. ET Friday to finalize any deals, and with no more August waiver-trade window, this is the last real opportunity for contenders to put the finishing touches on their rosters for the stretch run.
We've already seen a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline, with 2021 All-Star selections Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Joey Gallo and Adam Frazier, along with longtime Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, among the notable players who have found new homes.
However, there are still a lot of big names in play on the trade block, and it's shaping up to be one of the busiest deadline days in recent memory as a result.
Ahead you'll find one final round of predictions for the biggest blockbuster deadline deals as well as a quick list of some notable trade candidates we're predicting will stay put.
Before we move onto some blockbuster trade predictions, these are the notable trade candidates I'm predicting will stay put at this year's deadline:
- RHP Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs
- RHP German Marquez, Colorado Rockies
- LHP John Means, Baltimore Orioles
- RHP Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves
- SS Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
- 1B Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
- 2B/OF Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
- 3B Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
- OF Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates
- SS Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
Kyle Gibson to the Toronto Blue Jays
To TOR: RHP Kyle Gibson
To TEX: RHP Adam Kloffenstein, IF/OF Otto Lopez, RHP Yosver Zulueta
The Toronto Blue Jays will once again have work to do rebuilding their starting rotation during the offseason.
Veterans Robbie Ray and Steven Matz are both headed for free agency, leaving Hyun Jin Ryu and rookie standout Alek Manoah as the only locks for a spot in 2022.
Texas Rangers ace Kyle Gibson would bolster the rotation for this year's wild-card push, while also helping to plug one of the holes on the 2022 staff thanks to a team-friendly $7 million salary in the final year of a front-loaded three-year, $28 million contract.
The 33-year-old has a 2.87 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 94 strikeouts in 113 innings, and even if he regresses closer to his 3.75 FIP, he would still be a solid middle-of-the-rotation addition at a reasonable cost.
In exchange, the Rangers pick up a high-ceiling pitching prospect in Adam Kloffenstein who uses his 6'5" frame well to generate a lot of groundballs. The 20-year-old has a good sinker/slider combination that gives him a high floor as a reliever, but all the pieces are there for him to develop into a quality starter.
Infielder Otto Lopez is hitting .337/.403/.466 with 27 extra-base hits in 66 games at Double-A, while right-hander Yosver Zulueta is a late-blooming pitching prospect who has touched 99 mph with his fastball and uses his plus athleticism well on the mound.
This is a package built on upside, and it's one that makes sense for a Rangers team kicking off what could be a multiyear rebuild.
Richard Rodriguez to the Philadelphia Phillies
To PHI: RHP Richard Rodriguez, RHP Chris Stratton
To PIT: RHP Francisco Morales, OF Simon Muzziotti, C Rodolfo Duran, RHP Cristian Hernandez
The Pittsburgh Pirates have already moved two of their biggest trade chips in All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier and left-hander Tyler Anderson, but they still have some movable pieces who could help a contender.
Closer Richard Rodriguez (37 G, 14/17 SV, 2.82 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) and right-hander Chris Stratton (41 G, 5 HLD, 2.58 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) sit atop that list, and both would be welcome additions to a shaky Philadelphia Phillies bullpen.
Rodriguez has been lights-out since joining the Pirates prior to the 2018 season with a 2.98 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 196 appearances, and his remaining control through 2023 make him a valuable trade chip capable of bringing back multiple quality prospects.
Francisco Morales has struggled making the jump from Single-A in 2019 to Double-A this year, but he has some of the best pure stuff in the Philadelphia system with an upper-90s fastball and a wipeout slider. At 21 years old, he is still well ahead of the developmental curve.
Outfielder Simon Muzziotti has solid tools across the board with plus speed, excellent bat-to-ball skills and the defensive profile to stick in center field. He hit .287 with 27 extra-base hits and 21 steals at High-A in his age-20 season in 2019, but he has yet to suit up this season as he's still in Venezuela dealing with visa issues.
Rounding out the package with a solid defensive catching prospect in Rodolfo Duran and a pop-up pitching prospect in Cristian Hernandez makes this a solid return for the rebuilding Pirates, and it significantly upgrades the Philadelphia bullpen without costing the Phillies any of their elite prospects.
Craig Kimbrel to the San Francisco Giants
To SF: RHP Craig Kimbrel
To CHC: OF Jairo Pomares, 3B Luis Toribio, RHP Sean Hjelle
The first two seasons of the three-year, $43 million contract that Craig Kimbrel signed with the Chicago Cubs were disappointing to say the least. He posted a 6.00 ERA in 41 appearances and never looked like his previously dominant self while losing his grip on the closer's role.
He has returned to elite form in 2021.
The 33-year-old has a 0.49 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 15.7 strikeouts per nine innings with 23 saves in 25 opportunities, and he is limiting opposing hitters to a .106 batting average and .336 OPS while striking out 64 of the 137 batters he has faced.
With a $16 million club option for 2022, he is more than just a rental, but that will also make him one of the highest-paid relievers in baseball and likely only appeals to deep-pocketed teams. The Giants have Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers anchoring their bullpen right now, but both pitchers are probably best suited in a setup role based on their stuff and past track records.
Shoring up the bullpen with one of the greatest closers in MLB history might be worth mortgaging some of the lower-level talent in a deep San Francisco Giants system, especially with their contention window opening sooner than expected.
Jairo Pomares is hitting .353/.409/.691 with 17 doubles and 10 home runs in 35 games at Single-A, while 20-year-old Luis Toribio has impressed in the past with his huge exit velocity numbers. Massive 6'11" right-hander Sean Hjelle is more floor than ceiling with good pitchability and strong numbers at Double-A, and he could be ready to debut down the stretch.
It's an extremely valuable package for a Cubs team motivated to restock the system.
Jose Berrios to the Seattle Mariners
To SEA: RHP Jose Berrios, LHP Caleb Thielbar
To MIN: RHP Emerson Hancock, OF Taylor Trammell, OF Zach DeLoach, RHP Wyatt Mills
The Seattle Mariners have been surprise contenders this season, and while they are in striking distance of a postseason berth, any trades they pursue at the deadline will likely be made with one eye still fixed on the future.
That makes Minnesota Twins ace Jose Berrios, who is controllable through the 2022 season, a logical target.
The team is indeed targeting the two-time All-Star, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, who goes on to note that the Twins are looking for a top starting pitching prospect as part of the return package.
Recent first-round picks George Kirby (2019) and Emerson Hancock (2020) top the team's list of young pitchers, while left-hander Brandon Williamson is also making a case for joining that top-tier group with a strong start to the year.
A package built around Hancock and MLB-ready outfielder Taylor Trammell should be enough to get the ball rolling, and the M's would be dealing from a position of strength in trading Trammell with Kyle Lewis, Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez still profiling as the outfield of the future.
Outfielder Zach DeLoach was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft out of Texas A&M, and he's hitting .297/.388/.505 with 36 extra-base hits in 66 games between High-A and Double-A in his pro debut, while Wyatt Mills has a 2.92 ERA and 15.7 K/9 in 18 appearances at Triple-A.
Lefty reliever Caleb Thielbar would also be more than just a throw-in going to Seattle. The 34-year-old has a 3.99 ERA and 11.7 K/9 with six holds in 35 appearances, and he's controllable through 2024.
Kris Bryant to the New York Mets
To NYM: 3B/OF Kris Bryant, LHP Adam Morgan
To CHC: 3B Mark Vientos, RHP Junior Santos, RHP Jordany Ventura, C Chance Sisco
The New York Mets have been kicking the tires on Kris Bryant since last offseason, and they were again showing interest in the 2016 NL MVP earlier this month, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Incumbent third baseman J.D. Davis is hitting just .194/.306/.258 with two extra-base hits and 12 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances over his last 11 games, and he played just 14 games over the season's first three months while nursing a sprained left hand.
Veteran Adam Morgan would give the Mets bullpen a second proven left-hander to pair with Aaron Loup.
In exchange, the Chicago Cubs get a package of prospects headlined by third baseman Mark Vientos. who is making a case for inclusion on leaguewide top 100 lists this year. The 21-year-old is hitting .266/.340/.573 with 13 doubles, 18 home runs and 49 RBI at Double-A.
Junior Santos is a 6'7" right-hander with good raw stuff and a strong frame, but he needs to refine his mechanics and develop his secondary stuff. Jordany Ventura has the pitchability and command to find a spot at the back of an MLB rotation despite an undersized frame and average stuff.
Rounding out the package with former Baltimore Orioles top prospect Chance Sisco would be an intriguing buy-low move to address what has been a revolving door at the backup catcher spot. The 26-year-old has a .970 OPS with three home runs in 14 games at Triple-A since the Mets claimed him off waivers from Baltimore.