General Manager Mike Hazen has made it perfectly clear that his team will not be actively buying at the deadline. He stated that the belief that the Diamondbacks, a wild card contender, can win the World Series is not ” a position we should be staking ourselves to.”
This isn’t to say the Diamondbacks will be sellers, either. It’s going to take a monster package for Hazen to even consider moving stars like Ketel Marte, but there are tradable options. Both Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray have been scouted recently by the Phillies, according to Bob Nightengale. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson has been really good this season, and could be really valuable to a team who needs someone else to get on base at a good clip. Greg Holland has struggled of late, but it wouldn’t be a massive shock to see a contender having bullpen issues take a flier on him to try and fix him.
It’s hard to imagine Arizona being crazy active this upcoming week, but if they are, it could turn the entire landscape of the deadline upside down.
The likely NL East champion Braves have a glaring hole: pitching. It’s no surprise that they have been linked to Marcus Stroman and/or Ken Giles, and it won’t stop there. It won’t be a surprise to anyone to hear the Braves connected to every pitcher that is even close to available this deadline, though the chances they pay the price for a controlled starter like Stroman or Trevor Bauer seem relatively slim.
As for specifics, it comes down to platoon matchups. Barring a collapse by either team, it looks as if the Braves are set-up for an NLDS date with the Cubs, a team that has struggled with lefty pitching this year. While it would probably cost more than Alex Anthopoulos would like, a package that sends lefties Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith to Atlanta makes almost too much sense not to happen. And if it doesn’t, the Braves are likely staring down the barrel of playoff disappointment once again.
The Cubs have essentially been playing with a 23-man roster the past month, getting next to zero contribution from either Daniel Descalso or Tyler Chatwood since the calender turned over to July. For a team which, for the first time in years, struggles with depth, the Cubs need to make some additions to be a true World Series competitor.
Chicago already dealt LHP Mike Montgomery to Kansas City for C Martin Maldonado, making their backup Victor Caratini all but expendable at the deadline. Theo Epstein has been around the game too long to trade away a controllable asset for a 3rd string catcher. Expect Caratini to be dealt within the next week.
They have been linked to Tigers’ OF Nicholas Castellanos, who would be a perfect platoon partner in left field with Kyle Schwarber, who has struggled hitting lefty pitching. Chicago doesn’t really have a second baseman right now, so someone like Blue Jays’ 2B Eric Sogard makes some sense here.
They also need some more back-end bullpen help, as both Carl Edwards, Jr. and Pedro Strop have been disappointing in 2019. While packaging Castellanos with Shane Greene would save time on the phone, it’s not the most economical option. Ken Giles and Will Smith are probably out of the Cubs’ price range, so expect them to add someone in the mold of Tony Watson.
This one is going to be quick. The Reds were within 4 games of the division just a few weeks ago, but some bad play since has seen their playoff odds all but wither away unceremoniously.
That being said, they are not going to sell. It’s pretty clear that the Reds are almost there; they just have a couple holes to fill before they are Wild Card contenders in 2020. The only relatively big name that is feasibly available for contending teams to bid on is starter Tanner Roark, and he is unlikely to command an asset worth all that much.
Cincinnati was thrown around as a team potentially interested in Charlie Blackmon, but there is a next to zero chance that Blackmon gets traded at all, nevertheless to a team 6 games out of the second wild card without a massive farm system. That one is not happening.
No, they aren’t trading Charlie Blackmon.
Well I guess you can never say never, but trading away Blackmon is the type of move that signals a full-scale rebuild, and Colorado isn’t ready for that yet. Yes, they have been pathetic of late and their playoff hopes hang on by less than a thread, but this team is still way too talented to be rebuilding.
It’s going to be a very quiet deadline a mile high, because unlike the Reds, they don’t have expiring assets to deal away either. The only impending free agents the Rockies have are Drew Butera and Mark Reynolds, and neither of them would get anything more than a non-prospect. They’ll probably make a small deal or two, like almost every team does, but don’t expect any headlines beyond rumors and smoke.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Realistically, you can copy and paste the paragraph about the Braves right here and it would make all the sense in the world. The Dodgers desperately need a bullpen that isn’t anchored by Dylan Floro and Joe Kelly.
I still don’t believe that the Giants would trade away a major asset, such as Will Smith, to their arch rivals, despite the fact San Francisco’s President of Baseball Ops, Farhan Zaidi, was in Los Angeles just last year. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I would be stunned if two massive rivals made a deal of that scale.
With the emergence of Will Smith this year at AAA Oklahoma City, Keibert Ruiz is almost certainly available, and he’s worth a pretty penny. Andrew Friedman showed last year that he isn’t afraid to trade away top prospects, and I think Ruiz could be 2019’s Yusniel Diaz. While they have been rumored to really like Pittsburgh’s Felipe Vazquez, there is no guarantee he is available at all. Los Angeles seems like an obvious landing spot for Ken Giles, who is likely the second best reliever on the market, after Smith, who is probably off the table.
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The Marlins don’t really have any assets worth even talking about. Maybe a team takes on Curtis Granderson to get some veteran leadership as they head towards the playoffs? But that’s definitely closer to conjecture than even rumor at this point. Expect a very quiet week from South Florida.
One of the big storylines coming out of Milwaukee this season has been the emergence of Brandon Woodruff as a star starting pitcher. However, Woodruff will be sidelined for the next month, at minimum, and with it could come the end of Milwaukee’s playoff hopes.
This lineup is way too good to give up on, and it’s for that reason it would take a massive collapse over the next 5 days for David Stearns to even consider trading Major League talent. Rather, expect Milwaukee to make a last ditch effort to add to their starting rotation and push to win a very weak NL Central.
Milwaukee has been linked to both Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndegaard, though it doesn’t seem as if they have the minor league assets to add either. Milwaukee is a perfect destination for a cheap starting pitcher, possibly along the lines of Cincinnati’s Tanner Roark or New York’s Jason Vargas.
New York Mets
It’s borderline impossible at this point to have a rational discussion about what the Mets should do with their franchise, but let’s try.
What they aren’t going to do is a full fire-sale. Jacob deGrom isn’t going to be traded. Noah Syndergaard almost certainly won’t be traded. Edwin Diaz probably doesn’t have any takers on his current form. It’s impossible to see anyone giving enough for them to part with Jeff McNeil.
Unfortunately for the Mets, it’s probably going to be a small sale in New York. Expect Jason Vargas and Todd Frazier, two of their half decent rentals, to be shipped out of town. Zach Wheeler would have almost certainly been flipped for a pretty good return, but after a shoulder injury, that is no longer a guarantee. He still probably does get traded, but no longer is that the obvious course of action.
Another team that pretty desperately needs starting pitching, the Phillies are reportedly after both of Arizona’s top arms. Philadelphia made it clear this past offseason that they aren’t afraid to spend money, so there will not be any budgetary concerns about adding players this July. However, with a farm system that runs relatively thin, top level arms like Matthew Boyd are probably unrealistic.
Philadelphia already Drew Smyly as a free agent earlier this week, but being on his third team this year, that’s a band-aid on a broken arm type of fix. They seem to be one of the only teams in on Greinke or Ray, so should the D-Backs decide to sell, this seems to be a good landing spot.
Philly could also definitely use some bullpen help, and given the plethora of available guys, they should land at least one of them without much trouble.
San Diego Padres
As long as A.J. Preller is in charge of the Padres, they are always going to be a possibility to make a massive splash in a trade. Given the amount of talent on the Padres roster, topped with their deep farm system, it doesn’t look to be a bad idea.
It almost certainly be a rental, as the Padres are shooting for a Wild Card spot at best. However, given some of the rumors surrounding that organization of late, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them land the biggest name of this trade season. Who? That’s unclear at this point.
Two names that seem to make a ton of sense are Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard, though the ladder is unlikely to get moved. A deal involving Stroman and Ken Giles fills holes perfectly for San Diego, plus both are under contract through 2020.
It’s also absolutely possible that the Padres use this season as a step forward and stay put, or even deal away 32-year old reliever Kirby Yates. If the ladder were to happen, the return would dwarf Shane Greene and probably be higher than Giles. However, that doesn’t seem to be likely at all.
San Francisco Giants
Farhan Zaidi may be facing the toughest decision in the history of baseball this next week.
On one hand, the Giants are not a very talented roster, and they have a lot of assets on expiring deals. Just three weeks ago, their season was completely dead, and as is, they stand with absolutely zero chance of winning the division.
However, on the other hand, they have won 16 of their last 19. They are only 2.5 back from the second wild card spot, and look to have completely turned the corner. Not only do they have the best record in baseball of late, they look like one of the best teams. There’s also the matter of possibly punting on Bruce Bochy’s last season, given everything he’s meant to the organization.
If they choose to sell, they give up on a pretty good team and stop an organizational hero from one last hurrah. If they choose not to sell, they are potentially losing some of their best players for nothing and very possibly no playoff success either.
Who knows what they do at this point, but the Giants are certainly the team to watch before the deadline.
St. Louis Cardinals
There isn’t much to be said about St. Louis that hasn’t been said already over and over again in this piece. They are one of those 10 teams vying for two or three playoff spots, they need bullpen help, but it may not behoove them to add a rental because they haven’t been amazing this year.
The Cardinals organization doesn’t seem like one to ever give up on a season they can win, so I don’t expect them to sell. However, don’t expect St. Louis to be aggressive buyers or anything close.
Something something wild card bullpen help
The Nationals have Fernando Rodney pitching the eighth inning of games they want to win. In two thousand and nineteen. Fernando Rodney. That says just about all you need to know about the Nationals and their playoff hopes.
If they keep playing like they have the past month or so, they absolutely have a shot to go places. However, that isn’t a possibility without bullpen help. That’s the reality of it. Their lineup is so good that they can maybe justify a rental, but expect them to be uber aggressive on the relief pitcher market of guys with control.