MLB’s trade deadline is less than a month away and teams will begin committing to selling players or buying them in hopes of a playoff push.
Year in and year out, Major League Baseball has a chaotic trade deadline. At the end of July, teams need to decide where they sit. Are they on the verge of something big or is their current roster just not it? Contenders will hunt down their missing puzzle piece(s) and make a late-season push for the playoffs. Whereas, teams far behind in the standings with a grim outlook on the season will likely evaluate their talent and move those with value.
The typical trade deadline candidate is an aging player on an expiring contract that has a productive season thus far. Rather than holding onto them for the remainder of the season and then losing them for nothing in the offseason, teams will look to optimize their value and move them for future assets. Sometimes we see younger players with longer contracts get moves as well, but to do so will cost more. The most frequently targetted players at the trade deadline seem to be pitchers. Ballclubs are always looking to increase their depth and create a lockdown bullpen for the playoffs.
No team exemplifies this better than the San Diego Padres in recent years. At last year’s deadline, as well as this offseason, they went out and acquired three highly touted pitchers (Mike Clevinger, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell). However, in doing so, they really diminished their farm system, despite not losing some of their highest-ranking ones somehow.
This season may be a bit different though with some highly productive bats being on the trading block. Here are the teams and players being most commonly discussed in trade talks for the trade deadline.
The Twins have had a very disappointing season, to say the least. Coming into the year, they were hoping to make their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons. However, that is quite certainly not going to happen. They currently hold a record of 36-50, as their win last night pushed them above the Royals, but they still remain fifteen games out of first. The nail in the coffin for this team though is their aging roster with numerous expiring contracts. Atop the list for Minnesota is Nelson Cruz. Cruz, someone who is still mashing into his 40s, has proved himself to be one of the best-designated hitters in baseball. The Boomstick is a near-lock to be leaving the Twins in the coming weeks and heading to any team in search of a power-hitting DH, such as the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Chicago White Sox.
This is not all for Minnesota though. They have three other big names being rumored this deadline: José Berríos, Josh Donaldson, and Taylor Rodgers. Rogers is a dominant lefty-reliever (extremely valuable at deadlines) who is heading to Colorado for this year’s All-Star Game. His nasty stuff and expiring contract (with one more season of arbitration) make him one of the best relievers on the market this year. Donaldson is much more similar to Cruz. His above-average hitting and fielding make him intriguing, but his occasional inconsistency makes him a little more questionable to teams. If dealt, expect a minimal return for the Twins. Lastly, Berríos, who is in a similar contract position as Rogers, has had himself a very solid season. Since pitchers are such a target, him being dealt would not be overly surprising (Yankees as a possible destination).
Ever since their 2016 World Series seasons, the Cubs knew they would face this dreaded day (month). They still had a chance to avoid it if they could remain in the playoff picture, which they technically might be, but their recent eleven-game losing streak has ended their hopes. Almost all of the Cubs franchise players are on expiring deals and they simply won’t be able to retain them all this offseason. Therefore, instead of the question being, “Can we still make it this year?” it has become, “Which of our big three are we going to keep?” Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez will all be free agents at the conclusion of this season. It seems Bryant’s bounce-back season this year might end up bouncing him from Chicago.
Outside of those three, it is almost a guarantee that Craig Kimbrel gets traded. His All-Star caliber season will make him one of the best relievers available at the trade deadline. The issue with him comes in his contract. He is getting up there in age and is not on an expiring deal. He due to make sixteen million this year and next, meaning his odds of going to a smaller market team much smaller. Despite this, the Yankees and Dodgers are always down to pay an exuberant amount of money, so no need to worry.
“As Good As Gone”
Of the players not yet mentioned, Jon Heyman is very confident that Adam Frazier (PIT) and Eduardo Escobar (ARI) will be moved this trade deadline.
— MLB Trade Deadline (@MLBDeadlineNews) July 8, 2021
Frazier is one the best contact hitter in the league on one of the worst teams in the league. He will be representing the Pirates as the starting second-baseman for the midsummer classic, but it is likely the last time he will be in the black and yellow. Escobar is a very talented, versatile player also on a poor team. He is getting up there in age and is in the last year of his contract, so there is no surprise in the Diamondbacks wanting to trade him.
Who’s Buying these Guys?
The Yankees and Dodgers have both been brought up already, but they are the clear-cut spenders every year and this season will be no different. The Dodgers have fought through a lot of injuries, while the Yankees have no starting pitchers at all. Gerrit Cole generally offers them a good shot at winning, but the dude is really missing his spidertac. The Yankees’ only goal should be starters and there is a very talented one on the block.
Kyle Gibson of the Texas Rangers has had a phenomenal season and is heading to his first career All-Star Game. The problem, the Rangers are not that good. They are much closer to the playoffs than some others, but they’ll likely blow it up somewhat. If Gibson is included in that, he will be the best starting pitcher on the market and no doubt the Yankees will be in on the talks.
Another big city team that could be looking for some cushion in their division is the New York Mets. They’ve had a great season and should really be in the hunt to keep it going and hold down the talented National League East. Adam Frazier is one big player they are being rumored to be going after.
Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is almost always a must-watch with so many moves happening so quickly. Despite this year not having an extremely popular player on the block (unless Kris Bryant or Trevor Story get dealt), there is no doubt a lot of movement and key acquisitions will take place. All we can do now is wait and see who is going to sell their players to the buyers.
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