The August 1st MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and the rumors are swirling. Several teams are said to be in the running for Yankees flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, the White Sox Chris Sale, and the Reds Jay Bruce. They are just a few players of the many that teams must trade before the deadline. Here’s why.
Despite being in a lose-lose situation if they pull the trigger, the Angels must trade Mike Trout. I know, I know. He’s the game’s best player. He continues to transcend greatness, and almost bores fans with his gaudy statistics and AL MVP contention each year. But, the Los Angeles barren farm system epitomizes the California water drought. With significant payroll tied up in declining players like Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, and Josh Hamilton (yes, the Angels are still paying Hamilton to play – rehab, rather – with the Rangers), and few worthy prospects, the Angels are years away from contending. They need to take a page out of the Astros’ book and completely rebuild.
Trout is likely “too valuable” to trade. Meaning, it’s hard to imagine a trade that would give the Halos equitable value in what Trout brings to the table. If any deal is completed, the transaction will give the Angels the largest prospect haul in the history of any trade (yeah, that means you too, Herschel Walker).
Aroldis Chapman becomes a free agent at the end of the season. While the Yankees – as much as any other team – could likely afford to sign Chapman in the offseason, the club is not in a competitive position to offer a large contract while Andrew Miller and Delin Betances are on the roster. The Yankees would be wise to sell high before losing him to the open market. When the Yanks traded for Chapman in December of last year they surrendered two of their top 10 prospects in RHP Rookie Davis and 3B Eric Jagielo, and two others not in the top 30, according to MLBPipeline.com.
They bought relatively low on a guy in the midst of a domestic violence accusation. The Nationals, Indians, and Giants have been rumored to covet Chapman, and the Yankees will likely receive talent greater than what they gave up to acquire the lefty.
Chris Sale is an interesting name. He is the White Sox best player overall, and a top-two lefty starter in all of MLB. Does it really make sense to trade the best player on the team? Like Trout, he’s arguably too valuable to trade. The White Sox have not been competitive in Sale’s stint with the club, despite high-profile signings of Jose Abreu, David Robertson, and Melky Cabrera.
What makes Sale tradable is his extraordinary value, and well-documented rifts with Chicago’s front office. On Saturday he destroyed the uniforms the team was slated to wear that day as part of a marketed promotional day for fans. He received a five-day suspension from the club for insubordination. In March, when the Sox told now retired 1B/DH Adam LaRoche his son was no longer welcome in the clubhouse each day, Sale reportedly screamed at team president Kenny Williams during a meeting.
The Sox have continued their epic downfall in the AL Central and are not playing consistent enough to catch the Indians to qualify for the postseason. The best course of action to avoid further distractions is to trade Sale. Think: “What would it take to acquire Clayton Kershaw if he became disgruntled with the Dodgers?” THAT is the type of haul the White Sox can demand for Sale.
Bad teams do not need high-profile closers with expensive contracts. For that reason, the White Sox should trade closer David Robertson to a contender in need of proven bullpen experience.
Jay Bruce has been on the trade block for a whole year now. The Reds knew they were not going to compete this season. Rather than trade Bruce in the offseason, they decided to stand pat and trust that the slugging right-fielder would increase his value this season. He’s done just that. His slash line heading into Sunday is .267/.320/.539 with 20 HR and 69 RBI. The Indians, Giants, Dodgers, and Nationals (amongst others) are said to be interested in Bruce. The Reds have a $13M team option for 2017, or a $1M buyout. The club would likely exercise that option at the end of the season to retain their slugger, and likely engage in similar trade talks in the offseason. With a year of control remaining beyond 2016, the Reds will garner significantly more value this season than next season, when they would essentially be trying to trade a “rental player.”
The Philadelphia Phillies have a host of players garnering interest from other teams around the league. Closer Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, catcher Carlos Ruiz, and OF Peter Bourjos have all been mentioned in trade talks. Despite inconsistent play, Chooch could bring a veteran presence, and ample postseason experience, to a club looking to contend. Bourjos has upped his trade value after a putrid start to the season. He would not be a starter on any team that trades for him, but his speed and next-level defense makes him a valuable asset off the bench. Gomez and Hellickson both pitched pretty well so far this year. None of the aforementioned players are in the long-term plan for the rebuilding Phillies, but they can bring respectable prospects to an already strong Philadelphia farm system.
After already trading James Shields to the White Sox, and Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox, the Padres are in position to move several additional big leaguers before the deadline. OF Melvin Upton Jr., formerly known as BJ Upton, is on pace to match, or exceed, many career highs as he seems to have rejuvenated a declining career. The Orioles are said to be interested in Upton, with the Padres seeking RHP Ubaldo Jimenez and a prospect. RHP Andrew Cashner, despite inconsistent performance thus far, is receiving significant interest on the trade market for the second consecutive year. The Blue Jays are a team to watch over the next week as rumors continue to build that stud RHP Aaron Sanchez may be moved to the bullpen to limit his innings down the stretch. After failed experiments with the now-traded Craig Kimbrel and Matt Kemp, the Padres now have a roster inadequate to compete in the NL West. While Kemp is still owed $53M over the next couple seasons, he’s playing well enough that a team in the AL may take a chance on Kemp if the Padres are willing to eat some salary.
These days Brewers OF Ryan Braun carries more baggage than a college freshman moving into the dorms. But, as long as teams are willing to give contracts to convicted cheaters like Jhonny Peralta, and players accused of domestic violence like Jose Reyes and Aroldis Chapman, there will be a market for guys like Braun. On the other hand, Jonathan Lucroy has bounced back from injury to put together a respectable 2016 campaign. In addition to having a strong bat, the catcher is also one of the best defensive backstops in MLB. Years away from competing in the NL Central with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates, the Brewers would be wise to capitalize on Lucroy’s strong value in the trade market.
Additional teams to watch are the Oakland Athletics, who are likely to trade Josh Reddick, and perhaps Sonny Gray – though VP of Baseball Operations Billy Beane has stated the Athletics have no interest in trading Gray at this point. The Atlanta Braves continue to tell teams Julio Teheran will not be available this week, but it would be hard to imagine the rebuilding Braves not at least testing the waters. Teams are reportedly calling the Tampa Bay Rays with regard to pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore. Like Oakland, Tampa Bay is notorious for trading big leaguers at the deadline since they cannot afford to retain players beyond their first big league contract.
You can never count on teams making the trades you think, hope, or wish they would make. But, you can always count on an exciting sweepstakes for some of the league’s best players. All trades must be completed by 4:00 PM EST next Monday before the waiver period kicks in.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com