Figuring Out Who’s Getting Traded Or Not Before The MLB Trade Deadline

The MLB Trade Deadline is a week away.  The rumors are flying.  It’s amazing nothing happened prior to this column going up. 

See thoughts on the two trades that occurred yesterday below. 

Here, I put the biggest trade names into categories, to help figure out whether they’ll get traded or not.

“See ya later”

  • Cole Hamels
  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Johnny Cueto

Pitchers!  This crop of trade candidates is all about the pitchers.  And there’s a lot of teams who want pitchers.  The Blue Jays, Yankees, Royals, and Red Sox are, or at least should be, interested in pitching.  Boston’s the biggest question.  If they want to make a 2nd half run, Boston has to trade for pitching.  The starting rotation has been terrible.  The ERA of their starters this season is 28th in the MLB, only in front of Colorado and Philadelphia.

These aren’t the only starting pitchers available (more on Papelbon later).  Names like Mike Fiers, Mat Latos, Kevin Gausman, Jon Niese have floated around.  But we know Boston is team that likes big names.  They’d be tempted to make a move for Cueto, but giving up guys (or prospects) for a one month rental (if a 2nd half rally failed) isn’t great.

I’ve been on the Hamels-Dodgers side for awhile.  Sure, Los Angeles would like Johnny Cueto, but would they run the risk of losing him in free agency?  The Dodgers would be, especially if they traded for him, a spot Cueto would look at.  However, the price on Cueto is gonna be higher than it will be Hamels.  The Dodgers don’t want to give up too much, but would be more willing to dump people than other teams.

I’m not sure what a Cueto deal would look like.  It’s hard to predict returns with MLB trades, since a lot of them involves prospects I’ve never heard of.  The Reds would be looking for prospects, as they enter a re-buidling phase.  Teams with strong farm systems would be better trade partners for Cincinnati.

Before the report of the Tigers looking to sell, Jonathan Papelbon made sense for a team that hasn’t been able to close games for the past couple seasons.  The Cubs now seem like the front-runners for Papelbon, as they’re 26th in save percentage.

Philadelphia is trading Hamels and Papelbon.  And maybe more, depending on how bad they want to be.

“Look, this was a tough decision”

  • Todd Frazier
  • James Shields
  • David Price
  • Jonathan Lucroy

The Lucroy thing is insane to me, but I won’t be shocked if it gains steam.  Reportedly, the Brewers weren’t interested in giving him a contract extension, which led to calls being made about Lucroy’s availability.  I floated on Twitter that if Boston is going to be buyers, then this would be the move to make.  Sure, they have Blake Swihart, but again, Boston likes big names.  They’d get a ton for Swihart, if a flip at catcher were to be made (say bring in Lucroy, and flip Swihart to Arizona or something… homer alert).

Oh look!  More pitchers!  These two pitching names are huge surprises.  No one saw either name being available at this year’s deadline, but this is the season of disappointments, and the Padres and Tigers have not met their projections.  Both pitchers have had good seasons, Price especially.  Shields has a good record with a high ERA, which can be attributed to his poor outfield, who’s DRS ranks 26th in the MLB.  Furthermore, Shields’ poorer stats can be blamed on his team.  He’s striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings, which is a great number.

Price is more likely to be moved.  The Tigers thinking, if they’re in fact sellers, is that they have the talent, but don’t have the ability to catch up to everyone else.  The AL Wild Card is a cluster, and the Royals are running away from everyone in the AL Central.  Selling makes this season a lost one, but gives them a cleaner start for next season.  Plus, they’d get a ton back for Price, even though whoever gets him will get a rental.

“How dare you offer me that?”

  • Carlos Gonzalez
  • Jordan Zimmerman
  • Jonathan Lucroy

These are guys who probably won’t be moved.  I talked about Lucroy above, and how that could gain some steam.

But Carlos Gonzalez is a huge name, and great player, who could be a huge offensive boost to a team.  The Mets would be a nice option, but they need left side infielders, not outfielders.  Gonzalez has had a down year, but the Rockies would get a good return, and might be able to oversell him to a desperate team (Cough, Mets, cough).  Again, the move by that certain team would more about offense, rather than defense as Carlos’ DRS is +1 on the season.

It’s not likely to happen, and it’s hard to pull a team out of a hat that could use him, but we’ve seen surprises before at the deadline.

“I think we need to make a splash”

  • Ben Zobrist to the Mets
  • Johnny Cueto to the Dodgers
  • James Shields to the Blue Jays
  • Adrian Beltre to the Giants

The last one is insane, and wasn’t thought of by me.  Matt Duffy has been fine.

The other three trades involve three big names.  The three teams I have listed all want a big name.  Whether it’s for the team itself, for the fans, or for true fit, they want a name.

I’ve tackled Cueto and Shields.  The A’s already made one move (more on that later), and many think the next one will be Ben Zobrist.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  There’s a ton of teams interested, but the Mets make most sense.  He may not be the biggest offensive producer they could get, but it’ll give them a bit more power and more sturdiness on the left side of the infield.  Another plus: You can play him anywhere.

The Mets have to do something, and I think there’s multiple moves coming.  One for Zobrist, one for someone else.  They certainly don’t need pitching.  New York’s owners have to realize the time is now, unlike the Knicks.  This team could be really, really good, better than they are now, with some moves.  The owners have to green light the front office by next Friday.  The Mets have to convince them that what they’re seeing is true.

On the Scott Kazmir trade…

I had to do some editing above, because I had Kazmir mentioned with other teams.  Kazmir got dealt prior to his scheduled start against Toronto yesterday.  The move was official after video caught Scott Kazmir hugging teammates, triggering a #hugwatch.  It was then learned the team was the Astros.

It’s perfect.  Houston didn’t want or need a big name.  They wanted a solid addition who’d boost the rotation, already ranked 10th in the MLB by WAR.  Kazmir’s had a solid season with a 2.38 ERA and a  3.0 WAR.  He’ll be a free agent in the Fall, but the Astros feel confident that even with the trade, they’ll have a shot at re-signing him.

This was the first domino to fall.  Whether the next one comes out of Oakland or not remains to be seem.  Bottom line:  The market price has been set.


On the Aramis Ramirez trade….

The biggest subplot of this trade is that Pedro Alvarez’s time with the Pirates is over.  Trading for Ramirez is a smart move, which’ll give them an offensive boost.  This is more about Ramirez himself though.

Drafted by the Pirates in 1998, he’ll be returning to his original team, in his last season as a big leaguer.  Aramis is retiring at the end of this year. Milwaukee did the right thing by shipping him to a contender.  Pittsburgh’s really coming on, and are destined to make a playoff run.  It’s pretty cool Aramis will be a part of that.

The Pedro Alvarez trade should be announced soon, and it sounds like Pittsburgh is shopping him to everyone.  Any takers will be hard to find.

More content coming next week.  I’ll be at Yankees-Twins tonight.