Last week Ben Bruno and I discussed potential trades that could still happen in the AL up until the August 31 Waiver Trade Deadline; also the last day to roster players for the post season. Aside from the two blockbuster AL deals it was relatively quiet. It was even more quiet in the National League. Part of the lack of activity can be traced to more teams believing they are contenders. The extra Wild Card Team broadens the array of potential buyers, but makes for far less sellers. The National League has an additional set of problems that makes trading even more difficult. Many teams in the NL who are out of contention and have impact players that have value to playoff hopefuls are bound by exorbitant contracts for aging, declining or injured stars. These players are hard enough to trade, but if they have No-Trade clauses like the Phillies infielders or are largely devalued by injury and ineffectiveness like the Dodgers and Rockies it is impossible. This week my colleague Ben Bruno talks about players owned in less than 50% of leagues that could help your own playoff hopes and some of these guys are on that list as well.
The other reason is that teams can continue to trade for the playoffs through August 31 for players who pass through waivers. The reason so many good players pass through waivers is that the money owed to them can be prohibitive in many cases when compared to the player’s current production. Perhaps the original signing team is a non contender hoping to unload that contract for a song. There are some interesting NL teams making seemingly half their players available like the Dodgers & Phillies, and also teams with obvious needs and tradeable pieces like the Mets who have done relatively nothing. So, lets take a look at what could still happen in the NL.
First a few teams who seem to be in a trade stranglehold:
Colorado Rockies – The Rockies had two of the most valuable pieces on the market this season in SS Troy Tulowitski & OF Carlos Gonzales. And they still do. Both have battled injuries most of the season and now both are out for the rest of the season. This has made them virtually untradeable now as they will not help a contender, nor will they fetch a fair price. Watch for at least one of them to move this offseason. 1B Justin Morneau & 1B Michael Cuddyer were also trade possibilities, but while injuries sidelined any Cuddyer trade talk, the Rockies seem to want to hang on to the reborn Morneau. SP Jorge De Larosa could still be dealt and is now the most likely Rocky to be traded in August. Tulo may have his eye on a new location of his own.
Philadelphia Phillies – Before the age of huge long-term contracts extending deep into a player’s golden years the Phills would have been the perfect trade partner this summer. The team is clearly in decay and many of the youngsters such as OF Domonic Brown have not proven that they can carry the load. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee, Marlon Byrd, Jon Papelbon and to a lesser extent Chase Utley & Cole Hamels all might have been traded had it not been for prohibitive money (Howard, Papelbon, Utley) or No-Trade clauses (Rollins) or injuries (Lee) or obvious reluctance to trade (Hamels). OF Marlon Byrd remains the most likely player to be traded even though nearly every player listed above has cleared waivers.
Los Angeles Dodgers – They have an obvious glut in the OF with 4 players who should be starting in an MLB lineup. However, there are problems with each of the three not named Puig. OF Matt Kemp is owed a ton of money and is not nearly as effective as he was when that deal was signed. He likely has a good chance of getting back to that level hitting wise but until he does he is impossible to trade. OF Andre Ethier is healthy, but in the middle of a several year decline in hitting skills, um and expensive. OF Carl Crawford is an enigma, or an albatross or both. He is often injured, his skills have declined and he has an obscene contract himself. Donny Baseball will have to continue to find ways to get them all in along with inevitable call-up OF Joc Pederson & find playing time for OF Scott VanSlyke. It is unfortunate for them as well considering their large hole at 3b. They are living by the adage that a team can never have enough pitching and keep bringing in starting pitchers to replace those that are going down like SP Beckett & now SP Ryu. The Dodgers stated today though that if they could find a good late inning reliever they would consider that trade possibility.
EDIT: Yesterday the Phillies and Dodgers completed a trade of SP Roberto Hernandez, the mediocre SP formerly known as Fausto Carmona for Dodgers second baseman Jesmuel Valentin, a 2012 first-round pick from Puerto Rico who was hitting .282/.352/.433 for Class A Great Lakes as a 20-year-old. Heading into the season, Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 listed him as the Dodgers’ 22nd-best prospect, projecting him as a utility player. MLB.Com ranked him at No. 13 in the Dodgers’ system and was somewhat more optimistic, suggesting he lacks power but could be the sort of hitter who typically bats second in a team’s batting order. He is the son of former big-league infielder Jose Valentin. (Courtesy of MLB Rumors.com) Hernandez is already scheduled to take SP Hun Jin Ryu’s spot in the rotation.
The New York Mets – Talk about handcuffed, ham-strung and just plain strung out, the Mets are the most likely team to make a trade that didn’t. They have a corral of top flight pitching both at the MLB, AAA and DL levels and a glaring need at SS and RF. The Cubs have 4 MLB level SS and need pitching. The Mets are so reluctant to part with any of that pitching that it has hamstrung all efforts to make a deal. Joel Sherman of the NY POST states, “The Mets are reluctant to trade any of the young starting pitchers unless they are getting two dollars for their .35 cents.” Add to that the Cubs stating that they will be a better team by keeping all 4 SS’s and moving some to other positions. Paralysis.
Some other Deadline Deals that still could happen:
San Diego Padres - Three players who could still move are RP Joaquin Benoit who was sought at the deadline, OF Carlos Quentin and OF Seth Smith. Benoit and Smith being the most likely moved.
Miami Marlins – There is probably nothing that will happen regarding the Marlins unless they move some relievers as rumored. The story here though is OF Giancarlo Stanton. Teams have come calling of course and we all heard the names bouncing around. Now the Marlins have said that they want to keep him. Now that Lebron has moved back to Cleveland Giancarlo is now the top name in Miami Sports and they feel they can cash in on that. When teams trade for the future by stockpiling prospects don’t they have to try to win at some point? Trading Stanton would seem counter productive in that regard.
Arizona Diamondbacks – The list of players they’d like to trade is long. Aaron Hill, Miguel Montero, Oliver Perez, Brad Ziegler and Trevor Cahill. Cahill’s re-emergence makes him the odds on favorite to be traded. Hill has declining skills and makes over 10 Million a season. (recurring theme). Montero is skilled and young but also on a tough contract to move. Plus there are no other MLB ready catchers in the organization. The organization acknowledges there has been interest in Ziegler and Perez but they do not believe either would pass through waivers. The Brewers GM admitted today that he had just placed some waiver claims on relievers.
Edit: The D’Backs and Cubs today exchanged players with the D’Backs getting once promising 1st round draft choice OF Brett Jackson and the Cubs getting RP Prospect Blake Cooper. The Diamondbacks think that a change of scenery will help Jackson get back to the level he was at two years ago. The Cubs said they needed to clear a roster spot. That was an expensive roster spot.
Chicago Cubs, St Louis Cardinals - I don’t see many specific rumors with these two teams but one can never count them out. Cubs GM Theo Epstein appears to be getting aggressive, and the Cards tend to be pretty shrewd with late season maneuvers for the stretch. Even the SF Giants consider themselves still in it so anything is possible there as well.
So, there are some scenarios to keep an eye on. Don’t forget to look and see how these or similar moves might affect your fantasy team in its own stretch run.
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