Last week, I talked about potential players that could be moved as the trade deadline approaches. Of course, many of these players are rentals as they are set to be free agents at season’s end. However, rental-status doesn’t mean teams won’t pull the trigger, especially if it means a chance at a World Series berth. Last season, we saw the Cubs trade their number one prospect, in Gleyber Torres, for the rental of Aroldis Chapman. The deal worked the Cubs rode Chapman to a World Series Championship. We’ve already seen one player, with an expiring contract, get dealt in J.D. Martinez. It’s a perfect deal for both player, and team, as Martinez finds himself playing in a ballpark that is second to Coors Field in terms of home run rate. This week, I want to focus on the needs of potential playoff teams in this week’s edition of “That’s Amore!” Playoff Team Needs at the Trade Deadline.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers entered Sunday 67-31 atop the NL West with a 10.5-game lead on Colorado and Arizona. There’s no questioning their offense lead by rookie sensation Cody Bellinger and the likes of Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and my waiver wire All-Star Chris Taylor. Of course, any team has a chance with perennial Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw. After Kershaw, the teams has gotten solid production from Alex Wood, and veteran lefty Rich Hill. What should the Dodgers try adding at the deadline? The Dodgers could make a run at a starting arm and bullpen help. They have the prospects to make a deal, and rumors suggest they are in talks for Mets reliever Addison Reed. Reed would immediately solidify the setup role getting the ball to Kenley Jansen. We’ve already seen arms dealt, and Reed could be the next pitcher changing area codes. In terms of solidifying their starting rotation, starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray are available. If the Dodgers were able to add either, it would give them one of the best one-two combinations teaming up with arguably the best starting pitcher in Clayton Kershaw. Another reasonable move could be going after another outfield bat. A name to watch is Chicago White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera. He would give them outfield depth, and given he’s a switch-hitter they could keep him in the lineup regardless of who the opposing pitcher is. This would allow them to take Joc Pederson out of the lineup when they face left-handed pitchers. Another player to keep tabs on is Andrew McCutchen. After a subpar 2016 season, McCutchen has bounced back in 2017. He enters Sunday slashing .295/.387/.512 with 17 HR and 61 RBI. His market value has skyrocketed and now is the time for the Pirates to move McCutchen. What makes McCutchen attractive is his team control through 2018. After, he has a $14.75mil team option, and a $1mil buyout. Adding McCutchen would give the Dodgers a more ideal situation in centerfield. Joc Pederson could be part of a package sent back to Pittsburgh. Pederson hasn’t lived up to expectations, but still carries enough value to be part of the return to Pittsburg.
Arguably the best lineup in baseball, the Astros are running away with the AL West division, entering Sunday with a 17-game lead over the Seattle Mariners. This team could cruise through the post-season if they add the likes of a Yu Darvis or Sonny Gray. Either could follow Cy Young Award-winner Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. Brad Peacock and Mike Fiers have been superb as of late, and the addition of another dominant starting pitcher could make the Astros even more deadly come playoffs. The Rangers and Athletics could ask for a return package including highly touted prospect Kyle Tucker or Derek Fisher. The Astros may not be willing to move Tucker, especially for a rental player such as Darvish, but if it means the difference of getting a World Series, and winning it, this could lead to a blockbuster deal. Come deadline day, pay special attention to the Astros, because they may pull the trigger especially if they can block other potential teams vying for the services of Darvish or Gray. A dark horse option could be Gerrit Cole. While the Pirates stated they prefer to keep Cole, there’s always a chance the Astros could put together an enticing package. Again, it’s a long shot, but Cole’s name could be brought up.
New York Yankees
The Yankees entered Sunday with holding one of the Wild Card spots one game ahead of the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals. The division is still within reach trailing Boston by 3.5 games. That being said, the Yankees must acquire a starting pitcher to make a deep push in the playoffs. Earlier in the week they helped their bullpen by acquiring David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox. While this takes pressure of the starting rotation, as they won’t need to go beyond six innings pitch, they still need to be serious in getting a starting arm. Their current rotation features a dismal Mashiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Luis Cessa. A major blow was dealt after it was made known Michael Pineda would need season-ending Tommy John surgery. Looking at this rotation it clear to see why the Yankees are in the marketing for a starting pitcher. What names come to mind? The obvious choices are Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray. Those names are the obvious choices for any team looking to add a starter. Without a doubt, the Yankees have the minor league prospects to pull of a deal for either. Sonny Gray would be a more desirable option giving the control on his contact, however, landing Darvish could allow the Yankees to woo him into a signing a deal after the season. If the Yankees are looking for a cheaper option, in terms of moving away talent, names that come to mind are Lance Lynn and Julio Teheran. Neither will bring back the return of Darvish or Gray, but will still make an immediate upgrade for the Yankees starting rotation.
After acquiring Jose Quintana, the Cubs are not done. The Cubs gained a lot of ground last week, and enter Sunday one game behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers and 5.5 games behind in the Wild Card standings. Their biggest need? Another starting arm and bullpen help. Even with the acquisition of Quintana, the Cubs need pitching help. Their bullpen has been a roller coaster ride, and I’m still uneasy on the health of Kyle Hendricks and the fast-declining production of John Lackey. There’s no question they’ll be in the running for Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish. However, they may have to part with Kyle Schwarber for a deal to be done to acquire either. With both John Lackey and Jake Arrieta set to become free agents, Quintana’s controllable contract adds relief, and the Cubs can get interesting with their next trade. Names that come to mind are Marcus Stroman, Justin Verlander, Zach Britton, and Pat Neshek. Assuming the Tigers would eat part of the remaining three years, $78mil, Verlander could be in player. However, it seems unlikely Verlander gets moved at all. Stroman could be an under-the-radar target for the Cubs. He’s arbitration eligible in 2018, and has control until 2021. He’s due for a pay increase, but at 26 years-old it’s hard to find a better option with control. Depending on the Blue Jays’ asking price, the Cubs could come out of nowhere and snag the righty. After targeting another starter, or failing to, the Cubs could sit tight and better their bullpen. We saw them solidify the closer role last season, and with Wade Davis a perfect 19 for 19 in save opportunities, the Cubs could look for help to get the ball to Davis. Zach Britton has been the hottest reliever on the market. It remains to be seen who will be willing to fork over the prospects for Britton, but he’s immediately upgrade the Cubs bullpen. If they want to go the cheap route, Neshek could be in player. He’s a rental, but having a dynamite season. He’d be a solid addition to a Cubs bullpen that has had it’s fair share of a Jekyll & Hyde 2017.
Boston Red Sox
After losing out on Todd Frazier, the Red Sox are looking to other players to potentially take over third base. Rumors have surfaced regarding the services of Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, and Eduardo Nunez. Any of the three could take over the position, and being an instant upgrade to the Red Sox current situation. Even if Cozart was uncomfortable playing third, Xander Bogaerts is no stranger to the position. Kinsler catches my attention greatly. At 35, he’s having the worst statistical season of his career. However, moving to a team with playoff aspirations could get the endorphins flowing and allow Kinsler to rekindle the fire and production that is only a year removed (.288/.348/.484/28 HR/83 RBI). With control through next season, he could be a cheap option if the Tigers are ready to send him packing. The Red Sox are in the market for bullpen help, and the Tigers also roster coveted reliever Justin Wilson. If the moving parts line up correctly, the Red Sox could put a package together to acquire both Kinsler and Wilson filling two voids needed on their roster. After Wilson, other relievers that come to mind are Pat Neshek, Bud Norris, and Brad Brach. While I’m sure you’ve all heard those names, I wouldn’t mind seeing them make a run for the Phillies Hector Neris.
The Indians entered Sunday with a 1.5 game lead on Minnesota and Kansas City. Many thought Minnesota and Kansas City would be sellers, but with both clubs clinging onto the playoff chase, it seems both may be buyers. That being said, the Indians need to make a move to acquire a bat. Many reports suggested they could be in the running for a starting pitcher, but management stated they are in need of a bat. It’s a shame, because I would’ve loved to see Yu Darvish or Sonny Gray join this rotation. I’d even suggest Samardzija would be an instant boost. Now, I get he sports a horrendous 5.05 ERA, but his 1.20 WHIP isn’t too shabby. He’s an innings eater as well having pitched 200+ innings in four straight season. But enough of pitching help. Now, let’s focus on potential hitting targets. The Indians desperately lack a power bat in the outfield. Many have suggest Jose Bautista could be a target for the Indians. He would be an immediate power upgrade for the Indians, and while the numbers are starting to fall he’s still on pace to surpass his home run total of last season (22). After Bautista, who could the Indians target? I’m not certain they possess the type of prospects teams would want for younger outfielders, especially after sending a haul to the Yankees in last season’s Andrew Miller deal. However, a few names that come to mind are Melky Cabrera, Hunter Pence, and Jay Bruce. While only Bruce would supply the power they desperately need, all three would be an upgrade to their currently outfield situation. Ideally, Jose Bautista and Jay Bruce would be their desired targets. It comes down to whether they want the power to come from the right or left part of the plate. Both hitters (Bautista has a mutual options) can be free agents after the season, and it’ll come down to the asking price for the players’ services.
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