The Fourth of July has come and gone, but the fireworks haven't even started yet.The non-waiver Trade Deadline is still more than three weeks away, leaving plenty of time for baseball's contenders to make moves that will change the face of this year's pennant races.
The Fourth of July has come and gone, but the fireworks haven't even started yet.
The non-waiver Trade Deadline is still more than three weeks away, leaving plenty of time for baseball's contenders to make moves that will change the face of this year's pennant races.
Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses baseball's top storylines as the Trade Deadline nears
As buyers and sellers begin to become clearer -- the Twins have joined the latter in the past week -- let's look at 10 players whose stock is on the rise. (All stats are entering play on Thursday).
James Dozier, Twins
Minnesota's second baseman isn't having a particularly strong season (12 home runs and a .702 OPS) but Dozier was one of the best offensive performers at his position the past two years, averaging 38 home runs with an .871 OPS. It should also be noted that he had a monster second half last season during the Twins' postseason push, hitting 21 home runs with a .985 OPS after the All-Star break. A move to a contender could spark the 31-year-old as he approaches free agency. He's slated to earn about $4.5 million for the rest of the season.
Potential fits: Brewers, Dodgers
Eduardo Escobar, Twins
Escobar profiles as the type of player any contender can use; he can play three infield positions and even fill in at any outfield position in a pinch. Heck, he's even caught one inning in his career. Escobar, one of the Twins' six pending free agents, is having a solid season at the plate, slashing .277/.335/.531 with 13 home runs, 50 RBIs and a MLB-best 34 doubles. He's also a relative bargain, owed about $2.4 million for the remainder of 2018.
Potential fits: Phillies, D-backs
Matt Harvey, Reds
Harvey struggled during the first half of June, but the right-hander has shown signs of the old "Dark Knight" in his past three outings. Harvey is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in those starts, striking out 14 and walking just two in 18 1/3 innings. The Reds dealt for Harvey in early May with the idea of possibly flipping him before July 31. If he keeps pitching well, the gamble may pay off for Cincinnati, which is paying the free-agent-to-be the league minimum while the Mets pick up the rest of his salary.
Potential fits: D-backs, Mariners
Nicholas Castellanos, Tigers
The Tigers began their rebuild with last year's trades, so while they can't move Jose Cabrera or Victor Martinez, Castellanos should be able to bring back a good prospect. The 26-year-old third baseman-turned-right fielder is having an outstanding season (.309/.358/.525 with 14 homers and 54 RBIs) and has been red-hot as of late, hitting four home runs with an OPS north of 1.100 during the past week. He's owed about $3 million for the rest of this season and is arbitration-eligible for 2019, making him an appealing trade candidate.
Potential fits: Phillies, D-backs
DJ LeMahieu, Rockies
The Rockies are among those teams still figuring out where their season is headed, hovering around the .500 mark in a winnable division. Colorado has several players heading for free agency, led by LeMahieu, an All-Star in two of the past three seasons. He's been hot lately, and given his history as a solid second-half performer (.305 career average after the break), the second baseman would be a good addition for a contender if the Rockies decide to sell. He's owed a little more than $4 million for the rest of 2018.
Potential fits: Brewers, Indians
Brad Ziegler, Marlins
Although the trade focus has been on Miami's other relievers -- Kyle Barraclough, Adam Conley and Drew Steckenrider -- it's Ziegler who might be the most likely to get traded. The 38-year-old has allowed one earned run over his past 17 innings (0.53 ERA) while holding hitters to a .132 average. He's owed about $4.5 million, so Miami would likely need to pay down some of his salary to get any type of prospect in return.
Potential fits: Indians, Phillies
Wilson Ramos, Rays
A source said the Marlins seem just as likely to extend J.T. Realmuto as they are to trade him, making Ramos the best available catcher on the market. Ramos has 12 homers, 45 RBIs and an .808 OPS in 71 games this season, and although the Rays have climbed back to .500 with their recent run, they still face a double-digit deficit for the second AL Wild Card spot. Ramos is hitting .327 with a .993 OPS over his past 15 games. Ramos, who will be a free agent after the season, is owed about $5 million for the remainder of 2018.
Potential fits: Red Sox, D-backs
Zach Duke, Twins
Addison Reed might have more experience as a closer, but Duke is having a superior season -- and he's owed only about $1 million through the end of the year, while Reed is owed roughly $4 million. Duke would make sense for a team seeking help from the left side (Houston?), as he's held lefties to a .200 average and .472 OPS this season.
Potential fits: Indians, Braves
Nathan Eovaldi, Rays
Eovaldi's past two starts have been superb, reminding teams why they've been in love with his talented arm for years. The right-hander has allowed two runs over 12 innings, striking out 14 while walking only three. Since returning from Tommy John surgery on May 30, Eovaldi has a 3.92 ERA in seven starts. Though he's owed less than $1 million for the rest of the season, he'll be a free agent at the end of the year, so the Rays may try to bring back a prospect for the 28-year-old rather than losing him for nothing.
Potential fits: Angels, Brewers
Manny Machado, Orioles
You didn't really think we'd get through an entire Trade Deadline story without mentioning Machado, did you? The constant speculation hasn't stopped Machado from posting All-Star numbers; he hit .385 with a 1.102 OPS during the past week, giving potential suitors a look at what they might be adding to their lineup. Machado could be moved any day -- or he could remain in Baltimore until July 31. He's owed nearly $8 million for the rest of this season, which could be an issue for teams with payroll concerns, but he's undoubtedly the crown jewel of this market.
Potential fits: D-backs, Indians
Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.