Trade Deadline proposals for 17 teams in the hunt
Astros president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow last week outlined his Trade Deadline wish list: Catcher, starting pitcher, left-handed reliever. Really, Jeff? Is that all? How about we throw in a weekend in Maui?
Meanwhile, his Dodgers counterpart, Andrew Friedman, said he intended to be aggressive as usual before adding this bit of wisdom: “We’re just going to stop if it reaches the point of stupid.”
Problem is, no one knows where that line is as executives weigh how much of the future -- trading prospects -- to mortgage to increase the chances of winning the World Series in 2019.
That quandary could be one of the reasons there has been so little action as Wednesday’s Trade Deadline approaches. For one thing, 17 of 30 teams still see themselves as being very much in contention, which significantly reduces the inventory of available players. With demand being greater than supply, selling teams are pushing their leverage as far as possible.
Or we could all be overthinking things. To paraphrase the late and legendary Phillies executive Paul Owens, “Let’s do something that makes us better today.”
In other words, think small. Fill one need before attempting to fill three. Just get better. With those wise words ringing in our ears, let’s offer a modest proposal for 17 contenders ranked in order of their winning percentage entering the weekend. Why 17? Well, these are the 17 clubs within five games of a playoff spot as of Friday.
1) Yankees: Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman
General manager Brian Cashman built a deep farm system to be able to make deals like this one. Barring Luis Severino coming back and proving he’s 100 percent, Stroman becomes the Yankees' Game 1 starter throughout the postseason.
UPDATE: It appears Stroman is headed to New York, but not the Bronx. A source told MLB.com on Sunday night that the Mets had agreed to a deal for the right-hander, pending the completion of a physical.
2) Dodgers: Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez
This would be a huge step toward winning the World Series. Friedman has been cautious about trading away prospects, so this one is going to force him out of his comfort zone. But with Vazquez, 28, signed through 2021 with reasonable club options for 2022 and 2023, it’s worth it.
3) Astros: Rockies LHP Jake McGee
He’s the dominant left-handed specialist the Astros desperately need for a bullpen that’s very deep and very good. McGee has not given up a home run to a left-handed hitter this season.
4) Twins: Mets RHP Edwin Diaz
He has not been the nearly unhittable reliever he was the last two seasons in Seattle, but secondary numbers suggest he’s still capable of being a top 10 closer. And you can never have too much relief pitching, even after the acquisition of Sergio Romo on Saturday.
5) Indians: Reds OF Yasiel Puig
The Indians are going to be a formidable postseason opponent without a single addition. Puig would add a dangerous offensive presence. He’d also be worth a few laughs, which isn’t a bad thing to cut the October tension.
6) Braves: Tigers RHP Shane Greene
The Braves are like a bunch of other teams in that they’re pursuing more than one bullpen arm and perhaps a starter, too. Here’s a good start.
7) A’s: Mariners RHP Mike Leake
He can give the A’s the innings they need from their rotation and take some stress off the bullpen.
8) Rays: Mets RHP Zack Wheeler
He might thrive in the avalanche of information the Rays make available to pitchers, and as much as Tampa Bay needs bullpen help, the rotation has become the top priority in the wake of Blake Snell’s elbow surgery.
9) Red Sox: Mariners RHP Anthony Bass
This one is tricky since the Red Sox do not have a deep farm system and probably are going to have to go for an arm that adds depth.
10) Nationals: Padres RHP Kirby Yates
The Nationals will have to overpay in a big way since Yates in under team control through 2020, but the price will be worth it for a team that appears capable of winning the World Series.
11) Cubs: Orioles 2B Hanser Alberto
The Cubs will be tested to come up with enough prospects from a depleted farm system to convince the O’s to do this deal. Given Alberto's ability to play multiple positions, Cubs manager Joe Maddon would love the lineup flexibility.
12) Cardinals: Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard
The Mets are going to want multiple prospects, and the only issue here is if the Cardinals would have enough high-end prospect talent to get it done, especially on the pitching side.
13) Phillies: Tigers OF Nicholas Castellanos
The Phillies are still within reach of a postseason berth despite all the issues of the last month. Castellanos may only be a three-month rental, but this is an important three months for the franchise, and it could use some outfield thump with Andrew McCutchen out for the year and Jay Bruce on the IL.
14) Brewers: Rangers LHP Mike Minor
One trade won’t fix everything that’s wrong with Milwaukee’s pitching staff, but this one would be a big step in the right direction.
15) Angels: Reds RHP Tanner Roark
He would provide immediate help to the rotation, and because he’s a free agent after the season, acquiring him would not require a package of prospects.
16) D-backs: Blue Jays RHP Ken Giles
Arizona has the best run differential of any NL team currently on the outside looking in and is too close to a playoff berth to do a true selloff. The bullpen could use another power arm, and Giles has another year of club control and wouldn’t be a strict rental.
17) Giants: Rangers RHP Chris Martin
At the moment, the Giants don’t need a thing with third baseman Evan Longoria about to return. Martin would make an excellent bullpen even better.