We tend to discuss the Trade Deadline in terms of the opportunity it presents contending clubs, because – let’s face it – we are prisoners of the moment. We want to see potential impact October pieces change hands.
But look around the game at the inordinate impact young talent is having at the Major League level, and it’s clear that those on the sell side of the equation have an enormous opportunity to get better for the long haul here.
These are five teams for whom that opportunity is especially strong between now and 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Fading from an unexpected bid at contention has its advantages for a Texas team that was pretty widely thought to be over its skis back in June and has come back down to earth. With the organization generally in need of young assets, the Texas front office can – and has – explored the worth of both pending free agents (reliever Chris Martin, DH Hunter Pence) and those with multiple years of control (starters Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, utility man Danny Santana).
It's no secret that some developments in the starting pitching market have increased the value of Minor and Lynn. Marcus Stroman reduced the inventory of controllable starters, but didn’t satisfy the need of any of the clear contenders in that market. And the Indians’ situation with Trevor Bauer has been complicated by their rise in the AL Central standings and Bauer’s, um, long-toss program. The Rangers could seize the moment at the Deadline.
Necessary, obvious disclaimer: After dealing Jason Vargas to the Phillies on Monday, the Mets might not do anything on the “sell” side and hope that a rotation now including 100-percent more Stroman helps them leap into contention down the stretch.
But if nothing else, Stroman’s aforementioned effect on the starters’ inventory increases the value of Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard in this market. That doesn’t mean the Mets capitalize on both of those markets (while Wheeler is a pending free agent who is primed to move, Syndergaard is under arbitration control an additional two seasons), but the option is there for the Mets to replenish a farm system that has been gutted by Brodie Van Wagenen’s aggressive moves.
And closer Edwin Diaz, despite his regression from his 2018 heights with Seattle, is an attractive trade chip, too.
Again, though, the Mets currently appear more likely to ride this thing out and see what happens the last couple months of the season.
As with Minor, Lynn, Wheeler and Syndergaard, Matthew Boyd’s trade value has arguably escalated in recent days, and the fact that he’s under control longer than any of those guys (three arbitration years beyond 2019) only adds to the left-hander’s value. The best part, from the Tigers’ perspective, is that there’s no pressure – financial or otherwise – to move Boyd right now, so they can just hope to be dazzled at the Deadline and only strike if the deal makes total sense for them.
It's a little more necessary to move closer Shane Greene now, with his value at a height and only one year of control beyond 2019. But because the market for relief help is so robust, the Tigers should be able to get something attractive there.
Having convincingly fallen out of the once-clustered NL Central race, the Pirates have begun the unloading process, with Jordan Lyles going to the division rival Brewers on Monday. Certainly, they’ll look to move anything that’s not nailed down – Francisco Liriano, Corey Dickerson and Melky Cabrera.
But we all know where the real trade value lies, and that’s with closer Felipe Vazquez, who is not only crazy good (1.87 ERA, 6.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio) but crazy affordable (under team control through 2023 at a max of $10 million per season). And in a market where so many clubs are starved for relief help, that provides crazy leverage.
The Buccos have reportedly asked for the sun, moon and stars (and two of the Dodgers’ top four prospects, to be exact), as is their right. They might have to come off that price tag slightly, but they are still in a good position to score big on a potentially volatile asset here (to be clear, that’s no knock on Vazquez, because most relievers are volatile assets), should they go down that road.
Much like the Giants and Mets, the D-backs can talk themselves into being a contender in that inscrutable National League playoff picture, but Arizona GM Mike Hazen has been pretty levelheaded about things in his public comments.
“The belief that a .500 team is going to win the World Series,” Hazen told the Arizona Republic last week, “get through the Wild Card format that we have and win the World Series is -- I don’t think, objectively, that’s a position we should be staking ourselves to.”
Hazen’s right. He’s better off extracting value from this roster with an eye on the future. A Zack Greinke deal is as complicated now as it was when the D-backs tried to move him last winter (which is to say, so complicated it probably won’t happen), but everything written earlier with regard to the starters’ market applies to Robbie Ray, who is under control through 2020, though his stuff might actually play up best in the bullpen. Speaking of the bullpen, in a market short on left-handed relief help, Andrew Chafin has decent value. The D-backs could also look to move Archie Bradley or Greg Holland out of the ‘pen, or David Peralta or Jarrod Dyson out of the outfield.