15 non-rental trade chips worthy of big haul

July 16th, 2019

The rental realm of the midseason trade market is not what you’d call resplendent. Madison Bumgarner's postseason pedigree and Will Smith's late-inning reliability prevent it from being totally barren, but Zack Wheeler just hit the shelf with shoulder fatigue and there aren’t many pending free agents expected to move who would likely reshape a playoff race.

Teams value pieces they can have for more than a couple months, anyway. So here’s a look at this year’s 15 best, realistic non-rentals (under contractual control through at least 2020).

1) , RHP, Indians

Control beyond 2019: One arbitration year

There might not be a more fascinating team at the July 31 Trade Deadline than the Indians. They’re in contention for an American League Wild Card spot, at the least, but Bauer’s rising arbitration price tag makes it unlikely he is on their roster in 2020, and they simply won’t be able to get as much for him in the offseason as they can right now. The Tribe could also be bowled over by an offer for closer Brad Hand (under control through 2021). But Bauer is the most likely impact piece to move from the Indians, who would be looking for Major League-ready offensive help.

2) , RHP, Blue Jays

Control beyond 2019: One arbitration year

As the Blue Jays continue their transition period, moving Stroman at the Deadline seems an essential means of adding more youth and upside to their farm system. A ground ball manufacturer, Stroman has pitched well this year (3.25 ERA through 19 starts), even though he doesn’t have high-strikeout stuff in a high-strikeout era. His embrace of the spotlight and showmanship could add to his appeal in a postseason race.

3) , RHP, Mets

Control beyond 2019: Two arbitration years

Though the Mets fielded offers for Syndergaard last winter without making a deal, there have been a lot of eyeballs on his recent starts and we can’t rule out the possibility of the right offer coming in. It’s been a disappointing 2019, on measure, for Thor, though the peripheral numbers aren’t as bad as the 4.55 ERA through 18 starts would indicate, and the stuff, contractual control and moxie are all appealing here.

4) , LHP, Tigers

Control beyond 2019: Three arbitration years

Unlike, say, Nicholas Castellanos, the Tigers don’t have to move Boyd at this year's Trade Deadline, so this might ultimately be stretching the limits of “realistic.” But with multiple contenders looking for controllable starting pitching and only so many quality options on the marketplace, conditions could be ripe for the Tigers to be overwhelmed. Boyd is having a breakout 2019 in which he’s basically doubled his strikeout-to-walk ratio to an AL-best 6.33.

5) , RHP, Padres

Control beyond 2019: One arbitration year

The Padres are still within range of a National League Wild Card spot, so they might not be inclined to subtract from their Major League roster. But general manager A.J. Preller is proactive and practical, and Yates’ value could be at an apex in the volatile relief market. Over the last two seasons, the former waiver wire pickup’s numbers are incredible -- a 1.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 154 strikeouts across 104 innings.

6) , OF, Yankees

Control beyond 2019: Four years total, including three arbitration years

You might have noticed a dearth of bats on this list. It’s that kind of market. And that’s why Frazier is such an interesting chip for a Yankees team in search of starting pitching help. His raw bat speed and small sample of results in the Majors (.283/.330/.513 slash in 209 plate appearances this season) point to a player who could emerge as an impact piece in a place where he’s not blocked in the bigs. He turns 25 in September.

7) , RHP, Tigers

Control beyond 2019: One arbitration year

A Boyd trade is probably an iffy proposition, but, because Greene is only under control one more season (and Detroit is highly unlikely to be a contender in 2020), the Tigers would be crazy not to take advantage of his value in a market loaded with contenders in need of relief help. Greene went from a 5.12 ERA in 66 appearances last year to a 1.06 mark in 34 appearances this year. Always sell high!

8) , RHP, Blue Jays

Control beyond 2019: One arbitration year

From punching his own face in 2018 to punching out 43 percent of opposing batters in '19, Giles has done a tremendous job rebuilding his value this season. And again, there are no shortage of contending clubs who could use his services. The Blue Jays could package “100 Miles” Giles with Stroman and really make a killing.

9) , RHP, Giants

Control beyond 2019: One arbitration year

Smith is an obvious trade target from the Giants in advance of his free agency. But don’t sleep on Dyson, who has rekindled the effectiveness we saw when he took over the Rangers’ closer role in 2016. Dyson has a 2.76 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over the last two seasons in San Francisco.

10) , 2B/OF, Royals

Control beyond 2019: Three years worth at least $14.5 million total, plus $10.5 million team option for 2023

A Merrifield move is not what you’d call highly realistic, because he might have even more value to the Royals -- for whom he has emerged as a franchise face -- than anybody else. But because this market is so light on legitimate position-player help and because Merrifield’s versatility, speed and reasonable contract would be assets just about anywhere, it behooves the Royals to at least listen. Merrifield is 30, and the Royals are not especially close to contending.

11) , OF, Padres

Control beyond 2019: Four years (three arbitration)

The continued outfield surplus in San Diego means Renfroe could move as part of the club’s search for controllable starting pitching. Though teammate Franmil Reyes (on whom the Padres have five additional years of control beyond 2019) is also a trade candidate, Renfroe is especially interesting right now, given a power surge in which his slugging percentage has jumped almost 100 points from last season.

12) Robbie Ray, LHP, D-backs

Control beyond 2019: One arbitration year

The D-backs would probably love to get out from under the remaining seasons on Zack Greinke's contract (he’s owed $112.5 million -- $2 million of that would be a bonus triggered by a trade -- on a deal that expires after the 2021 season, with deferred payments through 2026), but obviously that setup creates a lot of complication in the trade market. Arizona might not be as inclined to move Ray, especially in the midst of an NL Wild Card pursuit, but a lot can change between now and July 31. Ray walks on the wild side (4.5 walks per nine over the last three seasons), but he has a 3.47 ERA and 12 strikeouts per nine in that same timeframe.

13) , RHP, Mariners

Control beyond 2019: One year, $15 million (with $4 million paid by the Cardinals), plus $18 million mutual option for 2021

He's not as sexy an option as some of the other controllable options listed above, but Leake’s dependable durability (he’s pitched at least 167 2/3 innings every year since 2011 and is on track to do so again) could attract interest from teams who don’t want to pay the premium associated with guys like Stroman and Bauer -- especially if the M’s eat some salary, like the Cardinals did when they moved Leake to Seattle in 2017.

14) , LHP, Mariners

Control beyond 2019: Two arbitration years

While on the subject of Mariners' trade options, we’d be remiss not to mention their closer, Elias. Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto is always down to deal, and, even though Elias’ numbers aren’t overpowering this season (4.07 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), the contractual control and the market conditions attach added value to a live, left-handed arm like his.

15) , RHP, Orioles

Control beyond 2019: Two arbitration years

Similar rationale here. Givens’ 4.50 ERA doesn’t jump off the page. And the eight homers allowed in 36 innings jumps off the page for all the wrong reasons. But the amount of interest in bullpen help at this Deadline can’t be overstated, and a contending club could buy into a recent improvement in results (2.63 ERA dating back to May 26), and the ol’ change of scenery adage (giving up homers in Baltimore this year is sort of a bodily function).