8 ideal player-team fits for Deadline day

August 1st, 2023

There are sure to be plenty more players on the move in the hours before Tuesday's Trade Deadline. Let's find some ideal trade fits.

We're pairing a series of trade candidates on the market with teams they match up the best with. It's more than just "the Rangers need a starter, so here's Max Scherzer." These are players who fit a more specific area of need for a team, or fit into one team's style of play better than the rest, or are especially suited to playing in a certain ballpark.

Here are eight ideal player-team trade fits for Deadline day. (Stats are entering the week.)

-- Orioles

Why not the Dodgers for Verlander? It's not just that Verlander is the perfect veteran starter to lead the Orioles' staff, it's that he's always been a strikeout-and-fly-ball pitcher, and that air contact he induces will stay in the ballpark in Baltimore, with Camden Yards' high, deep wall in left field. The O's outfielders can track down those high fly balls -- especially once the rangy Cedric Mullins returns to center field -- and let Verlander cook.

-- Giants

If the Giants are willing to make a big move to go after the Dodgers in the NL West, it should be a play for the White Sox ace. Cease would give San Francisco two big weapons that its current frontline starters, Logan Webb and Alex Cobb, just don't have: a power fastball and a wipeout breaking pitch. Webb and Cobb are both sinker-changeup specialists (well, Cobb's is a splitter, but same idea). Their fastballs are ground-ball pitches more than strikeout pitches, and they rely on offspeed stuff over breaking stuff. But Cease? He racks up strikeouts with an explosive 96 mph four-seamer and a sharp 86 mph slider. The 27-year-old right-hander has 50 K's on four-seamers and 73 on sliders, third-most on a fastball/slider combo behind only Spencer Strider and Gerrit Cole.

-- Yankees

For a team with one of the most notable ballpark features in baseball -- the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium -- the Yankees are sure light on left-handed bats. The prime trade fit here is probably Cody Bellinger, but he's reportedly off the market, so Carlson from the Cardinals is the next-best thing. The 24-year-old switch-hitter would get plenty of at-bats from the left side in New York, with the chance to prove he's still the talented hitter who popped 18 home runs as a rookie in 2021. The Yankees are also the slowest team in the Majors (26.5 ft/sec sprint speed), and Carlson is an above-average runner (28.0 ft/sec for his career) who's provided excellent baserunning value for St. Louis in his tenure there.

-- Rays

The White Sox lefty sidewinder is exactly the type of arm Tampa Bay targets for its bullpen stable: a specialist reliever who adds to the wide array of release points the Rays use to give hitters ever-changing looks. Bummer can also be the Rays' Ohtani Specialist -- they have two series down the stretch against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels. Someone will need to come in and get Ohtani out in a big spot, and Bummer presents an extreme platoon disadvantage for the AL MVP frontrunner. Ohtani is even 0-for-8 against Bummer in his career.

-- Phillies

The Phillies have been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, and Pham is one that makes sense for them. He has a disciplined skill set at the plate that Philadelphia could benefit from adding to its lineup. Phillies hitters chase pitches out of the zone at the third-highest rate in the league (31.6%), and swing and miss at a fairly high rate as well (27.6%, eighth-highest). Pham, on the other hand, ranks in the 95th percentile of MLB hitters in chase rate and the 62nd percentile in whiff rate, to go along with his excellent all-around contact quality this year (94th percentile exit velocity, 96th percentile expected batting average and 91st percentile expected slugging percentage).

-- Red Sox

DeJong has a two-fold fit with the Red Sox. He's a right-handed pull power hitter who can bang balls off -- or over -- the Green Monster (12 of his 13 homers are to the left side of the field). And he's a very good defensive shortstop (+8 Outs Above Average at short in 2023, sixth-best at the position), which would boost a Red Sox infield defense that's been abysmal (-37 Outs Above Average, by far the worst of any team in MLB).

-- Cubs

Barlow is a great match for the Cubs, even if the likelihood that they'll get him went down Monday night once Chicago traded for a different Royals reliever, Jose Cuas. But here's why Barlow makes sense for the now-buyer Cubs. Chicago plays terrific infield defense (+16 Outs Above Average, fourth-best of any team infield), and Barlow's specialty is inducing weak contact that his fielders can eat up. The closer ranks in the 96th percentile of MLB in exit velocity allowed (85.4 mph) and 95th percentile in hard-hit rate allowed (28.3%). He'd give the Cubs staff a different look to throw at hitters -- Chicago is one of the heaviest fastball pitching staffs in baseball (61% fastball usage, third-highest of any team), while Barlow is a breaking ball-first bullpen arm. Almost three-fourths of his pitches are breaking pitches (44% sliders, 29% curveballs), and only a quarter are fastballs.

The Reds are looking for a veteran starter to fortify their rotation while young guns Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo work their way back from injury, and Carrasco would be a reasonably priced fit. The 36-year-old right-hander has had rocky results for the Mets (6.40 ERA, only a year removed from his solid 3.97 in 2022), but his ground ball tendencies make him a suitable pitcher for the Reds and Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati's pitching staff, despite playing in the home run-friendliest park in MLB, induces ground balls at one of the lowest rates in the league (39.6%, with only the A's getting fewer grounders). Carrasco induces grounders at one of the highest rates among starting pitchers -- his 50% ground-ball rate is 15th among the 116 starters with 200 or more batted balls allowed. José Quintana could actually be a fit for the Reds from the same Mets rotation for similar reasons, now that the lefty is back from injury.