These 4 teams could get creative at Deadline

August 18th, 2020

Should we expect the atypical 2020 Major League Baseball season to produce an ordinary Trade Deadline?

Of course not.

To that end, let’s consider Jerry Dipoto’s intriguing statements Sunday on MLB Network Radio. Dipoto is famously willing to make bold moves as Mariners general manager, after similarly spirited tenures with the Angels and D-backs. His words have a way of creating ripples around the industry.

So perhaps we should prepare for a paradigm-shifting Trade Deadline on Aug. 31, in which prospects and young Major Leaguers emerge as strong candidates to move.

“I do think you’re going to see a wide variety of outcomes [at this year’s Trade Deadline], but it’s likely to be a little bit more young-player-driven than normal trade markets,” Dipoto told hosts Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden. “I think you’re going to see a lot of the typical moves, where a pending free agent is moved on at the Trade Deadline, and then you’re going to see at least some rumblings about young player-for-young player ‘challenge’ deals.

“The middle ground -- the established veteran player in the arb system or already generating high-level paychecks -- I think those guys are likely to stay still. But the pending free agents and the younger players, I think have a chance to be movers in these last two weeks. It should be pretty interesting to watch.”

There’s plenty of logic behind Dipoto’s theory, and most of it relates to near- and medium-term uncertainty relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a year of diminished industry revenues, many teams will be reluctant to add significant long-term payroll commitments. Thus, there is appeal in acquiring a pending free agent, as that acquisition involves adding only one month of the player’s salary.

One wrinkle for 2020 is that only players in the 60-man player pool are eligible to be traded during this season. In other words, you can’t throw in lower-level prospects to sweeten an offer.

The concept of trading young players for one another also allows teams to re-balance their depth charts after a turbulent season, moving players from an area of surplus to address present and future needs. And because the players are young, exchanging one for another won’t have a significant impact on overall payroll.

Here are a few teams with the personnel -- and needs -- to pursue trades of that kind.


Two weeks ago, it would have been impossible to imagine and being available on the trade market. Now, two of the Indians’ standout starting pitchers have been optioned to the club’s alternate training site after violating COVID-19 protocols.

Will their relationship with the organization ever return to the way it was? That’s unclear. What we do know is this: The Indians have a team OPS of .642 — worst in the American League — and two of their most valuable players aren’t currently contributing to the team.

The Indians have struggled for years to settle on a reliably productive trio of everyday outfielders. One solution could be for the team to trade Clevinger or Plesac for a young outfielder like Boston’s .


Milwaukee quieted talk of becoming an outright seller by taking three of four from the division-leading Cubs over the weekend, but the Brewers are at least one hitter short of becoming a threat to progress through the National League playoffs.

More specifically, the Brewers have yet to replace ’s impact, offensively and defensively, after he elected not to play this season. has admirably taken on the challenge of playing center field every day, but he has below-average range for the position.

As with Cleveland, Milwaukee’s best assets are young pitchers. and currently occupy multi-inning roles in the Brewers’ bullpen, but they are talented enough to start for many teams. The Braves could be one of them, and Atlanta’s top two prospects are a pair of talented outfielders, Cristian Pache and Drew Waters.


The D-backs (12-11) are in contention for a playoff spot despite top free-agent signee landing on the injured list and and struggling to 8.59 and 11.85 ERAs, respectively.

If Arizona trades for a starter, the best fit would be a pitcher who is close to debuting or already in the Major Leagues. According to MLB Pipeline, the Tigers have four such pitchers among their top 10 prospects, two of whom, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, will debut this week.

The D-backs have the depth to part with an outfielder in a trade of that kind, as Kristian Robinson, Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll rank among the organization’s top five prospects.


The Angels have the world’s best player in center field, as well as top prospect Jo Adell starting in right field every day. is the team’s primary designated hitter, which limits the available at-bats for veteran on days when he doesn’t play left.

Meanwhile, two of the Angels’ top three prospects still in the Minor Leagues -- Brandon Marsh and Jordyn Adams -- also play the outfield, at a time when their organizational depth chart needs an infusion of young starting pitching. Marsh, 22, is closer to the Majors than Adams, 20. It’s possible that Marsh would have debuted in the Majors by now if he were playing in an organization that did not have as much outfield depth as the Angels. 

Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Angels opted to move Marsh, Adams or 29-year-old Major League outfielder in a trade designed to bolster their near- and medium-term starting rotation.