Trade Deadline? What does a Trade Deadline even mean in a season like this one? Lineup holes to fill, playoff berths to grab. That means now. At this rate, July 31 might be an afterthought.Jose Quintana went first. Starting pitching almost always does. Almost every contender begins there. The Astros
Trade Deadline? What does a Trade Deadline even mean in a season like this one? Lineup holes to fill, playoff berths to grab. That means now. At this rate, July 31 might be an afterthought.
Jose Quintana went first. Starting pitching almost always does. Almost every contender begins there. The Astros and Dodgers are looking. The Mariners definitely are.
Quintana was traded from the White Sox to the Cubs on Thursday, about 36 hours after the last pitch of the All-Star Game. That got things rolling, sending a message that the trade market might move quickly, that teams are ready to move.
It helps to have aggressive general managers who know what they want and are not concerned that they could get more if they waited two weeks or whatever. Oakland's Billy Beane is an old-fashioned trade-maker in the best sense of that word. Rick Hahn of the White Sox and Mike Rizzo of the Nationals are fearless and confident.
It was as if everyone realized this season was a new normal, that teams wanted to move quickly, to, say, pick up another victory or two prior to the Trade Deadline rather than continuing to play the market.
Likewise, teams that are going with kids were ready to get on with it. They'd seen enough of their teams to know where they were and how to get to the next step.
So in a stretch of 48 hours, give or take, J.D. Martinez, Player Page for David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson changed teams. Specifically:
1. The D-backs filled a hole in their lineup by getting Martinez, who may be invaluable in facing the Dodgers' lefties. On the other side, Tigers GM Al Avila strengthened his farm system. He gave his team every chance to win. Now it's time to move on down the road.
2. The Nationals added two veteran bullpen arms -- Doolittle and Madson -- to fill the huge hole at the back of their bullpen. The Athletics did well, too, getting prospects for a rebuild that Beane promises will be the last for a while as plans for a game-changing new ballpark proceed.
3. The Yankees scored a third baseman (Frazier) and a big-time closer (Robertson) from the White Sox to assist in an American League playoff race that looks increasingly competitive.
Here's who is next:
1. Zach Britton, Orioles reliever
The Orioles sent word on Tuesday that they're willing to listen to offers for Britton, who was baseball's best reliever the previous three seasons. The O's will listen on others, too, including outfielder Seth Smith, according to reports. Teams are skeptical this will happen, but if it does, Britton is a pennant race-changing kind of player.
2. Sonny Gray, A's starting pitcher
Gray, 2 1/2 years from free agency, is probably the next best starting pitcher to be dealt. The Astros and Dodgers are kicking the tires, but so is every other contender. To repeat: Starting pitching is almost every contender's first priority.
3. Brad Hand, Padres lefty reliever
Hand is 27 years old, under team control for two more seasons and sporting a 0.979 WHIP. Think he might help someone? The Yankees were interested. The Astros and Dodgers are interested. The Nationals might not be done working on their bullpen. In other words, Padres GM A.J. Preller has himself with a very valuable chip.
4. Pat Neshek, Phillies reliever
Neshek's pending free agency could lower his trade value, but his 0.857 WHIP will make him an extremely valuable addition.
5-6. Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, Giants starters
The Giants are in a listening mode, willing to deal while positioning themselves to contend in 2018. Samardzija has three years and nearly $60 million remaining on his contract, which is the first thing that will have to be negotiated. He has a 4.86 ERA and a 1.169 WHIP. Contenders are interested. Cueto will opt out of his contract, so even with a 4.59 ERA, the risk is less.
7. Dan Straily, Marlins starter
Straily, a 28-year-old under control for three more seasons with a 1.071 WHIP, is already a hot commodity. The Marlins apparently are in a dealing mode as well.
8. Justin Verlander, Tigers starter
Verlander has two years and $56 million guaranteed remaining on his contract and a 1.500 WHIP. But he's fresh off one of his best seasons and could be a change-of-scenery type acquistion for a team looking for a guy with an October presence. Verlander is the most intriguing name on the market, but he's probably a long shot to actually be dealt.
Team owner David Glass and GM Dayton Moore will not dismantle their club with it three games out of first place in the AL Central, as it was on Wednesday morning. But the next 10-12 days will be interesting. If the Royals fade and decide to deal, the entire trade market would be changed with the potential availability of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Jason Vargas. Stay tuned.
10. Yu Darvish, Rangers starter
See above. The Rangers are 3 1/2 games out in the AL Wild Card chase. They remain in a win-now mode. But GM Jon Daniels almost surely will listen for offers for Darvish, who can be a free agent after the season. Even as a rental, Darvish almost certainly would be a hot commodity.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.