Deadline countdown: Last-minute predictions
In the quiet period leading up to this last week of July, we heard a lot of chatter about Major League Baseball possibly moving the non-waiver Trade Deadline to mid-August to account for the increased parity brought about by having two Wild Card teams per league and the logjam it causes on the trade market.
Haven't heard that talk much this week, have you?
We've had a frantic few days leading up to today's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, and there are still ample swapping possibilities involving names known to be available, as well as, I'm sure, some things we simply didn't see coming.
With precious few hours between now and the close of business, here are some last-minute Deadline predictions.
Craig Kimbrel (Padres) to the Yankees
With Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto and David Price off the board, the Yankees seem unlikely to add an ace. So how about an All-Star closer instead?
The Padres were reportedly rebuffed in their attempts to land shortstop and third-ranked Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo in these talks earlier this week. But money talks, and perhaps the Yanks can come up with a package that still makes sense for San Diego because of New York's ability to take on the $28 million owed to Kimbrel through 2017. It would give the Yankees a truly superb bullpen of Kimbrel, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances that would help offset their rotation issues.
Could the Yankees get Kimbrel and/or a starter without giving up at least one of Mateo, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge or Greg Bird? That's the obvious issue here.
Jake McGee (Rays) to the Dodgers
Aroldis Chapman is more of a household name, and the Dodgers have been linked to him in this Deadline season. But with McGee's arbitration costs rising for the Rays, here's a chance for Andrew Friedman to reunite with McGee and give Los Angeles a dynamic right-left tandem of Kenley Jansen and McGee in the back end of the bullpen. Over the past two years, McGee has a 0.865 WHIP and a 1.78 ERA in 96 innings.
Though a lot of people wanted or outright expected the Dodgers to land Price on Thursday, they have already meaningfully addressed their rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke with Mat Latos and Alex Wood. Now, it's time to turn the attention to the 'pen.
Jeff Samardzija stays put with the White Sox
The White Sox are hot, and, no matter how sustainable their recent run might be, they've put themselves in the thick of that crowded AL Wild Card race. Trading the Shark now would be a gut punch to that clubhouse.
Besides, the market is flooded with short-term starting assets. And while Samardzija's big arm is always enticing, he's also rated near league average both for his career and this season (with flashes of utter dominance, of course). What I'm saying is that he's not necessarily the kind of rental you go all-in on, and so the White Sox might be best off keeping him and recouping a Draft pick should he sign elsewhere this offseason, while continuing to give 2015 their most earnest effort. Especially with the Indians and Tigers scaling back in the AL Central, this may be the best route.
James Shields (Padres) to the waiver wire
With that big contract netting less-than-elite returns, Shields is the perfect August trade candidate. The obvious caveat is that teams can block each other on the waiver wire depending on the standings-fueled pecking order, so it's a much more difficult time to get a deal done.
Tyson Ross (Padres) and Joaquin Benoit (Padres) to the Cubs
You have to assume the Cubs are going to do something at this Trade Deadline, and anything they do is going to be both a win-now and win-later move. With their depth of position-player pieces, the Cubs can afford to build a package around Javier Baez, who could potentially solve San Diego's shortstop issues, and Billy McKinney to get Ross, who would provide immediate impact for Chicago's rotation, while also bringing long-term star potential (he's not eligible for free agency until after 2017). Benoit, a pending free agent, would lend support to a Cubs bullpen that needs it in the push for a Wild Card spot.
Chapman stays put with the Reds
With the Nationals having already added Jonathan Papelbon, I'm struggling to see a contending team stepping up with the prospect pieces for Chapman. Yes, the Yankees are a possibility for the very reasons mentioned above, but I would expect them to target a right-handed reliever, if anything, in this market. The Dodgers are a possibility, but I already committed to sending them McGee, so that's out.
The Reds can hold onto Chapman and hope a wider market materializes for him this offseason.
John Axford (Rockies) to the Twins
If the Twins are going to stem the tide of their second-half losing skid, they simply need a bullpen arm who can strike people out. Axford qualifies as an affordable rental piece for a club that acknowledges contention has come ahead of schedule and isn't ready to pull out all the stops just yet.
Will Venable (Padres) to the Mets
League-average bat (with the potential to be a little bit better outside Petco Park). Cheap salary. Capable of handling center field. Obviously, the Mets were focused on contractual control beyond this season, but if they're not in a good position to take on significant salary, their options are clearly limited. Venable can help them.