Executives around the Majors are working the phones at all hours in an effort to make their clubs better, either for this year’s stretch run or for the future.
Trade season began to get interesting on Wednesday night when the Angels acquired Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López from the White Sox. Late Thursday night, the Mets began to sell with the trade of David Robertson to the Marlins. The White Sox continued their fire sale on Friday, sending Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly to the Dodgers, then dealing Kendall Graveman to the Astros.
Chicago has been by far the most active club to date, trading away five pitchers in three trades. But the White Sox are far from the only sellers -- in addition to the Mets, the Rockies, Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Tigers and Athletics all have pieces to move -- and more sellers could emerge in the coming days as Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline draws closer.
What are executives around the league expecting between now and then?
“I am expecting a flurry of activity on Monday,” a National League executive said. “There are a lot of teams that are on the fence as to what to do, so we’ll have to see how things go over the next three days. But I would expect a lot to happen at the end of the weekend and early next week.”
Following an offseason that didn’t include much trade activity, an NL executive believes this year’s Deadline “will continue to be very active,” though possibly not until the final 24 hours.
“I expect it goes to the Deadline; there are more buyers than sellers,” the exec said. “We’ll see what’s the best deal that folks can make. Move early and you have to pay a premium.”
“I’m still not really sure,” another NL executive said. “Most likely a flurry of rentals get traded, but nothing huge.”
Unless, of course, some big-name players become available.
The Mets’ trade of Robertson seemingly signified their intent to sell, but it’s unclear how aggressive New York will be in its approach. Tommy Pham, Mark Canha and Brooks Raley could be on the move, but it remains to be seen whether the Mets attempt to trade Justin Verlander and/or Max Scherzer.
“The Mets are a key here,” an NL executive said. “How much do they trade off of their Major League team?”
Verlander and/or Scherzer would certainly shake up what many expected to be a ho-hum Trade Deadline, but there’s another team that could really cause some chaos if it decided to go into sell mode.
“The Padres selling would be a wild card,” an American League executive said.
Should the Padres -- who began play Friday 6 1/2 games out of the third NL Wild Card spot as they opened a series against the Rangers -- decide to sell, impending free agents Blake Snell and Josh Hader would instantly become the best starting pitcher and reliever on the market, respectively. San Diego could also decide to entertain offers for Juan Soto, who has one more year of control prior to free agency.
“Now that [Shohei] Ohtani is out, I think San Diego will be moving a lot of guys and reshaping the team,” an AL executive said.
It remains to be seen whether any star players such as Verlander, Snell or Soto are traded -- not to mention Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger of the suddenly red-hot Cubs -- but a number of contenders can bolster their rosters with marginal upgrades, adding players to their benches and bullpens to improve their chances as we head toward the stretch run.
“I think we’ll see more ‘need-for-need’ type trades than in past seasons due in part to the expanded postseason format; part-time guy for part-time guy,” an NL executive said. “A lot of clubs will be hesitant to make a splashy move if they are most likely headed toward a best-of-three Wild Card series."
That said, only the NL East appears to be out of reach, as the Phillies are 10 games behind the Braves, who stood 10 1/2 games ahead of the third-place Marlins entering play Friday. The second-place teams in each of the other five divisions stood no more than three games back.
Whether we see big stars moved or more complimentary pieces swapped, the next few days figure to shape what the final two months of the season will look like.
“It’s going to be a busy weekend,” an AL executive said. “I don’t know what’s going to come out of it, but it will be busy, that’s for sure.”