Potential NL West impact moves in final month

August 30th, 2018

There's no division in baseball with more on the line during the season's final month than the National League West.

Three teams sit within one game at the top, and the Giants lurk seven back. In theory, any of them could win the West, any of them could win an NL Wild Card spot, or all but one of them could miss the playoffs entirely.

The NL West could be decided by the slimmest of margins. And although the contending teams already have their pennant-race rosters in place, there's still some room to maneuver.

With that in mind, here's a look at a potential impact move for each club in the division.


Move to watch: recalled

The D-backs optioned the right-hander to the Minor Leagues earlier this week, clearing space for to be recalled. But they did so knowing that it won't be the last they see of Andriese in Arizona this season.

The transaction was designed for Andriese to be stretched into a long reliever at Class A Advanced Visalia. He should also be capable of providing a spot start for the D-backs down the stretch, should they need one.

Since joining Arizona at the Trade Deadline, Andriese has appeared in nine games, and he's allowed six earned runs in 13 innings. He's made four starts this season, but hasn't pitched more than two innings in a game since being dealt.


Move to watch: promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City

The Dodgers' top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is locked in a race for the Pacific Coast League batting title and was hitting .330 through Wednesday. He could soon find himself in a more important race -- the Dodgers' quest for a sixth straight NL West crown.

Verdugo played 14 games with the big league club earlier this season, and he hit .280/.345/.440. If he can sustain those numbers, he could be a valuable left-handed bat -- whether off the bench or as a starter.

A year ago, Verdugo, then 21, was called up on Sept. 1. He struggled down the stretch. It's possible the Dodgers promote Verdugo in the same manner again this season -- only this time, a few big hits could mean the difference between a division title and missing the postseason entirely.


Move to watch: trade?

The rumors swirling around McCutchen have mostly subsided. At this point, it's far likelier that the veteran outfielder remains with San Francisco, as he's owed close to $3 million.

That said, a number of teams could still use help in the outfield, and McCutchen probably ranks among the most desirable outfielders available on the waiver wire. He's posted a .798 OPS in August, going into Thursday, and he can play all three positions.

There's only one day left if any team wants to strike a deal for McCutchen. But he'll certainly feature prominently on the rumor mill.


Move to watch: promoted from Triple-A El Paso

The Padres landed Mejia in the deal that sent Brad Hand and to the Indians ahead of the Trade Deadline. Mejia already had 12 games of big league experience under his belt, but San Diego decided it wanted to get an look at him behind the plate in the Minors.

The Friars have gotten that look, and for the most part, Mejia has impressed defensively (though it's still possible he serves in a catcher/outfield-hybrid role in the future). In any case, Mejia, the top catching prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, has earned a callup with his bat. Since joining San Diego's organization, he's hitting .296/.339/.500 with five homers.

It's unclear what the Padres' timeline is for promoting Mejia. But barring injury, he'll almost certainly be promoted in September. Whether that's early in the month -- or after Triple-A El Paso's playoff run -- remains to be seen.


Move to watch: promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque

The 25-year-old right-hander stands as an intriguing option to be added to the pitching staff, whether in the rotation or the bullpen. Hoffman's final start for Albuquerque is slated for Thursday, and he has given up three runs and 11 hits in 15 innings over his past two starts.

Earlier this season, the Rockies used Hoffman in the 'pen, but they sent him back down to build his pitch count and his workload. Now, he's approaching a career high in innings.

and have struggled lately, and it's possible Hoffman could receive some critical September starts. Or manager Bud Black could use him in tandem with , another starter by trade, as important multi-inning relievers.