In most years, the baseball world would be buzzing with rumors -- some fact, some fiction, some in between -- as the calendar moved toward the final 10 days before the Trade Deadline.
As we all know, 2020 is not “most years,” as teams around the Majors try to assess their chances of securing a berth in the expanded postseason field with a relatively small sample size.
“Most teams are still in a holding pattern,” one National League executive said. “They’re running parallel courses of buying, selling and standing pat. Nobody really wants to commit yet.”
Regardless of whether teams are ready to commit to selling before the August 31 deadline, trades will be made before the end of the month. There might not be as much action as a this time of year would typically bring, but, once again, 2020 has been the furthest thing from typical.
“I think all expiring contracts are up for grabs,” an American League executive said. “I don’t think you will see players with multiple years of remaining control being traded; there are going to be too many teams too close to being in it.”
Which players are likely to be on the move? Here are seven names gaining traction around the industry -- and, as is usually the case, pitchers dominate the list:
1. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Royals
The Royals have three relievers (Trevor Rosenthal, Greg Holland and Ian Kennedy) to shop around, so GM Dayton Moore should be busy as myriad teams seek bullpen help. Rosenthal -- who is enjoying a stellar season for the first time since his 2017 Tommy John surgery -- will earn less than $400,000 for the rest of the season, giving teams an opportunity to acquire a low-cost, back-of-the-bullpen option.
Potential landing spots: Reds, Rockies, Athletics
2. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Giants
The Giants could sell off a few players with expiring contracts, including Jeff Samardzija, Drew Smyly and Tony Watson, but none offer the upside -- and value -- that Kevin Gausman does. The right-hander’s velocity has been up a tick, and with demand likely to far exceed supply, Gausman could be highly sought after.
Potential landing spots: White Sox, Mets, Astros
3. Kevin Pillar, Red Sox OF
Chaim Bloom’s first Deadline in Boston has already been a busy one, as the Red Sox traded relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies on Friday night. Kevin Pillar is off to a solid start at the plate and can still roam center field with the best of them -- and he’s owed only about $750,000 for the final month of the season, making him an affordable option. Jackie Bradley Jr. could also be a trade option, though he’s still due about $2 million.
Potential landing spots: Brewers, Rockies, Indians
4. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Tigers
When Jonathan Schoop signed a one-year deal with the Tigers, speculation immediately began that he would be moved by the Trade Deadline. The 28-year-old veteran isn’t likely to be a race-changer, but he would serve as an upgrade for some teams either at second base or on the bench -- and he’ll only make a little more than $1 million during the final month of the season.
Potential landing spots: Dodgers, Athletics, White Sox
5. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners
Taijuan Walker has put together solid performances in three of his past four starts, boosting his trade value as the Deadline nears. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto loves making deals, so the opportunity to trade a mid-rotation starter making about $400,000 for the remainder of the season should have pitching-hungry suitors calling.
Potential landing spots: Braves, Mets, Yankees
6. Keone Kela, Pirates RHP (reliever)
The Pirates have the worst record in the Majors, so while first-year GM Ben Cherington would probably love to be a big-time seller next week, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a whole lot to offer to contenders. Keone Kela is one of two expiring contracts (outfielder Jarrod Dyson is the other), and while he didn’t make his 2020 debut until Aug. 13, the hard-throwing righty would strengthen many bullpens around the league.
Kela exited Pittsburgh's win on Friday night with forearm tightness -- manager Derek Shelton clarified postgame that the move was "erring on the side of safety" as multiple Bucs pitchers have been injured so far this season. If nothing further develops from the precautionary decision, Kela remains a solid trade chip for the club.
Potential landing spots: Cubs, Twins, Athletics
7. Alex Cobb, RHP, Orioles
Following his lost 2019 season, Alex Cobb has bounced back in his first five starts this year. Cobb will earn less than $2.5 million over the final month of 2020, and although he’s due to earn $15 million in 2021, a chunk of that salary is deferred, lessening the hit an acquiring team would take next year. In addition to Cobb, Orioles reliever Mychal Givens also figures to draw heavy interest.
Potential landing spots: Braves, Mets, Angels