The 2017 non-waiver Trade Deadline is 4 p.m. ET on July 31, meaning there's less than one week left and a ton of names still on the board. Sure, guys like J.D. Martinez, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Sean Doolittle have already found new homes, but there are still some huge names out there. Let's begin our final week countdown with some extremely speculative trade predictions. We can guarantee only two things: most of these won't happen, but at least one will.
As a reminder: This is the first Trade Deadline under the new CBA, and that means that the strategy will be a little different this year. In order for a team to gain a pick after the first round if a player declines a qualifying offer, that team must be eligible for revenue sharing and the player must sign a deal worth at least $50 million. That gives smaller-market teams an incentive to hold on to their players and issue a qualifying offer, while larger-market teams may feel the opposite.
And, of course, July 31 isn't really the end; August deals can still be made, especially for high-priced players who would likely pass through waivers. Still, next Monday is "the big day," so let's focus there. Here's 20 predictions for 20 big names.
SP Sonny Gray, A's
Pitching well and with two more years of low-priced control remaining, Gray is probably the most desirable starter available, and the A's won't hold Gray, lest another injury sink his value. After seeing that Quintana brought back a top 10 prospect in Eloy Jimenez and a top 100 prospect in Dylan Cease, interested clubs can expect the price to be nearly as high, and the Astros are by far the most obvious fit, with need in the rotation and plenty of prospects. Let's not overthink this.
SP Yu Darvish, Rangers
Darvish just had a career-high 30 swinging strikes in his last start, and since he's more dominant than Gray, he'd boost any contender. We know the Dodgers are interested; we know the Cubs are interested; we know the price will be high, with at least one top prospect and more beyond that. That said, Texas entered Monday only 2 1/2 games out of an American League Wild Card spot, and it seems more likely to re-sign its ace than to trade him.
Prediction: He stays
Every lefty reliever: Zach Britton / Brad Hand / Tony Watson / Justin Wilson
If there's one thing this market has, it's lefty relievers. Whether it's the superstar coming off an arm injury in Baltimore, the breakout star with huge trade value in San Diego, the closer on a motivated seller in Detroit, or the formerly dominant setup man having something of a down year in Pittsburgh, you can find what you need. They won't all move, but a few will.
Hand, in particular, will bring back a higher return than most expect, given his low-cost deal and increasing resemblance to Andrew Miller. A pair of top 100 prospects would hardly be out of the question.
Prediction: Stays (Britton), Dodgers (Hand), Stays (Watson), Rays (Wilson)
OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
On July 1, it seemed like a given McCutchen would go, since the Pirates were struggling and Cutch had rebuilt a good portion of the value he'd lost with a poor 2016. But only the Dodgers have won more games in July than the Bucs, who are now just three games out in the National League Central, and the outfield market this summer doesn't look strong. It's not the right time. This goes for Gerrit Cole, too.
Prediction: He stays
SP Lance Lynn, Cardinals
The somewhat underrated Lynn has rebounded from Tommy John surgery nicely, as he's thrown 114 2/3 innings with a 3.30 ERA, and while he's not an ace, he's a reliable mid-rotation starter with playoff experience. With the Cardinals six games under .500 over the last two months, they look more and more like a seller, and no contender needs a starter as badly as the Yankees do.
SP Justin Verlander, Tigers
Probably the biggest "name" on the market, Verlander has a 4.54 ERA and two more years at $28 million apiece. As a franchise icon, the Tigers won't let him go for nothing, but nor do they seem likely to pay down a big chunk of the contract. Put together, those factors combine to keep him with Detroit for the rest of the year, or longer.
Prediction: He stays
RP Pat Neshek, Phillies
As a soon-to-be-37-year-old on a last-place team, Neshek may be the most obvious mover of the Deadline. The 2017 All-Star remains a fly-ball pitcher, though he's also got a 45/5 K/BB ratio this year. There's no bullpen he wouldn't fit in, so while you could easily say Nationals or Brewers or a half-dozen others, we think the Royals will add some reinforcements for their unexpected run.
SP Marco Estrada, Blue Jays
Speaking of the Royals, they could really use a righty starter to help them down the stretch, and the fly-ball-heavy Estrada would certainly enjoy pitching in front of Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon and the large Kansas City outfield. The Blue Jays, 10 games under .500, seem like motivated sellers, and while Estrada is far better than his 5.52 ERA would indicate, he wouldn't cost much.
RP Addison Reed, Mets
Like Neshek, any veteran rental reliever on a non-contending team can expect to move, and Reed (2.35 ERA) is having another good season for the Mets. That makes him a fit just about anywhere, and the Red Sox, in addition to not having made a move yet, could certainly use more help ahead of Craig Kimbrel.
Prediction: Red Sox
SS Zack Cozart, Reds
Having just started the All-Star Game for the National League, Cozart's value will never be higher, and young Jose Peraza is ready to step in at shortstop for the Reds. The problem for the Reds is that few contenders have a serious need for a shortstop, but an out-of-the-box option is Washington, which not only has Cozart's former Cincinnati manager in Dusty Baker, but an outfield ravaged by injury. As soon as Trea Turner returns from an injury of his own, he could move right back to the outfield, as he did last year, and still be the starting shortstop for the Nats in 2018.
1B Yonder Alonso, A's / 1B Lucas Duda, Mets
A Chase Headley / Garrett Cooper combo at first base should not be enough to prevent the Yankees from adding another bat, and they're perhaps the only team in the market at the position. Either lefty would be a fit, but Duda is the call here, since Alonso has cooled (.195/.313/.366 over the past 30 days) and he's more likely to receive a qualifying offer from the A's than Duda is from the Mets.
Prediction: Stays (Alonso), Yankees (Duda)
3B Eduardo Nunez, Giants
Yes, the Red Sox called up Rafael Devers. No, the five or six games he'll get into before the Deadline will not be enough to prove he's the solution for the rest of the year. That being the case, a veteran righty having a good year who can provide insurance at third while also covering other positions is exactly what they need, and Nunez (.305/.330/.414) fits the bill.
Prediction: Red Sox
C Alex Avila, Tigers
There may not be a better fit of this entire Deadline season than Avila, who is crushing the ball (.282/.406/.495), and the Cubs, who could use a veteran backup to Willson Contreras after parting ways with Miguel Montero. Other than maybe the Rockies or Brewers, most contenders don't need catching help, and Avila's a rental.
Every Marlins hitter: Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, etc.
It's extremely fun to think of what would happen if Miami shook up the market by moving Stanton and his enormous contract, but with the Marlins' ownership transition still in flux, this seems an unlikely time to do it. Maybe A.J. Ramos moves, but the hitters remain in South Florida.
Prediction: They stay