The 2016 non-waiver Trade Deadline will long be remembered as the week a pair of devastating relief arms helped shape the entire postseason.There are no Aroldis Chapmans or Andrew Millers available this summer -- or a Mark Melancon, for that matter -- but that doesn't mean the market for relievers
The 2016 non-waiver Trade Deadline will long be remembered as the week a pair of devastating relief arms helped shape the entire postseason.
There are no Aroldis Chapmans or Andrew Millers available this summer -- or a Mark Melancon, for that matter -- but that doesn't mean the market for relievers isn't going to dominate the next four-plus weeks.
"I don't think we'll see the same craziness that we saw last year, because Chapman and Miller are in a different class of their own," one American League executive said. "But you're going to see a lot of trades for relievers. If you're a team that's out of it and you have a couple of good relievers, you're hoping to wake up and feel really good about yourself after the Deadline. Teams always overpay for bullpen help."
That help will come in many forms and fashions at the Deadline. There are established closers (Player Page for David Robertson, A.J. Ramos), current closers (Addison Reed, Justin Wilson) and former closers (Tony Watson, Ryan Madson). There are lefties (Jerry Blevins, Brad Hand, Sean Doolittle) and righties (David Phelps, Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio) available to fill all types of roles. They will give contenders -- and given the state of the AL standings, that could realistically include as many as 20 teams -- a wide range of arms to target.
The question for the buyers is what they're willing to pay for any of these relievers, none of whom should fetch the same types of packages the Yankees got last summer for Chapman and Miller.
Or will they? One AL general manager believes last year's Deadline insanity could lead to another bull market when it comes to the cost of relievers.
"It wouldn't surprise me," the GM said. "Everyone wants premium guys, but more than just the premium relievers will be overpriced on the market. If the teams that have the better guys behave that way, then this thing is going to get really jammed up."
The Twins are one of the teams seeking bullpen help, though they're hoping the return of Phil Hughes from the disabled list will help bolster their relief unit. Still, GM Thad Levine knows the race to deal for a reliever will be a spirited one among contenders.
"Not everybody needs a first baseman, center fielder or right fielder; everybody looks at their bullpen and feels that they can benefit from an improvement -- whether it's dramatic or otherwise," Levine said. "I think we'll see a wealth of relievers moved. I'm not sure in recent history that I can remember a caliber of Andrew Miller, Albertin Chapman and Mark Melancon being traded at the Deadline; I don't know if we'll ever see that recreated on that front. But every team is going to pursue relievers to a certain extent. There will be heavy competition for relievers at the Deadline."
Odd year indeed
The Giants' even-year magic came to an end last year when the Cubs broke San Francisco's every-other-year World Series trend that was in effect in 2010, '12 and '14. And although their performances in the odd years in between weren't quite good enough, the Giants haven't been in a spot like the one they're in now for more than two decades.
At 30-51, the Giants entered Thursday's off-day with the second-worst record in baseball, though they were tied with the Phillies for the most losses in the Majors. Although they have a limited number of players to sell, one rival executive said San Francisco is approaching July in a way it hasn't in a generation.
"The Giants are doing Deadline coverage like they've never done before," the executive said. "They've never been in a position to sell; their pro scouts have always been out there looking for guys to buy. Now they're sitting there scouting other teams' systems for potential trades. It's a really odd dynamic for them."
Infielder Eduardo Nunez and catcher Nick Hundley are the only Giants players headed for free agency this fall, though right-hander Johnny Cueto -- who can opt out of the final four years of his contract -- could also be a potential trade chip.
Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.