As exciting as the Trade Deadline is and as much fun as it is to speculate on what trades your team is going to make for the stretch run, the simple fact remains: A lot of these teams should probably stand pat. If you’re looking for any proof, simply look at the trades from last year’s Deadline. You don’t think the Pirates and Cardinals, who gave up big parts of their future for disappointing returns, wish they would have just stayed put? Sometimes it’s better to sit still.
Today, we look at seven teams who might be looking to add talent but … maybe should just stay where they are.
Angels (current record: 50-47)
A recent hot streak has the Angels back in the Wild Card chase, but they’re still 4 1/2 games back; it is a shame they aren’t in the National League, because they’d be leading that Wild Card chase. The argument for the Angels staying put here isn’t that they shouldn’t be trying to win: Any team with Mike Trout should always try to win. It’s that a large part of the reason Trout said he re-signed with the Angels in the offseason was that he believed in the team’s future, that he saw the team’s excellent farm system and felt it could be the basis of fantastic team in a few years.
There’s no reason to trade any of that future away for a team that still has a steep hill to climb right now. If the Angels hadn’t re-signed Trout in the offseason, it’d be different; they’d want to throw everything they can to get him to the playoffs. But now that he’s staying … hang onto all the young talent you have. Trout is still just 27 years old, after all.
Cardinals (current record: 48-46)
A reminder: In the span of three days last July, the Cardinals traded away Luke Voit, Tommy Pham, and Oscar Mercado. Only one of the players they got back is currently on their roster (right-hander Giovanny Gallegos, who has been good and was the return for Voit), and only one is on their top 10 of MLB Pipeline rankings (lefty Genesis Cabrera, who they got from Tampa Bay in the Pham trade). That’s … not great.
But ugly flashbacks to last season aren’t the only reason the Cardinals should sit tight. This team has been so inconsistent that it’s difficult to trust it. The only way it’s going to improve, considering how entrenched the roster is, is for older players like Paul Goldschmidt and (when he returns from the injured list) Matt Carpenter to start hitting at their career norms. This is the team you have, St. Louis.
Indians (current record: 54-40)
Cleveland might be the most fascinating team at the Deadline, because the Tribe could go either way. The Indians are right in the thick of the Wild Card chase -- they’re not even that far behind the Twins -- and they should still get Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco back from the injured list at some point. Why would they sell? Well, probably for the same reason they were reportedly looking to trade Kluber this offseason: Their team is getting expensive and older.
The possible pitcher trade now is Trevor Bauer, who is under team control for one more season after this one. But flags fly forever, and as long as the Indians are still in playoff position, it’s difficult to justify trading away key cogs for some future benefit. The Indians have never quite broken through during this run of contention, but that run of contention is still going. They don’t have to be buyers. But they don’t need to be sellers either.
Pirates (current record: 45-50)
This one’s pretty simple: The Chris Archer trade looks so problematic already that it should leave the team gun-shy for quite some time, even if the Bucs get on a run right before the Deadline. (Which is what happened last year.) They’ve gotten some nice contributions from young players like Kevin Newman and Bryan Reynolds. It’s not going to be enough to get them to the playoffs, but it’s enough to give you hope to hang on to … and lick your wounds from last season.
Rangers (current record: 50-46)
The Rangers have been all about the found money this year, with a bunch of best-case scenarios presenting themselves. Joey Gallo has become a superstar. Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have been legitimate All-Star-quality pitchers. Even Shin-Soo Choo remained healthy and productive as he approached 37. It has led to a better-than-expected season, but it also still has them as considerable underdogs to hang with the Indians, Rays, Red Sox and A’s in the Wild Card chase for much longer. The long-term plan with the Rangers is still intact, and now they know what they have in Gallo. This uptick in success for 2019 is a happy byproduct … but shouldn’t distract from the Rangers’ slow, quiet rebuild.
Rockies (current record: 46-50)
Is it possible the Rockies did not, in fact, finally solve the mystery of pitching at Coors Field last season? Their rotation, the team’s strength last season, has imploded; Jon Gray is the only pitcher with more than seven starts who doesn’t have an ERA over five. The bullpen, outside of Scott Oberg, hasn’t been much better, despite all their investments in it. They’re close enough in the Wild Card chase that they shouldn’t start selling, but this team needs more pitching right now than one Deadline splurge could possibly provide.
Twins (current record: 58-36)
This is a tough one because the Twins are essentially assured a playoff spot -- 98.3 percent in the last Baseball Reference projections. Therefore, they should probably be buyers. But, with the Indians unlikely to add, and the Twins likely lodged far enough behind the Yankees and the Astros at this point that they won’t catch them, their October slate is near set already. The Twins have a bunch of young players that are still on their way up and have a future that sets up 2019 to be the first year of playoff contention, not the last. This is the “we’re here, let’s see what happens” year, rather than “this is the all-in, end-all, be-all” season.
The Twins have plenty of starting pitching, a better bullpen than most realize and, of course, a thunderous lineup. The Twins wouldn’t improve enough with Madison Bumgarner to make it worth what they’d have to give up. Let’s let this one ride.