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Dark-horse trade candidates? How about these 6

@RichardJustice
July 24, 2019

We've penciled Marcus Stroman's name into the rotation of almost every contender the past few weeks. Same thing with Madison Bumgarner, Mike Minor, Zack Wheeler and pretty much every player who may or may not be available. Spoiler alert: They'd upgrade every contender. Could there be surprises? Or even a

We've penciled Marcus Stroman's name into the rotation of almost every contender the past few weeks. Same thing with Madison Bumgarner, Mike Minor, Zack Wheeler and pretty much every player who may or may not be available. Spoiler alert: They'd upgrade every contender.

Could there be surprises? Or even a shocker? That possibility isn't out of the question at a time when at least two-thirds of teams believe they're still in contention and demand is far greater than supply.

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Let's consider some possible surprises, that is, dark-horse trade candidates who might be traded as we begin the final countdown to next Wednesday's Trade Deadline:

1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets

Contract: $6 million this season, two arbitration seasons.

Reasons for his regression -- if this is what regression looks like -- will be peeled away layer by layer before engaging the Mets in substantive trade talks. If there are no underlying health issues, the positives of acquiring a 26-year-old with a 99-mph fastball and won't become a free agent until after the 2021 season would seem to outweigh the negatives. The Mets say they aren't going to move him, but his name keeps coming up in trade talks, so there has to be some smoke here.

Logical landing spots: Astros, Twins or Cardinals. (Memo to Yankees fans: He's not coming to the Bronx.)

2. Whit Merrifield, 2B, Royals

Contract: Signed through 2022, $6.5 million team option for 2023.

General manager Dayton Moore may have turned down more offers for this 30-year-old All-Star than all his other star players combined. Is this the year Moore finally receives an offer he can't refuse? Merrifield is a late-bloomer who is probably a little older than most realize, but Moore sees him as a veteran who can help lead the next wave and will have to be overwhelmed.

Logical landing spots: Cubs, Rays, Dodgers or Cardinals.

3. Felipe Vázquez, Pirates LHP

Contract: Signed through 2021, then two option years of $10 million each.

On the surface, acquiring a dominant lefty reliever would appear to be near the top of every contender's shopping list. In this case, though, the price is going to be young, controllable starting pitching, and teams are extremely reluctant to deplete their inventory. GM Neal Huntington says he isn't trading Vazquez, but everyone has a price, right?

Logical landing spots: Astros, Dodgers or Nationals.

4. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies

Contract: Signed through 2021, with player options for '22 and '23.

The Rockies are 3-14 this month thanks largely to a pitching staff that has MLB's highest ERA in July. So why would they entertain trading one of their biggest stars? Because the Rockies need young, controllable pitching, and Blackmon, 33, might get them some. Or, at least, give them long-term salary relief.

Logical landing spots: Cardinals or Phillies.

5. James McCann, C, White Sox

Contract: $2.5 million this season, one arbitration season.

McCann has been one of the feel-good stories of the season in making the most of a fresh start with a new organization. This is one of the areas the White Sox can deal from a position of strength, with No. 11 prospect Zack Collins capable of taking over the position as soon as next season.

Logical landing spots: Astros, Dodgers or Rangers.

6. Lance Lynn, Rangers RHP

Contract: $9.3 million this season, $11.3 million in 2020 and $9.3 million in '21.

What Rangers general manager Jon Daniels does with Lynn and Minor will say plenty about how he sees the state of the franchise heading into a new ballpark in 2020. There's a solid case for keeping both, and Minor -- who is under contract through next season -- appears more likely to be dealt.

In Lynn's case, the Rangers may not get a bounty of prospects in return. But there definitely is a market for a guy who has finished at least seven inning in nine of his last 14 starts while allowing three runs or fewer 11 times.

Logical landing spots: Padres, Yankees or Twins.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.