Last week, we launched our weekly Trade Deadline Inbox, answering your questions about the big storylines we’ll be chatting about all summer long.
As always, you can send your questions to @feinsand on Twitter, then check back here every Friday for the latest.
Without further ado …
The Yankees clearly need a left-handed bat. Who is a realistic fit?
Will the Yankees be active in the market for starting pitchers now that the Jameson Taillon experiment seems to be failing?
Lots of Yankees questions this week, so I thought I would tackle a couple of them together.
Aaron Hicks’ wrist injury could very well knock him out for the season, so the outfield would appear to be the biggest area of need. Joey Gallo profiles as a perfect fit; good on-base skills and a left-handed power bat -- but will the Rangers move him this summer?
Gallo is making $6.2 million in 2021 and is eligible for salary arbitration for one more year before he can reach free agency. I would guess he gets moved, and there’s no team that could use him more than the Yankees. If they’re willing to add some payroll, it feels like a natural move.
As for the rotation, Jameson Taillon has been a disappointment during his first eight starts in pinstripes, evoking memories of pitchers such as Jeff Weaver, Javier Vazquez and James Paxton. It’s easy to forget that Taillon has already made more starts and pitched more innings in 2021 than he did in '19 and ‘20 combined, but we’re talking about New York, so if he’s not getting it done, general manager Brian Cashman will look for somebody who can.
I won’t be remotely surprised if the Yankees are active in the pitching market, and if a big-time arm becomes available, they will likely be involved. The more probable scenario would be the addition of a mid- to back-end starter to bolster rotation depth.
Who will be the first big domino to get traded?
Trevor Story. With so many teams in the postseason mix, it likely will take some time for the contenders and pretenders to separate themselves. The Rockies have the worst record in the National League and play in a division with three legit contenders, so their road to become sellers has already been paved.
Story will be one of the biggest names moved this summer, and given Colorado’s situation, it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened long before the July 30 Trade Deadline.
Where will Story be playing after the Deadline?
What a transition! That Story will be traded is inevitable. Where he lands is another question. The Athletics and Brewers make the most sense to me, baseball-wise, while the Yankees can never be counted out despite a relatively set infield. The Reds could also be a sleeper if they’re able to hang in the race.
If I had to make a pick now, I’d go with Oakland.
Speaking of Oakland ...
Are the Athletics open to trading Matt Chapman? That would be a very fun addition to the Mets, and J.D. Davis could fill in at third base or DH in the American League.
The idea of the Athletics trading one of their stars as they approach prime arbitration years is certainly not a foreign one, but I think that would be more of an offseason possibility.
Matt Chapman is making $6.49 million this season and is arbitration-eligible for two more years, so the chances of them dealing him this summer are slim to none, especially if Oakland is in contention in the AL West. Let’s revisit this one in November or December.
Will the Dodgers look to trade for a fifth starter or will they rely on their in-house options?
The Dodgers’ stunning 5-15 run left many of us wondering what the heck was going on out in Los Angeles, especially after the team opened the season 13-2. Well, Dave Roberts’ team has rebounded nicely from that swoon, with a 7-1 stretch through Wednesday, so the Dodgers apparently have righted the ship.
The top four starters have been spectacular. Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías were a combined 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA through Wednesday, but Dustin May is out for the season, leaving a hole at the tail end of the rotation.
Tony Gonsolin has been out all season with a shoulder injury, and although he’ll need some time to get stretched out, I expect him to fill that No. 5 starter role once he’s ready. If his health becomes an issue again, then the Dodgers could look elsewhere for a veteran arm to take that spot.
Could the Tigers get a Top 100 prospect for Matthew Boyd?
The Tigers probably missed their chance to get a big return for left-hander Matthew Boyd a year or two ago, as he’s now making good money ($6.5 million) and has only one year of arbitration eligibility left before he can become a free agent.
Of course, Boyd’s performance the past couple years has hurt his trade value, as well, though with a 2.45 ERA through his first eight starts, he’s having his best big league season.
There should be interest in Boyd this summer, especially if he continues to pitch well. Whether he would bring back a Top 100 prospect remains to be seen. Two executives I recently spoke with believe the return would not be that high as of today, but two more months of sub-3.00 ERA performance could increase his value and give the Tigers a solid trade chip in what could be a pitching-starved market.
What could it cost the Rays to acquire Max Scherzer from Washington?
Should the Jays go for a top starter like Scherzer?
Will the Giants be in on Scherzer?
Would the Nationals trade Scherzer?
We now come to the Max Scherzer portion of our program. Nationals fans, you might want to skip ahead to the next section.
Washington is 17-23 following a loss to the Cubs on Thursday. While that record is far from ideal, it still leaves the Nats within striking distance in the tightly bunched NL East.
It was just two years ago that the Nationals overcame a 19-31 start to win the World Series, so we’re certainly not going to count them out just yet. But if their record is below .500 a month from now, the Scherzer trade speculation will begin to gain serious momentum.
There isn’t a contender in the game (outside of the Dodgers, unless they want Mad Max for the aforementioned No. 5 starter job) that wouldn’t better their chances by acquiring Scherzer. The Rays seem like an unlikely landing spot because of Scherzer’s big salary, but the Jays and Giants certainly could make that work for the remainder of the season.
The big question to me is whether the Nationals will trade him at all. GM Mike Rizzo didn’t deal Bryce Harper in his walk year despite the club’s overall underperformance. I have to think that the Nationals want to bring Scherzer back when his contract expires, though as we saw with the Yankees and Aroldis Chapman in 2016, trading a player in July doesn’t prevent a team from signing him in November or December.
If the Nationals fall out of the race, both Scherzer and the team would benefit from a trade, especially if Scherzer wants to continue his career in Washington in 2022. For Scherzer, it would give him a chance to go to a contender this season and add talent to the Nats’ roster for next season and beyond. This will be one of the more interesting storylines of the next two months.
Is there a team that is technically in the pennant race that could be a seller at the deadline?
Only seven of the league’s 30 teams were more than six games out of a playoff spot entering Thursday, so that leaves 23 teams “technically” in the pennant race. At least a few of those teams will likely be sellers come late July, though we’ll have to wait and see what the standings look like between now and then before we can make that call.
Are the Royals selling or holding onto their pieces for the next season?
Kansas City is one of those 23 teams I was referring to in my last answer. At 20-22 through Wednesday, the Royals were six games behind the White Sox in the AL Central and four games out of an AL Wild Card spot.
That said, the Royals have been trending in the wrong direction, losing 13 of 15 games following their surprising 16-9 start. I don’t think Kansas City would trade any of its core pieces this season, but Jorge Soler, Greg Holland, Jarrod Dyson and Ervin Santana are among the impending free agents on the roster, so getting any type of return for those veterans is a possibility.
Danny Duffy is also in his walk year. He was having a superb season before landing on the injured list. The left-hander made his feelings clear a few years ago when it comes to playing for another team, declaring in a tweet, “Bury me a Royal.”