Here we are again with another Trade Deadline just five days away, and a bunch of teams deciding whether they’re going to be in or out, and if they’re in, how far in should they be?
Does this being a different kind of season matter? It shouldn’t because there’s going to be a World Series winner, and all things considered, winning in 2020 will be every bit as sweet as any other year.
Need some motivation for your friendly local general manager? Here’s some: Recent World Series winners all made significant deals at the Trade Deadline, including the Nationals getting Daniel Hudson for the stretch run last year. Same thing for the 2018 Red Sox (Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce), 2017 Astros (Justin Verlander), 2016 Cubs (Aroldis Chapman) and 2015 Royals (Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto).
How’s that for motivation? That would be motivation and circumstances and opportunity. Add it all up, and here are five teams that should go for it in 2020:
In a sense, they already have made their jaw-dropping, clubhouse-shaking move with the offseason acquisition of Mookie Betts. But Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has a deep farm system from which to deal, and while his team doesn’t really have a need, acquisitions can be as much psychological for the clubhouse as impactful on the field. Even though a right-handed bat would be nice, Friedman’s shopping list should be simple: pitching, pitching and more pitching.
Wish list: Rangers RHP Lance Lynn, Royals RHP Trevor Rosenthal
What was one of baseball’s deepest pitching staffs has been decimated by injuries, and so general manager Brian Cashman is open to acquiring both rotation and bullpen help. He has enough farm system depth to swing pretty much any deal even though his specialty in recent seasons has been under-the-radar bargains. At this point, he and every other executive is wondering if the Indians are ready to move on from Mike Clevinger, or if the Giants will trade Cueto.
Wish list: Indians RHP Mike Clevinger, Giants RHP Johnny Cueto, Royals RHP Ian Kennedy
Cubs executives toyed with the idea of blowing up the roster last offseason as Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo approach free agency after the 2021 season. Instead, this group got another year and could be one solid starting pitcher from winning another World Series. Regardless, this is the time to deal. Cueto would be a perfect fit. So would Lynn or possibly Baltimore’s Alex Cobb.
Wish list: Cueto, Lynn, Orioles RHP Alex Cobb
The Twins began the season with one of baseball’s deepest rotations, but injuries have taken their toll. Given all the franchise has invested in these past two seasons, this is no time to be cautious. The Twins have enough talent at their alternate training site to make a deal for the right pitcher. There aren’t going to be any perfect answers, but there are plenty of starters that would help get the Twins over the top. If the Reds make either Sonny Gray or Trevor Bauer available -- that seems unlikely -- the Twins ought to be all in.
Wish list: Angels RHP Dylan Bundy, Royals LHP Danny Duffy
The Astros will be different in 2021, possibly dramatically so. George Springer, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick are free agents, and Justin Verlander’s availability seems to be uncertain. Despite being decimated by pitching injuries this season, the Astros can still open a postseason series by lining up Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. in Games 1 and 2. General manager James Click’s assignment is to acquire one big arm for the rotation or multiple arms for the bullpen. Or both.
Wish list: Cueto, Lynn, Orioles RHP Mychal Givens