Deadline Inbox: SD upgrades, Cubs, Correa

May 28th, 2021

Memorial Day Weekend is here, which for most of you out there means firing up the grill, throwing some burgers and dogs down and kicking off barbeque season.

For the baseball world, it means that one-third of the season is over, leaving teams to assess just where they stand as the calendar turns to June.

Buyers and sellers should begin to separate themselves in the coming weeks, though teams such as the Rockies, D-backs, Orioles, Tigers, Twins and Pirates have dug themselves holes that might make them consider putting a “For Sale” sign on their rosters before too long.

Here’s my third installment of the Trade Deadline Inbox, as I field questions from you good folks out there in the Twitterverse. As always, you can send yours to me anytime @feinsand.

(Questions may be edited for clarity.)

Who do the Padres get at the Deadline to upgrade left field?
[email protected]

At first glance, the Padres' offense doesn’t appear to be a problem. As of Friday, San Diego -- which has the best record in the Majors -- ranked fourth in the National League in runs scored, though their .704 OPS ranked seventh and their 49 home runs were tied for 10th.

Left field has certainly been an issue; the club’s .710 OPS from the position ranks 9th in the NL thanks to slow starts by Tommy Pham (.639 OPS) and Jurickson Profar (.660). That said, catcher (.571), third base (.666) and right field (.660) have also been offensive problem areas when it comes to the overall OPS.

Assuming that the Padres decide to seek an upgrade in a corner outfield spot, there should be plenty of options available during the next month or two.

In left field, Joey Gallo (Rangers), Kris Bryant (Cubs), Jesse Winker (Reds), Kyle Schwarber (Nationals), Robbie Grossman (Tigers), David Peralta (D-backs) and Corey Dickerson (Marlins) could all become attainable at some point, though only Texas, Detroit and Arizona are on the fast path to selling as we sit here today. Potential right-field options could also include Mitch Haniger (Mariners) and Anthony Santander (Orioles).

If the Cubs are in first -- or close to first place -- will they be buyers or sellers? Who would be their targets? --ShawnGa01306924

The Cubs are going to be one of the most fascinating teams to watch over the next two months, because it’s impossible to predict just what president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and the front office will do.

If they’re at or near the top of the NL Central, it’s going to be a tough sell to the fan base to unload players prior to the Deadline. When Chicago traded Yu Darvish and non-tendered Schwarber this winter, it seemed like shedding payroll was the priority, but then the Cubs went out and signed Joc Pederson. They’re a tough team to read at the moment.

If they’re sellers, the candidates to be moved are obvious: Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel (team option in 2022), Javier Báez and Zach Davies are all slated to become free agents after the season, while Willson Contreras has one more year of club control remaining.

Should the Cubs decide to buy, it will be interesting to see which area Hoyer tries to improve. Offensively, Chicago is getting below-average production from catcher, first base, second base and right field, but it’s difficult to imagine Contreras, Rizzo or Báez being replaced. Right field could be a spot that they focus on, though Jason Heyward has two more years and $44 million remaining on his contract, which would make it tough to send him to the bench when he returns from the injured list.

The rotation could also use a boost if the Cubs decide to become buyers to make a run at the postseason.

When will some of the bad teams start selling players off? What date is usually the beginning of the sell-off period? [email protected]

This tends to change a little every year, so I went back and looked at 2017-19 (I skipped '20 due to the 60-game sprint that was played because of the pandemic).

In 2019, the Mariners traded Jay Bruce to the Phillies and Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees in early-to-mid June, but no other deals of note took place before mid-July.

Seattle also kicked off the trade season in 2018, acquiring Alex Colomé and Denard Span from the Rays on May 25. The next major trade came on June 18, when the Nationals acquired Kelvin Herrera from the Royals. It was another full month after that until another notable trade took place, as the Orioles sent Manny Machado to the Dodgers on July 18.

In 2017, the first significant deal happened on June 26, when the Rays acquired Adeiny Hechavarría from the Marlins. On July 13, the White Sox traded José Quintana to the Cubs, essentially kicking off two-plus weeks of trade action.

What does all of this tell us? We may see a minor deal here and there between now and the end of June, but the real wheeling and dealing likely won’t get underway until the calendar turns to July.

Who are the D-backs and Twins’ potential trade candidates if they are sellers? [email protected]_2020

The Twins have a number of players ticketed for free agency at the end of the season: Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Colomé, Hansel Robles and Matt Shoemaker. Any (or all) of these players could be moved if the Twins decide to unload before the Deadline.

But the three most interesting names will be Byron Buxton, José Berríos and Taylor Rogers, all of whom are arbitration-eligible for the final time next winter. Given the uncertainty surrounding the rules in the next CBA, the Twins could trade any of these players if they don’t believe that they will be able to sign them long-term before the end of 2022.

As for the D-backs, Eduardo Escobar, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Merrill Kelly, Joakim Soria and Stephen Vogt are the impending free agents, with Escobar expected to draw plenty of interest from contenders. Peralta and Kole Calhoun, who could both be free agents after the 2022 season, could also be potential trade candidates. (Calhoun has a $9 million team option for '22 with a $2 million buyout.)

Any chance at all [Carlos] Correa could be dealt?
[email protected]

This question is posed to me often, and I suppose given how far apart the two sides appear to be (based on Houston’s reported six-year, $120 million offer), it’s not crazy to think that the Astros could deal Correa rather than simply receiving Draft picks should he depart as a free agent.

The only issue with this scenario is that Houston is in the thick of things in the American League West, and it’s difficult to see general manager James Click moving a player such as Correa while the club is competing for a division title.

Could Correa and the Astros come to a deal after the season? There’s no reason that can’t happen. He’s part of a free-agent shortstop class that includes Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Báez, which should make for a scintillating offseason and game of musical chairs at the position.

I would never say never when it comes to Houston trading Correa, but I would put it below a 5% chance.