Six weeks into the 2021 season, there hasn’t been much separation in terms of the standings. Through Thursday, 19 of the league’s 30 teams were within 4 1/2 games of first place in their respective divisions, and only four teams were further back than that in the Wild Card races.
Even without expanded playoffs this season, there figures to be a crowded field of buyers this summer, setting up an interesting couple of months leading to the July 30 Trade Deadline.
That said, it’s never too early to begin thinking about how your favorite team might approach trade season, so we’re launching a weekly Trade Deadline-themed Inbox to answer any and all of your trade-related questions.
Send your questions to @feinsand on Twitter and check back here every Friday for the latest.
Trevor Story trade market? I’d like to see St. Louis pull the trigger to put the offense over the top.
The market for Rockies shortstop Trevor Story likely will be the No. 1 topic of conversation between now and July 30, though that could change based on other teams falling out of the race in the coming months.
I examined the market for Story this week, mentioning five teams that make sense as potential buyers: the Yankees, Athletics, Brewers, Reds and Rays.
Of those clubs, the Yankees appear to be the most logical match. New York could move Gleyber Torres to second base, opening up shortstop for Story.
There are two hitches in this plan: First, will the Yankees be willing to exceed the Competitive Balance Tax threshold by taking on the $6 million or so that Story will earn over the final two months? Second, there’s the rest of the infield. Luke Voit is at first base and Gio Urshela is at third, leaving DJ LeMahieu to man second base if everyone is healthy. That’s a big if, as Voit has had injury issues throughout his career.
If everyone is healthy, is it crazy to think the Yankees would bench Torres, who has struggled both offensively and defensively this season? Not to me.
As for the Cardinals, they have Paul DeJong at shortstop, so it seems unlikely that St. Louis would be a player for Story.
With the Dodgers struggling this much, any chance they might make a move earlier to try to help them now?
Less than a month ago, the Dodgers were 13-2, and we were talking about them as potentially one of the greatest teams in baseball history. Things haven’t been so smooth since then, but I don’t think that will result in any major moves by Andrew Friedman in the near future.
The Dodgers’ roster remains loaded with talent. Cody Bellinger will return at some point, adding an MVP-caliber bat to an already impressive lineup. Might the Dodgers add a starting pitcher at some point this summer given the injury issues they’ve had at the back of the rotation? Absolutely. But the idea that this team needs some major addition to get itself back on track seems a bit panicky -- at least right now.
Will the Twins be active? Who will they be targeting?
Based on their start to the season, the Twins are just as likely -- if not more so -- to be a seller in July rather than a buyer. Remember when I mentioned that only four teams are more than 4 1/2 games out of a Wild Card spot? The Twins, who are 12-23, are one of them, sitting 7 1/2 games out of the second American League Wild Card spot and 10 games out of first place in the AL Central.
If the Twins grind their way back into the postseason picture, the spots they could target include first base, where Miguel Sanó has been a gaping hole of offense, and left field, where Jake Cave has struggled. Alex Kirilloff can fill one of those spots when he returns from the injured list, but the other could remain a problem.
Which teams will 100% be sellers this Deadline?
As of today, there aren’t many I would put in the “100%” category. It was just two years ago that we saw the Nationals start the season 19-31, only to bounce back and win the World Series. Making a declaration in mid-May that a team will unquestionably be a seller does nothing but set you up to have fans of that club throw it back in your face when their team climbs back into the race.
That said …
There are three teams I feel comfortable projecting as sellers as things stand now: the Rockies, Tigers and Orioles.
Look, the White Sox need an outfielder and the Angels are going nowhere this year for the usual reasons. How about the Angels loan Mike Trout (trade to the Sox this year with an automatic trade-back clause after season’s end)? Let the man win a ring. They can have Yermín Mercedes for their trouble.
This is my favorite question of the week. For starters, this would be shot down by the Commissioner’s Office in about three seconds. I like the creativity, though.
Will the Mets sign Giambi to bolster their leadership core?
I take it back. … This is my favorite question of the week. We should all be so lucky. (But no, it’s not happening.)