Deadline roundtable: Cubs control the market

July 19th, 2021

We’re under the two-week mark until the July 30 Trade Deadline, and if this goes as predicted, this could be one of the most action-packed stretch runs as we’ve seen in recent times. Big-market teams like the Yankees and Dodgers are looking to add, and the Cubs are reportedly ready to start selling.

Trade Deadline experts Mark Feinsand and Jon Paul Morosi gathered to talk about what teams might be thinking as the big day inches closer.

Alyson Footer, editor/moderator: Mark, you recently tweeted a trio of tidbits, one being that the Yankees are “checking in on outfielders everywhere.” I hear 's name come up quite a bit, and it seems like it could make sense, seeing how much they need a lefty bat in that lineup. But I also feel like this pairing keeps coming up because it’s the Yankees, and whenever there’s speculation about anything, it travels like wildfire, even if there’s little tangible substance to the rumor. Who do we realistically think the Yankees will pursue?

Jon Paul Morosi, reporter, and MLB Network: I see the Yankees as a legit suitor for outfielders, especially controllable outfielders, because their needs there are not limited to the short term. Which is why I see names like and making sense for the Yankees, if they don't sign extensions.

According to Craig Mish, the Marte talks already have broken off, so I expect him to be dealt.

Mark Feinsand, executive reporter: Gallo is the obvious name that continues to be connected to the Yankees, but he’s not going to be cheap. There has been some talk of the Rangers trying to extend him, though that feels like a long shot to me. Staring Marte still feels like the best option for the Yankees, as he’s slated to be a free agent and won’t cost nearly as much as some of the controllable names we’ve been hearing such as Gallo and Buxton.

Morosi: The lack of good health and consistent production from the Miguel Andújar, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier group -- and Brett Gardner's contractual status -- mean that the Yankees need to add an outfield bat at some point between now and Opening Day 2022. So you might as well do it now.

Feinsand: Their outfield is a mess right now. Aaron Judge will be back from COVID at some point, but their starting outfield on Sunday was Trey Amburgey, Ryan LaMarre and Greg Allen. Wow.

Feinsand: I wonder if the Braves fall out of contention in the next week, could be on the move again? He would be a good fit in New York.

Morosi: That’s a good point. But I also like what the Braves are doing. The NL East still is winnable. Look at what a good two-week stretch has done for the Phillies. If you're the Braves, make your moves early and see how the rest of July unfolds.

If you're in fourth place at the Deadline and don't like the way your club is responding, then you can start moving your short-term pieces.

Feinsand: The Ronald Acuña Jr. injury was devastating for Atlanta. Adding Pederson was a band-aid, but if things go south, I could see Pederson, and all becoming available. Morton and Smyly would bring back decent returns.

There just aren’t a lot of quality starters out there on the trade market. Any team willing to move a starter should do well, given how many teams are in need of rotation help.

Morosi: I agree on Morton and Smyly.

And while I don't expect they'd make him available, the reality is that Freddie Freeman is in the final year of his contract, and they need to figure out their long-term plans with him.

Feinsand: Nobody that I have spoken to believes Freeman will be traded. It feels like a foregone conclusion that he will sign back with the Braves this winter. Though I don’t understand why more teams don’t trade their impending free agents even if they want to bring them back.

Don’t you think Aroldis Chapman was happy to return to the Yankees with Gleyber Torres on the roster? If you’re Freeman, unless being in one uniform your entire career is very important to you, wouldn’t you want to take a run at a title somewhere in 2021, then just go back to Atlanta?

Morosi: Here's an interesting one: How about Morton goes back to the Rays?

The Tyler Glasnow uncertainty could undermine what is an otherwise strong Rays team. Morton could really help them down the stretch and into October.

Feinsand: The Rays and Dodgers would both be very interesting destinations for Morton. Same with the Padres. So many really good teams still need a starter. Or the Astros. Another team quite familiar with Charlie.

Morosi: I also look at the Blue Jays as both a dangerous team and a club that's going to add a starting pitcher.

I love July 30 for Toronto fans and all Canadians: The Jays come home to play for the first time since the end of 2019, and maybe the Jays make a major splash at the Deadline.

Feinsand: We’ve seen Toronto go all in with a big Deadline before. That 2015 season was incredible after they added David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. It would be fascinating to see the Blue Jays make some big moves and try to catch the Red Sox and Rays -- which they can absolutely do if they add some pitching.

Morosi: I agree. Check out where the Jays were around the Deadline in 2015. They're actually playing better now! And with the Jays, it always makes sense for them to be bold when the Yankees or Red Sox are down. And the Yankees are down.

Footer: The Dodgers are seeking starting pitching -- no surprise there. And what the Dodgers want, they usually get. Is this pretty much a given that they end up with an extra rotation arm by July 30?

Feinsand: I was told by a source yesterday that the Dodgers are “on the warpath” for a starter. They really need at least one, if not two.

Morosi: I agree. The Dodgers will get at least one starting pitcher at the Deadline. I'll be fascinated to see how they utilize David Price in the second half.

is one name I could see with the Dodgers.

Feinsand: Dustin May is out for the year, Clayton Kershaw is having injury issues, Julio Urías is already beyond his career high in innings, and the Dodgers have to approach the Trevor Bauer situation with the idea that he won’t pitch again this year. As good as the Dodgers are, they need a starter if they want to repeat as champs.

I could see just about any available starting pitcher winding up with the Dodgers. There’s urgency there.

Morosi: Gibson might have as much legitimate interest as any starter in the Majors right now. I say legitimate because the Rangers are clearly in sell mode.

Feinsand: Agreed. He’s on a good contract, has another year of control and he’s been outstanding this season. He doesn’t have the lengthy track record, but you can’t argue with what he’s done in 2021.

Morosi: And with Gibson being under contract for next year, you're going to have teams -- the Mariners or Jays, for example -- who will be much more aggressive on him than the rental possibilities out there.

Feinsand: The Yankees would love to acquire Gibson and Gallo in the same deal, but that would be quite costly.

Gibson would be a good fit for about 12 teams.

Morosi: I could also see Gibson going to one of the NL East contenders. At what point do the Mets have to plan for the possibility that Jacob deGrom's nagging injuries will significantly limit his postseason availability?

Let's put it this way: Look at deGrom's season. In how many full months has he been able to take the ball every fifth day?

Feinsand: Even if deGrom is healthy, the Mets need a starter. The Nos. 4-5 spots in the rotation are an issue, and right now it’s tough to count on Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard being healthy, contributing starters, though Carrasco appears to be getting close to a return.

Given the number of injuries the Mets have dealt with this year, I think acting GM Zack Scott has done a phenomenal job. I’m interested to see how his first Trade Deadline in that position goes.

Morosi: The Mets don't have the pitching depth to handle a quick exit from deGrom in Game 1 and beat a team like the Brewers. Milwaukee is going to be a dangerous team in the postseason. Wow. They have an amazing pitching staff, and Willy Adames has changed their lineup.

Feinsand: When Milwaukee acquired Adames, I was not overwhelmed by the move. But man, he’s been so good there, all credit to David Stearns and Matt Arnold for that deal. Arnold used to be with the Rays, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that the Brewers liked Adames.

Footer: Until this is all over, the Cubs will continue to be the most fascinating team to follow. The sell-off is on. Who’s the most likely to go?

Feinsand: is first, followed by and . If the Cubs don’t think they can sign the latter two, it makes no sense not to deal them.

Morosi: Kimbrel and Bryant.

Feinsand: But the relief market will be so hot, Kimbrel should bring back a strong return, especially since he has a $16 million option for 2022 and has reverted to his All-Star form.

Morosi: Closers with All-Star pedigree on non-contenders are always the most likely to be dealt, and all of that describes Kimbrel.

Bryant is a tremendous fit, because he can play around the diamond, which dramatically expands the number of teams who are willing to pay the prospect price to acquire him.

Feinsand: Position players can be trickier to deal, because you need to find buyers with a need at that position. Add in the fact that both players make good money, and you need to find buyers who are willing to add salary.

Bryant still feels like an obvious fit for the Mets. I would be somewhat surprised if he doesn’t wind up there. Maybe a deal that sends Bryant and Zach Davies to Queens?

Morosi: That's a good possibility. I also look at the Giants for Bryant. They've been dealing with a number of injuries in recent weeks, even as they've continued to play well. And the San Francisco farm system has been improving in recent years.

The Cubs will control the trade market. They have two star players to deal, plus an All-Star closer and a solid starter. Jed Hoyer is going to be a very popular man over the next 11 days.

I also see this as a year in which Oakland makes a big splash. And the A's and Cubs have been frequent trade partners in the past.

Footer: This relief market is going to be bonkers.

Absolutely. of the Pirates is likely to go. Rodríguez probably has as many suitors as .

Feinsand: The relief market always seems to be bonkers. There isn’t a single contender out there that wouldn’t benefit from another solid reliever. This is why pitchers get paid so much in free agency.

Morosi: And Adam Frazier might win the award for most mentions during our Trade Deadline chats!

Feinsand: The best part of Adam Frazier’s popularity on the trade market is that had I asked 100 casual baseball fans about him a year ago, I’d guess 90 of them would have had no idea who he was. But Frazier is exactly the type of player that every contender covets.

Morosi: He's this year's Marco Scutaro. I love Adam Frazier being in the starting lineup of the All-Star Game, by the way. He deserved it. He also has a great personality, with an encyclopedic knowledge of SEC baseball.

Feinsand: Someone asked me yesterday who might be the biggest name moved by July 30 that nobody has talked about yet. My answer was Josh Donaldson. What do you think, Jon?

Morosi: I could definitely see Donaldson being moved. is another name who hasn't been discussed enough. Look at his numbers in Detroit. He's hitting for power, is a versatile defender, known to be a great teammate -- so many boxes are checked. Plus, he's been traded at the Deadline before. That experience helps.

Feinsand: I think Schoop gets moved for sure. He’ll be a free agent, the Tigers have a lot of young infielders and Schoop recently hired Scott Boras, so you have to think he’ll be looking for a multiyear deal this winter.

By the way … I know we recently downplayed the idea that will be traded, but now that the Nationals are falling further back in the NL East, are we sure he’s off the table? Imagine him in the Dodgers rotation.

Morosi: Oh, I could definitely see Scherzer being moved.

We all know Mike Rizzo isn't going to concede easily. However, remember how close he came to dealing Bryce Harper in his walk year. The Nationals have some holes on their roster next year.

Feinsand: Plus, the Nats can always sign Scherzer back as a free agent, a la Chapman and the Yankees. Why not get a good piece or two that can help in 2022 and bring back Scherzer? If the Nationals make him available, that will cause a frenzy, both among the Nats’ fan base and among the front offices of pitching-needy contenders.

Morosi: Here's the funny thing on Max. Months ago, I would have gone to the narrative of him going back home to St. Louis. But I can't see the Cardinals buying -- at least not a rental. They haven't shown they're good enough.

On that point, here's a name to consider: Do the Cardinals make available? After dealing with injuries, he now looks like a frontline MLB closer. The Cardinals probably don't move him, but they should listen.

Feinsand: The Cardinals should be moderate sellers, for sure. They’re way back in both the NL Central and Wild Card races, and they have some pieces like Reyes who could bring back solid returns.

Morosi: The Cardinals haven't been the same team since Jack Flaherty was injured. But when you look at their everyday club, with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the lineup, it's hard to describe them as anything but a win-now team.

Feinsand: I guess the argument against the Cards being sellers is that the division is weak. The Reds may go for it, but the Cubs are sellers and the Pirates are rebuilding. And if the Cardinals want Arenado to stay, being a seller probably isn’t the best message to send, especially after what he went through in Colorado.

Morosi: That's a valid point on Arenado, but the Cardinals can't let his status dictate their Deadline approach. They have to look at the reality in front of them, and the reality is that they're not a very good team this season.

Feinsand: Easy for us to say. Tricky ground for John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch to navigate.