We are in the final week of July, which means the Major League Baseball trade deadline is on the horizon. There’s no waiver deadline this year, which means any and all MLB trades must be completed by 4:00pm ET on Wednesday, July 31.
We have already seen a few moves at the time of this writing. Marcus Stroman, who has been involved in trade rumors forever, was finally moved over the weekend. While the trade of Stroman itself wasn’t a surprise, the fact that he’s headed to the New York Mets definitely raised some eyebrows. The Mets are currently on the fringe of contention in the NL Wild Card race, but that didn’t stop them from making what most believe to be a win-now type of move.
While adding Stroman definitely makes the Mets a better team right now, there are still murmurs that they could be sellers between now and the deadline. The names we’ve heard most often in connection with potential MLB trades are starters Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler. It seems doubtful that both players will be moved this season, but the Mets are nothing if not unpredictable.
The starting pitching trade market is rife with talent aside from the Mets’ duo. Madison Bumgarner, Mike Minor, and Trevor Bauer are three high-end starters that could be finding new homes at some point this week. Contenders always seem to make moves to add versatile hitters as well, so names like Hunter Pence, Hunter Renfroe, and Yasiel Puig could also pop up.
We can safely expect to see a flurry of activity between now and Wednesday’s deadline. Who will be on the move? Which players will stay put?
About two weeks ago, Madison Bumgarner appeared to be a lock to be moved at the deadline. The Giants have baseball’s oldest roster, and it’s been a few years since this team has competed for a playoff berth. Bumgarner had seen his performance decline amid some injury-riddled seasons, but he has bounced back nicely thus far in 2019. With the Giants seemingly going nowhere, and with MadBum’s contract set to expire after the season, why wouldn’t San Francisco look to trade him?
Well, things have changed. The Giants have been arguably the hottest team in baseball in the month of July, and their hot stretch has gotten them into the National League’s playoff race. As of this writing on July 29, the Giants find themselves just 2 ½ games behind the Cardinals, Cubs, and Nationals, who are currently tied atop the Wild Card standings.
San Francisco is still 14 ½ games behind the Dodgers in the division, so their only hope to secure a postseason spot is via a Wild Card berth. The Giants are 7-3 over their last 10 games, and they’ve lost just four times since the All-Star break. Bumgarner has been a big part of it, too. The former World Series MVP is 6-7 on the year, but his 3.74 ERA is solid, and he’s striking out more hitters (24.7%) than he has in any season since 2016.
The Giants would likely get a decent haul in exchange for Bumgarner, but the fact that he’ll be a free agent this winter means San Francisco likely whiffed on the chance to trade him when his value was at its highest. Bumgarner has spent his entire career with the franchise, and it’s worth wondering whether he would be willing to take a “hometown” discount to re-sign there this winter, regardless of whether the team makes the playoffs this season. Does Bumgarner offer the Giants more long-term value than a potential trade haul would?
Giants GM Farhan Zaidi, who is in his first campaign with the team after holding the same job for the last several years with the Dodgers, recently said that he has to do what’s in the best interests of the Giants in the long run. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman reported last week that the Giants have not yet made a decision regarding trading Bumgarner, but the oddsmakers seem to think he’s almost a lock to stay in San Francisco.
A desperate team like the Yankees, who have all sorts of starting pitching issues, could change the equation. If the Yankees are willing to part ways with some of their better prospects in order to upgrade a struggling rotation, the Giants may not be able to say no. So, I don’t hate taking a flier on the Yankees to land Bumgarner at +650 here. The value is there.
For now, though, it sounds as though he’ll stay right where he is.
This prop is different from the MadBum prop in that we are wagering on whether Zack Greinke will get traded rather than trying to pick a potential destination. The value is clearly on Greinke to be dealt at +250, but oddsmakers seem to believe he’s most likely to stay in Arizona.
Greinke is baseball’s highest-paid player on an average annual value, which certainly complicates matters. While Bumgarner is 29, Greinke is 35. Bumgarner is a rental, while Greinke is under contract through the 2021 campaign. The right-hander will make $35 million in each of the next two seasons. So, it stands to reason that any potential Greinke trade would involve the Diamondbacks agreeing to foot some of the bill.
That massive contract is also going to impact the kinds of prospects Arizona would receive in any potential deal. Because the potential MLB trade partner is still having to pay a boatload of money for his services, the D’Backs will presumably have to settle for lesser talent in return just to save a little bit of money. The team has been decent during Greinke’s tenure, but they have yet to compete for anything of substance.
Both Greinke and left-hander Robbie Ray have been mentioned as potential trade candidates. The Diamondbacks are only a game behind the Giants in the NL Wild Card race, but Arizona is another team that came into the season with little aspirations of actually competing. The Diamondbacks traded franchise cornerstone Paul Goldschmidt last winter, which was a move that signaled to many that the team was ready to reboot and rebuild.
Greinke isn’t what he once was from a talent perspective, but he would still likely be the No. 1 on most playoff starting staffs. He would instantly become the ace of the staffs in Minnesota and New York (pending Luis Severino’s health). Greinke would slot in behind Chris Sale as the presumed No. 2 in the Red Sox rotation, while he’d be the third wheel in Houston behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
As mentioned, the Yankees are the contender most in need of rotation help. Their starting pitching has been getting pummeled as of late, and James Paxton has not been the ace the Yanks thought they were getting when they nabbed him from the Mariners over the winter. The Yankees can obviously afford to pay Greinke’s hefty salary, too, which obviously makes any theoretical MLB trade more realistic.
Jon Morosi of the MLB Network recently reported that the D’Backs are looking like deadline sellers.
Because we really have no way of knowing how much Arizona’s front office values Greinke at this time, I would suggest taking a chance on betting on the six-time All-Star to be traded before the deadline. You can get decent value on the +250 odds, and I think there’s a very strong chance a desperate contender picks up the phone and makes it happen before 4pm on Wednesday afternoon.
Mike Minor is hardly a household name like Bumgarner or Greinke, but the left-hander is easily one of the hottest trade commodities on the market this summer. The Rangers picked him up via free agency prior to the 2018 campaign on a three-year deal worth about $28 million. Minor had worked out of the Royals’ bullpen the season prior, but Texas turned him back into a starter.
So far, so good. The 31-year-old is 8-6 through 21 starts this season with an ERA right at 3.00. The fact that Minor has been able to put up solid numbers while pitching half of his games in the hitter’s haven known as Globe Life Park has gotten the attention of several teams around the league. The Rangers were hanging around the AL Wild Card race for a while, but a recent downturn has seen them fall to the fringes of the playoff picture. With the team unlikely to make a run this season, dealing Minor with another full season left on his contract makes plenty of sense for a team in the middle of a rebuild.
The Braves are the favorites to land Minor here at +250. The southpaw started his career in the Atlanta organization, and he broke into the big leagues with the Braves back in 2010. He spent parts of five big league campaigns with the club before signing with the Royals as a free agent in February of 2016.
Atlanta picked up another veteran left-hander in Dallas Keuchel earlier this summer, but the rotation could still use additional reinforcements. Mike Soroka has pitched like an ace, but last year’s No. 1, Mike Foltynewicz, has struggled tremendously. Beyond Soroka and Keuchel, the Braves’ rotation features question marks like Julio Teheran, Kevin Gausman, and Max Fried. Adding a starter isn’t a must, but it’s likely to happen if the Braves’ brass thinks they can challenge the Dodgers for the pennant this fall. Minor would make for a nice fit.
I’ve touched on why the Yankees could use a guy like Minor, so they’re fine as a value option at +500, too. The Yankees are on Minor’s no-trade list, but there’s a decent chance he would waive that. The team I slightly prefer is the Twins to trade for Minor at +550, however. Morosi recently reported that the Twins have touched base with the Rangers regarding a potential Minor trade, and these teams have done business together in the past. The Twins’ general manager, Thad Levine, was the understudy of Rangers GM Jon Daniels for years.
Minnesota is the best bet to make a move for Minor prior to the deadline. Take a shot on the Twins at +550 here.
The Reds made a splashy MLB trade last winter by acquiring the temperamental Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cincinnati has hung around the playoff race all season, but a berth at this point looks fairly unlikely. As is the case with Bumgarner, Puig will also be a free agent once the season comes to a close. There is a chance the Reds could move to lock him into a long-term deal, but given the solid season he’s had, Cincinnati could also theoretically get something of value in return if they decide to trade him now.
There aren’t many impact bats out there on the MLB trade market, which instantly makes Puig one of the better options for teams in need of such a thing. The Cuban import has slashed .257/.306/.484 this season with 22 homers and 59 runs batted in. He’s also stolen 13 bases, so his wheels could come in handy once October rolls around. Puig has been a crucial part of the Dodger teams that have appeared in back-to-back World Series, so he has plenty of playoff experience under his belt to boot.
The Yankees are listed as the favorites to land Puig if the Reds do pull the trigger on a trade, but I’m not sure why. If anything, New York already has a surplus of quality outfielders. Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are both healthy, while they will likely get Giancarlo Stanton back at some point before the end of the regular season. Cameron Maybin, Brett Gardner, and Mike Tauchman can fill in admirably, while Clint Frazier is still lurking. With the Yankees’ dire need for pitching, I doubt they wind up making a move to add to the offense.
I like the Athletics at +400. Oakland’s hopes of catching Houston in the AL West are dwindling, but they are still very much alive in the Wild Card hunt. The A’s hold a half-game lead over Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card spot at the time of this writing. The team is known for its power, but the outfield is actually fairly weak, all things considered. Robbie Grossman and Chad Pinder aren’t power bats, while Stephen Piscotty is on the injured list. Khris Davis has also been mired in a season-long slump. He has just 16 home runs on the season, which means his streak of three consecutive 40-plus home run campaigns is likely coming to a close.
The A’s are notoriously stingy, but with Puig set to walk as a free agent this offseason, they likely won’t have to give up much to get him. They don’t have to pay him after the season ends either. If adding Puig enhances their chances of nabbing a playoff spot, I think it makes plenty of sense. Puig staying in Cincinnati (+130) wouldn’t be shocking, but if he moves, I like Oakland to get him.
The Rangers’ signing of Hunter Pence over the winter hardly made a ripple. Pence, who had been a vital cog on the Giants’ World Series winners earlier this decade, had seen his performance steadily decline in recent years. He was a part-time player with San Francisco last season, and he unceremoniously signed a minor league deal with his hometown Rangers earlier this spring.
However, he made the big league club with an impressive spring training, and he hasn’t stopped hitting since. The 36-year-old is slashing .290/.344/.558 with 15 homers and 50 runs batted in for Texas this season. He even nabbed a spot on the American League All-Star roster as a designated hitter. It remains to be seen whether he can keep this up over the course of the rest of the season, but the Rangers have unearthed an unexpected trade chip.
Oddsmakers believe he’s more likely to land in Tampa Bay than he is to stay with Texas. The Rays have been installed as -130 favorites to make a move for the quirky veteran. Tampa Bay traded for the versatile Eric Sogard over the weekend, but Tampa is still in need of an impactful right-handed bat. The Rangers likely can’t be asking for too much in return at this point so, considering the presumably light asking price, the Rays would seem to be a likely trade partner. I wouldn’t be excited to bet on the Rays at -130, but it makes plenty of sense all around.
The Giants are an interesting option at +500. San Francisco didn’t expect to be contending, and Hunter Pence wasn’t expected to be a sought-after MLB trade piece. The Giants reacquiring one of their most beloved players of the last decade in order to help them make an unlikely playoff run would be a nice story, but it doesn’t seem all that likely to happen. It’s not impossible, though. San Francisco seems hesitant to sell and, as mentioned, Pence’s asking price can’t be too high at this stage of his career. I don’t mind taking a stab on the Giants to make a play for him at +500.
If you want safety, bet on the Rays at -130. If you want upside, take the Giants at +500.
Noah Syndergaard isn’t having the best season, but it’s safe to say he’s probably the most-desired asset on the trade market this year. There are other pitchers putting up better numbers in 2019, but Thor’s combination of youth and long-term upside have other teams salivating at the thought of acquiring him. The 26-year-old Texas native still has two years of team control left after this season, which only adds to his value.
Syndergaard has seen his strikeout rate dip to 23.8% this season, which is a pretty dramatic fall from his career average of 26.4%. He has endured some brutal batted ball luck, but that’s been the case for so long now that it’s almost worth wondering whether it’s bad luck at all. Syndergaard’s career BABIP allowed is well north of .300, while MLB average is just under .300.
Still, some team out there will think they have what it takes to get the best out of Syndergaard. The Astros have had good success doing that in recent years (Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton come to mind), so don’t be surprised if we hear Houston linked with interest in the Mets’ right-hander. The Astros certainly have the prospect capital to get a deal done if they’re truly motivated, so I like the value that comes with betting on Houston at +850.
However, the team that seems to have the most interest in Thor is the Padres. Over the weekend, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted that the Padres and Mets have had Syndergaard-centered discussions.
It makes sense for the Padres to seek a controllable young starter like Syndergaard, considering they seem to be a year or two away from truly contending in the National League. If the Mets are serious about dangling him in a trade, San Diego has an aggressive enough front office to where I can pretty easily see a match here. The Padres are my favorite bet on the board at +700. I doubt the Mets would have much interest in trading Thor to the Yankees and watching him thrive in the same city, so I’ll go ahead and write off NYY at +600.
San Diego and Houston look like the best bets to land Syndergaard. If the Mets trade him, that is.
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