With the MLB trade deadline approaching on Tuesday (1 August) at 6pm ET (11pm BST), a few of our contributors have shared their hopes and predictions for what their teams will do at the deadline.
Sure, you could read Jeff Passan’s comprehensive deadline prediction piece, where he covers all 30 teams based on the conversations he’s had with his network of contacts and insiders, but you’re here now, so instead, fill your time with the thoughts, hopes and hunches of the people that really matter; the fans!
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox’s approach to the deadline has been the hot topic of conversation among Boston media in recent days and it’s easy to understand why.
How do you parse the approach of a team playing good, if flawed, baseball, but whose record in the sport’s best division shows an uphill battle to even secure a wild card spot?
There’s no easy answer. Add to this the circular public pronouncements of Chaim Bloom, and trying to find much whatsoever in the harbour’s famous tea leaves becomes nigh-on impossible.
Tuesday’s trade of veteran infielder Enrique Hernandez has begun to clear the fog. A sparkplug in Boston’s surprise ALCS charge in 2021, Kiké has been out-of-form and out-of-sorts all season. Few fans were sorry to see him swapped with the Dodgers for a promising pair of high-minor relievers, even if that leads to regular time for such starry lights as Yu Chang and Pablo Reyes.
The Sox need for innings likely precludes a trade of Comeback Player of the Year candidate James Paxton, but, given Bloom’s priors in weighing future value, can’t be ruled out. The addition of Nick Robertson and Justin Hagenman for Hernandez shores up a need for pen depth, but there is room to upgrade at second base and in the rotation.
One thing is certain; Bloom can get creative. Don’t rule out an addition-by-subtraction move around players like Adam Duvall or even near all-star Alex Verdugo. If there’s a deal for controllable assets, it’ll get done – even if the logic seems flawed at first glance. A move for Reds infielder Jonathan India or Pirates starter Mitch Keller could fit that brief, with blue chip prospects like Nick Yorke and Ceddanne Rafaela the likeliest bait.
Whatever happens, working out why Bloom and Boston do whatever they do in the next few days is likely to be one of the most fascinating stories of the 2023 deadline.
John McGee is one of the co-founders of Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @epouvantail.
New York Mets
The most expensive team ever assembled is 48-54.
There is a rather strong argument then that the nearly half a billion-dollar roster should be stripped bare ahead of the trade deadline, the coaching and front office staff relieved of their duties.
Alas, owner Steve Cohen seems wedded to them for now (at least publicly) and has not indicated that such a clear-out is forthcoming. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are staying put. I’d look to move Verlander, but he does have a full no trade clause, so perhaps, behind the scenes, there’s a recognition that he’d rather play in New York under the lucrative contract terms he signed.
Nevertheless, the Mets are truly sellers in some fashion, and there are assets, albeit ageing, who could be on the move. Carlos Carrasco seems an obvious candidate. It’s been a rough season and he’s 36, but he typically gives you four or five innings, so it would probably be to a team looking for a bolt-on fifth starter in their rotation. The Mets could eat most of the $14m contract and take a chance on a youngster in return.
Reliever David Robertson has more value than anyone would have anticipated coming into the season (one of a few players who’ve benefited from Edwin Diaz’s WBC injury). He has a 2.08 ERA in 39 appearances and has converted 14 of 17 save opportunities. Two other vets, Mark Canha and Adam Ottavino, both with 2024 options, are candidates too. [Note: Since Josh wrote this, David Robertson was traded to the Marlins for teenage prospects Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez – Ed.]
Oh, and don’t expect the blockbuster Ohtani trade…surely?
Josh Edwards is Bat Flips & Nerds’ New York Mets contributor, and can be found on Twitter @Joshwa_1990.
Dylan Cease for Jonathan India is a deal that is doing the rounds. The Reds would be dealing from an area of strength, but I’m not convinced it makes sense for the White Sox.
How about a reunion with baseball pantomime villain Trevor Bauer? The NPB All-Star enjoyed the best season of his career with Cincinnati, clinching the NL Cy Young Award with a 1.73 ERA and 0.795 WHIP campaign.
Gavin is Bat Flips & Nerds’ webmaster and editor, and can be found on Twitter @GavTramps.
At the time of writing, the Cubs are the hottest team in the majors, having won six straight games.
This streak has put them back at .500 for the first time since early May and they’re now just four games back in the Wild Card race and 5.5 games back in the NL Central. In the space of a week, they’ve gone from being almost certain sellers to a team that could do just about anything over the next few days.
Their obvious trade candidates are Cody Bellinger, who’s hit .418/.439/.704 with a 1.143OPS over the last month, and Marcus Stroman, who has an unsightly 8.00 ERA over his last four starts. If the rumours are true, both have plenty of potential suitors and would enable the Cubs to add to their rapidly improving farm system.
After enduring selloffs at the last two deadlines, this is the last thing most fans want though and the hope for many of us is that they can maintain this hot streak long enough to justify buying or at least holding on to what they have. After all, they underachieved during the first half and have one of the easier schedules in the second.
While a 2021 Braves-like run to the World Series seems unlikely, some competitive summer baseball at Wrigley Field is just what the franchise and, more importantly, the fanbase needs right now.
Sean Guest is the Chicago Cubs contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @SW_Guest.
Left field continues to be a weakness for the Braves. Eddie Rosario has been almost entirely average for the season to date, hitting a 99 OPS+ with a -1 Outs Above Average in the field. With the rest of the fielding positions manned either by All-Stars (Orlando Arcia at shortstop) or players on long-term contracts (everyone else), it is the only one where a real upgrade might be made. That said, there aren’t really many decent left fielders on the market – so instead, the Braves might choose to upgrade at Designated Hitter.
By sOPS+ (a measure that looks at the performance of the Braves position groups in comparison to the rest of the league’s position groups), the designated hitters are performing the worst on the team, just behind the left fielders and shortstops. That’s mostly due to Marcell Ozuna, who has played the majority of the team’s games there, and who has blown very hot and very cold over the course of the season.
If the team isn’t confident that he’ll be hot at the right time, there are some names who might slot in here – people like Ryan Noda and Jeimer Candelario might be affordable enough for the Braves as pure DH rentals, or they might decide instead to go for someone like Adam Duvall who can also play in left – a Braves fan favourite who is being squeezed out of a strong Red Sox outfield.
Finally, the Braves also might look at pitching. While the Braves’ starting pitching is probably good enough for a playoff run (as long as Max Fried and Kyle Wright both come back healthy), the bullpen is an area of focus – they have already acquired Pierce Johnson, Taylor Hearn and Yonny Chirinos for pennies on the dollar and might try to upgrade further before the deadline.
Alex Anthopoulos’s deadline moves in 2021 seemed innocuous at the time, but turned out to be championship-winning for the Braves. Pierce Johnson for World Series MVP, anyone?
Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @Omashaft.
Los Angeles Angels
One thing is for certain, the Angels want to win this year.
You can’t question the ambition Perry Minasian is showing this season to try and get the Angels back to the playoffs with Ohtani still under contract. They refused to trade him, made a big splash for starting and relief help, and I’m pretty certain they are not done just yet.
Expect them to be targeting another bat and relief arm as they enter a very difficult, but critical, month of August.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, each team does before the deadline – even while this article has been being compiled the last couple of days, teams have been making moves, the most prominent of which has been the Angels acquiring Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from the White Sox that Nick mentions in his contribution.
As for my team – the Oakland Athletics – they have been a selling club for a long time now, and, as an A’s fan, this period as we approach the deadline is a somewhat tense time. While, at time of writing, we are the holders of MLB’s worse record, I still want the team to hold onto its best players while it can – historically something they don’t do.
Therefore, as I said in my mid-season report, I’m worried that, by the time I wake up on Wednesday morning, the likes of Paul Blackburn and Tony Kemp could be gone. Charlie has even mentioned Ryan Noda as a player to be targeted by his Braves (or ‘the East Coast A’s’, as I now call them, given they’ve already taken Matt Olson and Sean Murphy from us the last two off-seasons).
When all the dust has settled and we know where each team is now at in terms of their personnel for the rest of the season, we will be doing a post-trade deadline reaction piece too, so make sure to check that out on Wednesday!
Brett is the Oakland A’s contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @BrettChatsSport.
Featured image – AP Photo/Paul Sancya