It is that time of the year again… well almost. MLB is months away from the exciting and you never know what to expect Trade Deadline, August 1st to be exact, and plenty of teams are already prepping up for the monumental day in the baseball season. Many teams have begun to identify themselves as buyers or sellers with the playoff race beginning to heat up. Teams such as the Red Sox, Orioles, and Pirates could be looking to add a player or two that would help them clinch a division or wild card spot. In contrast, teams such as the Twins, Padres, and A’s may be looking to unload on some players if they do end up falling out of the playoff race.
So who could potentially be traded this summer?
Joe Smith: Angels right-handed reliever
Joe Smith’s’ 2016 season with the Angels so far could be best described as a rollercoaster. After a great start to the season where Angels fans saw vintage 2014 1.81 ERA Joe Smith, he has mightily struggled as of late primarily due to closer Huston Street’s injury. With Street’s DL stint, Joe Smith was promoted to be the interim closer and he has been shaky at best blowing two saves and he has not been in control of his sinker pitch.
With Joe Smith being in the last year of his 3-year, $15.75 million dollar deal, all signs could possibly point to an inevitable trade. While the Angels are still currently in playoff contention, Smith will be dealt if the Angels are not in the playoff hunt by July.
Two candidates stand out when it comes to needing reliever help: Rangers and Dodgers. The Texas Rangers currently have a dreadful 5.32 bullpen ERA, which is 29th in MLB, and opponents are hitting .283 off of them. No game is safe for them when relievers such as Tom Wilkinson and former team closer Shawn Tolleson, who currently has an ERA over 10, come out to pitch. The Dodgers could also get help from their cross-town rival as it’s been a struggle getting consistency from their regularly used relievers in Chris Hatcher, Pedro Baez, and Louis Coleman. With a loaded farm system, both teams can afford to trade for a rental reliever that can help them push for a playoff spot.
Other teams such as the Pirates and Tigers, both with bullpen ERA’s over 4, can use the services of Smith. To whoever trades for Smith, you will get the best out of him when used as a set-up man.
Ryan Braun: Brewers Left-Fielder
With the Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals looking to battle it out for the NL Central and a possible wild card spot, it is safe to say even at this point that the Brewers will miss the playoffs once again. For the Brewers to get back on top once again, they might have to consider rebuilding. Currently, the Brewers are not in a tough spot considering the potential in #4 overall prospect SS Orlando Arcia as well as pitcher Jorge Lopez in their farm system as players that they can build around for the future.
Wherever the Brewers trade Braun to, they need to get back at least one top pitching prospect. Without Braun’s consent, he can only be traded to the Angels, Marlins, Dodgers, Giants, and Padres. If the Angels left field platoon experiment ends up failing, they might consider trading Tyler Skaggs to the Brewers for Braun in a trade package in hopes to improve the inconsistent offense. With the Dodgers offensive struggles, they could trade AND afford to depart with top pitching prospects Jose De Leon or Grant Holmes for Braun.
Currently Braun is having his best offensive season since his MVP days with a .361/.427/.599 line along with 30 RBI’s but his contract might scare teams away. Braun will be due $91 million through 2021 when he turns 37. Possibly a deal could be worked where the Brewers eat up some of the money as well but with the trade deadline looking to be a pitcher heavy market, Milwaukee might not even receive an offer for Braun.
Sonny Gray: A’s Starting Pitcher
Although a longshot at this point, the A’s could give us another trade deadline surprise and end up trading their gem starting pitcher Sonny Gray. After pitching at an elite level over the past two seasons while also reaching the 200 innings mark, he has severely struggled this season with a 6.19 ERA and a startling 24 walks at this point in the season. With a current DL stint to work on his mechanics, A’s have no doubt that he will return to pitching at a one of the best AL pitchers level and thus raising his trade value.
In a pitching heavy market, the A’s should look to take advantage of it and acquire some elite prospects. A team like the Red Sox could be interested as they could trade top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza due to Clay Buchholz’s lack of control this season. The Tigers could also be interested if they are buyers with Pelfrey/Sanchez continuing to potentially stumble out of the rotation. Mariners, Orioles, Cardinals, and the Astros could also show interest. If a trade were to occur, it would signal the start of another A’s rebuild so an elite, controllable pitching prospect and two mid-level position players would be what a potential trade package could revolve around.
San Diego Padres (This should really be 4 players and an organization that could be traded before the MLB Trade Deadline)
The San Diego Padres were huge winners a few years ago in free agency and sadly for the franchise, that is all they have won since. The Padres are in last place in the NL West and fans are screaming for a rebuild. If Padres GM A.J Preller decides to throw a yard sale in San Diego this upcoming trade deadline, then it could be a quick rebuild considering the talent that they can get back.
Assuming that every player on the roster is available, then the players with the most value and likely to be traded are: Matt Kemp, James Shields, Fernando Rodney, Tyson Ross, and Andrew Cashner.
With Kemp, his contract could also scare teams away as he is due at least $18 million over the next three seasons to go along with his miserable .222 BA and 4 walks so far but he can still provide solid range on defense and still be one of the better slugging outfielders. In Fernando Rodney’s case, he can provide bullpen help to a playoff team in need of one since he really is back, he hasn’t allowed a run in 18 games to go along with his 10 saves. For teams such as the Red Sox, Tigers, Orioles, Mariners, etc, they will definitely show interest for the trio of Shields/Cashner/Ross. Ross and Cashner will be free agents but their horrendous pitching control this season and ineffective starts might make it much harder for the Padres to trade them. In Shields’ case, he is having his best season since his Rays days with a 3.06 ERA and finally being able to contain his home run issue but his 5.46 postseason ERA and being due $58 million over the next three seasons could raise red flags among playoff teams.
With SS Javier Guerra being the lone prized prospect in the organization, the Padres NEED to trade the majority of these players to get their farm system back to being one of the best.
Josh Reddick: A’s Outfielder
If the A’s do go into full rebuild mode, then expect the A’s to do whatever they can to trade Reddick. Although they have hesitated with trading Reddick in the past, he will be a free agent this winter so the A’s would want to get at least a few controllable prospects if a trade were to happen. Reddick is having the best season of his career and it’s much needed with the Athletics now hitting the double-digit mark for players on the DL. Reddick so far has career highs with a .322/.394/.860 line and his walk rate is also at a career high. Teams such as the Angels, Pirates, Dodgers among others could show interest but they might also choose to wait and acquire him via free agency for a long-term deal instead of a rental deal.
Almost anybody on the Yankees: You want soon-to-be free agent Mark Teixeira? Deal. You want Carlos Beltran for two mid-level prospects? Deal. You want reliever Andrew Miller? Deal. Impatient Yankees GM Brian Cashman could soon be throwing the biggest yard sale in recent Yankees history. With the Yankees battling to stay out of last place and ton of veteran players on the roster, Cashman might soon be thinking about what is best for the future of the team. If the Yankees are out of it by July, expect a ton of players to be traded with the exception of players such as Tanaka and Ellsbury.
Twins Starting Pitcher Ervin Santana: If a team is looking for a 4th or 5th starter in the rotation, why not Santana? The Twins are in dire need of a rebuild to build around Sano and Buxton so they might consider trading away Santana for a prospect or two as he is due at least $41 million over the next 3 years. Santana still has significant velocity on his fastball, can be effective in getting deep into games, and has past postseason experience. A good option for a team such as the Astros, Tigers, or Red Sox.
Braves SS Erick Aybar: The Braves are in full rebuild mode and would have no problem trading away Erick Aybar. The shortstop was acquired from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons deal and Aybar will be a free agent after this season. The Braves would not ask much so it would take 1 mid-level or low-level prospect to acquire Aybar. He likely just needs a change in scenery after spending 10 years with the Angels. He is hitting .185 but he is a streaky contact hitter that can get going at anytime to go along with the solid defense at shortstop.
Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez: Gonzalez’s trade value continues to rise and this is the perfect time for the Rockies to take advantage. Coming off of a 40 home run season, Gonzalez is finally healthy again and is also in control for the 2017 season too. If the Rockies are considering to eat up a modest amount of his $20 million salary next season, then Angels, Dodgers, Mets, White Sox, and Nationals could be calling Rockies GM Jeff Bridich soon for a trade.
Reds OF Jay Bruce: It’s become a tradition to have Jay Bruce’s name be mentioned among players that could be traded before the deadline. It seems like he has almost been traded a dozen times but yet he somehow manages to stay a Cincinnati Red. Bruce is having a solid year so far with a .263/.317/.513 line to go along with 29 RBI’s. Bruce can also become a free agent this winter since he has a $13 million team option. With the Reds likely out of the playoff race, Bruce will be available once again. If a team misses out on Kemp, Gonzalez, and Reddick, Bruce is not a bad option for a playoff team and could be the spark that is needed to make a deep run.
It’s evident that plenty of teams will be looking to upgrade at starting or reliever pitching. While it’s early and a ton of teams can go on a winning streak that gets them back in contention or a team can fall out of the playoff race, some players seem to be locks to be traded regardless of the team’s record. This should be for another thrilling MLB Trade Deadline but also take into consideration, trades can happen at any point. A huge trade probably was just agreed to right now?
Writer’s Note: Stats updated as of 5/27/16