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MLB Trade Deadline Targets 2019

Rob Joyce
July 17, 2019 - 4:39 pm

It’s going to be the most unusual trade deadline in some time. We are two weeks out from the July 31 deadline in Major League Baseball, and this year is the start of a new twist: this is the real, actual deadline. In the offseason the waiver deadline to get trades done by the end of August (think Justin Verlander to Houston) was eliminated, making the non-waiver trade deadline the last act. And with 16 non-first place teams within 4.5 games of a wild card spot, the line between buyer and seller is a thin one.

So who could be on the move over the next few weeks? These are the most likely candidates:

1) Madison Bumgarner:

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About to turn 30 and hit the free agent market, the Giants’ ace will likely leave San Francisco in the next few weeks. Though he’s not at his postseason superhero peak anymore, he’s still a valuable addition to any rotation. Through 20 starts this year he is only 5-7 with an earned run average (3.86) that’s the highest of his career. Despite that, his peripherals (good ERA+ and a FIP that’s actually lower than the previous two seasons) indicate he’s been a bit unlucky, his strikeout rate is still up (9.3 per nine innings). Tampa Bay is rumored to make a big splash in the coming weeks. Getting Bumgarner and his 0.25 (!!) postseason ERA would qualify.

2) Marcus Stroman:

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Another high-end rotation guy, Stroman comes with the added bonus of having an extra year of team control. The 28-year-old has rebounded nicely from an injury-shortened 2018 that saw his ERA finish at 5.54, as it’s back down to a much more manageable 3.25. Toronto’s All-Star representative, he doesn’t strike out a ton of hitters (just 7.2 per nine innings) but he doesn’t allow many home runs. That could work out nicely for a team like the Yankees, who have the prospects to take on the higher price that comes with team control and need another starter to load up for October.

3) Will Smith:

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In 2010 Smith was shipped from the Angels to the Royals. In 2013 he was dealt to the Brewers. In 2016 the Giants traded for the reliever. Therefore, by rule apparently, he must also be traded in 2019. The All-Star is having arguably his best season yet at age 34, with a 2.11 ERA and 24 saves in 39 appearances for last-place San Francisco. His 12.7 K/9 rate is a career-high, while his 2.1 BB/9 is his lowest since 2013. So basically he strikes out a bunch, doesn’t walk many and is holding opponents to a .167 batting average. The Brewers have Josh Hader, but could certainly use another bullpen arm in a clogged NL Central.

4) Matthew Boyd:

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The Detroit southpaw is coming into his own at age 28, and with team control through 2023, he’s going to demand the highest price tag of anyone available at the deadline. An average strikeout guy his first four years in the bigs, Boyd had shot up to 12 K/9 and he’s walking just 1.9 per nine, leading the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio. The ERA sits at 3.95, and while he’s a bit susceptible to the home run at times, he could be a breakout star for a contender. A top-10 organizational prospect or a young guy already in the majors will be the price tag. The Astros, Yankees and Rays all have the firepower and willingness to pull the trigger.

5) Shane Greene:

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Staying with the Tigers, if you don’t need a starter from Detroit, perhaps the closer? Greene has quietly shined after a poor 2018, culminating in an All-Star appearance this year after compiling 22 saves with a 1.09 ERA in the first half. He’s not a big strikeout guy (35 in 34 innings) but he lives off of groundballs. The Braves are in the market for a bullpen arm, given the unreliability of guys beyond Luke Jackson and Anthony Swarzak. This could be a nice fit.

6) Nick Castellanos:

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More times than not the deadline is (as you can see above) about arms. Who can collect the most and survive the grind to late October? But for someone looking to add a bat to the lineup, there aren’t a whole lot of options. So let’s stay in Detroit – who really needs to unload any asset and rebuild the farm system – with Castellanos. The 27-year-old is a free agent this offseason and is quietly a very good hitter. Though his home run power is down (nine this year after 49 combined in 2017 and 2018) he leads the AL in doubles (31) – the fifth time in six years he’s reached 31 or more – bats .280 overall and has four straight years of an OPS above .800.

The down side? If he stays in Detroit, the Tigers will receive a compensatory first-round draft pick when Castellanos bolts in free agency, so any offer from a team – he’s been linked to the Dodgers and Braves – would have to be hefty.