MLB trade deadline: 15 players who could be moved to contenders
The Red Sox broke the seal on trade deadline season by acquiring right-hander Andrew Cashner from the Orioles earlier this month, followed shortly thereafter by the A's nabbing right-hander Homer Bailey from the Royals.
With only one trade deadline this year — there will no longer be waiver deals in August, which is how the Astros landed Justin Verlander from the Tigers in 2017, for instance — clubs will be under pressure to plug any perceived holes in their rosters by July 31.
With that being the case, who are some of the names most likely to be moved? Here are 15.
1. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
The big left-hander figures to draw extensive interest from every contender with money. He's making $12 million in the final year of his contract and is the best postseason pitcher of this generation, with an 8-3 record and 2.11 ERA in 16 playoff appearances. The three-time champion has been even better in the World Series, going 4-0 while allowing only ONE run in 36 innings. That's a 0.25 ERA and should make him attractive to the Yankees, Twins, and Rays, among others. He is most certainly too expensive for the Red Sox, both monetarily and in prospect costs.
2. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays
Stroman spent most of the All-Star Game talking about his future, which probably will not include Toronto. The boisterous right-hander loves the big stage but hasn't had much of an opportunity to pitch on it over the last couple of years. He's battle-tested in the American League East and in the midst of one of his best seasons, even in the midst of a 6-11 campaign. At only 5-foot-7, 180 pounds, Stroman isn't built like a workhorse, but he carries himself like one, which he learned from Red Sox ace David Price. "You have to be that horse and that guy people look to to be the stopper," he said.
UPDATE (July 28): Stroman was traded to the Mets Sunday in exchange for two minor league pitchers.
3. Matthew Boyd, LHP, Tigers
The highest upside of any starter expected to be moved probably belongs to Boyd. The 28-year-old left-hander has struck out 178 in 132.1 innings and is 6-8 with a 3.94 ERA. Acquired at the 2015 deadline from the Blue Jays as part of a package for David Price, Boyd has emerged on the strength of a 92-mph fastball and one of the game's best sliders, a sweeping out pitch that has doubled his strikeout-to-walk ratio from last year's 3.12 to a league-leading 6.14. Because he still has three more years of team control, he might fetch the strongest return of any player moved this month.
4. Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets
From a pure rental standpoint, Wheeler should draw considerable interest. The right-hander is throwing as hard as he has in five years, with fastballs that have reached 100 mph, and he's suddenly durable. Not only has he not missed a start in two years, he's averaging over six innings an appearance. One bad inning has generally been his downfall, suggesting troubles from the stretch. He's 7-6 with a 4.71 ERA in 20 starts, but is on pace to top 180 innings for the second straight season after missing 2015 and 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
5. Will Smith, LHP, Giants
Every three years since 2010, Smith has been traded, so if the Giants decide to deal their All-Star closer this month, he won't be shocked. "The whole trade thing, I've been through it already enough, it doesn't really affect me," he said. "If it happens, it happens. I love to do what I do. Going to the ballpark every day is fun for me." The 34-year-old is 3-0 with a 2.72 ERA and 26 saves, and has struck out 66 in only 46.1 innings. He's in the final year of his contract and has posted a 2.68 ERA in three seasons since joining the Giants. With extensive experience both closing and in middle relief, Smith could be a versatile solution for a number of contenders.
6. Ken Giles, RHP, Blue Jays
Speaking of closers, Giles picked a bad time to suffer nerve irritation in his elbow, which sidelined him earlier this month. He had a strong case to make as Toronto's All-Star after going 1-2 with a 1.45 ERA and 13 saves in the first half. His upper-90s fastball has produced 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings, and though his one shot at the postseason was disastrous with the 2017 Astros (11.74 ERA), he does still own a World Series ring. He actually remains under team control for one more season, so he wouldn't be a straight rental.
7. Shane Greene, RHP, Tigers
And then there's Greene. He has slowly but surely remade his career with the Tigers, emerging in 2019 as an All-Star after saving 22 games with a 1.09 ERA in the first half. The former Yankees starter doesn't possess overpowering stuff (34 Ks in 33 IP), but he's a groundball machine who could immediately bolster a staff as a setup man, or close if need be. He's prepared to be moved, if it comes to that. "I have Twitter, so I see the same articles everyone else sees," Greene said. "I can't control that. Right now I'm wearing a Tigers uniform, and until I'm not, that's what I'll do."
8 . Nick Castellanos, OF, Tigers
There are actually some decent offensive players available, too, and Castellanos belongs near the top of that list. He's tied for the American League lead in doubles (37) with Rafael Devers. The 27-year-old becomes a free agent this winter and is only two years removed from a .272-26-101 season that included a league-leading 10 triples. The Tigers will be looking to get something for him before he leaves in free agency, and the return should be minimal.
9. Todd Frazier, 3B, Mets
The Mets are a dumpster fire, so don't be surprised if they make their roster available. Frazier should be an easy piece to move as he experiences an uptick in performance at age 33. He's hitting .246 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. Two years ago, the Yankees acquired him from the White Sox as stretch-run insurance and he slammed 11 homers in 66 games before struggling against the Astros in the ALCS. With over 200 lifetime homers, he should entice some contender in need of right-handed thump, particularly with the cost for corner rentals low.
10. Jason Vargas, LHP, Mets
Whomever acquires Vargas should know what they're getting into, since he played a central role in the team's embarrassing feud with a reporter last month. "I'll knock you the (bleep) out, bro," he told a Newsday beat writer in one of the more pointless confrontations of the season, which he then exacerbated by stubbornly refusing to apologize. The 36-year-old left-hander may not throw hard, but over an 11-start stretch between April and June, he posted a 2.55 ERA and tossed his first shutout since an All-Star 2017 season with the Royals. He'll be owed a $2 million buyout unless someone wants to pay him $8 million next year.
11. Caleb Smith, LHP, Marlins
The Marlins are so far from contention that they should consider moving one of their most surprisingly effective starters. The left-hander is 7-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 17 starts, with 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. The 27-year-old isn't even eligible for arbitration until 2021 and is thus only making $557,000. Anyone acquiring him now would receive an arm for the present and future, with potentially quite a bit of room to improve. If the Marlins are thinking long-term -- and what other term is there in Miami? -- then they shouldn't rule out the possibility of trading Smith.
12. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians
For an outside-the-box possibility, why not Bauer? The Indians are very much in the thick of the race, but their offense is terrible and as MLB Trade Rumors notes, they face a salary crunch this winter. Bauer, who is making $13 million in arbitration, will be due for another raise after finishing sixth in last year's Cy Young voting. He's 9-8 with a 3.79 ERA and leads the majors in innings (156.2).
UPDATE (July 30): Bauer was traded to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a three-team deal.
13. Nick Anderson, RHP, Marlins
While many will focus on closer Sergio Romo because of name recognition, the more intriguing Marlins reliever is Anderson. The 28-year-old rookie is a former independent leaguer who is averaging over 14 strikeouts per nine innings with manageable walk rates. His 2.72 FIP far outstrips his 3.92 ERA, suggesting he could be in for a better second half. His fastball-curveball combination would fit in perfectly in a Red Sox bullpen that includes Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman.
14. Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees
If the Yankees want to acquire a legitimate piece, they're going to need to give something up, and Frazier remains one of the more intriguing offensive prospects in baseball. He opened the season in big leagues and slammed 11 homers with an .843 OPS in just 191 at-bats. Unfortunately, he is maybe the worst outfielder in the majors, and so he became the victim of a numbers crunch when the regulars started returning from injury. Still, the 24-year-old's bat clearly plays, and someone will find a way to rescue him from Triple A, where he's hitting only .240, probably while wondering how he ended up there.
15. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants
The return of the Kung Fu Panda! After three disastrous seasons in Boston that saw him hit only .237 while facing constant criticism over his conditioning, Sandoval has experienced a completely unexpected renaissance in San Francisco, where it all began. He's hitting .264 with 13 homers and an .817 OPS in 98 games. He hasn’t posted an OPS that high since his All-Star 2011 campaign (he never topped .658 in Boston). There's also this: the ambidextrous Sandoval can throw 85 mph with both arms and has made a pair of shutout relief appearances over the last two years. The more you can do . . .