Between the trade of Marcus Stroman to the Mets earlier this week and the reported three-team swap Tuesday night sending Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds, a new wrinkle has been added to the MLB trade deadline.
We're not seeing teams buy or sell. We're seeing some teams do both.
It's not the first time this has happened — the Pirates bought and sold as recently as last season, acquiring Chris Archer and Keone Kela ahead of the deadline despite remote chances of contending — but it's new to see the top available players traded to teams thinking exclusively about the future.
Stroman and Bauer are both under contract for 2020. Both are set for free agency after the 2020 season. The Mets and Reds are putting a lot of faith into them to help lead them to the playoffs. With the amount of money Bauer, in particular, is likely to get, you wonder whether a mid-market franchise like the Reds can keep him long-term.
It's not illogical for the Reds or Mets to be thinking about 2020. Stroman is one of the two best groundball-pitchers in the majors (Dallas Keuchel being the other), and Bauer is perhaps just as good as Gerrit Cole, a pending free agent who could get a $200 million contract this offseason. The Mets and Reds jumped ahead of other teams who wanted to add pitching on July 31 and they jumped ahead of teams who wanted to add pitching this winter. The Mets gave up two pitching prospects, and the Reds gave up Yasiel Puig and top outfield prospect Taylor Trammell.
Now, the Mets and Diamondbacks seem to hold all the cards in the trade market for starting pitching. The Mets have Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler; the D-backs have Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray. Madison Bumgarner and Mike Minor are the two other big names out there.
The Reds have two other starting pitchers, veteran lefty Alex Wood and righty Tanner Roark, who have been connected to the Phillies, could be acquired inexpensively and figure to be moved ahead of the deadline.
The trade deadline is Wednesday at 4 p.m.
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