The countdown to the 2019 trade deadline is ticking away with many top trade candidates still waiting to see where they wind up come Aug. 1. Although the hot stove has taken a while to heat up, pressure to execute deals sooner rather than later is expected to amplify with the removal of the extended waiver deadline.
Both front-end rotation arms and middle-of-the-order sluggers remain in limbo with a number of front offices still debating whether or not to buy or sell. Our deadline coverage continues with predictions for what we expect to happen in the next two days. These predictions are, indeed, bold, and the chances of all ten of them transpiring are low. Nevertheless, they are based on actual trade stirrings. These predictions are not in any order of importance.
Without further ado, away we go.
1. Oakland acquires splashy rotation starter
The last time Billy Beane grabbed an ace mid-season, it cost the A’s Yoenis Cespedes and Oakland’s season ended after just one game in the Wild Card. At any rate, Mike Fiers is not ace-material and Oakland’s bullpen is not what it used to be with a struggling Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino.
2. Giants become buyers, not sellers
The” G-Men” might be the story of the year. Not too long ago, players were publicly calling out Farhan Zaidi and the team spent much of the first half in last place. Fast-forward to July 29 and they are just 2 ½ games back of the second wild card spot. For the sake of Zaidi’s job protection and Bruce Bochy’s final farewell tour, expect the Giants to keep Madison Bumgarner and quite possibly look to add some depth to their lineup.
3. Mets begin complete firesale
The offseason acquisitions of Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano have not exactly been ideal. Brodie Van Wagenen and company most recently made , but the Mets are on the outside looking in on the wild card race. I don’t think anybody knows exactly what their plans are. Shopping Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Diaz, and Frazier would begin a much-needed rebuild.
4. Padres acquire controllable starter
The Friars are one ace and a couple years of experience away from being legitimate World Series contenders. With that being said, GM AJ Preller understands contending in 2019 is not an option. Padres starters have tallied just 31 quality starts this season (22nd in the league) and rank near the bottom in innings pitched (23rd). Filling the front-of-the-rotation hole now as opposed to waiting for free agency could prove to be beneficial for the long-term.
Candidates: Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Trevor Bauer, Matthew Boyd.
5. Dodgers grab multiple bullpen arms
The only thing standing in the way of the Dodgers finally raising that trophy in October has been clutch postseason pitching. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen are both aging, and relying on a Madison Bumgarner-like heroic postseason performance from either of these two is no longer realistic. Take away both Jansen and Pedro Baez‘s numbers and the Dodgers have a combined 4.20 ERA, which would rank toward the middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league. Similar to what the Yankees accomplished in the offseason, look for the Dodgers to stack their bullpen to lighten the load off their starters.
6. Beantown Stays Relatively Quiet
Don’t be surprised if Andrew Cashner is the only player Boston cashes in on. A dominant series over the division-leading Yankees this past weekend certainly brought loads of hope to what has otherwise been a disappointing start to the season. With Nathan Eovaldi returning from the injured list and a one-game wild card being their most likely destination, grabbing a cheap bullpen arm seems like the most realistic tactic from the Red Sox.
7. Yankees trade Clint Frazier for starting pitcher
As if the need for a starting pitcher wasn’t already highly documented, Yankees starters surrendered a combined 27 runs and only one (Domingo German) was able to make it through five innings this past weekend in Boston. Yankees starters rank just 18th in the league with a 4.72 ERA. Many of the starters on the trading block are controllable beyond this year, which means the return will likely have to include outfielder Clint Frazier. After taking a timid approach the past two deadlines, we anticipate Brian Cashman to make a huge splash in The Bronx this time around.
8. Phillies Hold Onto Top Prospects
Much like the Padres and Angels, the Phillies are more realistically contenders in 2020 and beyond. With the Braves now 6 1/2 games up in the division, the congested fight for a wild card spot is the more likely option. There is no reasonable explanation for the Phils to include top prospects Alex Bohm, Mickey Moniak, or Adam Haseley in any deals, unless that deal includes Trevor Bauer or Noah Syndergaard. The future is brighter than the present for Philadelphia, especially considering Bryce Harper is locked up for another decade and change. Look for Philadelphia to hold onto its future and look to add pitching depth this upcoming offseason with the likes of Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner all hitting the open market.
9. Syndergaard winds up somewhere in California
We talked about San Diego’s desire to find a controllable starter, but how about the Angels? Though they face one of the most difficult schedules going forward, the Halos are sitting at just 4 ½ games back of the second wild card. Please, get Mike Trout some help. While both the Angels and Padres would love to compete this season, both are also more realistically looking toward 2020. Another option could be the East Bay, where we already mentioned the likelihood of Billy Beane aiming to land a splashy starting pitcher for Oakland. Syndergaard is under team control through the 2021 season and already has the hair for the California beaches.
10. Braves make bullpen acquisitions
After missing out on the mid-season Craig Kimbrel sweepstakes, the Braves are in dire need of bullpen assistance. Of the 46 save opportunities the Braves have had this season, they’ve blown 17 of them. Active closer, Luke Jackson, has been much better of late, cashing in on seven of his past eight save chances with a 3.21 ERA. Nevertheless, bullpen depth is an absolute must for any club with championship aspirations.