Since last week’s edition of MLBTR’s Top 20 trade candidates, we’ve seen Jim Johnson get pulled back off revocable waivers, thus all but eliminating the possibility of a trade. James Shields had another catastrophic outing — eight earned runs in 1 1/3 innings — making it even more difficult to envision him being moved (though he’ll assuredly clear waivers when he’s placed on them, if he hasn’t already). The activation of Trevor Plouffe and Peter Bourjos from the DL has landed each a spot on the list, and some of the holdovers have been rearranged a bit. (Side note: Rather than knock Ryan Braun off the list following Carlos Gomez’s DFA, I simply elected to expand the list to 21 this week. Bonus player!)
- Carlos Gomez, OF, Astros: Gomez leaps from not ranked to the No. 1 candidate following his DFA earlier this week. The Cardinals and Mets are among the teams with interest, and ESPN’s Mark Saxon tweeted that a trade was more likely than a release earlier today.
- Derek Norris, C, Padres: Norris still isn’t hitting, but the Padres’ motivation to move him keeps him near the top of the list for me. San Diego can see Austin Hedges in September when rosters expand, of course, but getting him to the Majors sooner and giving him more of an opportunity to play even in September by moving Norris makes all the sense in the world.
- Danny Valencia, 3B/1B/OF, Athletics: As injuries around the league continue to pile up — Matt Adams, Matt Holliday Jose Bautista, Scott Van Slyke, Nick Castellanos and Ryan Zimmerman have all gone on the DL since last week’s list was written — the potential landing spots for Valencia rise. He’s a poor fielder but a legitimate asset at the plate.
- Peter Bourjos, OF, Phillies: Bourjos won’t be a marquee addition, but now that he’s off the DL there seems to be a high likelihood that he’ll be moved. He was in a 1-for-17 slump at the time he was placed on the DL, but Bourjos batted .307/.347/.479 in 152 plate appearances in June and July, and he’s long had a terrific defensive reputation. The Phillies may want to get names like Roman Quinn and Nick Williams more at-bats in September, and flipping Bourjos to a team in need of a fourth outfielder that can handle center makes sense.
- Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers: Puig’s off-field antics since being demoted can’t have helped him work his way back into the good graces of his current employers. His bat has continually declined as his approach at the plate has worsened, but there’s enough upside here to tantalize a team with some fluidity in its long-term corner outfield picture.
- Brian McCann, C, Yankees: One of only two known players to clear waivers so far, McCann can be traded to any team, but the Yankees will have to shift from their reported reluctance to help pay down McCann’s remaining $17MM annual salary (as first reported by FanRag’s Jon Heyman) if they hope to move him and clear a spot for Gary Sanchez to play regularly.
- Kurt Suzuki, C, Twins: Not much has changed on the catching front, but the Indians, Red Sox, Mets and others could make sense for a short-term upgrade behind the dish (though it strikes me as unlikely that Suzuki would get to the Mets or even to the Indians on waivers).
- Melky Cabrera, OF, White Sox: As noted in the Valencia bullet, there’s been a rash of outfield injuries around the league, and though Cabrera’s ChiSox career started slowly, he’s mashed since June of last year. The $13MM he’s owed in 2017 doesn’t look unreasonable in light of a .295/.338/.449 slash over his past 917 plate appearances.
- Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins: Plouffe hasn’t hit in 2016, but he was a slightly above-average bat with average or better defense at the hot corner from 2014-15. That makes his upside more along the lines of a solid regular (think David Freese with the Angels) than a star, but a club with corner infield needs could certainly look to Plouffe and hope for improved performance now that he’s healthy. He’s controllable through 2017 and shouldn’t earn much of a raise on this year’s $7.25MM salary due to all of the missed time.
- Ervin Santana, SP, Twins: Santana might be the best “available” pitcher on the August market, though the Twins weren’t overly motivated to move him even prior to the non-waiver deadline. He’s owed $28MM in 2017-18 with a 2019 option. Santana is a legitimate mid-rotation starter on a reasonable contract, so the Twins are understandably asking for a fairly significant return in advance of this summer’s woefully poor free agent market for starting pitching.
- Adam Lind, 1B, Mariners: Dan Vogelbach hasn’t hit much at all since being picked up in the Mike Montgomery trade, so the urgency to move Lind isn’t as great as it could be. Dae-ho Lee, too, has seen his offense tail off in recent weeks. Lind is hitting better of late which could make him more marketable but also makes him increasingly important to a Mariners club that is just one game out of a Wild Card berth at the moment.
- Edinson Volquez, SP, Royals: Reports out of Kansas City continue to suggest that the Royals could make Volquez a qualifying offer, and I remain extremely skeptical. Volquez’s ERA is now north of 5.00 once again after he was rocked in three straight starts. I advocate for teams acting aggressively in extending qualifying offers, as I think accepting rarely makes sense for the player, but barring a late surge, I don’t see how Volquez could reject. It’s in the Royals’ best interest to get some value for him right now if a team is willing to make such an offer (which is no sure thing).
- Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Phillies: I hesitate to list Hellickson this high, because it seems unlikely that the Phillies will get a better offer now than they did prior to the non-waiver deadline when they could negotiate with each contending club. Hellickson is a lock to be claimed, but perhaps injuries or an even thinner market for starters in the month of August will motivate the claiming club to make a more substantial offer.
- Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: Francoeur has cleared waivers and can be dealt anywhere, though the Braves apparently are only willing to do so if they receive some degree of prospect in exchange. Atlanta values Francoeur’s clubhouse presence and doesn’t seem keen on moving him just to open a spot for a younger player or to save a small amount of cash. Francoeur isn’t the most exciting bat and has highly limited range in right field but does still possess a strong throwing arm.
- David Robertson, RP, White Sox: With more than $25MM still owed to him and an underwhelming stat line on the year, Robertson isn’t especially likely to go. However, he drew interest from clubs looking for impact bullpen arms, and he figures to clear waivers, giving the White Sox ample opportunity to explore trades with teams in need of relief help. That’s especially true if a contender decides it needs to try for a significant pen upgrade despite the risk. Robertson has a long track record of excellence, and probably carries more upside than any other potentially available relievers.
- Ian Krol, RP, Braves: Krol has only allowed one baserunner in his past 6 2/3 innings. He’ll finish the season a couple weeks shy of three years of service, so he’s on target to be a Super Two eligible reliever that is controllable through the 2020 season. He could be a future piece for the Braves, but Atlanta moved a highly controllable lefty in Hunter Cervenka and could do the same with Krol.
- Jeanmar Gomez, RP, Phillies: I’m not especially confident that Gomez will move after the Phillies didn’t find an offer to their liking prior to the non-waiver deadline, but as an affordable short-term asset (controllable through 2017) on a rebuilding club, Gomez will be on the list until he’s either traded or pulled back off revocable waivers.
- Nick Markakis, OF, Braves: Markakis is on fire and has even found some pop as of late (two homers in August, .128 ISO since the All-Star break). That could be enough to attract attention, but he’s still a near-lock to clear waivers. He makes more sense as an offseason trade candidate to me, but if a team believes he’s regaining some pop the further removed he is from 2014 neck surgery, then perhaps an August swap can be achieved (if, of course, the Braves eat some money).
- Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees: The Yankees made a clear move toward getting younger in July, and dealing the still-quite-useful Gardner would help toward that end, as he’s still a strong enough performer to warrant some solid minor league talent. There’s still $28.6MM on his contract, though, so he’s similar to an outfield version of Ervin Santana — an effective veteran that isn’t teeming with surplus value but comes at a fair price.
- Clay Buchholz, SP, Red Sox: Buchholz has had a terrible season but has thrown better as a reliever as of late. A team like the Marlins that is in great need of a back-of-the-rotation arm could roll the dice on Buchholz if the cost of acquisition is low. Buchholz is getting a start this weekend, and how he looks in that outing could impact his candidacy.
- Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: Braun is going to be the best hitter to clear waivers this month, but he has four years remaining on a $105MM extension after this season, recent health issues in his past and comes with the negative PR associated with his steroid suspension. The Brewers want prospects over salary relief with Braun, whose no-trade clause was reportedly a non-starter in the Brewers’ brief talks with the Braves.
Injured, Could Return In August
Yunel Escobar, Fernando Salas (Angels); Jorge De La Rosa, Boone Logan, Jake McGee (Rockies); Ian Kennedy, Kendrys Morales (Royals); Shelby Miller (D-backs); Matt Garza, Chris Carter (Brewers); John Jaso (Pirates); Ryan Madson (Athletics); Brandon Kintzler (Twins); Zack Cozart (Reds)