Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at nine teams who are trending upward this season and nine teams who are on the downward swing in his latest notes column. These rankings (and Cafardo’s piece in general) contain several hot stove items as teams look to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The highlights…
- The Yankees are looking for a third baseman, according to league sources. Chase Headley got off to a hot start but scuffled badly in May, posting just a .446 OPS in 90 plate appearances last month. Top prospect Gleyber Torres has been getting some reps at third base in the minors amidst rumors that he could be promoted later this season, though New York could prefer a more proven veteran for the hot corner if the team is chasing a pennant. Headley is still owed $21.6MM through the end of the 2018 season, though the Yankees have shown a willingness to reduce the playing time of other highly-paid veterans in the past if they aren’t producing.
- “Most talent evaluators” believe the Dodgers will make a play for the top starter available at the deadline. The Dodgers’ rotation has combined for 6.2 fWAR (second in baseball) and a 3.94 ERA (third in baseball), though given the number of injury concerns within their staff, it wouldn’t be a shock if L.A. pursued yet another notable arm.
- Cafardo also suggests that the Cubs will look to acquire a top starter, even if they’re one of the teams on the “trending down” list. Cafardo believes the retirement of clubhouse leader David Ross has had a bigger impact on the Cubs than the team is willing to admit.
- Some teams that were in on Jose Quintana have cooled their interest thanks to the southpaw’s rough start to the season. There has been some questions about whether Quintana is healthy, though the White Sox say he is healthy. Quintana has a 5.60 ERA in 64 1/3 innings, with career highs in BB/9 (3.36) and homer rate (13%) combining with a career-low 37.8% ground ball rate. On the plus side, he also has a career-best 8.96 K/9 and ERA indicators are all over a run lower than his 5.60 real-world ERA.
- “Don’t look for major subtractions” from the Giants, even if the team doesn’t make any additions at the deadline. Cafardo doesn’t expect the Giants to deal the likes of Johnny Cueto or Jeff Samardzija. I would imagine San Francisco is hoping to make a quick return to contention next season, though if Cueto gives them an indication that he’ll opt out of his contract this winter, a trade could be explored.
- The Rangers are also a team that won’t go into full-scale selling mode, so Cafardo expects them to wait and see if they should pursue starting pitching help for a run at a wild card slot.
- Zack Cozart has often been mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of years as the Reds have been rebuilding, though one AL GM wonders why Cincinnati hasn’t instead explored an extension with the veteran shortstop. The Reds’ long-term plan is to have Jose Peraza at short and Dilson Herrera at second, so on paper, Cozart makes more sense as a trade chip than a building block. While Cozart is mashing the ball and playing his usual excellent defense, he also turns 32 in August and may be declining by the time the Reds are again ready to contend.