With baseball’s draft in the rear-view mirror, the focus for many clubs will begin shifting to trades over the next several weeks. In light of that, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron breaks the league down into nine definite buyers, nine very likely sellers and a dozen bubble teams that are hovering around the .500 mark. As Cameron notes, there’s a case to be made in either direction for virtually all of the 12 fringe clubs, whose playoff odds, as calculated by Fangraphs, range from six percent (Angels, Twins) to 36 percent (Blue Jays). The proximity of stars such as Yu Darvish, Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado to free agency all have a bearing on a team’s decision, as does the overall composition of the roster. (The Mariners, for instance, have a significant amount invested in winning now with a number of aging key players, seemingly making them likelier to push for a postseason spot.) It’s a well-reasoned and comprehensive look at the competitive landscape of baseball in mid-June 2017 and is well worth a full read-through.
Onto some actual rumors pertaining to the trade market…
- Even if the Rangers fall out of contention, they’re not planning to move Darvish, sources tell Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. Texas badly wants to retain their staff ace beyond the 2017 season, though Passan points out that there are only 11 free-agent pitchers that have ever signed a $100MM+ deal — and each has done so with a new team. Still, the Rangers want Darvish to hit the market with Arlington being the only place he’s called home during his Major League career rather than giving him a taste of a new city that could push him further away. I’d add that retaining him also allows the Rangers to make a qualifying offer, though for top-tier free agents such as Darvish, the QO isn’t the same free agency death knell that it has been for second- and third-tier names that have been tied to draft pick compensation.
- Jonathan Lucroy, on the other hand, could potentially be marketed this summer if the Rangers drop far enough out of the race, Passan continues. Texas gave up a massive amount of talent to land Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress last year, sending prospects Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Ryan Cordell to the Brewers for a year and a half of Lucroy and three years of Jeffress. Dealing Lucroy would allow the Rangers to get some value back if they can’t remain in contention, though Lucroy’s down season at the plate has been a factor in the Rangers’ underwhelming performance. Through 205 plate appearances, Lucroy is hitting a pedestrian .269/.307/.389. That’s perfectly acceptable for a catcher, but it’s a far cry from the .292/.355/.500 that he slashed last year.
- The Giants have yet to hold a “we’re open for business” meeting despite their awful standing in the NL West and NL Wild Card race, reports Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. Giants sources tell Pavlovic that the team has been focused on the draft, but they’ll begin to look more closely at their 2017 roadmap now. Dealing Eduardo Nunez is an “easy decision” for the Giants to make, Pavlovic opines (I agree), but they’ll have more complicated questions to ponder when it comes to pitchers Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore. While some may feel that Cueto would be best served to forgo his opt-out, Passan points out that James Shields got four years and $75MM late in the offseason when he was two years older than Cueto will be this winter. Cueto has four years and $84MM remaining following the 2017 season.