Even though Reds shortstop Zack Cozart has surprisingly been among the majors’ best players this year, there probably won’t be many teams bidding for him at the trade deadline, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required and recommended). Most contenders are in search of pitching, not shortstops, which could hinder the Reds’ efforts to land a quality return for the free agent-to-be. The same lack of demand at shortstop might end up applying to both first base and the outfield, observes Olney, who notes that it may be a problem for Pittsburgh if it tries move Andrew McCutchen or Kansas City in the event it markets Eric Hosmer and/or Lorenzo Cain.
More rumblings as the deadline draws closer:
- Breakout first baseman Yonder Alonso would like to sign an extension with the Athletics, but they’re “nearly certain” to put him on the block, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Contrary to Olney’s argument that there might not be much of a market for first basemen, Morosi contends that three AL playoff hopefuls – New York, Seattle and Los Angeles – could each stand to upgrade at the position. The Yankees will prioritize beefing up their rotation and may battle the Red Sox for Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, per Morosi, but Greg Bird’s injury issues might also put Alonso on their radar. The lefty-swinging, fly ball-hitting Alonso, who has slashed .302/.397/.630 with 17 home runs in 219 plate appearances during a contract year, would seemingly be a perfect fit for the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.
- Meanwhile, the aforementioned Cain could be ideal for the Dodgers, argues Morosi, who suggests they’re likely to adjust their outfield alignment in the coming weeks. Of course, barring other moves, picking up another outfielder would add to an already crowded situation in the grass for LA. The club currently has stellar rookie Cody Bellinger, unexpected 2017 star Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson in the mix as prominent outfield options, with Enrique Hernandez and Franklin Gutierrez adding further depth and Andre Ethier on the disabled list.
- Along with potentially addressing their outfield, it’s “increasingly apparent” that the Dodgers will look for rotation help, relays Morosi. Dodgers starters rank third in the majors in both ERA and fWAR, but Morosi points out that some of their hurlers are health risks and they’ll also want to avoid starting ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest if they get to the NLDS. Kershaw took the hill in that scenario during each of the previous four division series in which the Dodgers participated.
- While Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez’s name has come up in connection to St. Louis, the fact that the Cardinals are 11.5 games out of a wild-card spot might steer them away from position player rentals, notes Olney. As of now, the Redbirds only have one realistic path to a playoff berth – by winning the NL Central – but they also have plenty of ground to make up there (5.5 games). Moreover, they may have a sleeping giant to contend with in the reigning champion Cubs, who are 2.5 games behind upstart Milwaukee for the division lead.