Earlier today, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a number of currently murky injury situations in the American League that could impact teams’ thinking as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. The National League, of course, offers a similarly unsettled number of injury issues which, depending on the progress of the players in questions, could spur teams to seek a replacement or stand pat and hold out for internal reinforcements. We’re not looking at definitive holes that stem from players known to be out for the season (e.g. Adam Eaton’s ACL tear), but rather at ongoing injury issues that could have either positive developments or setbacks/a lack of forward movement in the next two and a half weeks, thus directly impacting a team’s strategy.
Arodys Vizcaino, Braves: Teams in need of relief help would no doubt like to consider the high-powered Vizcaino, potentially giving Atlanta an interesting chip. But he’s now shelved with a finger issue that will keep him out for an indeterminate length of time. It remains to be seen whether the righty will be able to show he’s back to health before the month is out. If not, his cheap price tag makes it unlikely that he’ll clear waivers in August, further casting doubt on the possibility of a trade.
Trea Turner, Jayson Werth & Michael Taylor, Nationals: While the Nats feel comfortable with their position in the standings, and don’t really need to prioritize performance down the home stretch so much as in the postseason, they’ll remain mindful of the health problems impacting a notable portion of the roster. While the bullpen obviously remains the focus (and has a few open injury issues of its own), there are some significant dings and dents on the position-player side. Turner’s injury is the most concerning, though the club likely won’t learn much before the deadline and isn’t likely to add an impact shortstop regardless. Werth and Taylor, though, will need to be watched closely to see how they are progressing. It’s a bit difficult to see the Nats going after a major bat, though perhaps that can’t be ruled out entirely. More likely, the team could consider pursuing a bench player who’d help cover for these injuries while also improving the reserve unit once the team is back to full health (so much as is possible with Adam Eaton not expected to return this year).
Neil Walker, Mets: While the Mets are anxiously awaiting the returns of starters such as Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, neither is likely to be dealt anyhow. And, regardless of how quickly some of those names make it back to the active roster, the Mets’ deadline course seems largely plotted; over the next couple of weeks (and into August), New York figures to sell off some short-term veterans like Walker, who is a free agent at season’s end. He has only just begun moving towards a rehab assignment, so a return in time for a deadline deal seems unlikely. But Walker would still be an obvious August trade candidate given his hefty salary.
Cesar Hernandez & Howie Kendrick, Phillies: The question here is just when Hernandez and Kendrick can rejoin the team. Kendrick is a virtual lock to be traded. He’s a free agent at season’s end that has already turned down a qualifying offer once, thus making him ineligible to receive one in 2017 (and the Phils likely wouldn’t offer one anyhow). Hernandez certainly doesn’t need to be moved, as he’s controlled for three seasons beyond the current campaign. However, he’s a quietly productive player, and if a team expressed interest in picking up some controllable infield help, the Phils surely wouldn’t hesitate to bring in some more minor league talent while also paving a path for top prospect Scott Kingery to make his MLB debut.
Edinson Volquez & Brad Ziegler, Marlins: Volquez is likely to be back before the deadline, and given the paucity of starters on the market, he could be appealing to a team in need of rotation stability. His overall numbers are hardly dominant, but he’s turned in a 3.66 ERA in his past nine starts. Ziegler’s status is much cloudier, and his lack of results makes his two-year, $18MM pact a tough one to move anyhow.
Chase Anderson, Brewers: Milwaukee seems likely to be in the market for rotation help even if Anderson progresses at a faster-than-expected pace. But, on the flip side, if he appears to slow to progress from his oblique strain, the Brewers’ rotation search would only be hastened and, speculatively speaking, could expand to include multiple arms.
Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey & Brett Anderson, Cubs: The Cubs figure to explore the market for rotation help regardless of this trio’s progress, given the steps back that each member of their rotation has taken following last year’s deep postseason run. Hendricks has already been sent out on a minor league rehab assignment and could return from the disabled list as soon as this weekend, per Gordon Wittenymyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, but he’s already been on the shelf longer than anticipated after having his target date pushed back.
Zach Duke & Kevin Siegrist, Cardinals: Duke hasn’t pitched in the Majors this year, as he’s spent the entire 2017 campaign rehabbing from surgery last October. Siegrist, meanwhile, has an ominous-sounding spinal sprain but is also out on a minor league rehab assignment at the moment. Getting one or both back healthy would be a boost to the Cardinals’ relief corps, but a lack of progress or any setbacks would give the team another potential area of focus in trades.
Yangervis Solarte, Padres: It’s pretty straightforward. Solarte could be a nice infield utility type for a contender, particularly one looking for help at third base. But he’s currently out with an oblique injury. If he’s healthy, he’ll be a plausible chip; if not, the Pads will hold onto his affordable control rights and reconsider after the season.
Eduardo Nunez, Giants: Among the most obvious trade pieces in all of baseball, Nunez is nearing a return from a hamstring strain. Assuming all goes well, the Giants will have little reason not to get something back for a player they targeted last summer.
Rubby De La Rosa & J.J. Hoover, Diamondbacks: While Arizona may not be able to keep pace in the NL West, and may not really be inclined to spend big to prop up its chances in 2017, it’ll surely at least look into some upgrades. Like many teams, the bullpen could stand to add a few pieces, which could make all the difference in a short series (the Wild Card play-in or NLDS). But just how great is the need? If these two hurlers are at full speed, perhaps the D-Backs can hang onto their prospect capital or deploy it elsewhere. (Honorable mention: Yasmany Tomas.)
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: This situation is a bit tricky and is utterly speculative, but the respected veteran has been rather forthcoming about his present limitations. While the Dodgers increasingly look to be a force, no team is perfect, and this one may have some interesting opportunities to add offense — in addition to looking into pitching, as expected — depending upon A-Gon’s status. Rookie extraordinaire Cody Bellinger could bump to the outfield in favor of a new first baseman, or the team could pursue a more flexible piece that would allow it yet more options to mix and match, if it seems that Gonzalez won’t be occupying a spot down the stretch and (in particular) into the postseason.