With trade season entering full swing, we’ll be doing these lists with greater frequency. We last checked in about a week ago. Click here for the first one, including an explanation of the approach. Basically, we’re looking at both trade likelihood and trade value (in all its facets).
Since last we looked, several players have gone on or off the DL, while others have exhibited trends that warrant consideration. The standings have shifted the calculus, too.
On to the rankings (“LR” = “last ranked”):
1. J.D. Martinez, OF, Tigers (LR: 2): Maybe I’m just itching to name a new top dog, but at some point it’s hard to ignore the fact that Martinez represents a potentially season-altering rental piece. The OPS remains over 1.000.
2. Sonny Gray, SP, Athletics (LR: 10): After two straight gems, Gray jumps back up the board. Teams aren’t just hanging on his every start, of course, but that serves to show that things are generally coming together for Gray. The results are beginning to match the improved peripherals he has sported this year, and the A’s seem ready to make this long-debated move.
3. Addison Reed, RH Reliever, Mets (LR: 7): He’s been dominant since taking over the 9th for the Mets and could be the best right-handed reliever available. Barring a stunning run, New York looks to be a clear seller, with the deadline representing a nice consolation opportunity to cash in on some players who’ll be free agents at year end.
4. David Robertson, RH Reliever, White Sox (LR: 1): Still the market’s most obviously available Certified Closer, Robertson is pitching quite well. But he has been overtaken by the above three players, with his large contract continuing to impact his value.
5. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds (LR: INJ): Cozart is back from the DL, sporting top-line offensive numbers as an outstanding up-the-middle defender. Even with a few contenders suffering injuries to shortstops, demand remains unclear, and there’s even some chatter that the team could explore an extension. Odds are, though, that Cozart will end up on the move.
6. Justin Wilson (Tigers) & Brad Hand (Padres), LH Reliever, (LR: 8): Wilson has eight strikeouts in his last 4 1/3 innings. In Hand’s most recent appearance, he struck out Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, and Edwin Encarnacion in succession.
8. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Athletics (LR: 6): Entering play yesterday, Alonso hadn’t swatted a long ball since June 15th and was in clear (albeit still brief) lull at the plate. He responded with two July 4th dingers. Teams will no doubt retain a bit of skepticism as to whether Alonso can maintain the full-throated breakout he has displayed to this point, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be valued in the market.
9. Jed Lowrie, 2B/3B, Athletics (LR: 4): Lowrie is a useful player with some defensive versatility who remains eminently available.
10. Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox (LR: 5): The consistency just hasn’t been there for Quintana. While Chicago still seems rather likely to trade him, his value is certainly not at its peak.
11. Pat Neshek, RH Reliever, Phillies (LR: 3): Neshek finally turned in a dud of an outing, but even after allowing three earned he owns a 1.39 ERA on the year.
12. Alex Avila, C, Tigers (LR: 31): Trade rumors have picked up on the veteran catcher, whose suddenly potent left-handed bat might add real impact down the stretch. Sure, his .424 BABIP is bound to fall, but Avila has shown real power before and he’s also walking at an excellent 16.8% clip.
13. Todd Frazier, 3B, White Sox (LR: 17): Frazier mashed in June. Several contenders seem in need of help at third. And it’s not clear any better alternatives will be available. Those factors ought to boost the prospect return and cost savings that’ll be available to the White Sox.
17. Trevor Cahill, SP, Padres (LR: INJ): Cahill carried an impressive 3.27 ERA with 51 strikeouts through 41 1/3 innings when he hit the DL with a shoulder strain. He threw rather well in his first start back and has plenty of time to show that the joint is at full health. Cahill is a cheap rental piece (one-year, $1.75MM contract) who is posting a 13.2% swinging-strike rate and 62.3% groundball rate. Interest should be robust if he can keep that going over his next few starts.
18. Juan Nicasio, RH Reliever, Pirates (LR: 22): He’s working near his peak career levels in terms of velocity and whiff rate, with the results to match. Nicasio’s affordable contract increases his appeal.
19. Ryan Madson (RH Reliever) & Sean Doolittle (LH Reliever), Athletics; David Phelps & AJ Ramos, RH Reliever, Marlins (LR: 11): I’m keeping these four pitchers bunched together for the time being; different arms, to be sure, but they seem to fall in a similar asset class and situation. All play for clear sellers; all are generally pretty danged good relievers; and all come with some warts that dent their trade value (respectively: contract; health; inconsistency; wildness).
23. Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) & Marcell Ozuna (Marlins), OF (LR: 29, 19): The Bucs are now seven games off the NL Central pace with three teams ahead of them in the standings. McCutchen’s season OPS has risen from .631 on May 26th to .894 (!) entering action today. Ozuna has kept the fire going all year long and comes with two years of arb control. But nobody knows whether either will really be marketed.
25. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers (LR: 41): Chatter is building on Verlander even as his struggles continue. It’ll be tough for the Tigers to deal such a central figure for an unexciting return, but at some point some tough calls will need to be made if the team is serious about trimming its payroll and getting younger.
26. Jerry Blevins, LH Reliever, Mets (LR: 24): Blevins has been knocked around a bit of late, taking some of the sheen off of his body of work this year, but he’s still a quality lefty who’ll hold broad interest. With an appealing option for 2018, New York won’t feel compelled to move him.
27. Tony Watson, LH Reliever, Pirates (LR: 22): Watson has struggled to keep runners off the bags all year long, but he has mostly maintained the peripherals that have made him a reliable late-inning arm for several years.
28. Melky Cabrera, OF, White Sox (LR: 17): The offensive work continues to improve for the veteran, who’s a clear trade piece. But others have moved past Cabrera given his limitations in the field and big salary.
29. Scott Feldman (SP), Drew Storen (RH Reliever), Tony Cingrani (LH Reliever), Reds (LR: 37, 26, NR): The steady veteran has separated himself a bit from the herd of back-of-the-rotation starters with a run of strong performances. His season ERA is down to 3.78 and he’s also quite affordable ($3.2MM salary). Storen still looks like a solid option to bolster a contender’s middle relief corps. And Cingrani enters the list after returning strong from a DL stint.
32. Welington Castillo (Orioles) & Jonathan Lucroy (Rangers), C (LR: 30, NR): With top prospect Chance Sisco waiting in the wings, the O’s could conceivably try to find some value for Castillo without punting a shot at a postseason berth altogether. The Rangers seem to be open to considering deals for Lucroy, a pending free agent, as he struggles through a down year while Robinson Chirinos produces.
34. Marco Estrada & Francisco Liriano, SP, Blue Jays (LR: 48, NR): The Jays are fading and these two veterans just aren’t performing. But each comes with his share of upside and would be fairly easy to move (so long as Toronto eats some salary) as rental assets.
36. Ian Kinsler (2B) & Justin Upton (OF), Tigers (LR: 20): I covered some of the nuances involved in these veterans in the last ranking, so we won’t repeat that here. Both are coming off of productive stretches over the month of June and could represent notable additions, but come with contract complications.
38. Brandon Kintzler, RH Reliever, Twins (LR: 45): While the team is holding firmly in contention, and could still look to add controllable pieces, Kintzler would likely be the first player to be made available in the event that the Twins decide to sell.
39. Zach Britton (LH Reliever) & Brad Brach (RH Reliever), Orioles (LR: INJ): Forearm injuries have limited Britton (he’s only just back from a second DL stint) and he hasn’t been as dominant as he was last year when he has been healthy. And even if Baltimore ultimately decides to move some players, it needn’t deal a pitcher with another year of arbitration remaining. But … if Britton can show over the next three weeks that he’s again capable of being an unholy groundball/strikeout monster and the AL Wild Card race begins to resolve against the Orioles’ favor, then perhaps there’s a chance he could be a significant part of the deadline tapestry. Brach could also, or alternatively, be shopped; he has been quite good in his own right and comes with one more year of arb control as well.
41. Jeff Samardzija (Giants), Johnny Cueto (Giants), Gerrit Cole (Pirates), Ervin Santana (Twins) & J.A. Happ (Blue Jays), SP (LR: 41, 41, 41, 45, NR): Happ joins this group of quality starters, all of whom would hold clear trade interest– if they are made available. Their respective teams’ inclinations remain unclear; while the Giants would no doubt be glad to achieve a return on Cueto, his situation remains complicated by his pending opt-out clause.
46. Asdrubal Cabrera, INF, Mets (LR: 35): He’s swinging the bat well and affords defensive versatility, but he and the team have been making nice since a recent spat and the Mets could well decide to pick up his 2018 option.
47. Seth Smith (Orioles), Matt Joyce (Athletics) & Daniel Nava (Phillies), OF (LR: 47, NR): All are left-handed-hitting platoon outfielders (Nava’s a switch-hitter who’s better against righties) who could fill a need elsewhere.
50. Edinson Volquez & Tom Koehler (Marlins), Clayton Richard (Padres), Jaime Garcia (Braves), Jeremy Hellickson (Phillies) SP (LR: 37): These five are subjecting their teams to roller coaster rides. It’s plausible to imagine trade scenarios, but none figure to be in particularly heavy demand. Teams looking for innings may shop here, though.
55. Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers (LR: NR): Darvish would be the top rental starter if made available. While the team continues to stall out, it likely won’t sell unless the Wild Card is truly out of reach. And even then, it seems there’s at least some belief within the organization that holding onto Darvish will help with efforts to re-sign him over the winter — perhaps helping also to draw fellow Japanese star Shohei Otani.
56. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays (LR: NR): Speaking of trade candidates of dubious availability, the Toronto superstar would be a hot commodity if marketed. But Toronto has not yet shown signs of being willing to part with such a key player. Donaldson has another arb year left; it’d undoubtedly take a big return (likely including young MLB assets) to pry him loose.
57. Raisel Iglesias, RH Reliever, Reds (LR: 49): He won’t be shopped, but could probably had for a compelling offer.
58. Rajai Davis, OF, Athletics (LR: NR): While he hasn’t hit much, Davis has been better of late and has the profile of a player who could make an impact on a postseason roster. He’d also represent a possible August trade candidate.
59. Matt Adams, 1B, Braves (LR: NR): It’s still tough to guess at how things will shake out with Atlanta. But if Sean Rodriguez does return as now seems to be expected, and Freddie Freeman isn’t a really comfortable fit at third base, then perhaps the club will deem the timing right to get some value out of Adams at the deadline.
60. Freddy Galvis, SS, Phillies (LR: NR): Galvis has been hitting rather well this year and is a quality shortstop who can also line up elsewhere in the infield.
Tommy Kahnle (White Sox): A few rough outings make it seem more likely that Chicago will hold onto him and hope he can continue to establish himself as a quality late-inning arm.
Nate Jones (White Sox), Neil Walker (Mets), Cesar Hernandez & Vince Velasquez (Phillies), J.J. Hardy (Orioles), Yangervis Solarte (Padres), Eduardo Nunez & Mark Melancon (Giants), Joe Smith (Blue Jays), Brad Ziegler (Marlins), Chris Coghlan (Blue Jays), Howie Kendrick (Phillies), Hector Santiago (Twins)
Reds: Billy Hamilton