The trade deadline is ten days away, and the market is coming into focus. Click here for the first iteration of this list, which includes an explanation of the approach. Basically, we’re looking at both trade likelihood and trade value (in all its facets).
There has been some movement in the standings since we last checked in, helping drive some of the many changes on this list. Significant deals have already taken place, needs are becoming clear, and the rumors are beginning to offer some insight into who is and isn’t likely to be made available.
On to the rankings (“LR” = “last ranked”):
1. Sonny Gray, SP, Athletics (LR: 2): Gray has been strong in his last five starts. At this point, it may be a surprise if he makes another in an A’s uniform.
2. Addison Reed, RH Reliever, Mets (LR: 3): As an experienced late-inning arm who can get a strikeout and doesn’t issue many walks, Reed would instantly upgrade every bullpen in baseball. He’s a pure rental and is unsurprisingly drawing wide interest. Dealing Reed ought to give the Mets a chance to pad their farm heading into an offseason that promises to be full of intrigue.
3. Justin Wilson (Tigers) & Brad Hand (Padres), LH Relievers (LR: 6, 8): These power lefties could be major weapons in the postseason. Detroit doesn’t have to trade Wilson, strictly speaking, but the demand is there and the team is clearly ready to pile up some youthful assets. Meanwhile, the Padres are justified in putting a high asking price on Hand and his future control. Question is: will they really keep him if they don’t get their price or is this just the maneuvering at the start of a deadline auction?
5. Pat Neshek, RH Reliever, Phillies (LR: 11): Neshek has put up blanks in all but two of his outings this year and is perhaps the quintessential rental reliever.
6. Yonder Alonso (Athletics) & Lucas Duda (Mets), 1B (LR: 8, 14): With Alonso falling off a bit at the plate, these two are in much the same position as rental sluggers that can only play first base. That creates an interesting market dynamic. It’s still conceivable that either could be held as qualifying offer or even extension candidates, but the likelier scenario still seems to be that both are dealt.
8. Zack Cozart (Reds), Jed Lowrie (Athletics) & Eduardo Nunez (Giants), INF (LR: 8, 9, INJ): While Cozart is outperforming the other two and is a stellar shortstop, there’s just no contender that has a clear need at the position. The other two players have greater experience elsewhere in the infield. All three could help contenders and ought to be wearing new uniforms as of August 1st (if not sooner).
11. Trevor Cahill, SP, Padres (LR: 17): His last outing was a very good one, with eight strikeouts and just one earned run over 6 2/3 innings. Teams that want to make a run but aren’t sure they want to give up the farm (or take on much salary) to do it may see quite a lot of upside in adding Cahill.
12. Alex Avila, C, Tigers (LR: 12): The veteran backstop has not hit all that much in July, but that’s a tiny sample and he’s still drawing gobs of walks. He’s an ideal second catcher since he hits from the left side; the bat has been good enough that he could function as quite a useful bench bat in a postseason series.
15. Anthony Swarzak, RH Reliever, White Sox (LR: NR): You may have noticed that the White Sox are open to trades. Swarzak is a pending free agent with a 2.45 ERA and a cheap salary. While he had fallen into a lull for a stretch, he’s now back to posting clean innings with lots of strikeouts and few walks.
16. AJ Ramos, RH Reliever, Marlins (LR: 19): Though the Marlins are evidently not interested in marketing controllable position players, they are obviously willing to deal relievers. Ramos isn’t exactly a lock-down option, but he has plenty of late-inning experience and has 45 strikeouts in his 35 1/3 innings on the year.
18. Zach Britton (LH Reliever) & Brad Brach (RH Reliever), Orioles (LR: 39): Much like the Marlins, the O’s are said to be listening on their quality late-inning arms while showing much more reticence on other players that come with future control. Britton could be a difference maker from the pen, though his health questions and still-shaky form limits his value. Brach, meanwhile, has been a steady force over the past two years and should command a high price.
20. Melky Cabrera, OF, White Sox (LR: 17): He has been on fire of late, boosting his appeal — though clearly the Sox will still need to chip in a lot of money to move the contract. Cabrera could be a useful platoon piece for the right contender.
21. Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers (LR: 55): The Rangers’ poor recent play is beginning to make a Darvish trade seem more plausible. But this ranking reflects both the remaining doubt about his availability and the huge value that he could have if he is put on the block. While 2017 hasn’t been his most dominant season, Darvish would represent a front-line rotation piece that could significantly change a team’s trajectory (and even, perhaps, give an acquiring organization an edge in pursuing him in free agency).
22. 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 a decent bit of salary) as rental assets. Teams destined for the postseason likely won’t view these pitchers as likely playoff rotation pieces, but more marginal contenders could roll the dice on the talented hurlers.
24. Justin Verlander (Tigers) & Jeff Samardzija (Giants), SP (LR: 25, 41): Neither of these pitchers is cheap, and neither has a particularly appealing earned run average. But their power arsenals are still intriguing and reporting suggests there’s real interest.
26. Ian Kinsler (2B) & Justin Upton (OF), Tigers (LR: 36): With Detroit moving assets, these two have to be up for consideration. Actually making deals will be complicated due to Kinsler’s limited no-trade clause and Upton’s opt-out provision, and demand is in question, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see something end up being worked out for either player.
28. Drew Storen (RH Reliever), Tony Cingrani (LH Reliever), Reds (LR: 29): Both were bombed in their most recent appearances but have generally been quality relievers over the course of the season. Storen is the more obvious trade piece — he’ll be a free agent this winter, while Cingrani can be retained for two more years — but the Reds are surely willing to listen on both pitchers.
30. Sergio Romo, RH Reliever, Dodgers (LR: NR): Romo is in DFA limbo and has no reason to accept a minor-league assignment, so he’s all but certain to change teams — either by trade/claim or through free agency. It’ll be interesting to see what happens here; while Romo owns an ugly ERA and has given up too many home runs, he’s still getting hitters to flail at his slider as much as ever and is owed just $3MM on the year. Perhaps the Dodgers will also take some interest (however limited) in directing him away from potential NL competitors.
31. Hunter Strickland (Giants) & Jim Johnson (Braves), RH Relievers, Giants (LR: NR): We’ve seen some interest begin to materialize in the power righty, who owns a 1.85 ERA on the year — though he has also walked 19 batters in his 34 innings (to go with 36 strikeouts). Strickland will be a Super Two next year; while the Giants can surely afford him, this may represent an opportunity to get some assets — and there’s also the question of his standing in the organization after a high-profile altercation with Bryce Harper. Johnson has been much better than his results and is under contract for just $4.5MM next year. Atlanta will likely keep a fairly steep price on the veteran, though, since he’d likely play a prominent role in the team’s pen next year as they look to ramp up for a real run at contention.
33. Jaime Garcia (Braves), Jeremy Hellickson (Phillies) & Jhoulys Chacin (Padres), SP (LR: 50, 50, NR): Garcia appears to be on his way to the Twins, but I figured I’d leave him where he would have been — particularly since that deal isn’t yet final. Hellickson and Chacin have both been serviceable and would also represent useful innings for the right team. The former is vastly more expensive than the latter, which will impact the way this plays out.
36. Asdrubal Cabrera (Mets) & Freddy Galvis (Phillies), INF (LR: 35, 60): This could be a shade low for Cabrera, as he can still hit and there’s a fair bit of demand in the utility infield market. But he’s not considered a very good defender, hasn’t played third in ages, and could still be kept by the Mets. Galvis has been hitting rather well this year and is a quality shortstop who can also line up elsewhere in the infield. We also haven’t really seen his name come up much in trade rumors.
38. Seth Smith (Orioles), Matt Joyce (Athletics) & Daniel Nava (Phillies), OF (LR: 47): Smith and Joyce are the more appealing players among this trio of lefty corner outfielders, but they’re also paid like it. Each could hold appeal to an organization looking to shore up its bench or find a platoon option.
41. Rajai Davis, OF, Athletics (LR: 58): Davis is also a veteran rental outfielder, albeit of quite a different kind. Speed and defense make him a plausible target as a reserve, if the A’s are willing to cover some of his salary.
42. Welington Castillo (Orioles) & Jonathan Lucroy (Rangers), C (LR: 32): Both of these receivers could be available, but the demand situation is unclear. Lucroy’s struggles are well documented, but his track record still makes him an interesting target.
44. Brandon Maurer, Craig Stammen & Kirby Yates, RH Relievers, Padres (LR: NR): If it seems the Padres’ entire pitching staff is up for sale … well, that’s mostly the case. We’ve heard little about Ryan Buchter, who’s perhaps the team’s second-best reliever after the above-mentioned Hand. Then again, that honor could go to Yates, who’s now through 29 1/3 innings with a 1.84 ERA and 13.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 — despite the fact that he was added through a waiver claim earlier this season. Whether rivals will buy into that sudden rise enough to pique the Padres’ interest isn’t clear. With three more years of control, no deal is needed. The same holds true of Maurer, who can be offered arbitration twice more. His ERA lags his peripherals, but the underlying numbers are impressive (8.9 K/9 vs. 1.7 BB/9, etc.). And then there’s Stammen, the resurgent bulldog who is giving the Pads’ quality multi-inning appearances much as he once did for the Nationals. Excepting a rough start and recent drubbing in a long relief appearance, he has been excellent. While Stammen isn’t as interesting as the other two arms, he’s a rental.
47. Carlos Gomez, OF, Rangers (LR: NR): If the Rangers start dealing, they’ll surely take offers on the 31-year-old, who’s earning $11.5MM this year. Gomez has played well, with a .247/.332/.460 slash and a dozen home runs. He’s also still capable of manning center field and providing some value on the bases, though there’s not a lot of outfield demand.
48. Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit & David Hernandez, RH Relievers, Angels (LR: NR): All of these veteran journeymen are cheap, pending free agents who are throwing well for the Halos, making them plausible targets if the club decides to try to recoup some prospect value.
51. Julio Teheran (Braves), Lance Lynn (Cardinals), Alex Cobb (Rays), J.A. Happ (Blue Jays), SP (LR: NR, NR, NR, 41): Teams are eyeing all of these pitchers, and all could conceivably be available. But it’s far from clear that trades can be found at reasonable prices. Teheran and Happ are both valued by their organizations for their future control, while Lynn and Cobb will be hard to deal away even if their respective clubs feel there are viable in-house replacements.
55. Yunel Escobar, INF, Angels (LR: NR): Escobar continues to hit for average and reach base at a solid clip. Though he doesn’t move well on the bases and is no longer a great defender, he’d be another player to be considered for teams looking at infield additions and is earning a palatable $7MM this year.
56. Jerry Blevins, LH Reliever, Mets (LR: 26): Blevins has shown signs of wearing down and the Mets have given indications that they’d rather hold onto him for 2018 regardless. But he’d still surely be available at the right price.
57. Juan Nicasio (RH Reliever) & Tony Watson (LH Reliever), Pirates (LR: 18, 27): With the Bucs suddenly back in the race, they won’t feel compelled to deal these pending free agent relievers. But the club could still explore deals that would bring back more controllable MLB assets. That feels less likely to come to fruition than it was in the case of Mark Melancon, who was traded last summer for exciting lefty Felipe Rivero.
59. Raisel Iglesias (Reds) & Roberto Osuna (Blue Jays), RH Relievers (LR: 57, NR): Both pitchers would be highly valued. Given the volatility of relievers as long-term assets, their teams will surely be willing to listen. But it’s far from clear that any contenders will offer up enough to pry these live right arms loose.
Honorable Mention: Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich & Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins; Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays; Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles: All indications are that these high-quality players aren’t being shopped, even though their respective organizations seem to be out of the postseason race. Still, all are worth keeping an eye on in the event that a significant offer comes rolling in.
Jose Quintana (White Sox to Cubs); Sean Doolittle & Ryan Madson (Athletics to Nationals); J.D. Martinez (Tigers to Diamondbacks); Todd Frazier, David Robertson & Tommy Kahnle (White Sox to Yankees); David Phelps (Marlins to Mariners)
Nate Jones (White Sox), Neil Walker (Mets), Howie Kendrick (Phillies), J.J. Hardy (Orioles), Yangervis Solarte (Padres), Mark Melancon (Giants), Brad Ziegler (Marlins), Joe Smith & Chris Coghlan (Blue Jays), Hector Santiago (Twins), Arodys Vizcaino (Braves), Scott Feldman (Reds), Martin Prado & Edinson Volquez (Marlins), Cameron Maybin (Angels), Johnny Cueto (Giants)