This is the final entry in MLBTR’s 2017 Trade Market Series. Prior entries cover left-handed relievers, starting pitchers, outfielders, shortstops, second basemen, first basemen, third basemen, and catchers.
Anthony Swarzak and Pat Neshek recently became the latest right-handed relievers to be dealt to contenders this July, while Steve Cishek and Erasmo Ramirez were just swapped for one another. Those pitchers won’t be the last of their kind to move via trade — far from it, in fact. Quite a few appealing trade candidates will likely go to the highest bidder, with others perhaps also available at the right price:
Addison Reed, Mets | $7.75MM in 2017 ($2.75MM remaining)
The Mets’ closer is one of the most marketable arms out there, as he’s been an absolute buzzsaw since going from Arizona to Queens. Reed misses bats and has a minuscule walk rate, though there’s been at least one report suggesting that there could be concerns about his heavy workload with the Mets. All the same, he could very well be the most impactful right-handed rental on the relief market.
Brandon Kintzler, Twins | $2.95MM in 2017 ($1.05MM remaining)
The Twins’ hopes at a playoff berth are increasingly slim, and Minnesota is reportedly listening on short-term pieces after being passed up by the surging Royals and Indians. If they make him available, Kintlzer’s heavy sinker and strong control would make him an in-demand commodity. He’s cheap and effective and would make a nice setup piece in a contender’s bullpen.
Drew Storen, Reds | $3MM in 2017 ($1.07MM remaining)
He’s not the strikeout machine he was when closing for the Nats a few years ago, but Storen is averaging better than eight strikeouts per frame with a strong ground-ball rate. He’s also on a cheap one-year deal, which should make him attractive to teams that want to bolster their bullpen without taking on too much cash.
Craig Stammen, Padres | $900K in 2017 ($320K remaining)
Stammen entered the year with just four big league innings since the conclusion of the 2014 season, but he’s up to 53 2/3 frames now with a 4.02 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 51.9 percent ground-ball rate. He can go multiple innings and is on a bargain contract for a team that is selling anything that’s not nailed down.
Tuesday’s poor outing notwithstanding, Norris has risen from reclamation project to shutdown reliever for most of the season, with 11.4 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 48.4 percent ground-ball rate. His 3.12 ERA is backed up by FIP, xFIP and SIERA. Meanwhile, teams seeking multiple innings might not be able to better than Petit. The longtime Giant has totaled 56 2/3 frames in just 36 appearances while racking up a gaudy 59-to-12 K/BB ratio. Hernandez, like Norris, has missed bats and kept the ball on the ground, but he’s done so with fewer K’s and much better control (9.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9). All three veterans are cheap and effective.
Juan Nicasio, Pirates | $3.65MM in 2017 ($1.3MM remaining)
As noted when looking at the trade market for lefty relievers, the Buccos may very well be buying, but they still flipped Mark Melancon at last year’s deadline with a Wild Card spot in arm’s reach. They’re closer to the division this time around, though, so perhaps flipping rentals isn’t in the cards. If they do, Nicasio has been terrific in 2017.
John Axford, Athletics | $5.5MM in 2017 ($1.95MM remaining)
The walks are back. Axford has issued 17 free passes in 21 innings (7.3 BB/9), and the resulting 6.30 ERA / 5.72 FIP is downright ugly. It’s tough to see anyone taking this contract following Axford’s recent DFA.
Seung-hwan Oh, Cardinals | $2.75MM in 2017 ($977K remaining)
The 35-year-old’s sophomore season in the Majors hasn’t gone as well as his brilliant rookie campaign. Oh’s strikeout rate is down, and he’s already allowed more homers in 2017 (eight) than he did in all of 2016 (five). His walk and ground-ball rates have also gone in the wrong direction.
Joaquin Benoit, Phillies | $7.5MM in 2017 ($2.66MM remaining)
Benoit hasn’t exactly lived up to his $7.5MM salary, but he’s still throwing hard (94.8 mph average fastball) and missing bats (9.1 K/9). His ground-ball rate is way down, though, and his control has been below average.
Joe Smith, Blue Jays | $3MM in 2017 ($1.07MM remaining)
Smith only just returned from the DL, but he’s racked up a ridiculous 50-to-8 K/BB ratio with a slightly above-average ground-ball rate in 33 2/3 innings. If teams are convinced that he’s healthy, they’ll want him. He’s arguably one of the more attractive rental options in the game, depending on one’s view of his health.
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Controlled Through 2018
AJ Ramos, Marlins | $6.55MM in 2017 ($2.33MM remaining); arb-eligible in 2018
Like his former setup counterpart David Phelps, Ramos is controlled through next season and is very much available. But, he issues more walks than Phelps (4.9 BB/9), is more expensive in 2017 and will earn a larger raise via arbitration this winter due to the almighty save.
Brad Brach, Orioles | $3.05MM in 2017 ($1.08MM remaining); arb-eligible in 2018
The Orioles acquired Brach for a song a little more than three years ago, and he’s turned into one of their top relievers since that time. He’s earning $3.05MM after beating the O’s in an arb hearing this winter and can be controlled through 2018. Brach has a 2.45 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in his past 201 2/3 MLB innings (excluding postseason work).
Jim Johnson, Braves | $4.5MM in 2017 ($1.6MM remaining); $4.5MM in 2018
Even if the ERA isn’t sparkly, Johnson has impressed with 10.8 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 while drawing grounders at a typically strong rate. But the Braves likely won’t see much urgency in dealing him, as that would mean going back to the market — and quite possibly paying a steep price — to get another veteran arm in the coming free-agent market.
Brad Ziegler, Marlins | $7MM in 2017 ($2.49MM remaining); $9MM in 2018
He’s hurt right now, but it likely won’t be long before teams are taking a close look at the veteran. Ziegler struggled early in Miami, but the submariner has a long track record of success and offers a totally different look from most relievers.
Junichi Tazawa, Marlins | $5MM in 2017 ($1.78MM remaining); $7MM in 2018
The results have been much better in July, but Tazawa just hasn’t been the same pitcher he used to be. His swinging-strike rate (9.1%) and zone rate (40.8%) fall well below his usual levels, and that’s showing up in K/BB numbers (6.7 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9) that are completely out of whack against Tazawa’s career rates.
Santiago Casilla, Athletics | $4.5MM in 2017 ($1.6MM remaining); $5.5MM in 2018
Though he has held down the ninth inning for Oakland, Casilla hasn’t been all that effective. Through 36 2/3 innings, he carries a 4.66 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Casilla still brings a mid-nineties fastball and has been much more productive in recent years, but there just hasn’t been much chatter about him at all, with the A’s perhaps content to retain the veteran for 2018.
Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals | $6.4MM in 2017 ($2.27MM remaining); arb-eligible in 2018
While his 3.69 ERA doesn’t jump off the page, Rosenthal seems to be back after a miserable 2016 season. He’s averaging a career-high 13.9 K/9 (on a career-high 15.7% swinging-strike rate), has gotten a handle on last year’s walk issues, and is throwing harder than ever. St. Louis would be justified in a steep asking price if it decides to sell.
Blake Wood, Reds | $1.275MM in 2017 ($453K remaining); arb-eligible in 2018
There’s not much in Wood’s profile to get excited about, but he has a big fastball and delivers a decent number of strikeouts while carrying an above-average grounder rate. Wood has struggled against lefties, though, which limits his appeal.
Extended Control Rights
There are a ton of other righties with lengthier control rights that could conceivably be moved, but some stand out as being most worthy of some attention here. Raisel Iglesias of the Reds and Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays would represent impact additions, but will be held out for a ransom and don’t seem likely to be dealt. Perhaps this could finally be the time for the Braves to move Arodys Vizcaino; he’s throwing quite well and is now down to two more years of arb control. And the Rangers are said to be open to offers on the talented Keone Kela — with Jeremy Jeffress being firmly on the block. The Orioles would surely make Darren O’Day available, though he’s owed $18MM after this season and has not pitched nearly to that level over the past two years. Likewise, teams like the Giants (Hunter Strickland & George Kontos), Orioles (Mychal Givens), Marlins (Kyle Barraclough), Phillies (Hector Neris & Luis Garcia), and Tigers (Alex Wilson & Shane Greene) could listen to trade scenarios on a variety of pitchers — ranging from interesting, high-K arms to sturdier middle-inning types. Perhaps the most interesting player to ponder, though, is breakout Padres righty Kirby Yates. The 30-year-old already had over two years of service on his clock entering the season but had never produced like this; through 33 1/3 innings in San Diego, he owns a 1.89 ERA with 13.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.