Within hours of last week’s edition of our top August trade candidates, Curtis Granderson (No. 2) was shipped from the Mets to the Dodgers in exchange or a player to be named later (eventually revealed to be hard-throwing Triple-A righty Jacob Rhame). The following day, catcher Rene Rivera went from the Mets to the Cubs via waiver claim after New York simply let the remainder of his contract go to Chicago. And earlier this week, Rajai Davis (No. 8) was traded from Oakland to Boston in exchange for minor league outfielder Rafael Rincones.
[Related: Players that have cleared revocable waivers]
Those swaps, plus the improved play of some clubs versus the deteriorated play of others (e.g. the Pirates) leaves our current rankings looking like this (Note: Asterisk indicates player has reportedly cleared waivers)…
- Jed Lowrie, Athletics: With the exception of a power outage in the month of July, Lowrie has been an average or better bat in each month this season (by measure of wRC+). He plays all four infield positions, switch hits, draws walks and is a reasonably tough strikeout. He’s owed $1.3MM through season’s end ($6.5MM base in 2017), plus the $1MM buyout on a 2018 club option. But, Lowrie has played so well that said option looks like an absolute bargain.
- Juan Nicasio, Pirates: Nicasio jumps more than any player from last week’s rankings, which perhaps shouldn’t be a total surprise given the poor play of his team. The Bucs are now eight back in the NL Central and 8.5 back of a Wild Card thanks to a 3-7 slump. Nicasio, a free agent at season’s end, owns a pristine 2.95 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, a 45.5 percent grounder rate and a heater that averages 95.4 mph. At $738K through season’s end, he’s a steal.
- Brad Ziegler, Marlins: Ziegler still hasn’t allowed a run since returning from the DL on Aug. 1, and he’s still boasting a ground-ball rate of 76.5 percent in that time. He’s only picked up four strikeouts, though his ground-ball rate and just one walk have helped to mitigate the lack of punchouts. If Miami will pay down some of the $10.4MM he’s owed from now through the end of the 2018 season, Ziegler could move.
- Zack Cozart, Reds: There’s still no obvious taker for Cozart, but he’s good enough that one could argue a case for the majority of contenders to find a way to make room for him. Cozart is an elite defensive shortstop that is hitting .311/.403/.568, including a .283/.406/.566 line in 64 PAs since coming off the DL earlier this month. It’s possible that he’s already been pulled back off waivers, of course, and the Reds needn’t feel any pressure to deal him from my vantage point; he’s an easy candidate to turn down a qualifying offer, in my eyes, though I’ll admit to being more bullish on that prospect than some of my colleagues at MLBTR.
- Brandon Phillips*, Braves: Phillips has cooled since a ridiculous month of April, but he’s hit for average all summer, has demonstrated decent pop at age 36, still only whiffs in 10.9 percent of his PAs and now has a respectable run as a third baseman in his back pocket as well. The Braves are only paying him $1MM this year, making him a cheap bench upgrade at the least.
- Craig Stammen, Padres: Stammen probably deserves more love than he’s gotten on these lists, thanks largely to a terrific second half. He’s allowed just two runs since the All-Star break and is now sitting on a 3.55 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 52.9 percent grounder rate. For a player who is owed just $182K through season’s end, those are nice numbers, and Stammen is better than the sixth- or seventh-best reliever on many contenders.
- Asdrubal Cabrera*, Mets: New York has found a way to sell off virtually every other veteran on its staff, with Cabrera standing out as the top option remaining. Unfortunately for the Mets, he’s been in an offensive tailspin since the non-waiver deadline, posting an awful .227/.268/.293 batting line over his past 82 plate appearances. At this point, there’s not much of a justification for ranking him ahead of Lowrie or Phillips, as I’ve done on previous iterations of this list.
- Steve Pearce, Blue Jays: The Jays have yet to sell off any pieces that could help them in 2018, so this ranking may be aggressive for Pearce. But with Toronto flat-out buried in the AL East and now five back of a Wild Card spot, 2017 is getting bleak. Pearce is mashing at a .295/.374/.543 pace in the second half, making the $7.5MM he’s owed through 2018 look beyond reasonable. Any contender with a first base, corner outfield or DH need would likely love to add Pearce to its starting lineup or, at least, to the bench.
- Clayton Richard, Padres: Richard just tossed his first shutout since 2012 two starts ago, and he’s pitched quite well overall since a fluky 10-run bludgeoning skewed his ERA on July 19 (3.54 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 64.2 GB% since). Richard is one of the game’s best ground-ball pitchers, and he’s on pace for a roughly 200-inning season while earning a modest $1.75MM salary ($354K remaining).
- Jhoulys Chacin, Padres: His home-road splits are glaring, but they’re heavily skewed by a trio of early starts in which he yielded a staggering 23 runs (to the Dodgers, D-backs and Mets). Since May 28, Chacin has only yielded three or more earned runs on two occasions, and he’s been solid both at and away from Petco Park. He’s not as good as his 3.17 ERA in that time, but Chacin has an average K rate, above-average ground-ball rate and is only owed $354K through season’s end.
- Miguel Gonzalez*, White Sox: Gonzalez has allowed only two runs in his past 20 innings, albeit with a 14-to-8 K/BB ratio, a poor 32.2 percent grounder rate and plenty of hard contact allowed. If nothing else, he can serve as a fifth starter or long reliever for a contender next month. Gonzalez is owed $1.2MM through season’s end and shouldn’t come with a high asking price.
- Matt Joyce, Athletics: Joyce has gone deep twice since the last iteration of this list and six times this month in just 66 PAs. He has a 117 wRC+ against righties this year with tons of walks helping to offset a pedestrian batting average. He’s an improvement for teams looking for some punch off the bench, though next year’s $6MM salary may be off-putting for some otherwise-interested parties.
- Zach Duke, Cardinals: Duke hasn’t fared especially well since his sprint back from Tommy John surgery, but he’s faced 19 lefties and allowed only a pair of singles and three walks. A team seeking a lefty specialist could look to Duke to fill that role. St. Louis isn’t a clear seller, but unlike teammate Lance Lynn, Duke obviously is not a candidate for a qualifying offer after the year. He’s owed $1.1MM through season’s end, and the Cards have several other southpaws in the ’pen.
- Kurt Suzuki, Braves: I’ve seen it suggested that Suzuki has benefited greatly from hitter-friendly SunTrust Park in 2017. That may be true, but that thinking ignores the fact that 10 of his 14 homers — his most since 2011 — have some on the road. “Zook” may not have a great defensive rep, but he’s mashed at a .268/.344/.537 pace while earning $1.5MM in 2017. He’s owed $303K of that figure.
- R.A. Dickey, Braves: Dickey has gone six or more innings in 11 of his past 12 starts (including a full seven innings six times), though some teams may not relish the notion of telling one of their catchers to learn to catch a knuckleball at this juncture of the season. The upside is fairly low, and the Braves have reportedly considered simply exercising his 2018 option.
- Matt Moore, Giants: Somewhere between all of the “What’s wrong with Matt Moore?” and “What should the Giants do with Matt Moore?” questions, the left-hander somewhat quietly decided to show signs of a turnaround. Moore has a 4.09 ERA and 3.98 FIP with 8.5 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 in 50 2/3 innings since the All-Star break. The Giants aim to contend in 2018, so they may simply be thrilled with the improvements and exercise his affordable $9MM option. But, if they feel now is the time to sell high on a change-of-scenery candidate — well, higher than they could have in June — contenders and non-contenders alike could have interest.
- Daniel Hudson, Pirates: Hudson throws very hard and misses bats, but he’s been walk- and homer-prone in 2017. His underwhelming 4.50 ERA is largely supported by fielding-independent alternatives. He’s still owed $1.1MM this year and $5.5MM next year, which complicates matters but also makes him likely to clear waivers (if he hasn’t already).
- Derek Holland*, White Sox: Holland had his best start in quite awhile against the Twins yesterday, but his overall lack of production out of the rotation is likely too great for any contending club to count on him as a starter for the season’s final month. The Sox would probably he happy to dump the remainder of his $6MM deal, though (about $1.2MM), and he does have strong numbers against left-handed hitters.
- Justin Verlander*, Tigers: Verlander cleared waivers and technically remains available for trade, but despite his excellent run of success and improved control, his massive contract and full no-trade rights make a deal extremely unlikely.
- Giancarlo Stanton*, Marlins: If Verlander’s $28MM annual salary from 2018-19 and full no-trade clause are impediments to a deal, then the $295MM that Stanton is owed beyond 2017 and his own no-trade provision are virtually insurmountable. There’d be no greater difference-maker on the market, though, so he takes the final spot on our rankings, as he did last week.
J.A. Happ & Jose Bautista (Blue Jays); Matt Kemp, Jim Johnson & Nick Markakis (Braves); Lance Lynn & Seung-hwan Oh (Cardinals); Denard Span & Nick Hundley (Giants); A.J. Ellis & Dee Gordon (Marlins); Darren O’Day, Zach Britton Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Miley & Seth Smith (Orioles); Yangervis Solarte (Padres), Hyun Soo Kim & Freddy Galvis (Phillies); Andrew Cashner & Tyson Ross (Rangers); Drew Storen (Reds); Jose Iglesias (Tigers); James Shields & Mike Pelfrey (White Sox)