In what’s become one of the most lopsided trades we’ve seen in a long time, the White Sox traded Fernando Tatis Jr. and Erik Johnson to the Padres for James Shields and cash back in 2016. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd tries to explain how this painful deal came about for the Sox, in today’s video.
We’ve reached the five-year anniversary of a free-agent signing whose effects are still being felt today. It was on Feb. 11, 2015, that the Padres signed longtime workhorse James Shields to a four-year, $75MM guarantee. They beat out at least three other teams to sign Shields, a California native whose homecoming didn’t work out as planned for him or the Padres.
The right-handed Shields was one of several household names the Padres acquired that offseason in hopes of snapping what was then an eight-year playoff drought. Along with adding Shields, general manager A.J. Preller nabbed the Upton brothers (Justin and Melvin), two other high-profile hitters in Matt Kemp and Wil Myers and closer Craig Kimbrel. Despite all those moves, though, the Padres didn’t end their playoff skid that year, nor have they made the postseason since. What’s more, only Myers is still a member of the organization, and he’s now the owner of a contract the Padres would love to clear from their books.
Shields, then 33 years old, joined the Padres off stellar runs with the Rays and Royals. The man known as “Big Game James” and “Complete Game James” debuted in 2006 and threw at least 200 innings in each season from 2007-14. He was at his best in the four seasons preceding his deal with the Padres, as he fired a league-leading 932 2/3 innings of 3.17 ERA/3.49 FIP ball with 7.95 K/9, 2.27 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent groundball rate.
While Shields remained a fairly effective innings-eater in his first season as a Padre, he didn’t offer the type of front-line production he had in prior years. Shields wound up tossing 202 1/3 frames of 3.91 ERA/4.45 FIP ball, posted 9.61 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9, and recorded a 44.9 percent grounder rate in 2015. That went down as his lone full season as a member of the Padres. After Shields got off to an underwhelming start the next year, the Padres traded him and $31MM of the $58MM left on his contract to the White Sox in June 2016. Like the Padres before them, the White Sox were mistakenly under the impression Shields would help them push for a playoff spot. And like the Padres now, they’re still in the midst of a long postseason drought. Meanwhile, Shields hasn’t pitched since 2018 – the last of three rough seasons in Chicago.
While the Shields-Padres union didn’t work out as planned, it’s one that could benefit them for many years. After all, had they not signed Shields, they may not have been able to pull off one of the biggest heists in recent history. The Padres acquired two players – righty Erik Johnson and then-infield prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. – in exchange for Shields. Johnson didn’t amount to anything in a Padres uniform, and he hasn’t pitched professionally since 2018. But the Padres struck gold on Tatis, who was just 17 when they got him and wasn’t regarded as a premium prospect. Tatis eventually soared up prospect rankings, though, and looked like a can’t-miss talent by the time he made his major league debut last season. He delivered in a big way as a 21-year-old, though injuries limited him to 84 games and 372 plate appearances, as he slashed a tremendous .317/.379/.590 with 22 home runs, 16 stolen bases and 3.6 fWAR.
It’s safe to say Tatis is now one of the foremost young building blocks in the sport. Had it not been for a free-agent signing that went awry, he might not even be a Padre right now.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
TODAY: Shields says he has also given a look to scouts for the Yankees and Orioles, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription link). To this point, though, Shields says he has yet to receive a “formal offer.”
It’s hard to believe that no teams were willing to sign Shields to a minor-league deal; reading between the lines, it may simply be that they didn’t bother based upon the indications given by his reps at PSI Sports Management. There does seem to be reason to believe that Shields is looking for a 40-man roster spot upon signing. His salary demands are not fully known. “I definitely am not asking for an outrageous salary,” he says, “but I would want to be treated fairly for what I do and bring to a ball club.”
It’s not entirely clear whether those three organizations maintain ongoing interest after watching the veteran hurler. But it seems all but certain that some team will ultimately pick up the durable and experienced 37-year-old.
Shields is obviously not the excellent rotation piece he once was, but he’s the type of steadying presence that could make quite a bit of sense for the right team. Still, his market has been quiet to the point of nonexistence thus far, at least in terms of public reporting.
Last year, Shields worked to a 4.53 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Those are middling numbers, but it must be noted that Shields compiled them over 204 2/3 frames — a rather hefty tally in this day and age.
It’s possible to imagine a variety of scenarios making sense for Shields. Non-competitive teams may like the idea of slotting him in to gobble up innings and set the tone for younger teammates. And some contenders may even contemplate Shields as a gap-filler or limited-inning starter. He was hit hardest the third (.248/.310/.461 in 252 plate appearances) and fourth (.444/.474/.944 in 19 plate appearances) times through the order last year. Limiting that exposure, perhaps by pairing Shields with a lefty long man, could enhance his usefulness.
We ran through some of the remaining sources of offensive power yesterday. Today, we’ll do the same for rotation pieces. There are not all that many established starters left on the market, but there are still a handful who stand out as plausible candidates to gobble up some frames without costing much for an acquiring team. (Jeremy Hellickson would’ve been included here had he not agreed to terms with the Nats this morning.) As before, we’ll be ignoring those players who MLBTR predicted to secure multi-year deals entering the winter (e.g. Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez).
Presented in order of 2018 innings pitched…
James Shields: He topped 200 frames for the tenth time in 2018, so teams looking for volume will have to place Shields on the top of their value list. True, the results (4.53 ERA) and peripherals (6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9, 35.2% GB rate) weren’t exciting, but Shields is also a respected staff member who’d be valued for his positive influence on teammates. For the right organization, he’s a viable innings eater.
Bartolo Colon: Yep, he’s back — or at least he hopes to be. Home runs were a big problem last year for Big Sexy, but he still racked up 146 1/3 frames on the year for the Rangers. As with Shields, there won’t likely be much interest from contenders, but other teams that are thin on upper-level pitching depth could look to Colon as a cheap source of innings.
Clay Buchholz: It’s quite a different story for the 34-year-old Buchholz, who had a nice turnaround campaign before it was cut short by yet another injury. Organizations that are interested in building waves of talented arms, whether or not they come with health concerns, will certainly be intrigued by Buchholz, even if his peripherals (7.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9, 42.6% GB rate) didn’t quite support the sparkling 2.01 ERA he carried through 98 1/3 innings last year in Arizona.
Yovani Gallardo: Though he made it through 94 1/3 innings, the outcomes weren’t pretty for Gallardo. Memories of his days as a sturdy mid-rotation starter are long faded, though perhaps there’s reason to believe in at least some amount of positive regression. Gallardo’s 6.39 ERA in 2018 was caused in some part by a low 64.5% strand rate. Of course, ERA estimators still valued his contributions in the low-5.00 realm, so there’s not a ton of room for optimism.
Edwin Jackson: Jackson ran up a productive ERA in about a half-season of work as a key member of Oakland’s patchwork rotation. But the spread in this case between his ERA (3.33) and ERA estimators (4.65 FIP, 4.88 xFIP, 4.98 SIERA) is significant. Jackson is still averaging better than 93 mph on his heater, but he likely won’t benefit again from a .240 batting average on balls in play from opposing hitters.
Brett Anderson: Some will be surprised to learn that Anderson only celebrated his 31st birthday earlier this month. The lefty debuted as a 21-year-old and has had a tumultuous career, but he put forth a solid effort in 80 1/3 frames with the A’s in ’18. Anderson registered a 55.6 percent grounder rate and notched a career-best 1.46 BB/9. He doesn’t miss many bats and has a long injury history, but the southpaw’s knack for keeping the ball on the ground and his typically low walk rates could be appealing for a team seeking depth rather than a candidate to make 30 starts.
Doug Fister: A knee injury wrecked Fister’s 2018 season, but the righty displayed his typical penchant for keeping the ball on the ground (50.4 percent) and avoiding free passes (2.5 BB/9). Fister managed a 4.50 ERA in 66 innings — nearly half of which came at the launching pad that is Globe Life Park in Arlington. It’s an extraordinarily small sample, to be sure, but the righty did notch a 2.82 ERA and 4.14 FIP in 35 2/3 innings on the road. As far as depth options go, clubs could do far worse than the 35-year-old veteran.
Ervin Santana: Only 10 pitchers threw more innings than Santana between the 2016-17 seasons, but an injured tendon in his pitching hand that required surgery last offseason more or less wiped out his entire 2018 campaign. It’s perhaps heartening that the injury wasn’t specific to the his elbow or shoulder. Santana’s results in 24 2/3 innings were awful (22 runs on 31 hits and nine walks), though it’s unlikely that he was healthy when on the hill. He may be 36 now, but Santana posted a combined 3.52 ERA in 907 2/3 frames from 2013-17. If his hand is healed up, he could be the best bet for a productive season on this list.
The White Sox announced Monday that they’ve exercised their $4.65MM club option on right-hander Nate Jones and declined a $16MM option on righty James Shields in favor of a $2MM buyout. The Sox also reinstated Michael Kopech from the 60-day disabled list, filling a 40-man spot for the bulk of the offseason. Kopech underwent Tommy John surgery late in the season. Chicago’s 40-man roster now contains 34 players.
It’s the first of three club options that the White Sox hold over Jones, who turns 33 in January. His contract also comes with a $5.15MM option for the 2020 season and a $6MM option for the 2021 campaign. Both come with $1.25MM buyout figures attached to them.
Jones missed nearly three months of the 2018 season with a pronator strain in his right arm but was, as usual, a high-quality bullpen option for the Sox when healthy. In 30 innings of relief this season, he pitched to an even 3.00 ERA with a 32-to-15 K/BB ratio, four homers allowed and a 39.5 percent ground-ball rate. Control was a bit more of an issue for Jones than in a typical season, but he’s averaged a manageable 3.3 walks per nine innings in his career, making the recent blip a bit less concerning. Jones also maintained his premium velocity, averaging 97.2 mph on his fastball, which no doubt contributed to his strong 13.6 percent swinging-strike rate.
The veteran Shields has become synonymous with the ill-fated deal that brought him to Chicago in the first place (wherein then-unheralded but now-elite prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. went to the Padres), but the 36-year-old had somewhat of a rebound season in 2018. While his 4.53 ERA won’t do much to impress anyone, Shields started 33 games and pitched in 34 overall, racking up 204 2/3 innings while averaging 6.8 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. He’ll turn 37 in December and may be a far cry from his peak seasons as “Big Game James,” but he displayed in 2018 that he’s still plenty durable and can provide some serviceable innings at the back of a thin rotation — likely at a highly affordable rate on a one-year deal.
White Sox right-hander James Shields is drawing interest from playoff contenders as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline creeps closer, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. The 36-year-old turned in his fourth straight quality start Saturday and has pitched to a 4.48 ERA/4.28 FIP with 6.01 K/9, 3.66 BB/9 and a 38.1 percent groundball rate in 76 1/3 innings this season. Shields is on a $21MM salary – though his previous team, San Diego, is paying $11MM of that – and has a $16MM club option for 2019. His employer is sure to decline that in favor of a $2MM buyout, as Levine notes.
More from around the American League…
- Boston’s among the teams keeping an eye on Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. If acquired, the 28-year-old would return to a setup role with the Red Sox, thanks to the presence of closer Craig Kimbrel, and would further bolster a late-game mix that also includes Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes. Herrera, who’s in his last year of team control and making $7.94MM, has allowed just two earned runs and hasn’t issued a walk in 22 2/3 innings this season.
- Left-hander Zach Britton could return to the Orioles’ bullpen by June 15, manager Buck Showalter told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com and other reporters Saturday. For now, Britton – who’s working back from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in December – will continue with his Triple-A rehab assignment. When he does get back to the majors, it seems Britton will be auditioning for other teams leading up to the deadline. Not only are the Orioles already well out of contention, but Britton’s not under contract past this season.
- The Rangers activated outfielder Carlos Tocci from the DL and optioned infielder Hanser Alberto to Triple-A on Saturday. Given that Tocci was a Rule 5 pick last winter, Texas had to decide whether to add him to its 25-man roster upon his activation or designate him for assignment. The 22-year-old will stick with the Rangers for the time being, even though his tenure with the team began poorly before he went to the DL on April 22 with a hip issue. The rookie has hit .080/.148/.080 over a small sample size of 28 PAs.
Newly signed Twins DH Logan Morrison received an offer from his hometown Royals before signing in Minnesota, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 30-year-old slugger said earlier in the offseason that he’d love to suit up for his hometown club, though that was before Kansas City began selling off pieces and made clear signals of a rebuilding effort. Per Berardino, Morrison’s desire to play for a contending club took priority. Morrison will join the heart of a young Twins lineup on the upswing in hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time in his career, though the questions that permeate the Twins’ rotation still leave Cleveland as a the division favorite.
More from the AL Central…
- The Royals’ signing of Lucas Duda likely pushes Hunter Dozier to Triple-A, writes Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. However, GM Dayton Moore was “adamant” that the addition of Duda won’t serve as any type of long-term roadblock for any of the club’s prospects, instead viewing the signing as a means of adding depth and ensuring that young players such as Dozier are MLB-ready when the reach the Majors. “As I said before, we’re very encouraged about our first-base options going forward,” said Moore. “But it puts us in a position where we don’t have to rush the process. We’ve seen players like Whit Merrifield, we’ve seen players like Paulo Orlando, the importance of getting a lot of at-bats at the Minor League level as they mature, and then when they get to the Major League level and they’re much more productive.”
- Indians infielder Erik Gonzalez left today’s game with an ankle/leg injury and is being further evaluated at the club’s Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. The versatile 26-year-old is attempting to make the club as a utility infielder, but he’s out of minor league options and would have to be placed on waivers before he could be sent to Triple-A early in the season. As such, any absence figures to complicate the decision and work to the benefit of his primary competition, Giovanny Urshela.
- James Shields won’t make his Spring Training debut with the White Sox until next week, instead continuing to throw in simulated games while he fine-tunes his new delivery, writes Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. Shields dropped down to a three-quarters arm slot late last summer and pitched to a 4.33 ERA over his final 10 outings with the new delivery, Van Schouwen notes. The Sox still owe Shields $10MM of his $21MM salary in the 2018 season — the Padres are on the hook for the rest — so any decent production they can get from Shields after a pair of dismal seasons would be a bonus. Meanwhile, right-hander Nate Jones is set to make his first appearance of the spring on Thursday. It’ll be his first in-game action since undergoing surgery to re-position his ulnar nerve last season. He’s slated to earn $3.95MM this season and can be controlled for roughly $12.5MM through the 2021 season via a series of club options, making him a potential valuable trade chip or long-term asset if he can bounce back from injury.
The White Sox haven’t been shy about blowing up their major league team lately. Within the past 13 months, GM Rick Hahn has shipped out nearly half the players who were on the club’s 25-man roster at the end of the 2016 season. Most notably, Chicaco was able to land killer hauls for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana.
The teardown has resulted in a tidal wave of incredible young talent. Yoan Moncada, Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already playing at the MLB level, and the club has three top 25 overall prospects still waiting in the wings. However, as one might imagine, the club is still not ready to contend. Player development isn’t always linear, and it will take at least a couple of years for the newfound cavalry to arrive from the farm system, let alone find success in the majors. As such, the White Sox are likely to continue trading away major league pieces with limited team control in order to add talent they can count on during their next window of contention.
Here’s a list of remaining assets that the South Siders might consider moving in the coming months…
Two Years of Control
Jose Abreu, 1B ($17.9MM projected arb salary): Since coming to Chicago from Cuba, Abreu has been an offensive force for the White Sox, evidenced by his .301/.359/.524 batting line and 139 wRC+ with the organization. He’s averaged 31 homers and 665 plate appearances across his four major league seasons, making him one of the most reliable offensive players in the game. MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently profiled his trade market, listing the Red Sox, Rangers and Rockies among his potential suitors. Abreu’s expensive salary (which will likely get another hefty boost in 2019) limits his trade value, but there’s still a clear surplus here. A crowded first base market complicates things a bit, but he could still draw plenty of interest from other clubs.
Avisail Garcia, OF ($6.7MM projected arb salary): Garcia enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017 after shedding some weight during the 2016-2017 offseason. The right-handed-hitting outfielder was in contention for the AL batting title for most of the year (thanks in part to a .392 BABIP), and was worth 4.2 fWAR overall. A while back, I broke down his hypothetical trade market, listing the Indians, Rockies and Diamondbacks as potential landing spots.
Rival organizations will obviously be skeptical about Garcia’s ability to repeat this performance considering his career 90 wRC+ prior to last season. Oddly, his hard hit rate and average exit velocity were basically in line with his 2016 figures. Still, it would be irresponsible for teams to write his 2017 season as entirely a fluke; Garcia did trade a few ground balls for fly balls and improve his contact rate, after all.
Nate Jones, RHP ($3.95MM salary for 2018, $545K club option for 2019, $3.75MM club option for 2020, $4.25MM club option for 2021. $1.25MM buyout on 2020-2021 options): A quick look at Jones’ numbers since his return from Tommy John surgery makes his contract look like a steal, particularly considering the lucrative deals given out to relievers so far this offseason. However, the righty reliever is highly unlikely to be traded this offseason after missing most of 2017 due to nerve repositioning surgery. He’ll likely need to reestablish his value before the White Sox can move him. A return to his 2016 form, however, would put Jones in the upper echelon of MLB relievers, and send his trade value through the roof.
Yolmer Sanchez, 2B ($2.1 projected arb salary for 2018): Formerly known as Carlos Sanchez, the switch-hitting second baseman rebranded himself in 2017. While it may have created moments of confusion for more casual White Sox fans, they’re just fine it that considering his improvements on the field. This past season, Sanchez hit .267/.319/.413 while playing excellent defense at the keystone. The 25-year-old Venezuela native was worth 8 defensive runs saved in 620 innings and ranked second in UZR/150 among MLB second baseman (minimum 500 innings). With four years of team control remaining, it’s certainly possible that Sanchez could be around for the next competitive White Sox team. However, he could yield plenty of value in a trade.
Carlos Rodon, LHP ($2MM projected arb salary for 2018): In all seriousness, Rodon probably won’t be traded any time soon. After an injury-plagued 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, no team will likely be willing to give up the prospects it would take to pry him out of Chicago’s hands. However, he’s on this list simply for the possibility that he could reestablish value prior to the coming season’s trade deadline. While the former number three overall pick might miss a portion of 2018, he comes with enormous upside. With the market for pitching being what it is, trading Rodon could provide an enormous boost to an already-strong farm system. Of course, the White Sox would need to be overwhelmed by an offer in order to consider moving him, as they can still retain him through 2021. Still, the club was content to move Jose Quintana at last year’s deadline, so Rodon is at least worth a mention on this list.
Salary Dump Candidates
James Shields, RHP ($21MM salary for 2018, $16MM club option for 2019 with a $2MM buyout): Any trade involving Shields would probably involve the White Sox sending some money along with him. The right-hander has an ERA well over 5.00 since coming to Chicago, and has walked over four batters per nine innings pitched during that time. His numbers in five September starts this past season were more palatable, however, and it’s worth noting that the White Sox are only on the hook for about half of Shields’ 2018 salary. Perhaps some team will be willing to take a chance on him as a back-of-the-rotation innings eater. Either way, he’s a one-year piece; his 2019 club option is highly unlikely to be exercised.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
As August wears on, more and more players are being put through revocable trade waivers. Here’s today’s list of names that have not only been placed on revocable waivers but have also gone unclaimed and are now free to be traded to any team…
- White Sox starters Derek Holland, Miguel Gonzalez and James Shields have all cleared revocable waivers, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. It’s almost impossible to see Shields moving anywhere, as the White Sox are still on the hook for $14.5MM of Shields’ contract through the end of the 2018 season. Shields has posted a 5.90 ERA in 68 2/3 innings this season. It’s at least feasible that Holland and/or Gonzalez could move, though. While neither would fetch a significant return, Holland has held lefties to a putrid .216/.279/.333 slash and could be viewed as a bullpen option at the least, if not as a simple innings eater for a club with a comfortable division lead. That latter label could also be applied to Gonzalez, who has a 4.67 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate in 113 1/3 innings this year. Gonzalez has turned in a 3.60 ERA over his past six starts, though peripheral metrics don’t support the uptick in ERA. Holland is on a one-year, $6MM deal, while Gonzalez is on a very similar one-year, $5.9MM pact.
- Heyman also reports that a quartet of expensive Tigers veterans — Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez and Jordan Zimmermann — has cleared waivers as well. It’s not a surprise at all to see any of those four clear, given the sizable contracts to which each is signed. Each has struggled in 2017 (Zimmermann and Martinez in particular), and no one from that group is going anywhere. Martinez is owed $18MM next year, while Zimmermann is owed $74MM from 2018-20. Cabrera, who is hitting .255/.343/.408 in 2017, is owed a staggering $192MM from 2018-23. Sanchez, meanwhile, is a free agent after this season and is owed the remainder of a $16MM salary plus a $5MM buyout on his 2018 option. He has a 6.95 ERA on the season and a 6.19 ERA since being recalled from Triple-A earlier this summer.
You can see a full list of players that are known to have cleared revocable waivers here, and those seeking a refresher on the intricacies of the waiver process can check out MLBTR’s August trade primer.
We’ll use this post to keep track of players that have reportedly cleared revocable waivers. Before diving into the names, a few items bear repeating. The majority of Major League players will be placed on trade waivers this month, with most instances going unreported. There are undoubtedly players (quite a few of them, most likely) who have already cleared waivers but have not been reported to have done so. Players can be traded into September, as well, but only those traded on or before Aug. 31 will be eligible for the postseason with their new teams, so there’s some urgency for contending clubs to complete deals by month’s end. And, of course, for those who aren’t familiar with the inner-workings of waiver trades, MLBTR published a full explanation of how August trades work earlier this month.
Here’s the current list (last updated Aug. 29):
- Jeff Samardzija, SP, Giants (link): While he hasn’t produced great results this year and is owed another $54MM over the following three seasons, Samardzija has put up compelling peripherals and has long been a scout’s favorite. Still, the Giants may not be all that inclined to move him and Samardzija has broad no-trade protection, so a deal seems unlikely.
- Nicholas Castellanos, 3B, Tigers (link): The 25-year-old hasn’t produced at the plate this year after a quality 2016 season. But he is still hitting the ball hard and could be an interesting bounceback target for other organizations — with an offseason deal seeming more likely than a late-August swap. Castellanos is playing this year on a $3MM salary and can be controlled for two more campaigns via arbitration.
- R.A. Dickey, RHP, Braves (link): Dickey has been just what Atlanta thought it was getting: a solid innings eater with plenty of durability but limited upside. He could fill in the fifth slot in a contender’s rotation, but teams might be reluctant to force one of their catchers to learn to catch a knuckleball this late in the year. He’s averaging six innings per start, and Atlanta may just keep him around in 2018.
- Brad Ziegler, RHP, Marlins (link): Ziegler has been stellar since returning from the disabled list and could certainly help a contending club’s bullpen. However, he’s owed $9MM in 2018, and the Marlins now find themselves back in Wild Card contention — both of which make a trade before the end of August unlikely. He could be an offseason trade candidate.
- Miguel Gonzalez, RHP, White Sox (link): Gonzalez is earning $5.9MM in 2017 and has been a serviceable, if unspectacular source of innings for the ChiSox. He won’t be a part of a contending club’s playoff rotation, but a team with a big division lead that is looking to rest its rotation (or allow some of its injured rotation members to mend) could turn to Gonzalez for some stability. The asking price won’t be much.
- Derek Holland, LHP, White Sox (link): Like Gonzalez, Holland could be a rotation stabilizer for a team with a comfortable division lead. He’s also shut down opposing lefties (.216/.279/.333) in 2017, so perhaps a club would look at him as a potential relief specialist with expanded September rosters on the horizon.
- James Shields, RHP, White Sox (link): The Sox still owe Shields the balance of a $10MM commitment this season (the Padres are on the hook for the rest), plus $12MM in 2018. Given his enormous struggles over the past two seasons, he’s not going anywhere unless the ChiSox simply cut bait and release him.
- Victor Martinez, DH, Tigers (link): Martinez has been a decidedly below-average contributor at the plate in 2017 and is owed the balance of this year’s $18MM salary plus an identical $18MM salary in 2018. The Tigers won’t find any takers here.
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers (link): Cabrera is 34 years old and has been a roughly league-average hitter in 2017. He’s owed a ridiculous $192MM from 2018-23 and has full no-trade protection as well. That last point is largely moot, though, as his enormous contract makes him all but impossible to move anyhow.
- Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Tigers (link): With a 5.29 ERA in his nearly two seasons as a Tiger and $74MM owed to him from 2018-20, Zimmermann is effectively an immovable asset for the Tigers.
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins (link): Stanton is owed $295MM over the next decade, so an attempt at acquiring him wouldn’t exactly make for a casual undertaking. He has more than made up for a relatively disappointing 2016 season thus far with a monster 2017, boosting his value, but structuring a deal would be complicated by a variety of factors — including the Miami organization’s still-pending sale.
- Brandon Phillips, 2B, Braves (link): The 36-year-old isn’t the exciting option he once was, but Phillips still brings acceptable and affordable production to the table. Combining those factors with his impending free agency, Phillips seems like someone the Braves could realistically trade this month.
- Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants (link): Crawford emerged as a two-way star over the previous couple seasons, pairing good offense with otherworldly defense. His glovework remains strong, but the 30-year-old’s production at the plate has fallen off dramatically this season. The Giants reportedly still have little interest in dealing him, and doing so would be difficult in any event. Crawford, who’s making $8MM this year, will rake in $15MM each season from 2018-21. He also has a full no-trade clause.
- Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners (link): Unfortunately, King Felix’s days as an ace appear long gone, which is all the more troubling for the Mariners when taking his contract into consideration. Hernandez, 31, is collecting a $26MM salary this year and will make $53MM more from 2018-19. He also has a full no-trade clause, making him even less movable.
- Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Mets (link): Unlike fellow Mets outfielders Bruce and Granderson, Cespedes doesn’t seem like a logical trade candidate. Cespedes is in the first season of a four-year, $110MM deal, and the Mets gave the franchise cornerstone a full no-trade clause when they re-signed him.
- Asdrubal Cabrera, INF, Mets (link): Cabrera, who’s making $8.25MM this season and has either an $8.5MM club option or a $2MM buyout for 2018, drew trade interest in July. However, recent indications are that the Mets are leaning toward keeping him in the fold for next year.
- AJ Ramos, RP, Mets (link): Ramos was a popular name in trade rumors before the Mets acquired him from the Marlins in late July. Plenty of teams showed interest in Ramos, so perhaps the Mets would be able to find a taker for the longtime closer. However, New York acquired Ramos knowing it wasn’t in contention this season, so keeping him into 2018 – his final season of arbitration eligibility – looks more likely.
- Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals (link): Harper isn’t going anywhere. Putting the superstar through waivers was purely a procedural move by the Nationals.
- Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles (link): Davis, 31, no longer resembles the force of nature he was at the plate before the Orioles handed him a seven-year, $161MM contract leading up to the 2016 campaign. They included a partial no-trade clause in the accord, but the contract itself has essentially become a full NTC thanks to Davis’ decline. Realistically, Baltimore’s stuck with him.
- Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (link): The Reds haven’t shown any interest in moving Votto, nor has he expressed a willingness to leave Cincinnati. Considering those factors, the remaining money on Votto’s enormous contract (a guaranteed $171MM through 2024) and his full no-trade clause, the hitting savant will stay where he is.
- Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers (link): With plenty of cash still owed this year and $56MM more promised through 2019, Verlander is not a guy who’ll casually be acquired. Things are complicated by Detroit’s inclination to try to achieve real value for a cornerstone player, not to mention Verlander’s full no-trade rights — though he seems willing to entertain a move. While a deal still seems less than likely, Verlander could be a fascinating player to watch if he throws well and one or more contenders see a need for his services.
- Justin Upton, LF, Tigers (link): As is the case with Verlander, moving Upton would be a major challenge for Detroit. Not only does Upton have a 20-team no-trade clause, but his contract includes an opt-out clause for after the season, when he’ll have to decide whether to play out his deal or leave four years and roughly $88MM on the table. The tricky financial situation has apparently overshadowed the great season Upton’s having, as nobody has shown real interest in acquiring him.