It’s time for the second iteration of our list of the top trade deadline candidates. Click here for the first one, including an explanation of the approach. Basically, bear in mind that we’re looking at both trade likelihood and trade value (in all its facets).
There’s some movement in the rankings, as you’ll see, with team performance impacting things as much as that of the individual players in many cases. And we’ve bumped the list out from 30 to 50.
On to the rankings:
1. David Robertson, RP, White Sox (LR: 1): Though he had one rough outing since we first gave him the top nod, Robertson has mostly continued to put up zeroes. On the year, Robertson has racked up 35 strikeouts while permitting only 23 baserunners in 24 1/3 innings. Given the Sox’ posture, it’s somewhat hard to see how he won’t be dealt so long as he remains healthy and effective as of the deadline.
2. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds (LR: 3): Though his theoretical value continues to rise with his performance — Cozart has already racked up about three wins above replacement, though he has been on a cold streak of late — the demand picture remains unclear.
3. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Athletics (LR: 4): It’s more of the same for Alonso, too. Since returning from a minor injury in mid-May, he owns a .396/.467/.736 slash over sixty plate appearances.
4 (tie). Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox (LR: 5): The middling results have continued for Quintana, whose 5.30 ERA and rising walk rate are increasingly concerning. If his value doesn’t rebound fully by the deadline, the White Sox could hold onto him and focus on moving other assets. Still, with several contenders seemingly in position to add controllable starters, it seems likely that one or more such arms will end up changing hands.
4 (tie). Sonny Gray, SP, Athletics (LR: 25): The roller coaster ride continues for Gray and the A’s, but it has been more good than bad. His fastball velocity and swinging-strike rate both sit at career-high levels, and ERA estimators feel he has been unlucky to allow 4.44 earned per nine thus far. With the A’s seemingly preparing for a sell-off, and pitchers like Quintana and Gerrit Cole struggling, things are trending toward a possible deal.
6. Pat Neshek, RP, Phillies (LR: 8): It’s hard to imagine Neshek not being traded. He’s pitching as well as he was in his breakout 2014 season and would represent a nice change of pace option in basically any bullpen in baseball.
7. Brad Hand, RP, Padres (LR: 9): San Diego suggested it was willing to move Hand at any time, perhaps believing that an early sale could maximize his value. Unfortunately, a deal has yet to come together and the southpaw has coughed up seven earned runs in his last 10 2/3 innings. That said, he has still managed to record 15 strikeouts against just three walks in that span, so his market should remain strong.
8 (tie). Jed Lowrie, INF, Athletics (LR: 18): Lowrie’s offensive output has only improved since we last checked in. Just as importantly, he’s still healthy. If those things continue, the versatile switch-hitter could be a very nice rental piece for the A’s, who have a replacement lined up in Franklin Barreto and are already beginning a youth movement.
8 (tie). Eduardo Nunez, INF, Giants (LR: NR): The versatile rental player is probably the most likely player to leave San Francisco this summer. He’s not maintaining last year’s power numbers, but is running wild (17 steals) and providing solid all-around production. He could fit with a lot of organizations.
8 (tie). Howie Kendrick, 2B/OF, Phillies (LR: INJ): Despite an approaching 34th birthday, and mid-season DL stint, Kendrick has turned in a resurgent .330/.393/.485 slash this year. His .411 BABIP will surely come back down to earth, though Kendrick has long sustained elevated batting averages on balls in play. His salary isn’t all that cheap, but the Phils will undoubtedly be willing to cover as much of it as is necessary to boost their return. And it doesn’t hurt that Kendrick can be trusted both in left and at second.
11. Todd Frazier (3B) & Melky Cabrera (OF), White Sox (LR: 19 (tie)): The South Siders have now slipped into last place in the AL Central, and these spendy veterans — both of whom will hit the open market at season’s end — are starting to hit. That’s a clear recipe for a trade, though cost savings are more likely than major prospect returns.
13. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins (LR: 14): He’s still raking, and the Marlins are still buried. So why isn’t Ozuna streaking up the chart? With two years of control remaining, and the Marlins working on a franchise sale, it’s not clear how available he’ll be.
14. J.D. Martinez, OF, Tigers (LR: NR): It is perhaps even less clear that Martinez will be available — your guess on how the AL Central will look on July 31st is as good as mine — but he’d arguably be the top available rental piece if he is. Martinez has mashed since returning from the DL and as a bonus has improved his defensive metrics after an ugly 2016.
15. David Phelps, SP/RP, Marlins (LR: NR): Though the 30-year-old doesn’t have the same sparkly ERA he did last year, he’s still humming along with 9.8 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 through 32 innings and is averaging nearly 95 mph with his four-seamer. With just a $4.6MM salary and another year of control remaining, Phelps should deliver a good bit of value.
16. Ryan Madson, RP, Athletics (LR: 13): The aging veteran keeps performing at a quality rate as the A’s bring up the rear in the AL West, making it seem rather likely that the rest of his contract will be shipped out at the deadline.
17. Jaime Garcia, SP, Braves (LR: NR): The 30-year-old southpaw just missed the first iteration of this list and has turned in some impressive results since. He does have an impressive track record, and his excellent groundball rates help to offset his marginal strikeout rate, but it’d be a surprise if he can maintain his current 3.16 ERA.
18. A.J. Ramos, RP, Marlins (LR: 11): Six straight clean appearances have Ramos looking better, but his 13 walks and 3.92 ERA through 20 2/3 innings on the year have hardly boosted his trade stock.
19. Tony Watson & Juan Nicasio, RP, Pirates (LR: 7, NR): Watson tumbled out of the closer role and down this list. The 32-year-old still looks like a potential target for teams interested in late-inning lefties, given his longer record of success, though his skyrocketing susceptibility to the long ball since the start of 2016 is cause for concern. Before his own hiccups tonight, Nicasio had been off to an outstanding start. It’s anyone’s guess how the Bucs will handle the deadline, but if they were willing to deal Mark Melancon last year, they’ll likely be willing to deal these two pitchers in 2017.
21. Lorenzo Cain (OF), Mike Moustakas (3B) & Eric Hosmer (1B), Royals (LR: 2; 15, 15): Cain is on a sudden hot streak in the power department while Moose and Hoz have turned it on since our first listing. But the group is falling. This is still quite a nice group of chips, but I’m sliding all the KC players down the list for the same reason: the Royals are on the move of late and the AL Central remains tightly packed, making a “hold” scenario seem increasingly plausible.
24. Lucas Duda (1B) & Jay Bruce (OF), Mets: The Mets are in a really funny spot. Unlike some underperforming central-division teams, New York is looking up at a huge divisional gap. And there’s just as much space in the NL wild card hunt. At the same time, the injury picture could begin to look much better and the club may have a hard time explaining even a limited sell-off to fans.
26. Drew Storen, RP, Reds (LR: 30): He’s less than thirty years old, doesn’t cost much, and has been mostly effective despite diminished velocity. Storen isn’t a late-inning option anymore for a first-division team, but could deepen a lot of pens.
27. Sean Doolittle, RP, Athletics; Addison Reed, RP, Mets; Justin Wilson, RP, Tigers; Kelvin Herrera, RP, Royals (LR: INJ, NR, NR, 6): Availability is the overriding question for these high-octane relievers. Doolittle is cheap and controllable, plus his trade value is questionable given his frequent health issues. The others will only be available if their teams fail to make it back into the postseason picture, though there’s a real possibility of that occurring in all cases.
31. Jason Vargas, SP, Royals (LR: 10): As predicted, his earned run average has risen since the first time we did this list … skyrocketing from 2.03 to 2.10. Well then. As with the other KC pieces, the ranking reflects the changing dynamics in the standings.
32. Edinson Volquez, SP, Marlins (LR: NR): The 33-year-old has mostly been solid despite an unsightly walk rate (4.8 per nine) and, yes, he did just throw a no-hitter. His best qualities — durability and velocity — could hold appeal to a contender that desires rotation depth and can envision some creative postseason usage (perhaps piggybacking Volquez with another suboptimal starter). He’s earning a total of $22MM this year and next.
33. Clayton Richard, SP, Padres (LR: NR): The veteran costs nothing and is pitching like a solid back-end starter, so there’s some real function here for the right organization. It’s tough to imagine a huge return for the 33-year-old, but the fact that he’s a lefty with multi-inning ability does also make him a rather useful postseason roster piece.
34. Jeff Samardzija, SP, Giants (LR: NR): Look behind the 4.31 ERA — before tonight’s shellacking at Coors Field — and there are some eye-popping numbers. Entering today’s action Shark was carrying 10.5 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9. Scouts have always loved him, and he’s showing why in 2017 even if the results still haven’t always been there. The 32-year-old is owed $18MM annually through 2020, which is hardly an all-time bargain but does seem like less than he’d likely command if he re-entered the market after the year. It’s worth bearing in mind that Samardzija can block deals to all but eight (currently unknown) teams, though, and it’s not entirely clear the Giants will be looking to move him with the club looking forward to several possible rotation openings next year.
35. Johnny Cueto, SP, Giants (LR: NR): Somewhat like his rotation-mate, the 31-year-old is lagging in the ERA department(4.57) but is in normal levels in most areas. That said, his velo is down a smidge and he’s suffering from a rising home-run rate (1.66 per nine with 18.4% HR/FB) and diving groundball rate (39.6%). If those normalize, he’ll look much like the top-line hurler he usually is. Still, his trade situation — and value — is greatly complicated by the opt-out clause in his contract. If he pitches well and stays healthy through the end of the year, Cueto will almost surely leave via free agency. If not, he could hang a $87MM obligation on another organization.
36. Joakim Soria, RP, Royals (LR: 12): Though he has yet to give up a home run this year,and has 35 strikeouts in his first 27 innings, the veteran righty owns a 3.67 ERA after a few rough outings.
37. Andrew McCutchen (OF) & Gerrit Cole (SP), Pirates (LR: 24, NR): Since his OPS cratered at .630 in mid-May, Cutch has driven his season’s batting line all the way back up to .255/.331/.456. That’s still more consistent with his down 2016 season than his outstanding prior results, but it’s a clear uptick. As for the staff ace, it’s hard to see Cole being dealt for anything other than a haul, though it’s equally difficult to imagine a contender paying top dollar if he isn’t pitching his best — which, so far, he has not. Generally, though, while the Pirates have clawed back toward competitiveness in an underwhelming NL Central, that doesn’t mean the Bucs won’t consider a deal.
39. Yangervis Solarte, INF, Padres (LR: NR): He’s playing better of late after an ugly start. The affordable contract and some versatility increase the appeal here. Then again, given that the Padres only just extended him, perhaps the club will prefer to keep him around unless there’s a really worthwhile offer.
40. Bud Norris, RP, Angels (LR: NR): Relievers are the easiest and most obvious pieces to move at the deadline. Norris has never been better since moving into the closer’s role, creating a circumstance where the Halos might be able to add something to a still-shallow farm system without drastically altering their MLB roster — particularly given the presence of some viable alternative closers in the organization.
41. Jarrod Dyson, OF, Mariners (LR: NR): Dyson is a speed demon whose value is greatest in a late-season/postseason scenario, when teams don’t need utility infielders and middle relievers so much as they do players who can impact the game in the field and on the bases in high-leverage situations. As with Norris, then, he’s among the more likely players to be dealt from the rosters of the three teams currently hovering around .500 in the AL West. None of those clubs is likely to catch the Astros, but all could compete for the wild card; for now, at least, only Norris and Dyson are likely and valuable enough trade pieces to make it into the top fifty.
42. Matt Kemp & Nick Markakis, OF, Braves (LR: 27 (tie)): Neither figures to have immense appeal — Kemp is dinged up and remains a defensive question mark, while Markakis is just a league-average hitter — and the Braves may just hold pat.
44. Daniel Nava, OF, Phillies (LR: NR): Nava carries an intriguing .310/.422/.464 batting line with lots of walks (14.6% BB rate) and few strikeouts (17.6% K rate) through 102 plate appearances. While the upside is limited, he could hold some interest as a bench bat and it’s pretty easy to imagine him changing hands.
45. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Braves (LR: NR): If you assume that his .342 BABIP will come back to earth, Phillips looks like much the same player — slightly below-average hitter but otherwise a solid veteran — he has been in recent years. The soon-to-be-36-year-old could hold appeal as a platoon or bench piece with the right team. With Jace Peterson and Ozzie Albies waiting at Triple-A, the Braves may end up preferring to move on from Phillips, whose salary is being paid almost entirely by the Reds.
46. Kurt Suzuki, C, Braves (LR: NR): While Tyler Flowers is the one with the eye-opening stat line, that seems to make it more likely that Atlanta will hold onto him and pick up his 2018 option. The respected but limited Suzuki could be an easy option if a contender needs to fill a gap behind the dish.
47. Derek Holland, SP, White Sox (LR: 29): Holland has allowed just one earned run in three of his last five starts. In the other two, though, he was tagged for a total of 14.
48. Alex Cobb, SP, Rays (LR: 22): Tampa Bay is still firmly in contention, and the team has now lost a key rotation piece in Matt Andriese. Even if those facts remain the same in late July, there’s a chance Cobb will be marketed.
49. Raisel Iglesias, RP, Reds (LR: NR): There’s no particular reason for the Reds to push to trade Iglesias, but surely they have at least thought about what they’d need to part with a high-quality player who is also a reliever with added injury risk.
50. Hunter Strickland, RP, Giants (LR: NR): The high-powered, hot-tempered righty hasn’t exactly been at his best, with nearly double last year’s walk rate even as his ERA sits at an excellent 2.08, but his power arsenal would surely hold appeal. And if he has worn out his welcome a bit through the Bryce Harper beaning incident, then perhaps the Giants will see fit to move him.
Anthony Swarzak, RP, White Sox (LR: 17): Since his fantastic first month and a half, Swarzak has come back to earth in terms of peripherals and results.
Ian Kennedy, SP, Royals (LR: 21): Beyond the general Royals assessment noted above, a few rough outings reduce the likelihood that Kennedy will opt out of his deal — or hold sufficient appeal to contenders to move the remainder of that contract. (At the exact moment this post is going up, though, he’s through five perfect innings in his current start.)
Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Phillies (LR: 23): Those iffy peripherals we warned about last time? They are still problematic. And now it’s showing in the results. In his last five starts, Hellickson carries a 7.57 ERA with 14 strikeouts and 14 walks.
David Freese, 3B, Pirates (LR: 26): The overall results remain solid for the reliable veteran. But the Bucs may be inclined to hold him even if they do end up selling. The market includes several other options and Pittsburgh will value the ability to retain Freese at a palatable rate for 2018.