As the 2018 MLB All Star Game is officially in our rear view mirror, it is now time to look upon into the second half of the season. Here we will see which contenders will make franchise changing trades separating them from the rest of the pack, placing them at the forefront of competing for a championship.
We had already seen our first trade taken place in June, before the All Star break, where the Washington Nationals sent a package of prospects to the Kansas City Royals for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera, solidifying their bullpen. And now we are hours past the first blockbuster trade of the season, where the Baltimore Orioles sent star shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package of prospects as well, headlined by outfielder Yusniel Diaz, the NO. 84 prospect in baseball. It was long rumored that the Orioles were going to trade Machado, as the star shortstop was in the final year of his contract and with the money the Orioles owe slugging first-baseman Chris Davis, and outfielder/DH Mark Trumbo, there was no way Baltimore could afford to pay Machado, one of the top 5 players in the game.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, the trade for Machado was a must. After getting off to a horrendous start, and losing star shortstop Corey Seager to Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers regained their ground, going into the All Star break a half game up on the Arizona Diamondbacks for first in the National League West. And to only give up your fourth best prospect in the minors, for the one of the top 5 players in baseball, the trade is a huge win for the Dodgers, who once again now seem to be the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series.
And on the morning of July 19th, a day after Machado lands with the Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians acquired star lefty reliever Brand Hand from the San Diego Padres along with Adam Cimber for the NO. 15 prospect in baseball catcher/outfielder Francisco Mejia. Reviewing the trade, both teams come out as winners, unlike from the Orioles perspective that they could’ve gotten more for Machado, but San Diego acquires one of the best prospects in the minors strengthening their farm system, now having 10 top-100 prospects in their farm system, and for the Indians the trade had to be done. The Indians thus far this season, own one of the worst bullpens in the league. But with the acquiring a former lefty closer in the likes of Hand, and pairing him with a hopeful healthy Andrew Miller, and if Cody Allen can regain his form, the Cleveland Indians would now contain one of the deadliest bullpens in the majors shortening up the game. The best part of this deal for the Indians is Hand is under control through at least the 2020 season, with a club option in 2021, you can understand why the Padres had to sell high on him. Cleveland can now be included in the conversation with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros as the favorites to represent the American League in the World Series.
But these won’t be the only trades we see before the July 31st trade deadline. With essentially a week-and-a-half left until the deadline, we have a good idea which teams will be buyers, and who will be sellers. The obvious buyers should include the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. While the not-so-lucky sellers will include the New York Mets, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, while the other teams play second fiddle not knowing what position they sit in to either sell or stand pat.
For the Mets, the club will obviously trade their soon to be free agents at the end of the season including closer Jeurys Familia, and second-baseman Asdrúbal Cabrera, but not much of a return can be expected for these two players, unless the Mets absorb an abundance of remaining money on their contracts, but still no team is going to give up their top-5 prospects for rental players, and guys who aren’t considered elite superstars. If the club did want to net a big return, then trading away either or both star starting pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard would be in play. deGrom and Syndergaard would bring back an abundance of prospects, surely helping the team in their rebuilding phase. And the team with the loaded farm system, needing another star starting pitcher would be the cross town rival New York Yankees, but that won’t ever happen cause the Wilpons wouldn’t be able to stand seeing deGrom/Sydergaard help the Yankees win a World Series.
The Royals will trade away third-baseman Mike Moustakas, and the the Braves, Phillies, Brewers have all been rumored to be in line to acquire the third-baseman, but with Moustakas set to hit free agency at the end of the year, the return may not be all that great.
For the Rangers, starting pitchers Cole Hamels, Bartolo Colon, and third-baseman Adrián Beltré are all in play, but with the players already past the primes of their respected careers the returns for each won’t be astronomical. The Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox have all been rumored to be linked to these players.
The Blue Jays will deal J.A. Happ, but with him set to be a free-agent at the end of the season, contending teams won’t be offering their best prospects for a rental. The Yankees and Phillies have been rumored to be the front runners to acquire the services of the all-star lefty.
The Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox have two starting pitchers who were both at a time stars that can be moved as well. Matt Harvey for the Reds, and James Shields for the White Sox, but for the contract that comes along with Shields, the White Sox would have to absorb an abundance of money to come close to a decent return package of prospects. Harvey has pitched since being traded to the Reds earlier this season from the Mets, but the problem with Harvey, or rather the question is, is he healthy enough to pitch into October? The White Sox however can dangle star first-baseman José Abreu, and get a nice package of prospects for the star first-baseman’s services, but Abreu has publicly stated that he would like to remain a White Sox, and see through this rebuild going into the next phase, as the team contains one of the best farm systems in the league.
No one knows what will happen between now and the deadline. But with the two trades that have just taken place in two days, and teams fighting for the playoffs. A busy trading season is too be expected.