The Trade Deadline is just four days away. Let’s talk about some rumors (and a couple actual trades) around the league …
The Royals Sell-Off Begins
The last place Kansas City Royals (12-19) are going to be one of the most obvious sellers at the deadline, with potential rental closer Trevor Rosenthal leading the way in terms of moveable assets. With that said, they’ve kicked off their trade season on a much smaller scale:
The Rays are acquiring Brett Phillips from the Royals.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) August 27, 2020
In exchange for Phillips, the Rays are getting infield prospect Lucius Fox … which I’m told is not Morgan Freeman from The Dark Knight. (He’s actually a former top IFA prospect who now rates as a pretty decent shortstop prospect, with good speed and defense, and possibly an eventual big league bat.)
As for the motivation, look no further than defense (and the possibility of a two-man outfield?!):
Between Phillips and Kevin Kiermaier, the Rays have two of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. I can only wonder what their plans are with this move. If there are two guys you want to do a two-man outfield with, these are the two guys.
— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) August 27, 2020
Before this trade, the Rays’ outfield already had the second highest UZR in MLB and the 4th most DRS, but, now they’re even better. We were told the Rays were going to be aggressive at the deadline and here they are.
Maybe they really will do a two-man outfield:
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 27, 2020
Mets Surprisingly Active at the Deadline?
In light of the unexpected financial flexibility gained by the opt-outs of Marcus Stroman and Yoenis Cespedes ($6.5M at least, though Cespedes could have doubled that with incentives), one rival executive predicts the Mets will be a “surprising player” at the deadline. There are, however, some conflicting theories on that assertion, given the desire NOT to add any additional payroll in light of the impending sale (incidentally final bids are due tomorrow), but perhaps the savings will be enough.
The Mets are said to be looking for a rental starting pitcher, and Ken Rosenthal identifies Kevin Gausman (Giants), Robbie Ray (Diamondbacks), Brett Anderson (Brewers), and recently traded Taijuan Walker (formerly Mariners, now Blue Jays).
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) August 27, 2020
Trevor Bauer is Not Available … Yet
Relatedly, Ken Rosenthal notes that Reds starter Trevor Bauer (a free agent at the end of the year) is not currently available, but could be if the Reds continue to slide. That’s notable because starting tomorrow, the Cubs are playing four games against the Reds just before the deadline. Beat them enough, and they might just decide to sell.
Considering the fact that the Cubs will see the Reds three more times in September – and the fact that it’s a buyer’s market – I’d say you want to see them sell. They’ll be worse for it this season and won’t likely get much in return.
Are the Brewers Really Selling? Eh … Maybe?
In addition to listing Brett Anderson among the available arms this deadline, Ken Rosenthal also mentioned Brewers closer Josh Hader. But before you get too excited about getting him out of the NL Central, a trade is considered unlikely, with one rival executive claiming he is available, but only at a “bananas price.” Is a team really going to pay a “bananas” price right now?
Speaking of bananas, former MLB executive and current, uh … Jim Bowden listed one deadline move he’d like to see each team make, and for the Cubs it’s trading for none other than Josh Hader, which is absolutely never going to happen. But don’t worry, Bowden is aligned perfectly with the rumors, because the package he suggests in return for Bader can be described as nothing short of bananas: Brailyn Marquez, Kohl Franklin, and Miguel Amaya. Uh, yeah. I’m gonna take a pass on that one.
Two New Potential Cubs Relief Targets
A better and more worthy version of that post comes from Eno Sarris, who took a look at the biggest needs on the best teams in baseball, with a little added subjectivity, to come up which some potential moves that could more reasonably fill big holes on 2020 contenders.
The Cubs, as an obvious contender, come in for a lengthy discussion and while Sarris agrees they could fairly easily go out and “get a Pirate or a Royal,” those deals would, for the most part, return another hard-throwing righty, of which they have several in the pen already. Instead, he thinks they could, or rather should, focus on adding a lefty, mentioning Richard Bleier out of Miami and Paul Fry out of Baltimore. Both guys have eluded my radar so far, and the second-place Marlins (which is a playoff position this year) are not yet actually a lock to sell, but that’s two more names to add to the pile.
And both are off to a good start this year:
Bleier: 6.0 IP, 5H, 2ER, 1BB, 5Ks, 73 GB%
Fry: 11.1 IP, 12H, 3ER, 4BB, 15Ks, 62 GB%
Unfortunately, with all due respect to Sarris’ post, Fry has carried reverse splits for his career, and not subtle ones: .343 wOBA versus left-handed hitters. He may be a good overall reliever, particularly against righties (.282 wOBA), but the Cubs need someone to get lefties out. Fry ain’t it. Bleir, on the other hand, could be someone to watch.
Could Joey Gallo Be Available?
Tucked away in a broader discussion about the sudden availability of Rangers starter Lance Lynn – whom the Rangers would prefer to keep, but may deal to save money – was a throwaway line from Ken Rosenthal about their potential to move on from Joey Gallo.
Gallo, 26, is a former top prospect, who hit over 80 home runs in 2017 and 2018 and had a 144 wRC+ last season (with 22 blasts in just 70 games!), before two trips to the IL shortened his season. Gallo has played all three outfield positions, while also spending time at 3B, 1B, and DH, so he’s pretty versatile, and he can hit left-handed pitching, but … he’s also one of the most extreme strikeout players in the league (CAREER RATE of 37.9%).
Even with his positional versatility, youth, upside, ability to hit lefties, and the Rangers-Cubs connection, I just don’t see this as something worth monitoring in relation to the Cubs specifically. I don’t think any of us could handle that many strikeouts on this team! Plus, the acquisition cost will probably still be too high, and, of course, he’s set to go through rounds 2 and 3 of arbitration starting next year. It ain’t happening. Fun to monitor league-wide, though, since Gallo is such an interesting player.