The All-Star break and the draft are just a few days away. After that, we may be off to the races in the trade market.
Or maybe Jed Hoyer will prefer to wait until a certain league decision is finalized?
The latest from the MLB rumor mill …
Reds Asking Price for Castillo
After a dominant performance against the Yankees — in New York — Luis Castillo has taken over the top spot of most coveted trade deadline piece from Willson Contreras. And I think that’s probably fair.
The 29-year-old right-hander has a 2.77 ERA over 13 starts with solid peripherals *and* an additional year of team control in 2023. The marquee performance in New York (7.0 IP, 1ER, 8Ks) was just the perfect showcase for the Reds.
Following that start, Ken Rosenthal writes about Castillo’s status as the No. 1 trade target at The Athletic, identifying the Dodgers and Yankees (… and also “every contender”) as his possible landing spots. Accepting all that as fact … I still think the Reds may be getting a little greedy on their reported asks.
According to The New York Post’s Jon Heyman, the Reds have been asking GM Brian Cashman for one of the Yankees’ top shortstop prospects, Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe, in a potential Castillo deal. Which, wow.
I think there’s more or less zero chance the Yankees include Volpe in any deal, seeing as he’s a top-10 prospect in MLB, hitting well at Double-A with Triple-A in his sights this season. He’s a huge part of the Yankees’ plans and is just not getting dealt for Castillo, no matter how well he’s pitching this year. Not equal value. Period.
Even a top-50ish prospect like Oswald Peraza is a tall ask in these modern times, but maybe the Reds will get lucky because of the weak market and because of Castillo’s extra year of control. This could be a transformative trade for Cincinnati and I’m really bummed the Cubs don’t have a solid starter to trade this deadline (well, I’m more bummed the Cubs aren’t good, but I’m kinda done clearing my throat on that stuff).
For what it’s worth, Heyman says the Yankees will not even deal Peraza for Castillo (which I can believe it). The Twins, Padres, and Mets are also known suitors for Castillo.
Yankees Out On Benintendi, Mets Still In
This weekend, the Kansas City Royals went to Toronto to face the Blue Jays and a whopping ten players were not along for the trip because of their vaccination status.
Among the players left behind was Andrew Benintendi, one of the best available bats on the market and arguably the top available outfielder (at least among rentals … ). But his vaccination status has become a serious speed bump in the Royals’ efforts to trade Benintendi.
According to the New York Post, the New York Yankees are now NOT expected to pursue Benintendi in any capacity at the trade deadline, because of his vaccination status. The Yankees play the Blue Jays a lot – and could wind up facing them in the postseason – so they can’t risk wasting prospects on a player who might not be able to help them in their biggest matchups.
By contrast, the Mets, who don’t play the Blue Jays during the regular season and would therefore risk losing Benintendi only in a theoretical (and mathematically unlikely) World Series matchup, are still in. And somehow … so are the Blue Jays, who think they could convince him to get vaccinated?
The Padres and Brewers are also involved in the Benintendi sweepstakes.
These are all useful rumors, but they matter to Cubs fans primarily because of All-Star Ian Happ and role player Rafael Ortega. Both are theoretical alternatives to Benintendi (at varying levels of desirability (and cost)), so you can safely assume the suitors for Benintendi will align for either or both of Happ or Ortega.
The tricky part is we’ve gotten almost no sense for the Cubs appetite for trading Happ. Plenty of industry insiders have speculated about his attractiveness and the potential interest of the team on their beat, but the Cubs are much more difficult to read.
Despite being clear sellers, Happ is playing his best ball ever and is under control for another season. And he’s still pretty young.
I think, then, that they might just sit back and let the offers roll in (as opposed to actively shopping him). If someone wants to bowl them over with an over-the-top proposal, then they’ll take it. If not, they’re happy to keep him on the team for next season, when they also hope to be competitive. That’s just my read on it. We’ll see if rumors pick up from here, or if it remains a “we listen on everybody” situation.
Josh Bell’s Market
Nationals’ first baseman Josh Bell is one of the other topo deadline bats on the market, and Andy McCullough tapped into his resources at The Athletic to learn more about his potential suitors.
Among the more likely landing spots: Red Sox, Brewers, Mets (but will Nats do an intra-division trade?).
Among the less likely, but still possible landing spots: White Sox, Astros (they won’t admit to needing ANYONE), Padres.
Bell, 29, is hitting .300/.380/.488 (140 wRC+) as a switch-hitter this season and is a free agent at the end of the year. I mentioned it before, but I actually wouldn’t hate the Cubs taking a look at Bell this offseason. There are some risks spending big dollars at first base, and, hey, maybe Matt Mervis is the real deal. But I just think Bell’s ability to hit from both sides, his tiny strikeout rate, his overall offensive profile, and the Cubs total lack of quality first base options (and impending lack of offensive impact, particularly from the left side) in 2023 could make Bell a reasonable place to spend some money.