With four days left until the trade deadline, and Cueto officially being traded, things seem to be picking up, with some other potential deals getting done soon. So while we run with these speculative guesses as our post today, we might as well get it out now before teams make a good chunk of this irrelevant.
So, what follows is Dave Cameron’s (FanGraphs) guesses as to who goes where before July 31st, based on what teams are rumored to be looking for and who we know is available. The tricky part is that there are also guys who are available that we don’t know about, and if a team penciled in for one of the available guys goes for the mystery box instead, it will have a domino effect, driving that available player somewhere else, and messing up multiple guesses in the process. So, by Friday, it’d be surprising how many were right. This is really more just for fun, instead of any kind of serious attempt at handicapping. But let’s see.
We’ll go by how impactful the team’s additions would be, with the team’s making the biggest splashes listed first.
Here’s my speculative blockbuster. The Cubs are in a position to make a run this year, and while they may prefer not to pay a high price for rentals, getting a guy like Cashner back might just be the carrot they need to give the Padres a good return for their other two pieces. And the two teams line up in a lot of ways, with the guys the Padres are selling checking a lot of boxes for the Cubs.
My guess on something this size is that the Cubs would send both Starlin Castroand Javier Baez (along with some lower level guys) to San Diego, as this trade would give the Cubs a guy who could slide in at second base and allow Addison Russell to go back to shortstop. The Padres get a brand new middle infield and get out from under Gyorko’s deal (though they take on Castro’s contract in the process), as well as restock their farm system to some degree, while the Cubs push in heavily on 2015 while also getting a couple of guys who will be around next year as well. Yeah, it’s probably too large and unwieldy a deal to get done in July, but we know A.J. Preller is up for shock-and-awe trades, and maybe Theo Epstein will go along for the ride.
Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff Samardzija, Jay Bruce, Aroldis ChapmanWe know the Blue Jays are going to add a starting pitcher, and Samardzija seems like the most obvious fit, even though he’s a rental. Alex Anthoplous could give up a little more to get one of San Diego’s controlled arms instead, but I’ll guess they pay a lesser price for Samardzija and then use the prospect currency to land a Bruce/Chapman package from the Reds instead. That combination would add some significant upgrades to not only this year’s team, but next year’s as well, and would justify giving up the young arms that everyone wants when they talk trade with the Blue Jays.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Hisashi Iwakuma, Jesse Chavez, Jake McGeeThe Dodgers need arms, and I’d expect that they’ll pick up a starter, a reliever, and a guy who could do both, depending on need. Iwakuma would be a perfect fit as a #3 starter for LA, since they don’t really need another ace, and if the Rays really are listening on Jake McGee, I’d have to imagine Andrew Friedman would love to add him as a lefty complement to Kenley Jansen; that pair could be the west coast version of what the Yankees have at the end of their bullpen. Jesse Chavez is a guy who could help keep the team from using replacement level starters down the stretch, then could add depth to the team’s bullpen in October, or potentially remain as the team’s #4 starter if Brett Anderson gets hurt again.
Kansas City Royals
Johnny Cueto, Marlon Byrd, Dan HarenThe Royals make the most sense for Cueto and probably aren’t going to give up on acquiring him just because one of their trade chips failed a physical. Maybe someone will swoop in and steal him away, but this is the one guess that seems most likely to happen, and if the Reds are sending Cueto to KC, they should include Marlon Byrd as well; the Royals could use another outfielder with Alex Gordon on the shelf and Alex Rios being terrible. Haren could make some sense as a replacement for the injured Jason Vargas, and if he’s going to keep his FIP-beating ways going anywhere, KC is probably the best bet for him.
New York Yankees
Ben Zobrist, Mat Latos, Jim JohnsonWhile Brian Cashman keeps laying expectations for a quiet deadline, the Yankees are the best fit out there for Ben Zobrist, given their glaring hole at second base and the likelihood of winning their division. Few teams are capable of giving themselves a larger boost than the Yankees would get from swapping in Zobrist forStephen Drew. On the pitching side of things, I’d imagine they’ll go with lower-tier options, and Mat Latos’ cost will be limited based on his struggles and personality, while a guy like Jim Johnson won’t cost a lot to add a piece who can bridge the gap toDellin Betances and Andrew Miller.
Cole HamelsThe teams in win-now mode have enough short-term alternatives to not need to pay a premium to get the 2016 value that comes with having Hamels under control beyond this year, and while I don’t necessarily see the Rangers as on the verge of contending, they clearly see themselves that way, and adding Hamels to a healthy Yu Darvish would at least give them a shot to get back to the postseason next year.
The Rangers probably aren’t giving up Joey Gallo, but if they put Nomar Mazaraor a combination of Jorge Alfaro and Alex Gonzalez on the table, this is the kind of deal that could work for both sides. I’m lower on Alfaro and Gonzalez than most, so I’d push pretty strongly for Mazara and some lesser stuff if I was Ruben Amaro. Getting at least one high profile guy seems to be the preferred course of action for the Phillies anyway, and Mazara is a legitimate top prospect, so this is probably the best option for Philly to get a guy with All-Star upside in return.
Carlos GomezThe Astros already got a pitcher, but they shouldn’t stop there, and Gomez would be a perfect fit for them, sliding in as their regular center fielder, pushing the overmatched Jake Marisnick back to a reserve role. With George Springer,Colby Rasmus, and Preston Tucker around, a center fielder makes more sense for the Astros than any of the corner guys on the market, and Gomez is the best center fielder potentially available. Given that he’s under control for next year as well, this is the kind of guy the Astros should be willing to pay for.
Mike Leake, Tyler ClippardThe Aramis Ramirez acquisition essentially sums up the kinds of moves the Pirates like to make at this point in the year; looking more for depth than paying for the perceived huge impact that doesn’t really exist in acquiring a guy for two months. Given that, I don’t think Pittsburgh will be in on the big names, though Ben Zobrist does still make some sense there, and I would see them going more for the middle-tier guys who can help but aren’t going to cost an arm and a leg. Leake and Clippard both fit that mold, but there are a lot of other mid-level starter/reliever combos that could go here too. And if Ramirez doesn’t take to 1B well, I could see them swinging a deal for Mike Napoli, though that might be an August trade.
Carlos GonzalezThey want a left-handed power hitting outfielder, and there’s really only a couple of them on the market. Bruce could fit here too, but because they don’t have much in the way of prospects to trade, taking on most of CarGo’s contract is probably an easier deal for them to make. His recent hot streak has made it more likely that he’ll get moved, and Anaheim looks like the most logical landing spot for him if they have the budget room to get it done.
Yovani Gallardo, John AxfordThe Twins are openly talking about adding a power arm who can rack up strikeouts, and Axford checks both boxes. If the Twins are really going to make a run, they’re going to need to add another arm to their rotation as well, because Ervin Santana is ineligible for postseason play; Gallardo seems like a good fit among guys who could be an actual upgrade but won’t cost top-line prospects.
San Francisco Giants
Gerardo ParraParra is a classic Giants player, with the good-at-everything-great-at-nothing skillset that has become the team’s hallmark. He makes contact, hits for power, plays solid defense in a corner, and could even replace Angel Pagan in center if the team needed him to. While Parra is playing well enough to appeal to a wide variety of teams, he seems destined to play for the Giants; they own the copyright on players like this.
St. Louis Cardinals
Adam LindIt’s tough to see St. Louis really rolling into the postseason with a rookie platooning with Mark Reynolds at first base, so I’ll pencil them in for Adam Lind, though they could go with a buy-low guy like Mike Napoli if they wanted to give Stephen Piscotty a longer look. My guess is that they know Piscotty isn’t the answer, though, and a lefty with power who can fit between Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peraltafits the bill nicely.
Jonathan PapelbonThe Nationals are getting their big guns back, making additions anywhere besides the bullpen less likely. But they’re almost certainly going to add a reliever, and Papelbon actually makes some sense here. Yes, Drew Storen is doing a great job as the team’s closer, but they wouldn’t lose much in the ninth with giving Papelbon that job, and that would free Storen up to pitch high-leverage spots in the 7th and 8th innings. And since the Phillies are reportedly willing to pay down some of Papelbon’s contract, the Nationals — who even got the Indians to pay the freight on Asdrubal Cabrera last year — might be able to get a good reliever by just taking on 2016 money.
New York Mets
Koji UeharaThe Mets made their move to solidify their line-up on Friday, adding Juan Uribeand Kelly Johnson as solid role players who didn’t cost a lot. I’d expect one more similar move for the bullpen, with a guy like Uehara being a good fit as a different look from the hard-throwing staff the Mets already have. It isn’t a sexy deadline, but the total value added by these three guys may have just as large of an impact on the team as making one big acquisition.