For an avid baseball fan, the trade deadline is like Christmas for a kid. It’s an incredibly exciting time of year, especially if your team is involved in the trades that will take place. Even if your team is not active at the deadline, it’s still incredibly fun to see where top targets go and how these moves will impact pennant races.
The trade deadline is on July 31st at 4 PM eastern time. From now up until then, there will constantly be trades going on as contenders look to upgrade their rosters for the stretch run. The action usually peaks in the early afternoon of Deadline Day, where there are almost constant trades going on until the 4 PM deadline.
Keep in mind that these deals are just speculations based on the involved team’s need, and that gauging the caliber/type of prospect that a team is looking for in a deal is sometimes difficult without any actual rumors. Without further ado, here are the top 10 trades that I think should happen at this year’s deadline.
10. Dodgers Acquire Jose Altuve From The Astros
This deal seems like a match made in heaven. The Dodgers, who are still competing for the NL West title and have shown that they are willing to spend as much as necessary to capture a title, have a big hole at second base. Between veterans Mark Ellis and Nick Punto, the Dodgers have only had a .254/.316/.318 slash line of production with 5 home runs. The more pressing issue, though, is that both Punto and Ellis are below average defensive second basemen, with Ellis putting up a -2.1 UZR between them at the position. Punto, in particular, has been terrible defensively, with his -1 UZR coming in only 150 innings at the position, giving him a ghastly -15.3 UZR/150 for the season.
Altuve himself isn’t exactly a defensive wizard, but would provide an immediate offensive boost to the Dodgers. Altuve has hit .286/.319/.358 on the season with 21 stolen bases. His numbers are down from his breakout 2012 campaign where he was voted to his first All Star team and hit a solid .290/.340/.399 with 33 stolen bases and 80 runs scored (although with a -13.6 UZR/150, much worse than his mark of -5.9 for this year.)
The Astros, while not able to command an elite level prospect for Altuve, could probably snag Dodgers’ prospect Chris Withrow as the centerpiece of the deal. Withrow is 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in the Pacific Coast League this season, and already has developed an above average fastball, which he can run up in the mid 90s if need be. Withrow is considered the Dodgers’ 8th best prospect. The Astros, who will be looking for future talent as opposed to proven players, could also command some lesser prospects in the deal.
UPDATE: With Altuve recieving a contract extension shortly after this article was written, this trade is less likely to happen. I still think the fit is there, and Altuve does not have a no-trade clause.
9. Diamondbacks Acquire Matt Thornton From The White Sox
The Diamondbacks’ bullpen is, by no means, terrible. However, it is their biggest identifiable weakness that could realistically be cured by a trade at this point. Despite sitting at just 4 games over .500, the D’Backs lead the NL West, which has been terrible this season. They will definitely be looking for help, however, as the Dodgers (44-45) and the Rockies (43-48) are looming.
Matt Thornton would be a perfect fit for the Diamondbacks, who would give them a solid late inning option to push Heath Bell to a middle relief role. Thornton has posted a 4.00 ERA on the season, but has blown just 1 save while picking up 17 holds. Thornton, who posted a 3.46 ERA in 2012, has a 6 million dollar club option for the 2014 season, so the financial commitment with him is relatively small and optional. Throughout his big league career, Thorton has accumulated a career 3.54 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, although from 2008-2010, he never posted an ERA about 2.74.
Thornton is 36 years old, so his return wouldn’t exactly be huge. The White Sox could potentially look at Kyle Winkler, a right handed pitcher, as a starting point for the deal. Winkler has posted a 2-7 record with a 6.09 ERA on the season in the minor leagues, but has a fair ceiling, as scouts see his fastball as a potentially above average pitch.
UPDATE: Thorton was acquired by the Red Sox. White Sox Addison Reed could be an option for Arizona still.
8. Braves Acquire David DeJesus From The Cubs
The Braves’ offense is as bipolar as they come in the National League. Filled with high-power, high-strikeout players, the Braves could desperately use some solid contact hitting. David DeJesus fits that bill.
DeJesus would not be a starter for Atlanta, but would be able to fill in nicely for BJ Upton, Justin Upton, or Jason Heyward when one of them enters a bit of a slump. He has experience at each outfield position, and has hit .260/.318/.445 on the season. DeJesus would make for a great fourth outfielder and occasional starter for the Braves, who will surely be looking to patch up their roster for the upcoming stretch run.
In return for the 33 year old DeJesus, who has a club option for the 2014 season set at 6.5 million, the Cubs could expect a moderate return. DeJesus is superior to many of the players on the market, and the longer they wait, the higher his price could be. Talks would likely start with a young mid-level pitching prospect such as Cody Martin, who has posted a 5-4 record to go along with a 2.42 ERA in the minors this year. Martin is considered the Braves’ 10th best prospect, and has shown good control, particular with his cut fastball. Martin would be an ideal return for the Cubs, who desperately need young pitching to go along with their crop of young hitters.
7. Reds Acquire Alex Rios From The White Sox
The Reds, who rank 14th in OPS from the right side in the NL, could desperately use a right handed impact bat, preferably with some power. Enter Alex Rios, who is hitting .281/.333/.448 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs on the season, to go along with 19 stolen bases. It also happens that the Reds have a hole in left field, with Ryan Ludwick set to be on the shelf until mid-August at the earliest. The Reds can’t wait for him to come back, and at his age, it would be surprising for him to play at much more than a replacement level after coming back from surgery.
The problem here is money. Alex Rios makes 12.5 million dollars next season, with a 13.5 million dollar club option for the 2015 season. It’s unlikely that the Reds would want to shell out that much money for a 32 year old outfielder, so the White Sox would have to pay a chunk of his contract if this deal were to work out. Fortunately for the White Sox, this would mean a better prospect acquired in the deal as well.
The White Sox, for Alex Rios and around 7 million dollars, could expect a fairly good return from the Reds. The White Sox, who desperately need some offensive firepower in the minors, could begin talks with minor league second baseman Ryan Wright. Wright has hit .269/.318/.415 with 8 homers this season, and projects to be an above average second baseman at the Major League level. He is considered the Reds’ 6th best prospect. Buster Olney also reports that the White Sox were looking for a near MLB ready prospect for Rios as well. Ryan LaMarre, an outfielder in the Reds’ system who has hit .220/.309/.314 this season, could also headline the package. LaMarre is a speedster who stole 55 bases in the minors in 2011. He also projects as a solid hitting outfielder with a good arm and little power. He’s been compared to Drew Stubbs, but with better contact ability.
6. Orioles Acquire Yovani Gallardo From The Brewers
Gallardo, who has been the Brewers’ ace, has struggled a little this year. He’s posted a 7-8 record to go along with a 4.85 ERA and a 88:41 K:BB ratio on the season. These numbers are much higher than we’re accustomed to seeing from Gallardo, who is a career 3.76 ERA pitcher, including last season when he went 16-9 with a 3.66 ERA. Still, he presents an interesting trade option for the Orioles, who are an elite offensive team, desperately need starting pitching still, despite the acquisition of Scott Feldman. 10 pitchers have started games for the Orioles this season, and only 3 of them have an ERA under 5. The Orioles are on Gallardo’s list of teams that he can block a trade to, but it’s hard to see him wanting to stay in Milwaukee with the direction they’re heading in.
Gallardo is still only 27 years old and has a history of being an ace, so he would likely demand a fairly large return for the Brewers. While the Brewers won’t even come close to stud prospect Dylan Bundy, they could begin talks with left handed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. The Brewers desperately need some young pitching, and Rodriguez is considered the third best pitcher in their organization (5th overall prospect in their farm system.) He’s posted a 6-5 record to go along with a 3.08 ERA with 78 strikeouts and just 30 walks in the Oriole’s farm system, and he’s a lanky lefty who relies on an above average tailing fastball. The Brewers could also command outfielder LJ Hoes, who is considered the 6th best prospect in the Orioles’ farm system (and their third best hitter.) Hoes has hit .306/.405/.404 in AAA ball so far this year, so he could be the MLB-ready bat that the Brewers are likely searching for in a Gallardo deal. The Brewers’ outfield could use shaping up with Ryan Braun’s future in doubt and Nori Aoki likely to become a free agent.
5. Cardinals Acquire Kevin Gregg From The Cubs
The Cardinals are in pretty good shape heading into the 2013 MLB Trade Deadline. They have a potent offense and one of the best starting pitching staffs in all of baseball. Edward Mujica has been excellent in the closer’s role and Trevor Rosenthal has been a s0lid setup man. However, their middle relief has shown to be a bit lackluster on days where the starters struggle a little bit, and in those cases bridging the gap to Rosenthal and Mujica has not been so easy. Enter Kevin Gregg. Gregg would be a perfect 7th inning guy for the St. Louis Cardinals, as he’s enjoying a career year. Gregg has accumulated 15 saves with the Cubs and has posted a smooth 1.78 ERA on the season. Imagine a 7-8-9 combo of Gregg-Rosenthal-Mujica. Oh wow.
Gregg signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in the offseason before eventually becoming their closer. He’s 35 years old and his history before this season is not exactly good, so he wouldn’t command an elite level prospect or anything like that. Realistically, the Cubs could probably expect to get a prospect like Tim Cooney in return. Cooney is a solid prospect (19th in the Cardinals’ organization) but with their stacked pitching depth, he’s expendable. Cooney, now in AA, has a 7-8 record on the year to go along with a 3.64 ERA.
4. Nationals Acquire Matt Garza From The Cubs
The Nationals’ pitching rotation looked stacked heading into the 2013 season. However, injuries and some lackluster performances have lead to starting pitching actually being a need for the Nationals. The Nationals are 5.5 games out of the division lead, so they should be in the market for a starting pitcher who could make a difference. That is Matt Garza.
Garza has pitched to an impressive 5-1 record and 3.22 ERA on the year. He’s been great almost consistently, aside from a start against Cincinnati where he gave up 9 runs in 5 innings. Aside from that start, he hasn’t allowed more than 4 runs on the season. If you negate his start against Cincinnati, he has a cool 2.28 ERA on the year. Combine this with the fact that he has a solid 3.80 career mark in ERA, including time in the American League, and that he’s relatively young (29) and you get the best starter on the market.
Although Garza will be a free agent after next season, he will not be cheap. Washington will need to give up at least one premium prospect, one solid prospect, and several other players. The conversation should start with AJ Cole, the Nationals’ third best prospect. Cole, currently at A ball, has posted a 5-3 record to go along with a 4.43 ERA, and projects to have an elite fastball (which now can touch 96) and a solid curveball and changeup. Cole has 99 strikeouts and only 22 walks in 91 innings this season. The Cubs would likely also ask for a hitter like Chris Marrero, currently at AAA. So Far in AAA, he’s hit .294/.341/.482 with 10 homers. With Anthony Rizzo manning first base for the foreseeable future, the Cubs would likely try Marrero at third base, where they have no real options as of right now. The package would also have to include at least one more lower prospect, and maybe even someone like Danny Espinosa to bridge the gap between present and future for Chicago.
3. Reds Acquire Steve Cishek From The Marlins
Like the Cardinals, their division rival Cincinnati could use a late inning reliever. With Jonathan Broxton on the DL (and struggling when healthy) as well as Sean Marshall, the Reds’ bullpen is pretty weak right now, relying on guys like Manny Parra, Logan Ondrusek, and Alfredo Simon to get important outs. While these players will return, Jonathan Broxton should not be setting up. Acquiring Cishek would allow the Reds to move Broxton to middle relief (if he returns after Sean Marshall) to bridge the way to superstar closer Aroldis Chapman, or would allow Dusty Baker to use Marshall in a situational role, pitching against lefties only. Imagine a 6-7-8-9 combo of Broxton-Marshall-Cishek-Chapman. Good luck, other teams.
However, as a young and somewhat controllable relief pitcher in a thin RP market with lots of teams looking for help, Cishek will not be cheap. Jeffery Loria will be looking exclusively for young and controllable talent at the deadline, so the Reds will have to part with one of their higher level prospects. Loria would likely demand someone like the Reds’ fourth best prospect Nick Travieso. Travieso, a reliever in college ball, was taken by the Reds in the first round of the 2012 draft and has been used as a starter. Currently in A ball, Travieso is 3-2 with a 4.91 ERA, but has a very high ceiling. His fastball, which routinely hits 97 and sometimes 98, is projected to be elite to go along with an already above average slider. He would provide solid pitching depth for the Marlins’ farm system, and give the Marlins a potentially great starter in the future. Loria could also ask for 1-2 lower level prospects, as well as a throw-in like Xavier Paul.
2. Giants Acquire Phil Hughes From The Yankees
The Giants rest in last place in the NL West with a 40-50 record. However, due to the relative weakness of the division, they are still in the hunt. As the defending world series champions, you can be sure that they are’t just going to lay down and die. Their biggest need, surprisingly enough, is starting pitching.
The Yankees, reportedly, are actively trying to move Phil Hughes. While Hughes, who is 4-8 with a 4.55 ERA on the year, is a solid pitcher, he’s nowhere near great, so the 27 year old would not require a huge return. However, as the Yankees currently are in contention, they will be more interested in current players and MLB-ready talent than prospects. The Giants could offer Gregor Blanco, who has hit .274/.334/.365, as a solution to the Yankees’ outfield problem. That, combined with a lower-level prospect like Andrew Susac, could be enough to get a deal done. Hughes could be a huge buy-low candidate, as moving from the tough AL East and Yankee Stadium to the weak NL West and the huge AT&T Park will most definitely cause him to improve.
1. Rangers Acquire Alfonso Soriano From The Cubs
The Rangers have a hole in left field, as David Murphy has been terrible on the season, just hitting .222/.282/.384. The Cubs have an overpaid (albeit still fairly productive) outfielder in Alfonso Soriano. There is potential for a deal here.
Soriano is no stranger to the Texas Rangers, as he played there from 2004-2005. While he has a full no trade clause, he has said that he will consider waiving it if a contender was to call the Cubs. The problem with moving Soriano is that he is due to make 18 million this year (a little less than 8 million from this point on) and 18 million next year. There is no way that the Cubs will be able to move Soriano without paying at least some of his contract.
The prospect that the Cubs could get in this deal would vary greatly depending on how much of Soriano’s albatross of a contract that they pay. I think the likely scenario, however, would be the Cubs paying about 13 million (or, roughly half) of his remaining contract. In addition, the Cubs would likely receive a mid-level prospect such as Alec Asher to go along with 1-2 lower level prospects. This way, the Cubs get something out of Soriano while shredding half of his salary. The Rangers get a 30 homer threat for a reasonable price.
Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Atlanta Braves Baltimore Orioles Chicago Cubs Chicago White Sox Cincinnati Reds Houston Astros Los Angeles Dodgers Miami Marlins Milwaukee Brewers MLB New York Yankees San Francisco Giants St. Louis Cardinals Texas Rangers Washington Nationals