Much like the summer weather itself, trade talk in the MLB is about to heat up.
With the trade deadline (August 1st) less than a month away, here are the top 10 probable trade targets on the market and which teams will be buying, selling, or staying put this season.
1. Jonathan Lucroy
Lucroy has garnered the most trade buzz this year and for good reason. The 30-year-old catcher offers a veteran presence both behind the plate and in the clubhouse, along with a solid slash line of .296/.355/.484 with 10 home runs and 39RBI in 2016.
This has multiple teams inquiring about Lucroy, per MLBTradeRumors.com. Meaning the Brewers will likely try to sell him while he’s hot in exchange for top prospects.
Most Probable Outcome: Traded to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Robinson Chirinos and prospects.
2. Jose Fernandez
While Jose Fernandez’ name hasn’t been passed around much in the way of trade discussions, don’t be surprised when the Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers propose a mega-deal at the deadline to Miami for the Marlins Ace.
The Fins could certainly use Fernandez as a means to bolster their farm system with better talent, as Miami currently ranks 29th among the 30 MLB teams.
Then again, per MLBTradeRumors.com, the Marlins are reportedly interested in Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi.
This would indicate the Marlins, who are very much alive in the NL Wild Card race, are more interested in making a post-season push, than negotiating a blockbuster deal.
Nevertheless, Fernandez (10-4/2.69 ERA/146 SO) could become a part of the biggest trade to go down this year if the offer is right.
Most Probable Outcome: Remains a part of the Marlins rotation.
3. Andrew Miller
As much as the New York Yankees have benefited from Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman dealing between innings seven through nine, the Bronx Bombers may benefit more by trading Miller away.
Despite a younger middle infield and blossoming prospects like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the surrounding Yanks starters range from aging veteran to considering retirement.
Meaning that if New York wanted to acquire more top prospects, possibly even the major league ready kind , they could use Miller as the trade piece to do so and still have Betances and Chapman holding down the bullpen.
Miller (5-1/1.47 ERA/ seven saves/66 SO) has been linked to the Rangers, Chicago Cubs, and Washington Nationals per trade rumors, however, it is important to note he has been told by Yankees executive’s that they have no intention of trading him at the deadline.
Most Probable Outcome: Stays with the Yankees
4. Ryan Braun
Braun is the second Brew Crew member on this list, and like his teammate, has more than a few teams interested in making a deal. The left fielder has turned in a fine first half of baseball thus far batting .323/.378/.538 with 13HR and 44RBI.
Braun has most notably been linked to the San Francisco Giants, who could certainly use his services with Hunter Pence still on the disabled list. Meanwhile the Brewers could bring over Angel Pagan or Denard Span plus prospects in exchange for Braun, which would be a fair deal for both sides.
San Francisco gets a good bat and outfield insurance in Braun, and Milwaukee receives a capable veteran outfielder like Pagan or Span plus prospects for future use.
Most Probable Outcome: Milwaukee trades Braun to San-Fran in exchange for Pagan and prospects.
5. Jay Bruce
There was a time this past off-season when Jay Bruce was to become a part of the Toronto Blue Jays outfield, but the deal soured and ultimately fell through.
Since then, Bruce has only helped his trade stock by hitting for a respectable .268/.314/.540 slash line with 17 HR, 60 RBI.
Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Bruce is willing to waive his “no trade clause” in order to be dealt to a contending team. Bruce’s current NTC teams include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox*, Cleveland Indians*, Miami Marlins*, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Rays. (*denotes teams that are contending this year)
So far rumors have shown Bruce being looked at by the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Washington Nationals.
The rebuilding Reds will likely be trading for a veteran starting pitcher, making the Dodgers and Royals front-runners to land Bruce.
Most Probable Outcome: Cincinnati trades Bruce to the Dodgers in exchange for Bud Norris and peanuts, I mean prospects.
6. Rich Hill
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Hill had a number of teams in attendance this past Saturday (July 2nd) scouting the A’s lefty against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
That list included the Bucs themselves, the Dodgers, the Royals, and Hill’s previous teams like the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, and Red Sox.
The 36-year-old MLB journeyman, who was returning from a previous groin injury, went six strong innings allowing just two earned runs with six strikeouts in a no decision.
On the year Hill owns an 8-2 record with a 2.31 ERA and 80 SO in 70 innings of work.
Most Probable Outcome: Hill is traded to the Royals in exchange for Luke Hochevar and prospects.
7. Carlos Gonzalez
Although Gonzalez hasn’t generated a lot of trade buzz this season, he is still a likely trade target for teams looking to acquire a veteran outfielder with a solid bat. CarGo is currently slashing .317/.366/.561 with 18 HR and 51 RBI this season and continues to be a big part of the Colorado Rockies success.
Potential suitors for Gonzalez have yet to rise from the rumor mill, and given that Cargo (like Jose Fernandez) is set to become a free agent in 2018, the Rockies may wish to re-sign Gonzalez and build around the core of Nolan Arendado, Trevor Story, etc.
Most Probable Outcome: A few teams call on CarGo, but nothing materializes and Gonzalez stays in Colorado.
8. Carlos Beltran
Joining his teammate on this list, Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran is having a revival season and could become a trade piece in the coming weeks.
Beltran, who’s aged like a fine wine at 39-years-old, is currently batting .296/.337/.567 with 19HR and 53RBI.
The 19-year veteran has expressed a desire to stay in New York this season, however, and holds a large amount of control in his contract should a trade emerge. Beltran has a NTC that allows him to block trades between 15 MLB teams.
Most Probable Outcome: While Beltran could help a number of contending teams this season, all signs point to him staying in the Bronx. Beltran is a free agent at the end of this season.
9. Julio Teheran
If it were an actual award, Julio Teheran would win Best Pitcher on the Worst team in 2016.
Don’t let Teheran’s 3-7 record deceive you. The Braves right hander still owns a 2.72 ERA with a nasty 0.93 WHIP and 105 strikeouts over 105 innings. Also, some of those losses can easily be attributed to the Braves’ inability to provide Teheran run support.
Though the trade hype train has lost a lot of steam for Teheran, the Red Sox have shown interest and are in the market for starting pitching per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Most Probable Outcome: The Braves trade Teheran to the Red Sox in exchange for Eduardo Rodriguez and prospects.
10. Jake Odorizzi
Odorizzi, along with his teammate and Rays starter Matt Moore, has been tied to a number of teams looking for starting pitchers. This list includes the Blue Jays, Marlins, Pirates, Rangers, and Red Sox to name a few.
Per ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the Rangers are the most recent team to show interest, as the Rays would be looking for young talent (Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson) in return for Odorizzi’s services.
Currently Odorizzi is 3-3 on the year with a 3.91 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 90 SO in 94 innings pitched.
Most Probable Outcome: Honestly, Odorizzi is the most difficult to predict. Simply because he could be slotted into any rotation right now. My best guess, Tampa sticks with Texas and deals Odorizzi in exchange for Joey Gallo and pitching prospects.
Buying: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals.
Selling: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays.
Staying: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners.
Over the next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline you are guaranteed to see three things:
1. A blockbuster trade involving an All-Star talent, a veteran position player or pitcher, and top prospects. 2. Minor leaguers and cash being thrown around like free team t-shirts during the seventh inning stretch. 3. Prominent National League players being swapped for dominant American League players, or vice versa.
As the infamous Terrell Owens once said “Get your popcorn ready!”.
Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith
The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.
Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.
According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”
The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.
The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):
“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.
“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”
Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats.
Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.
“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.
There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.
MLB Investigating Racist Social Media Messages Sent to Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr.
Major League Baseball is investigating racial messages sent, via social media, to Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. prior to his demotion to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs back on April 6th.
According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, the messages have caught the attention of both the Cubs and the MLB Players Association, leading to the launch of the investigation.
Mooney had been a solid bullpen option during the last few seasons, but had a nightmare start to the 2019 season posting a terrible 32.40 ERA in just 1.2 innings of work over four appearances.
Carlos Zambrano Attempting Comeback, Signs with Indy Team
Former MLB pitcher Carlos Zambrano is attempting a comeback and has signed with the American Association’s Chicago Dogs, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer.
Zambrano last pitched in the majors back in 2012 with the Miami Marlins, but earlier in his career he finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting in the National League three times as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
Zambrano started his comeback bid last fall when he took the mound for 7 starts in the Mexican League, pitching to the tune of a 5.18 ERA, and performing even worse during a short stint in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Given his recent lack of production, it is a longshot to believe that Zambrano will return to the MLB level, but stranger things have happened.
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