Wainwright, Alvarez, McCarthy and Bailey with significant injuries
With the recent injuries to significant pitchers in Major League Baseball, teams will likely be making some phone calls about the availability of starting pitchers who could be on the trade market at this year’s trade deadline. The Miami Marlins probably have not entered into trade discussions after losing Henderson Alvarez to an early season injury, because the team hopes he can make a quick recovery after a trip to the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Even though the St. Louis Cardinals have sufficient pitching depth to turn to after losing Adam Wainwright for the season, it is in their best interest to explore the options on the trade market early on this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers have multiple starting pitchers on the disabled list right now, but losing Brandon McCarthy for the season with a torn UCL, is what could cause them to explore trades for a veteran starting pitcher. Reports have surfaced that Homer Bailey may have a significant elbow injury, with this development potentially pushing the Reds to sell off more pieces at this year’s trade deadline if they are no longer contending for a playoff spot. Each of these situations has the potential to play a significant role in how the trade market for pitching develops this season, and with this in mind, a further look at the development of the pitching market will help to determine how it will all play out.
Which pitchers are likely to be available on the trade market?
Cole Hamels is the big name that everyone expects to be on the trade market at this year’s trade deadline, but there are also other significant options that could join him on the trade block. With the Reds suffering a significant injury on their pitching staff, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake could be made available at this year’s trade deadline if the team falls out of contention for a playoff spot. Both players are on expiring contracts, and the Reds need to get as much value for them as possible in case of a scenario where they both end up elsewhere as free agents. With the Milwaukee Brewers off to the worst start in their franchise history, they are considering selling off some of their veteran pitching at this year’s trade deadline. Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza are the two being mentioned as being on the trade block, with Matt Garza being an attractive trade chip for either National League or American League clubs. Along with Cole Hamels on the Phillies, both Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley could be on the trade block at this year’s trade deadline. Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor could also be available at this year’s trade deadline, adding to the quality left handed starters available on the trade market. With all of these starters likely to be available on the trade market leading up to this year’s deadline, the teams that have suffered significant injuries to their rotations, should be able to make the necessary move to add a veteran starting pitcher.
Who else is in the market for starting pitching?
With the Cardinals and Dodgers not being the only teams looking for starting pitching on the trade market, the Boston Red Sox are the top candidates to be shopping for starting pitching at this year’s trade deadline. The Red Sox have the farm system depth to make a trade for any of the available starting pitchers, with either Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto being the best fit for a team that features a great offense. The Toronto Blue Jays could also be in the market for starting pitching this season, with a solid number three starter like Matt Garza being a great fit for the team. With the season still very young, more teams could emerge that need starting pitching at the trade deadline, but for right now there are plenty of options available to the teams that either have a need or suffered a significant injury. As the season approaches the summer months, a clearer picture will emerge on the pennant race fronts as some unexpected teams could join the pursuit of a playoff berth this season. With plenty of surprises yet to materialize, the trade market for starting pitching appears to be plentiful for right now if a team decides they want to make a push for an early season trade.
Will the Cardinals or Dodgers make a trade for starting pitching?
The Cardinals do not need to make a trade for a starting pitcher since they have veteran John Lackey to step into a leadership role on their starting staff. They have the option to call up top prospect Marco Gonzales when he returns from the triple-A disabled list, while slotting him in the fifth spot in their rotation to move everyone else up one spot. The Dodgers are presented with a much different situation however, even though they have one of the strongest top of the rotation trios in all of baseball. With Hyun-Jin Ryu currently on the disabled list, the Dodgers starting pitching is very thin right now. Ryu should be able to make a return early next month and Brandon Beachy could make a return from the disabled list in June, however the options for the Dodgers are limited right now with Brandon McCarthy out for the season. Turning to Juan Nicasio and Scott Baker to fill the final two spots in their rotation right now is a short term option, but the team is likely to explore trade opportunities by making calls on veteran starting pitchers. With the Dodgers likely to make a move for a starting pitcher, the coming weeks could create some interesting storylines as the Dodgers negotiate with teams in an effort to bring in another veteran starting pitcher.