I admit, I love to talk and write about trade rumors because there is so much strategy involved in trades, especially when contracts are involved. That is why I like to play in NL-only or AL-only keeper auction leagues, because sometimes trades are all about the keeper value involved in the trade or trade offer. Other times, the trade helps both teams, but in keeper leagues, the contracts involved and the keeper value of the players involved play a big part in the deals. The same can be said for trades in major league baseball.
Today, I am going to discuss three trades that should happen by the July 31st trade deadline. Many of the trade rumors that we read either here or elsewhere discuss teams that could be interested in say Phillies ace Cole Hamels or Reds ace Johnny Cueto. Many times, the rumors don't come true, and sometimes, trades come out of nowhere to surprise everyone. Last year, Rays ace David Price was rumored to be traded to the Dodgers, Cubs and many other teams. Who saw him being dealt to the Tigers? I didn't. Several years ago, the Rays traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for outfield prospect Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and two minor leaguers. At the time of that trade, many felt that the Rays won that trade hands down, but as it turned out Shields and Davis helped the Royals make the World Series last season, while the Rays ended up trading Myers last offseason.
Here are my three trades that should happen by July 31st:
Phillies trade Jonathan Papelbon to the Cardinals for Tim Cooney
The Phillies have been trying to trade Papelbon for the last two seasons, and more than likely it happens in the next two weeks. The Phillies are in a rebuild and have no use for a $13 million closer, and have their closer-in-waiting Ken Giles ready to take over after a year of setting up.
The Cardinals have a very good closer in Trevor Rosenthal, but he appears to be tiring from overuse in the first half of the season. Over his last three appearances, he has faced 21 batters, giving up 5 earned runs on 10 hits, 2 walks and just 2 strikeouts in 3 innings of work. He has previously complained of arm soreness, and was unavailable in the All Star game. He was the only pitcher the Cardinals did not use in Sunday's 18 inning loss to the Mets, so there is reason to be concerned about his health. His hard hit % has increased from 14% in May to 27% in June to 37% in July, so hitters are squaring him up more over the last month or so.
Trading for Papelbon would give the Cardinals insurance should Rosenthal need a stint on the disabled list. Cooney is a left handed starter, who John Sickels ranked as the Cardinals 7th ranked prospect coming into the season, and he would provide the Phillies with a young starter that they could use in their rebuild.
Dodgers trade Yasiel Puig to the Mets for Matt Harvey
There has been recent chatter in the media stating the Dodgers players are increasingly growing tired of Yasiel Puig's act on and off the field and in the clubhouse. Molly Knight's release of her book "The Best Team Money Can Buy" provided some insight into some of Puig's antics, including him frequently arriving late to the ball park, and other selfish acts. With Carl Crawford returning from the disabled list, and Andre Ethier enjoying a bounce back season, the Dodgers can afford to deal Puig.
Trading Puig would require a lot in return and their need for another starting pitcher is well know, especially with the season-ending injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Dodgers President Andrew Friedman is no stranger to blockbuster trades going back to his days as the Rays GM, and as recent as this past offseason. Friedman rid the Dodgers clubhouse of problem guys like Matt Kemp in the offseason, and dealing Puig would finish the job of cleaning out the bad character guys.
Despite rumors that the Dodgers are interested in Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto, it is well known that Friedman likes to trade for players he can control, and Harvey is controllable for the next three seasons. The Dodgers need a starting pitcher, and the Mets need an outfield bat, so this deal makes sense for both teams. The Mets pitching staff is already stacked with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Harvey, injured starters Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, so the Mets can afford to deal Harvey in return for the young and controllable Puig.
Tigers trade David Price to the Astros for Vincent Velasquez and Derek Fisher
It appears the Tigers might be looking to start a rebuild, as they are 10 games behind the division leading Royals, and have made David Price available per Bob Nightengale at USA Today. Price is their most valuable trade commodity as we approach the trade deadline, and if they are looking to rebuild, or retool, dealing Price could bring back a decent package of prospects in return. Putting Price on the market could also make him the most sought after starting pitcher available, even ahead of Hamels and Cueto.
The Astros are in the wild card chase and have a real need for a veteran ace starting pitcher to anchor their staff. Yes, they have an ace in Dallas Keuchel, but he has never pitched in a playoff race, let alone the playoffs, so adding Price would fill a great need. In return for dealing Price, the Tigers would receive Astros pitching prospect Vincent Velasquez and outfield prospect Derek Fisher.
Minor League Ball's John Sickels ranked Velasquez as his 4th ranked Astros prospect coming into the season, while he ranked Fisher as his 9th ranked prospect in their system. Velasquez made just five starts in AA, where he dominated, going 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA while striking out 37 batters in 26.1 innings. Fisher is hitting .254 with 10 home runs, 41 runs scored, 41 RBI and 12 stolen bases in High A this season, so he has power and speed tools.
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