I tackled the National League heading into the week, but now it’s time for the AL version of trade deadline chatter.
The Red Sox (62-39) and Rays (60-40) are locked into a battle for AL East supremacy. Boston’s most glaring need appears to be first base, so watch out for names like Anthony Rizzo (CHC) or Carlos Santana (CHC) to reinforce what is already a formidable lineup. Boston has pitching reinforcements already in Tanner Houck and the imminent return of Chris Sale—though I’m sure they’ll be mining for pitching help like 100% of other teams leading up to the trade deadline. As for the Rays, they’ll have help in the form of Chris Archer soon enough—three days ago he was mostly sharp in a three-inning rehab outing. He could only need a couple more turns and then be deemed ready for the rotation. Tyler Glasnow has also begun to play catch, so there’s still an outside shot that he can return for a playoff push. I could see the cost-conscious Rays not overextending themselves at this deadline if the prices on new acquisitions aren’t right. That said, they are reportedly checking in on Max Scherzer and Kris Bryant...so stay tuned.
The Yankees (51-47) and Blue Jays (49-47) aren’t out of the Wild Card chase. The Yanks have been linked to Trevor Story, with a trade offer reportedly on the table. A reunion with second baseman D.J. LeMahieu could make sense given the season-long struggles of Gleyber Torres. That, or Story’s athleticism could take over for Brett Gardner’s weak bat in center field. This is something huge to monitor up until Friday. As for the Blue Jays, I’d love to see them swing a deal for catcher—say, Willson Contreras? That would solidify an area of weakness and Toronto has multiple guys at backstop to send in return, in my opinion. Torono also HAS to be seriously considering adding a quality starting pitcher AND bullpen. You can’t roll into September with Steven Matz or Ross Stripling as your No. 3 and expect to have a shot at anything. And the bullpen in Toronto has suffered from injuries and inconsistency. If the Blue Jays do anything, I’d expect them to bring in a quality reliever (or two).
The Orioles (34-64) are predictably bad, though the offense has shown flashes this year. For Baltimore’s sake hopefully shortstop Freddy Galvis is close enough to health that the front office can capitalize on one of the best seasons of Galvis’ career, and flip him for anything useful. Multiple Oriole relievers are reportedly for sale, but only at the right price. Paul Fry, Tanner Scott, and Cole Sulser all have multiple years of team control left. Lastly, Trey Mancini—COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR—might be available, though that just sounds awful.
The White Sox (59-41) are the cream of this crop, and that’s despite the long absence of one Eloy Jimenez, who was just activated this week. Luis Robert is also currently rehabbing, though he’s yet to play a full nine innings. Yasmani Grandal expects to return sometime next month. So while the Sox have suffered injuries offensively, they will get reinforcements soon enough by virtue of getting healthy. The most glaring need is the keystone, with Nick Madrigal lost for the season and the Sox rotating guys like Danny Mendick and Leury Garcia. Eduardo Escobar of Arizona makes a lot of sense here.
The White Sox are probably in the market for a reliever (who isn’t), so keep tabs on a guy like Richard Rodriguez (PIT). That said, whoever comes in won’t supplant Liam Hendriks as the closer, so if the addition is currently logging saves for your fake team, you can likely kiss those goodbye.
The Cleveland Guardians (49-48) get a new name, and maybe a new leash on life? The Mariners were reportedly interested in third baseman Jose Ramirez, but Cleveland is not having any “active talks” about trading their star performer. Given that Cleveland isn’t too far out of the Wild Card race and should get help in a couple of weeks in the form of Aaron Civale and Eddie Rosario, it’s possible we see them make a deal or two to try to get better in the interim. There’s also Shane Bieber’s eventual return, though he sounds further away than Civale and has not progressed to mound work yet.
The Tigers (47-55), Royals (43-55), and Twins (43-58) all seem too far out of it to make large acquisitions at this deadline. If I’m Detroit, I’m selling high on 1B/2B Jonathan Schoop. He’s had a banner year and would command the best return of any player, at least that I can see. It sounds like Detroit may be content to stand pat at this deadline, though, given that they are finally playing decent baseball recently. There are enough young arms on that team to justify making another run at it next season, for sure. Wily Peralta, too, makes sense to flip to a contender for anything that might be useful to Detroit in the future.
The Royals have been linked to Seattle, due to the Mariners’ interest in 2B/OF Whit Merrifield. The Mariners aren’t out of the Wild Card chase, so adding a bat with Merrifield’s defensive versatility makes tons of sense. It would likely be a high price in return, though. Danny Duffy is apparently drawing interest from multiple teams in need of pitching help, but it would need to be a team that could afford to wait on Duffy’s healthy return from a left flexor injury.
The Twins have already jettisoned Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay, but with plenty of young and controllable talent (and injuries to guys like Buxton and Garver) they have reason to hope for a rebound next season. As such, Michael Pineda could be shipped off, but he could also re-sign with Minnesota after the conclusion of 2021. Pineda says that Minnesota “feels like home,” for what that is worth. Any team inquiring about guys like Max Kepler (Yankees), Jose Berrios, or Taylor Rogers would have to agree to a hefty asking price, with the Twins not in a desperate sell-mode.
The Astros (61-40) are easy to hate, but still atop the standings despite the long-term absence of Alex Bregman. Bregman played five rehab innings just last night (Monday). He’ll likely need another week or so before getting the call, but his bat should be a welcomed sight after Houston’s offense has floundered recently. The most persistent rumor seems to attach Houston to incoming starting pitching of some sort, although the rotation currently looks full and injured starter Jose Urquidy (shoulder) should make it back prior to the postseason (he’s currently throwing off of flat ground). That said, the Athletics (56-45) are just five games back, so the Astros probably can’t afford to stand pat. Houston has the benefit of pursuing either a quality starter or quality reliever—and if it’s a starter coming in, a current starter could get bumped to the bullpen. Could the Astros go big enough to procure Jose Berrios from Minnesota, or land Max Scherzer from Washington? It’s not outside the realm of possibility.
The Athletics added left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin from the Cubs just today (Tuesday). He’s adding to what is already a strength for Oakland, but perhaps frees up the mixing and matching for the A’s later in games, now that there’s another lefty in this bullpen not named Jake Diekman. I wonder if that means slightly less save chances for Lou Trivino moving forward. We shall see. The A’s had shown some interest in Richard Rodriguez (PIT), but I wonder if that has cooled now that Chafin is in town.
The Mariners (55-46) are right in the middle of the Wild Card race, and have reportedly pursued Whit Merrifield (KC) and Adam Frazier (now signed with San Diego). They are also in the market for starting pitching help. Kendall Graveman has had a nice season and is an impending free agent—he seems most likely to be traded from Seattle’s current group.
The Angels (50-49) are on the right side of .500, but the outlook is mostly dismal. Alex Cobb is slated to be a free agent at the season’s end and would probably be attractive if the Halos entered sell-mode. And sell-mode seems like given that Mike Trout (calf) still doesn’t have a timetable for his return. He’s now 10 weeks removed from what was expected to be a six or eight-week injury. Anthony Rendon (hamstring) too, seems farther away than Angels brass would like. If I read the tea leaves here, I’d expect Cobb to move to a contending team and for the Halos to look to the future.
The Rangers (35-65) have lost their last 10 games in a row. Ian Kennedy, Kyle Gibson, and Joey Gallo are names that come up consistently in trade rumors. However, Texas has reportedly been pursuing an extension with Gallo, so there’s that. The Padres are one rumor for Gallo that would be super-fun for fantasy baseball...so stay tuned on that front.
What say you, ladies and gents? Who are you hoping your favorite team lands before Friday’s deadline?