Will Madison Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer and other topflight arms move in July deals? The MLB trade deadline is approaching and we’ve got you covered with all of the trade rumors, reaction and analysis you need as your team ponders its next blockbuster move in the first season with one single deadline.
Whether you root for a buyer or a seller — or someone in between — you can keep up with all of the completed trades, team needs, deals we’d like to see and even weigh in with our deadline polls from now until the 4 p.m. ET deadline strikes on Wednesday, July 31.
The latest MLB trade rumors and buzz we’re hearing
Today’s trade chatter
Orioles have another arm to deal: The Orioles officially kicked off the deadline season by shipping Andrew Cashner to Boston over the weekend, but they might not be done selling. After a rough start to the season, reliever Mychal Givens has looked more like himself recently. His combination of velocity, affordability and track record should make him a person of interest for the 12,000 or so teams in search of bullpen help. — Eddie Matz
Look for Nats to go after bullpen help: Of all the teams that need relief reinforcements, the Nationals are at the front of the line. Despite being pretty effective the last six weeks, Washington’s pen has a 5.93 ERA that ranks last in the NL. General manager Mike Rizzo has for traded for relievers in the three of the past four Julys and is a good bet to do so again. Problem is, with all those recent trades, Rizzo doesn’t have a whole lot left in the cupboard. Look for the Nats to avoid sexy names like Kirby Yates, Felipe Vasquez and Will Smith, and instead focus on someone a bit more sensible. — Eddie Matz
Monday’s trade chatter
Mets’ trade candidate hits IL: Zack Wheeler is headed to the injured list with shoulder fatigue, which more or less destroys his trade value. He had interest far and wide across the league. Perhaps a team still takes a crack in hopes he returns, but the Mets’ hopes to cash in at the deadline have evaporated. — Jeff Passan
What will D-backs do with Greinke? While the Arizona Diamondbacks have not yet hung an open-for-business sign, rival executives believe it’s a matter of days before they declare themselves ready to trade. There are the obvious candidates to be dealt: Robbie Ray and David Peralta, each of whom has a year of control left; Greg Holland, Alex Avila, Jarrod Dyson and Adam Jones, all pending free agents; and even Andrew Chafin, the stalwart left-handed reliever.
The most intriguing possibility: moving Zack Greinke, the 35-year-old starter who keeps adding to what’s an increasingly intriguing Hall of Fame résumé. Greinke is a front-line starter. He is also due about $14.5 million for the rest of this season and $35 million in 2020 and 2021. It’s a massive price to pay in dollars alone, and because of Greinke’s excellence, the Diamondbacks also would want a prospect haul in return. They could achieve that by paying down some of Greinke’s salary, but Arizona’s solid core, backed by what is rapidly becoming one of baseball’s best farm systems, makes holding on to Greinke an entirely reasonable proposition — Jeff Passan
Need a power hitter? San Diego is a good place to look: The inventory for quality hitters at this trade deadline resembles what greets the person who shows up the morning after Black Friday sales start. “It’s barren,” one general manager said this week, with the exception perhaps of the San Diego Padres‘ endeavoring to build deals around one of their powerful corner outfielders. Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe are both available in deals, according to sources, and until the muddled middle that is the MLB standings right now spits out the pretenders, they may be the best teams can get.
Both are clearly monster power hitters. Both also come with drawbacks. While Reyes is just 24, has 5½ years before he reaches free agency and already has whacked 25 home runs, his glove is a significant minus and his plate discipline leaves something to be desired. At 27 and with four years of team control left, Renfroe’s service profile is slightly different but his game similar. He’s a better outfielder than Reyes and a more consistent performer, having hit at least 25 home runs in three straight seasons. He’s also not the kind of player around whom the Padres can build a trade to acquire a foundational starter, which is their ultimate goal. — Jeff Passan
Could the Rangers trade away an All-Star? The overachieving Texas Rangers are one of the season’s best stories, and starter Mike Minor finds himself at the center of their resurgence. He is also, according to executives, at the top of multiple teams’ trade-target wish lists. While the Rangers have not told teams they plan to trade Minor, they have not indicated they’re definitively holding on to him, either, leading a number of executives to believe he could be the best pitcher moved before July 31.
The calculus for the Rangers is clear: Three of the teams ahead of them in the wild-card standings — Tampa Bay, Boston and Cleveland — are clearly more talented, and a fourth team, Oakland, has a plus-81 run differential despite its warts. Unless the Rangers believe they are primed to leapfrog three of those four teams, dealing Minor could be a boon. He’s got a 2.73 ERA, another year on his contract and the sort of makeup that contenders believe could behoove them come October. — Jeff Passan
Could Robbie Ray be a fit for the Yankees? Yankees scouts aren’t the only ones who have been on the hunt recently. With reports the Arizona Diamondbacks recently attended games at the Yankees’ high-A affiliate, New York may be setting its price for what it will give up in exchange for a starting pitcher like Robbie Ray: high-valued prospects who still need time to get MLB-ready. In other words, not Clint Frazier. — Coley Harvey
Are the Red Sox done shopping? The buzz around the Boston Red Sox is that they’ve already made their major move: Andrew Cashner. After dealing for the Orioles starter, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski emphasized that the Red Sox were committed to maintaining the top of their prospect pool, signaling that the team won’t make a blockbuster trade leading up to the deadline. Pending the health of Nathan Eovaldi and his return off the injured list as a reliever rather than a starter, Boston will likely not chase a reliever at the deadline. — Joon Lee
Dodgers will be aggressive for bullpen help: The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ only perceived weakness resides in their bullpen. Look for them to be aggressive here, with the hopes of acquiring both a reliable setup man and someone who could be effective against opposing left-handed hitters.
The Dodgers have the assets to compete with anyone. The question is how willing president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman will be to part with those assets in order to address a position that is traditionally so volatile, especially in a year when bullpen help is such a pronounced need throughout the sport.
“We’ve demonstrated an aggressiveness in the past, and we will equally approach this year not just in terms of the bullpen, but any kind of upgrade aggressively,” Friedman said recently. “But we won’t err on the side of stupid. We’re comfortable being aggressive. We’re not comfortable being stupid.” — Alden Gonzalez
Angels facing unique deadline dilemma: The Los Angeles Angels face a common problem with the trade deadline approaching: They reside on the very edges of contention, but are not quite close enough, or good enough, to trade future assets for short-term additions. The Angels need to bolster their starting rotation. Ideally, general manager Billy Eppler will acquire a top-of-the-rotation starter who is controllable beyond this coming season — an even bigger need in the wake of Tyler Skaggs’ sudden death.
Given the unique circumstances facing his team, Eppler was asked if he feels an added responsibility to acquire a big-name player simply to provide a jolt of energy to a team that could desperately use one for the final two months.
“We try to approach every single decision with a mindful, pragmatic approach, and understand all the variables that govern decisions, and ultimately think about the health of the organization first and foremost,” Eppler said. “If you do that, it’d be very rare to regret decisions.” — Alden Gonzalez
Could Rays make deadline splash? Some rival evaluators think Tampa Bay could be one of the most aggressive teams in adding players before the deadline — Buster Olney
Jeff Passan weighs in on the trade value of Madison Bumgarner and Trevor Bauer and which teams could use them most.
MLB trade deadline targets
ESPN’s top 10 deadline targets (listed alphabetically)
Will Smith, RP, San Francisco Giants
Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets
Buster Olney’s names to watch: Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Ken Giles, Tony Watson, Zack Wheeler, Shane Greene, Scooter Gennett, Noah Syndergaard, Martin Maldonado (traded to Cubs).
Completed MLB trade tracker
Our one-sentence take: The deal gives the Cubs an insurance policy behind the plate for the stretch, as it comes on the heels of their having to put starting catcher Willson Contreras on the IL briefly with a strained foot.
The deal: Athletics get Homer Bailey from Royals (July 14)
Our one-sentence take: As they make their midseason surge up the standings, the Athletics added an under-the-radar starter having his best season in five years.
The deal: Red Sox get Andrew Cashner from Orioles (July 13)
Our one-sentence take: With Nathan Eovaldi ticketed for a bullpen role upon his return from the injured list, the Red Sox turned their attention to the rotation and added a veteran with American League East experience, in Cashner.
The deal: Yankees get Edwin Encarnacion from Mariners (June 16)
Our one-sentence take: Yes, this trade happened more than a month before the deadline, but there might not be a more impactful slugger than Encarnacion on the move this summer.
Buyers, sellers and MLB team-by-team needs
Five key potential buyers
Big need: Middle relief
The Dodgers have close to a perfect roster, leaving them with the luxury of targeting the reliever they need. That would be Vazquez, the ultimate late-inning lefty.
Big need: Pitching depth
The Yankees don’t need much but have the prospect surplus to aim high at the best pitchers on the trade market, the type who could make their biggest impact in October.
Big need: Postseason starter
Potential targets: Matthew Boyd, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman
Like the Yankees, once the Astros get healthy, they don’t have many roster holes. Another ace-level starter would be ideal, and wouldn’t it be just so tasty to have Bauer teamed up with college frenemy Gerrit Cole?
Big need: Middle relief
Potential targets: Kirby Yates, Will Smith, Ken Giles
The Twins’ only soft spot, other than the underbelly of statistical regression, lies in consistent sixth- and seventh-inning options, so even if Minnesota doesn’t want to cough up the prospects needed to get the top available firemen, it should be able to bolster the bullpen one way or another.
Big need: Veteran pitching
Potential targets: Zack Greinke, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman
Given Kevin Gausman‘s struggles and the youth around Dallas Keuchel, another top-level veteran for October makes a lot of sense, and should someone such as Bauer or Greinke become available, no team has the prospect stock to outbid the Braves.
Five key potential sellers
What would they want back? Controllable starters, infielders, outfielders, prospects, salary flexibility
The Giants haven’t helped first-year president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi’s case to sell by overachieving just enough to hang on the fringes of contention. One more hot streak could put him in an awkward spot. If the Giants sell as expected, few teams have more quality options to offer contenders.
What would they want back? Relievers, prospects, salary flexibility
Whether it’s Diaz, Wheeler or even Conforto, if the Mets decide to sell, freeing up future payroll would be nearly as important as adding a semblance of quality to a depleted farm system.
What would they want back? Prospect depth, salary flexibility
In some ways, it might almost be better if Arizona slumps the next couple of weeks, because if tomorrow were July 31, you could flip a coin as to whether the Snakes should buy or sell. If they sell, it would be a tough balancing act to determine how much cash they’d have to eat to move Greinke while getting some kind of future piece in return.
What would they want back? Prospects
This is a crucial month for a franchise still early-ish in its rebuild that has nonetheless already graduated some high-impact talent to the majors. Toronto has some excellent pieces to sell, and getting near-ready prospects or controllable young veterans to augment the young core would improve the short-term outlook immensely.
What would they want back? A young catcher
We know the Pirates aren’t going to go all-in with a splashy move, so a move to acquire a young catcher makes a lot of sense in light of Francisco Cervelli‘s wise decision to give up the tools of ignorance. A deal built around Vazquez and one of the Dodgers’ near-ready catching prospects makes a whole lot of sense for both teams.
What should your team do at the deadline?
Buster’s deadline deal of the dayJoe Sargent/Getty Images
Why Bucs should — and shouldn’t — trade Felipe Vazquez.The closer might be the most coveted available player this month, what is Pittsburgh’s best option? Buster Olney (ESPN+)
Trades we’d like to seeBrian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire
Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke and Trevor Bauer all on the move? An All-Star closer to the Dodgers? Here’s the blockbusters we’re hoping go down before July 31. Bradford Doolittle (ESPN+)
What front offices are saying”Definitely gives us the improvement in that fifth spot, which we’ve scuffled for such a long time this year. He’s a guy that’s taken the ball and given six, seven innings on a consistent basis, so we like a lot of the things about him. We think he makes us better.”
Dave Dombrowski on Boston’s acquisition of Andrew Cashner
A’s general manager David Forst on adding Homer Bailey: “Our starting depth has taken a hit. We checked around for some starting pitching. I had let Kansas City know a few days ago that Homer might be someone we were interested in, and it came together kind of quickly this morning.”
Your turn: MLB trade deadline poll center
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