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This Week in Baseball: The Trade Deadline

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It’s less than a week from the trade deadline; teams are making moves and the rumors of what players might have a new home are flying.  

For those of you that are new fans, this is why the trade deadline is so important:  Before the deadline (4pm, July 31) the team looking to trade a player has control over where they go and what they may get in return; after the deadline, not so much.  If a team has a desirable player they are looking to move for whatever the reason, it only stands to benefit them to get a deal done before the deadline.  If there is no offers the trading team finds appealing they can either choose to hold on to the player or place them on waivers for other teams to claim.  

If a team decides to put a player on waivers, if a claim for the player comes in the first 2 days of being on waivers a team can choose to keep the player, negotiate a trade, or just let the player go.  If the player is claimed by more than one team during that time, the team with worst record gets preference.  If those 2 days pass and no claim is put in, the team is free to trade the player with any team.

There are a few teams where the trade rumors are particularly heavy; some selling, some buying.  

Sellers:

The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the top teams rumored to be selling.  The Rays have been struggling, have little to no chance at making the playoffs, and once ace Alex Cobb comes off the DL, will have at least one extra starting pitcher.  The most likely to move are Matt Moore (L) or Jake Odorizzi (R), but a ace Chris Archer is also on a lot of teams radar.  Interested teams include but are not limited to the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Dodgers; all teams with chances to make it too the playoffs.  With so many players on the bartering table, it’s difficult to know what the Rays rotation will look like when this is all done.

The San Diego Padres have been in a rebuild phase since last season.  They have already traded away Melvin Upton Jr., who is having his best season since 2012, to the Toronto Blue Jays for prospect Hansel Rodriguez.  The next player on the trade board is starter Andrew Cashner, who is in the last year of his contract.  He has been with the Padre’s since 2012 when he was traded from the Cubs, so he’s only pitched in the NL and never pitched in a playoff game.  Suitors include but are not limited to the Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants, and Toronto Blue Jays.  I’m thinking Cashner will have the most success staying the NL and the Giants or Marlins could use a solid mid rotation pitcher to help them in the push to the playoffs.  

Jonathan Lucroy has been quietly sitting on the Milwaukee Brewers roster since 2010 with no less than a .253 batting average.  The Brewers have not been to the playoffs since 2012 and finally decided Lucroy may do them more good being traded for prospects.  Catchers that can hit are not easy to find.  Any team looking to make a run for the playoffs would stand to benefit from a catcher like Lucroy.

The Philadelphia Phillies have been shopping Jeremy Hellikson for the better part of July, but have made it clear that they will only let him go unless it’s for a top prospect.  The Phillies have been dwelling at or near the bottom of the NL East since 2012, and look to be on that same track for this season.  Of all the teams looking to sell the Phillies are the least likely to get a deal done.  Their price is steep and Hellikson will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Buyers:

Pretty much every team the that is in 1st or 2nd place in their division are looking for pitchers.  The list of teams that aren’t shopping is shorter than the list of teams that is.  The teams that are the most desperate to make the playoffs are the ones that are the most likely to make a deal.  The 3 of the thirstiest teams are the Orioles, the Pirates, and the Astros.  

Although righty Chris Tillman has been dominant, the rest of the Orioles rotation has been mediocre.  They have gotten to where they are in the division because of their offence and the fact that the AL East has been fairly weak.  Although Moore and Odorizzi have been a little shaky, the change of scenery may be just what they need to get back to their old selves.  

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a solid pitching core but they have had issues with the rotation healthy.  Adding an arm at the back of the rotation would provide security and allow them to let their top prospect Jameson Taillon more time to develope in the bullpen or the minors.  If the Pirates want to beat the Joe Maddon’s Chicago Cubs, they have got to take it to the next level and adding a pitcher might be what they need.

Last but not least, the Astros.  Last season’s Cinderella team had a rough start to the season, but has been flexing their muscles in the 2nd half of the season.  Like every team that is looking to buy, the Astros are looking at pitchers, but another player that has peaked their interest in Lucroy.  Not only could adding some power to the catcher position help the Astros push past the Rangers, but they also have the prospects that a team like the Brewers would want.  In fact, General Manager Jeff Luhnow saying that no trades are imminent makes me feel even stronger that they will make a move.

A pick up at the trade deadline can give a team the boost they need to make the playoffs and enables weaker teams the chance to rebuild with new prospects.  Some experts believe the deadline is outdated, but I feel it creates excitement for change in the middle of the long season.  I can’t wait to see where the dust settles on Aug 1 and if those moves pan out the way the claiming teams hope.     

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