The annual trade deadline arrives Friday, which isn’t the traditional July 31.
That’s Saturday, when the MLB schedule shows three day games. Supposedly, MLB didn’t want players to be whisked off the field during a day game — on national television — so the deadline is July 30.
Wonderful. The sooner the better.
The rumor mill has been spinning for weeks, before teams waded through the MLB Draft earlier this month. The Toronto Blue Jays struck the first deal June 29 to get the market rolling, and the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres made splashes in the past few days.
Nelson Cruz, the ageless homer-hitting wonder and a clutch playoff performer, went from Minnesota to Tampa Bay. The Padres grabbed Pittsburgh All-Star infielder Adam Frazier, which might lead to fellow All-Star Jake Cronenworth unseating struggling veteran Eric Hosmer at first base.
That won’t be the last deal. In baseball, things typically go down to the wire. In 2017, for instance, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers hammered out the Yu Darvish trade in the final 20 minutes before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline.
Thanks to the second wild card, many teams will believe they have a chance at the postseason. It might be fool’s gold for some teams, both the buyers and the sellers. There are no guarantees on either side of a trade.
New York Yankees
What a difference 24 hours can make. The Yankees rallied Saturday to beat first-place Boston with four runs in the eighth inning, but the rival Red Sox returned the favor Sunday after New York starter Domingo German took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
It was yet another crushing loss for the Bombers, who dropped nine games out of first place in the American League East. Oh, but they’re only 3 ½ games out of the second wild card, which entering Monday was being held down by the Oakland A’s.
The Yankees need help in the rotation and offensively. The ideal starter would be a healthy one. The ideal bat would be from the left side. Both are available, and the Yankees have prospects to deal and a payroll that never seems to have a limit.
The question is if they should make a move. The Seattle Mariners are the only team ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card standings, 1 ½ games behind Oakland. With Corey Kluber (shoulder), Luis Severino (elbow), Luke Voit (knee) and Aaron Judge (COVID) on the mend, the Yankees are going to get better as they get healthier.
It seems like only yesterday that the Cubs were celebrating their first World Series championship in 108 years. In actuality, it was five years ago.
Things have changed on Waveland Avenue, where the Cubs are thought to be sellers from fourth place in the National League Central. Championship centerpieces Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are rumored to be available with free agency lurking.
They also have seen closer Craig Kimbrel return to his dominant form. He’s been through some postseason wars, and will have multiple suitors before Friday.
The Rangers, in the midst of a rebuild, were always going to be sellers. It’s not some new revelation as their current losing streak hits 12 games.
They have three players who would upgrade any contender’s roster — All-Star right-hander Kyle Gibson, All-Star right fielder Joey Gallo and closer Ian Kennedy. Gibson and Kennedy are likely to go, while Gallo could be kept and signed to an extension.
Gibson and Gallo have cooled since the All-Star Game, though no one on the Rangers is doing much of anything right now. Kennedy might not be a closer for a contender, but the veteran would greatly help a contender.
The Rangers should be busy this week.
San Diego Padres
The aforementioned Padres have already made a deal, but they are expected to make others as general manager A.J. Preller has never been shy when it comes to pulling off trades.
San Diego could use a starting pitcher thanks to injuries (Dinelson Lamet, Adrian Morejon) and a lack of performance (Blake Snell). They also have injuries in their bullpen, and their corner outfielder haven’t been the most productive in baseball.
The Rangers have fits for all three — Gibson, Gallo and Kennedy. Preller used to work for Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels, his college roommate. They’ve yet to work out a deal since Preller left in 2014.
Maybe now is the time.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The reigning world champions aren’t leading the National League West and might have to beat third-place San Diego in the wild-card game if they can’t pass the division-leading San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers have a massive question surrounding the availability of right-hander Trevor Bauer, their very expensive offseason acquisition who is on administrative leave while he faces accusations of sexual assault. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw is close to returning from an elbow injury, but a starter would seem to be a deadline priority.
Closer Kenley Jansen blew saves in back-to-back losses to the Giants last week, which helped San Francisco take a two-game lead in the West. As such, the Dodgers have been linked to the Cubs’ Kimbrel and the Rangers’ Kennedy.
Veteran third baseman Kyle Seager wants his team to make a move, telling the media on Sunday that “at some point it has to be about winning.” He’s right.
The Mariners are hot, taking 3 of 4 from the A’s over the weekend, and they have nine more games remaining this season against Oakland. Their roster is young and talented, and has veterans in the right places.
Seattle has been tied to Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, one of baseball’s most underrated players. Don’t put it past GM Jerry Dipoto to trade at will from the Mariners’ deep farm system to address some pitching needs, too.
About the Author: Jeff Wilson has covered the Rangers and MLB for the past 14 seasons and is the owner of Jeff Wilson’s Texas Rangers Newsletter (jeffwilson.substack.com). He has covered four World Series, is a voter for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and is the author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends.