MLB trade deadline: What AL contenders must do to stay in first

Baseball is back and the second half push to the playoffs begins. The MLB trade deadline comes in the second half as well and is Christmas in July for baseball fans. Strategy, money and moves galore (hopefully).

This period is a chance for teams to either sell off parts in order to rebuild or make the trades necessary to help their squad make it to the playoffs and an eventual push for the World Series. These are the moves the teams currently in first place for their respective divisions need to make to remain in first by July 31.

Boston Red Sox

If you follow baseball or this team at all, then you know their weakest position currently is at third base. Pablo Sandoval has been anything but useful or even available and has been designated for assignment. Also they traded away Travis Shaw who is having an excellent season for another first place team.

While everyone believes Todd Frazier is the best and only option available for trade, I would like to look at another in Nick Castellanos.

MLB trade deadline

Courtesy of: Bleacherreport.com

The Detroit Tigers are having a very disappointing season and will most likely be sellers during the trade deadline for the first time in a long time. They also have arguably one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Most of their top players are in Double-A ball and below which means they have a long time to wait to see if they develop.

To speed up the process of their inevitable rebuild, they could and should be looking to trade away as many players as possible.

Castellanos is only 25 and is under team control until 2020 which means Detroit could ask a decent return. So why would the Red Sox make this trade?

To start, they would get a solid everyday third baseman that could grow with the young players they are building around now like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and more. Rafael Devers is still at least one or two years away and wont be able to help them win now. It is unlikely they would have to part with him to get Castellanos as well.

Castellanos has been in the league for four full years now. You know what you are going to get out of him, whereas you never truly know with a prospect. He has experience, making playoff runs with the Tigers and still has room to grow.

The Red Sox would most likely only have to give up two of their top 25 prospects, most likely ones in the teens and below. They may also throw in a PTBNL or just an extra pitcher to sweeten the deal.

Nick Castellanos would solidify the Red Sox third base problem not only for now but also for the future. Todd Frazier on the other hand may cost only one top 25 prospect but he would also be a free agent at the end of this year and has seemed to have trouble batting for average ever since he was traded to the White Sox.

Cleveland Indians

It took the Indians awhile to catch up to the Twins, but they have taken hold of first and wont let it go for the rest of the season. This team can hit and is being led by its young superstars Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor while getting help from players like Edwin Encarnacion who struggled mightily to start the season but has figured it out.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: Sportsblog.com

Another strength of the World Series runner-ups is their bullpen. Their weakness? Outside of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and surprisingly Mike Clevinger, this team’s starters have struggled. Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin all have ERAs over 5.

There are many attractive options on the market for the Indians. The question will be how much are they willing to give up in order to get the starting pitching help they need?

Last year, they traded away Clint Frazier and a multitude of other prospects in order to get their stalwart setup man, Andrew Miller. That being said the Indians still have some pieces that they could trade. I highly doubt they will trade Bradley Zimmer as he is with the club now and making a solid contribution.

There are a multitude of options for the Indians to help make their second World Series run in as many years. I like Sonny Gray, but I think his asking price will be too high considering how he has pitched in the last two seasons. This leaves two options: Gerrit Cole and Johnny Cueto.

Both the Pirates and Giants respectively have been under-performing and it looks like they will have to be sellers. While Gerrit Cole is better, he and Sonny Gray have a similar problem. They are going to cost more than the Indians are willing to give.

That is why they could trade for Cueto. He has won a World Series and has been in Cy Young contention, but the Indians could get him for a bargain. He has not pitched extremely well this season and the Giants are desperate (or should be) for prospects as they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.

The Indians could give up one top 25 prospect not named Zimmer or Mejia and two others right outside their top 25 for Cueto. He would be a great pickup and if he could find his form again, he could be a top of the rotation guy to help the Indians try to make it back to the World Series.

Houston Astros

The Astros were my World Series pick back in January and I am glad that they have yet to let me down. Their lineup can hit from 1 to 8 and Keuchel and McCullers make up an amazing top of the rotation.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: SFgiantsrumors.co

Brad Peacock is finally living up to his potential, whether he is in the bullpen or the rotation. While most are looking at the rotation, and they could improve there, Peacock may actually be a legitimate option that will help them keep their first-place standing. Also, Colin McHugh should be coming off the DL soon and can help to solidify the rotation.

The Astros are missing another reliable bullpen arm. We saw how important they were in last year’s playoffs and right now the Astros have a pretty good bullpen. But if they are going to want to make a real run, they need a great bullpen.

They won’t give up what teams gave up to get pitchers like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman last season. Instead, they will go for options that are a small step down.

In steps another Giants player and someone who has been a crucial piece in their bullpen for a long time, George Kontos.

Kontos has a career ERA under 3 and he has been in many high-pressure situations, including helping the Giants win multiple World Series. While he is not a flashy pickup, he is a reliable one, and should be relatively cheap, as he’s still under team control until 2020.

The Astros would not have to part with any of their major prospects. They could easily throw the Giants one of their lower top 25 prospects and some cash or another lower level prospect with high potential.

Kontos would solidify the bullpen as the Astros head into October. His experience would help the younger Astros team and again he would cost a lot less than someone like Sonny Gray or David Robertson.

Conclusion

The trade deadline is an unpredictable time and has a major affect on the way the rest of the season and future seasons will play out. Look out for what first place NL teams needs to do in order to stay in first place.

 

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Fantasy Baseball 2017

Fantasy Baseball 2017: Minor League Update

The most interesting fantasy baseball formats are keeper and dynasty leagues, as they allow owners to carry a number of players over into the next season, which adds an entire new aspect to fantasy. Keeper and dynasty formats are much more engrossing for the owner.

As weird as this may sound, bonds are created between an owner and their players that are carried from roster to roster over the years.

Also, these formats increase the value of prospects, as an owner may decide to stash a minor-league player in hopes that they receive a call-up to the majors later in the year.

In 2016, players like Trea Turner, Tyler Naquin and Edwin Diaz all began the season in the minor-leagues, but managed to make a serious impact at the big-league level. In Trea Turner’s case, after playing in only 73 games and recording 13 home runs, 33 steals, with a .342 batting average, he became a top 20 overall pick for the following year.

Drafting or adding impact prospects can be the difference between having a good or great team moving forward from season to season

 

This update intends to inform owners about ten minor-league prospects in line to make a lasting impact on Major League Baseball in the near future. Adjacent to the player’s name will be their major-league team, position, and prospect ranking according to MLB.com.

 

Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox, Second base/Third base, (1)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Yoan Moncada is the top prospect in baseball according to MLB.com (Courtesy of MLB.com)

  • Position battles: Todd Frazier and Tyler Saladino
  • MLB ETA: 2017

 

Moncada is the number one prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. He is currently batting .292 with three home runs and two stolen bases in eight games at the AAA level. The 21-year-old Cuban has shown the potential to be a transcendent player, as he amassed 15 home runs and 45 steals in only 106 minor-league games in 2016. Moncada will presumably be called-up some time soon after May 15th in order to keep his service time down.  He will be a highly sought after commodity once called up, so pick him up before it’s too late.

 

Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees, Second base/Short stop/Third base, (2)

 

  • Position battles: Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro and Ronald Torreyes
  • MLB ETA: 2018

 

Some people believed Torres would begin the season in the big-leagues, as the Yankees starting short stop, Didi Gregorius, was on the disabled list to start the year; although, Torreyes and Castro were awarded the starting jobs.

Torres was sent down to the AA-level, where he is batting a mere .237 with zero home runs and only three extra base hits in ten games. Torres was recently placed on the 7-day DL as he is suffering from right rotator cuff tendinitis, which was probably the cause of the 20-year-old’s early struggles in 2017. A call-up for Torres won’t likely come until 2018, as he will not see a promotion until he performs at the minor-league level, learns to field at all three positions, and finds an opening in the Yankees lineup.

 

Austin Meadows, Pittsburgh Pirates, Outfield, (7)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Austin Meadows is struggling in 2017, although management is not worried. (Courtesy of Rotoprofessor)

  • Position battles: Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and Adam Frazier
  • MLB ETA: 2018

 

The top 10 prospect according to MLB.com has gotten off to an ice-cold start in 2017. He is currently batting .156 in 12 games at the AAA-level.

Many expected Meadows to take over in center field for the recently suspended Starling Marte, although Pirates GM states that “He’s not ready right now, but we’re thrilled by where he can go.” This shows the 2017 may not be the year for Meadows, although they are confident that the career .295 hitter will turn things around quickly.

 

Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers, First base/Outfield, (10)

 

  • Position battles: Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Van Slyke, and Andrew Toles
  • MLB ETA: 2017

 

The number one prospect in the Dodgers system is continuing to impress. Bellinger is batting .360 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 13 games at the AAA-level. He has mashed a total of 65 home runs and 252 RBI in 356 games.

The 21-year-old is able to play first base, as well as all three outfield positions, which heavily increases his value. If Bellinger continues at this torrid pace, or if an injury were to occur to Gonzalez, Bellinger could see a call up to big leagues this season.

 

Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox, Third base, (15)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Rafael Devers is on fire, but a call-up may not come any time soon. (Courtesy of Masslive.com)

  • Position battles: Pablo Sandoval, Marco Hernandez, and Brock Holt
  • MLB ETA: 2019

 

Devers is on fire to start 2017, slashing .375/.390/.550 at the AA-level. The third baseman has continuously found success at all minor-league levels, batting a career .295 with 204 RBI over 323 games. The 20-year-old has a career high of 11 home runs in a season, but this is sure to improve as he grows into his body and increases his strength.

The Red Sox won’t be looking to rush Devers to the big leagues, as they seem content with Sandoval manning the hot corner for the near future. If a slew of injuries were to occur, which is very possible, Devers could find his way to the majors late in the year.

 

Lewis Brinson, Milwaukee Brewers, Outfielder, (16)

 

  • Position battles: Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis
  • MLB ETA: 2017

 

Brinson is off to a red hot start at the AAA level, slashing .355/.412/.645 in 34 plate appearances in 2017. He is clearly ready for the Major-League level as he has a career batting average of .281, with 81 home runs and 91 steals through six minor-league seasons. The only caveat to the 22-year-old’s game is his poor strikeout rate, as he strikes out over 20% of the time. Brinson is a serious 20/20 threat, although he likely won’t see a call up this season unless there is an injury to a Brewer’s outfielder.

 

Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians, Outfielder, (20)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Bradley Zimmer has a packed road ahead, as the Indians have committed to Austin Jackson and Brandon Guyer in 2017. (Courtesy of Wahoo’s on First)

  • Position battles: Austin Jackson, Brandon Guyer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Abraham Almonte, and Tyler Naquin
  • MLB ETA: 2018

 

The top-20 prospect in baseball has a very crowded road ahead. The Indians have decided to run a platoon in center and right field this season, which presumably was going to give Zimmer or Naquin every day at bats at the major-league level, although this was not the case. Both Zimmer and Naquin have been assigned to the minors, while veterans Jackson and Guyer have earned playing time with the Indians.

Zimmer is a five-tool prospect with plenty of promise. In 2015, he batted .273 with 16 home runs and 44 stolen bases in 127 games. The 24-year-old followed by having a season with a .250 batting average, 15 home runs, and 38 stolen bases in 130 games. Zimmer clearly has the talent and consistency to be an above average fantasy producer, although the call may not come until injuries deplete Cleveland’s outfield.

 

Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays, Starting Pitcher, (28)

 

  • Position battles: Erasmo Ramirez, Matt Andriese, Blake Snell, and Jose De Leon
  • MLB ETA: 2017

 

Honeywell has a career 2.59 ERA and .992 WHIP over 298 1/3 innings in the minors. This outlandish line has continued in 2017, as he currently has a 2.08 ERA, .615 WHIP, and 20 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched.

The 22-year-old was just called up to AAA, and should see a call to the majors very shortly after the Super Two cutoff, as the Rays currently have placed Jake Odorizzi on the 10-day DL. If another pitcher were to go down, Honeywell could very well get the call sooner than many expect.

 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays, Third base, (31)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may be baseball’s most talented 18-year-old. (Courtesy of MLB.com)

  • Position Battles: Josh Donaldson and Darwin Barney
  • MLB ETA: 2019

 

The son of future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, Guerrero Jr., is one of the most talented teenagers in professional baseball. The 18-year-old is batting .295 at the A-level with two home runs and six RBI in 13 games. Guerrero Jr. has shown incredible ability to get on base, on top of his already established power and speed.

The top 50 prospect managed to hit eight home runs to go along with 15 steals in 62 games of rookie ball, showing that he has the potential to be a 20/20 player moving forward. The Blue Jays have no rush to move the teen to the majors, even with their MVP third baseman injured. Although, Guerrero Jr. should be in the big-leagues sooner than later, just not in 2017.

 

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers, Starting Pitcher, (35)

 

  • Position battles: Matt Garza, Wily Peralta, and Chase Anderson
  • MLB ETA: 2017

 

The lanky lefty remains one of the most electric starters in the minors, as he has a career strikeouts per nine innings of 10.2, which is well above average. The 23-year-old has a career 3.02 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 503 innings pitched. He is currently pitching for Milwaukee’s AAA affiliate, and has a 2-1 record with a 2.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 11 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched.

Hader has struggled with walks over his first three starts, although he has remained effective, allowing only four runs in three starts. If he continues to find success at the minor-league level, he is sure to get the call in 2017.

 

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MLB Prospects Making the Most of Spring Training

As we move closer to Opening Day, many teams are in the process of deciding on the 25 man rosters. But there are some who are on the fringes of the rosters. MLB prospects all over the league are looking to make an impact this spring. Whether they are trying to earn a roster spot or showcase their skills, these prospects have performed above expectations so far. These four prospects are giving their teams something to think about entering the final phases of Spring Training.

MLB Prospects

Ian Happ will start in the minors, but has been impressive in major league camp (Wade Payne/Chicago Tribune).

2B Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs

After being selected ninth overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, the 22 year old is beginning to make due on the promise he showed at the University of Cincinnati. He has been laboring in the Cubs’ minor league system for the past two seasons, ending 2016 at the AA level. With a strong showing in Spring Training, Happ has given the Cubs front office plenty to think about.  But just how well has the Cubs second overall prospect done this Spring Training?

In 34 at-bats, Happ has hit a scorching .441 to give him the third best batting average in all of MLB so far this spring. Couple that with his three homers and nine RBIs, Happ has certainly produced. With a strong performance in Spring Training and his minor league pedigree, Happ could increase the timetable the Cubs have on his MLB debut. But with a loaded major league roster, Happ isn’t expected to make the 25 man roster anytime soon.

OF Bradley Zimmer – Cleveland Indians

As the 21st overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, Bradley Zimmer is showing that his skills are maturing. He provided the University of San Francisco plenty of power and speed. That combination of talent made Zimmer a top player in the draft, and he’s continuing to impress in Spring Training. With a hot start to Spring Training, Zimmer could make the jump from AAA to the majors this season.

Zimmer has torn the cover off the ball this Spring Training, putting up a .359/.405/.641 slash line. He has also hit two homers and driven in 11 RBIs in 39 at-bats. He has seen regular playing time this Spring Training, showing that the Indians are evaluating him heavily. While he isn’t listed on the Indian’s depth chart, he could push Lonnie Chisenhall for playing time in right field if Zimmer continues to stay hot. Zimmer will make his MLB debut this season, give his minor league track record and terrific Spring Training.

OF Mitch Haniger – Seattle Mariners

MLB Prospects

Mitch Haniger has opened some eyes in Mariners’ camp this Spring Training (Getty Images).

Mitch Haniger is on his third team since being drafted by the Brewers 38th overall in 2012. After a strong college career at Cal Poly, Haniger was able to turn his college production into major league promise. But injuries derailed his career, and at 26 years old, it’s now or never for Haniger. As the fourth best prospect in the Mariner’s farm system, he certainly has the talent to succeed. And he’s finally showing it on the field, performing well in Spring Training.

With the fourth best batting average (.425) in Spring Training, Haniger is beginning to show why he was one of the top selections in the 2012 MLB Draft. He has also hit two homers to accompany seven RBIs. In his 40 at-bats, Haniger has only struck out five times. Listed as the starter in right field for the Seattle Mariners, Mitch Haniger will finally be given a shot as a full-time major league starter in 2017.

SS Dixon Machado – Detroit Tigers

After spending the past eight seasons in the Tigers’ minor league system, the 25 year old Dixon Machado is on the doorstep to the majors. He signed with the Tigers in 2008, and has grown in both his offensive and defensive game. And in 2016, Machado made his MLB debut with the Tigers. But he wasn’t able to stick in the majors, and is now fighting to prove himself in major league camp. And so far, Machado is excelling.

With a .324/.366/.378 slash line in 37 at-bats, Machado is hitting at an impressive clip. While he may not offer much in terms of power, what Machado can do is hit. He’s proven to have an innate ability to make contact and put the ball in play. But with the major league club full of talented starters, Machado will have to wait to gain a starting role. He should break camp with the major league club, given the team’s lack of depth. But if he can continue his impressive hitting into the major league season, Machado may work his way into the regular lineup.

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Why I Think Jay Bruce to the Indians Works

Courtesy of, metsmerizedonline.com

Courtesy of, metsmerizedonline.com

Jay Bruce has been a staple in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He was hyped up to the fans throughout his minor league days and moved relatively quickly through the organization making his debut when he was 21. The soon to be 29 year old has been the subject of many trade rumors over the past year as it is no secret that the Reds are rebuilding.

While he will most likely not be traded until trade deadline with most of the big outfield free agents off the board, it is still possible that he would be traded before the season starts.

Bruce had been someone who was improving in every category each year. Then he had an injury that set him back and has been regressing ever since. His power numbers are down, he’s not driving in the runs he once was, and he is not hitting for average. For a rebuilding team keeping a 29 year old struggling outfielder does not make much sense. It is likely that a change of scenery to a contender would help him.

While looking at teams who might want Bruce I came across many possibilities. The Orioles, Angels, Astros and Giants all came up in my searches, but there was one team that I think he would fit in with perfectly, the Indians.

The Indians are desperately in need of a right fielder as they have Lonnie Chisenhall listed on their website as their starter. Bruce would be a massive upgrade and would add even more power to a lineup that is already ripe with it.

Because he is a solid defender the Indians would be getting a great upgrade there. Bruce has made some incredible plays not only with the glove during his time at Great American but, also with his cannon of an arm. The one thing that has been consistent throughout his trying times at the plate has been his defense.

Bruce would give them way more power than Chisenhall would. He would be given protection up and down the line up which could only help his batting average and runs driven in. Also he would be able to help the offense early in the season until Brantley came back from injury.

Let me ask you Indians fans, would you love to see an outfield that features Rajai Davis, Michael Brantley, and Jay Bruce? Let me answer for you, yes.

The Indians already have solid pitching led by Corey Kluber and he would fit the biggest need they have. Also he could DH as he aged and could be a staple in the Indians organization for years to come.

The next question Indians fans would be asking is, what would we have to give up to get him? I would respond with not a whole lot for what you would be getting. As we have all seen the Reds are completely rebuilding and have been taking some trades that have been questioned by the fans and experts alike. They are desperate to reduce the payroll and really blow this thing up.

So the Indians would most likely need to give up a few middle tier prospects or one top prospect and a lower tier prospect.

I would imagine the trade might look something like this, Jay Bruce for Jose Ramirez, James Ramsey, and Shawn Armstrong.

Courtesy of, factoryofsadness.co

Courtesy of, factoryofsadness.co

The Reds would be getting a decent return while the Indians would only be losing a depth player who has not panned out the way they had hoped, a number 12 prospect who is slated behind the likes of Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier and a number 27 prospect who is a middle reliever.

Jose Ramirez has been a highly touted prospect but has not panned out all that well for the Indians. Now with and infield of Jason Kipnis, Rookie of the Year runner up Francisco Lindor, and Giovanny Urshela who is solid with the glove and is probably the Indians 3rd basemen of the future, Ramirez will be a bench player. He would be the main piece in this deal.

Reds fans might be asking why another infielder? Well Ramirez is still only 23 years old and has plenty of potential that could be unlocked with a change of scenery. He would add to a young future infield with Peraza at 2nd and Ramirez or Suarez playing SS or 3rd seeing as either could play both positions.

The Reds would also be getting a solid prospect in James Ramsey who was a former 1st round pick with power and a lively arm in Armstrong who could earn himself a bullpen spot.

What is most important to the Reds though is that all three of these players are basically Major League ready players which is something that the Reds Front Office has been saying they wanted all along.

The Indians would get their rightfielder that they desperately need to help them compete and the Reds would get three solid Major League ready prospects in return.

What do all of you Indians and Reds fans think of this trade? Tell me if I am stupid or a genius either in the comment section below, on twitter @roberthaness, on our facebook page, or on the forums!