It’s Trade Deadline month! Also known as the Christmas of baseball as teams look to improve either their rebuild or chances at making a run into the playoffs. Most years there are blockbusters that blow everyone’s minds but, there will also be subtle moves that could pay off down the road.
Let’s take a look at one move each team should make by going through each division, starting with the NL Central.
This team is possibly the closest in the NL to being a complete team. When looking over their roster and looking at their stats it is hard to find something they need to improve. That being said, there are some small problems in their bullpen and if this team wants to win their second World Series title in three years and officially establish their dynasty then they need to be bulletproof.
The lefty relievers in Duensing and Wilson have struggled the most this year. Wilson seems likely to get back on track and has been pitching well recently but Duensing won’t be pushing Luke Farrell out of a job anytime soon.
Zach Britton is just coming off the DL for the Orioles and although he hasn’t been great in his return, it is unlikely that one of the best closers doesn’t put it back together. Chicago doesn’t have a very deep pool of prospects like they used to and they don’t even have one in the top 100 according to mlb.com. A trade may take someone who is on their current roster.
The Deal: Zach Britton for Victor Caratini, Adbert Alzolay, and Alex Lange
Cubs fans may not like giving up two of their top five prospects and Caratini but, if they want to grab an arm like Britton that is what it will take. This will give the Orioles a potential everyday starter at catcher for their future and two young arms that just need a little more time to develop.
The Reds have been playing better, actually, they have been playing a lot better. After one of the worst Aprils in history, this team has been on fire. Their starting pitching is coming together, their young hitters are starting to establish themselves and one of the worst bullpens in baseball history in 2017 has morphed into one of the best in 2018.
Sadly though, this team still has glaring issues and need to finish their rebuild before doing anything else. It is very unlikely, even if they continue this torrid pace that they will make the playoffs. They still need to go 42-31 just to finish at 81-81. The Reds should start making sure they are ready for a run in 2019. The biggest piece, that should garner them a king’s ransom, is closer Raisel Iglesias. He has been lights-out establishing himself as one of the premier closers in baseball and is under control until after the 2020 season.
Starting pitching is a need, and the Reds could use someone who is ready to produce this season or at the latest, next.
The Deal: Raisel Iglesias for LHP Luiz Gohara, LHP Max Fried, and OF Michael Reed
Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are a little better than Iglesias and thus were worth a little more. The Braves need bullpen help badly and have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. This deal would pique the Reds’ interest as Gohara and Fried are both major league ready and are without a spot available in the rotation in Atlanta. Reed would be a nice fourth outfielder that has been hitting the cover off the ball down in AA and AAA.
This team has continued to impress everyone. They are playing great team baseball and have one of the best and possibly most underrated backend bullpens in Major League Baseball. That being said, this team has major issues and wouldn’t last long in the playoffs. They have holes in the middle infield, specifically at shortstop, their catchers haven’t hit and most importantly they are extremely thin at starting pitcher.
Currently, their rotation going into the playoffs would be Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra and their young upstart pitcher in Freddy Peralta. While each of them respectively have pitched well this season they are lacking a top end guy who they know they can throw out there and get a quality start. They have a very solid farm-system and will be able to use that to help them grab a top tier pitcher this month.
In steps the Mets, who have arguably been the most disappointing team this year. With a plethora of injuries and underperforming veterans, it is probably time the Mets start their rebuild. They have some great pieces that can net them nice returns, especially in the starting pitching department.
The Deal: Jacob deGrom for RHP Corbin Burnes, 3B Lucas Erceg, OF Brett Phillips and RHP Carlos Herrera
Jacob deGrom is having an incredible season and may be the prime example of win-loss not being a deciding factor in the Cy Young race. He is under control until 2021 and would give the Brewers that punch they need. Because of their deep farm system, the Brewers may be able to get away with not having to give up their top prospect, Keston Hiura. It will still hurt as they lose three of their top five prospects and a nice project in Herrera. It is possible that the first three, or a combination of them, and Herrera could get the deal done but, it is unlikely as it seems like the Mets need to be blown away to give up deGrom.
On paper, the Pirates look like a solid team. Unfortunately, they haven’t played like it at all. They’ve lacked power all season as they sit in 25th in home runs and in the middle of the pack in just about every other offensive category.
Their pitching has also been very below average. Luckily injuries haven’t hurt them too badly as four of their starters have made at least 16 starts. The problem is that they all have a very average ERA as they all sit between a 4.60 and 4.05 respectively. Lastly, their young guys who they hoped would be major contributors at this point in their career have seemingly leveled off. Taillon looks to be a solid three, maybe stretch two rotation option and Glasnow may end up being a very average bullpen option.
The one thing the Pirates can boast is that they have a good farm-system and valuable parts that they could sell off. This means that they don’t have to do a full rebuild, instead, they can look for options that are more major league ready and expect to only need a season or two of “rebuilding”.
The Deal: Starling Marte for RHP Taylor Widener and OF Socrates Brito
Marte is about to make a good chunk of money and the Pirates may not want to pay it since they have Austin Meadows ready and waiting. The Diamondbacks could definitely use his defense, speed and ability to hit just about anywhere in the lineup. His contract is team friendly, while as stated before, expensive. The last two years of his deal for 2020 and 2021 are team options. As for the Pirates, they get a major league ready starter who has pitched very well this season and a former top prospect in Brito who has been hitting very well too.
St. Louis Cardinals
Out of every team in this division, the Cardinals are in the most precarious position. Most of their starters are getting older and even some of their young guys are not producing. Yet, they also are maybe only a piece or two away from at least a push at the wild card spot. It is likely that they make one last push with this roster before potentially making major changes during the offseason.
Where this team could use the most help is in the bullpen. Greg Holland was a big signing early into the season for this team but, has not been able to regain his form. Adding another bullpen piece to help them lock down games would go a long way.
The Deal: Tyler Clippard for C Andrew Knizer and RHP Casey Meisner
While Clippard is not a major bullpen piece, he is a solid one. It seems like every year he is in trade talks because he is able to come in and get the job done. The Cardinals will love this type of deal because they already have Carson Kelly as their future catcher and Meisner has potential but has yet to get past high-A. As for the Blue Jays, this will work perfectly for them as Knizer can hit well and is decent behind the plate while Meisner could project as high as a number three starter in their rotation.
The Trade Deadline is approaching fast and each of these teams will have moves to make. Be on the lookout over the next few weeks as we break down what teams in the other divisions need to do. Make sure to leave a comment below on what you think of these trades and any other potential deals that they could do.
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