By: Chris Larson
The July 31st Trade Deadline is quickly approaching and now that there is one singular deadline, the activity is expected to pick up earlier than normal. Over the course of the next six weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline, we'll be focusing on all of the storylines, the potential names to monitor on the trade market, the teams with the most pressing needs, and as a trade happens we'll evaluate the final outcome as well. After all, this is one of the best times of the year for a baseball fan because the action never ceases to amaze especially as things get closer to the final deadline!
As is the case with every Trade Deadline, there are always teams that elect to buy, those teams that elect to hold because they couldn't decide what direction they wanted to go, and those teams that sell. For this article, we'll focus on the teams that fall into that final category and those teams that are expected to be heavy sellers between now and July 31st. On the surface, it's sort of hard to identify who those teams are because so many of them remain in position for one of the Wild Card spots, particularly in the National League, but that shouldn't stop those teams from tearing things down.
Here are five teams to watch closely between now and July 31st with the most assets to sell and those teams that should be doing the most selling.
1. Seattle Mariners - The Seattle Mariners are expected to continue to do a complete teardown of their 25-man roster and that message was sent following the trade of outfielder, Jay Bruce, to the Philadelphia Phillies about two weeks ago. Ever since last offseason, the Mariners have been willing to listen to trade offers involving veteran players like: Edwin Encarnacion, Mike Leake, Marco Gonzales, Domingo Santana, Dee Gordon, and Tim Beckham. With that being said, you have to remember that their General Manager, Jerry Dipoto, loves to make trades and will be very aggressive in trying to build up the depth in his farm system and get the Mariners back on the track to competitiveness sooner than later. In addition, Dipoto will be very creative when it comes to the money aspect and try to clear as much future payroll space for the organization as he can. If that means exchanging one bad contract for another, Jerry Dipoto would likely be open to doing that and will certainly be exploring every trade scenario for the names mentioned above over the next six weeks.
2. San Francisco Giants - Heading into play today, the San Francisco Giants currently sit 16 and 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West and are 8 game back of a Wild Card spot in the National League. If this was a Giants squad of the past, you could make the argument that they could potentially sneak in as a Wild Card team and make up that ground between now and the end of the regular season, but that's definitely not the case. This is a Giants organization that is well overdue for a rebuild and General Manager, Farhan Zaidi, is going to be very aggressive in starting that process between now and July 31st. Many of the trade discussions involving the Giants won't necessarily surround around their position players, outside of Kevin Pillar and potentially Joe Panik, or their starting rotation, but rather in their bullpen. To date, the Giants bullpen has put up a 3.75 ERA over 256.2 innings of work, which puts them fifth in all of baseball, meaning that teams will have plenty of interest in relievers such as: Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, and Will Smith!
3. Kansas City Royals - After a few short weeks of having internal conversations about potentially shooting for the second American League Wild Card spot, the Kansas City Royals are now primed to sell and likely will sell quite a few assets. In fact, word out of Kansas City is that the team is willing to listen to trade offers on anyone, outside of potentially shortstop Adalbeerto Mondesi and third baseman Hunter Dozier. That means that there will be plenty of calls to General Manager, Dayton Moore, over the next six weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline and one name to really watch is second baseman, Whit Merrifield. With the emergence of second baseman, Nicky Lopez, the Royals have realized that Merrifield is now expendable and could net quite a return given his team friendly contract - $14.5 million dollars in future salary through 2022 with a $10.5 million dollar team option for the 2023 season. Outside of Merrifield, other names to watch include starting pitchers, Danny Duffy and Brad Keller, first baseman Lucas Duda, and outfielders Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, and Jorge Soler as well as relievers, Jake Diekman and Brad Boxberger.
4. Cleveland Indians - The Cleveland Indians front office might not realize it yet, but they need to sell assets at this year's Trade Deadline and start focusing on the future. The future outlook of the American League Central is only going to get better for the already red hot Minnesota Twins as well as the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and eventually the aforementioned, Kansas City Royals. Therefore, with an eye on the future and an eye on trying to build back up the farm system with impactful talent, the Indians need to be all ears in listening to trade offers on starting pitcher, Trevor Bauer, second baseman, Jason Kipnis, relievers Brad Hand, Tyler Clippard, and Nick Wittgren, and don't be surprised if there is mention of shortstop, Francisco Lindor or third baseman Jose Ramirez, being available in certain trade discussions over the coming weeks. The team's ownership has said before for fans to "enjoy" Francisco Lindor while they have him and that basically signals that Lindor might not be with the Cleveland Indians down the road. However, Lindor and Ramirez might be more likely to be traded this coming offseason, when all 29 other teams can be involved in the sweepstakes.
5. Washington Nationals - Since winning 12 of 16 games heading into play this past Tuesday, the Washington Nationals have a 1-2 record and have a moderately tough schedule over the next six weeks headlined by teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Going into play today, the Nationals sit 6 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot, but it's going to be a tough challenge for them to climb ahead of the other five teams in front of them and secure that spot given the way they've played this season. Therefore, they are going to be a fascinating team to watch between now and July 31st, as they begin to decide a course of action and exactly who will be put on the trade block. Everyone knows about the potential of a Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg trade, but both of those remain pretty unlikely names that will be moved. However, players such as: Yan Gomes, Matt Adams, Howie Kendrick, Brian Dozier, Anthony Rendon, and Sean Doolittle could all be up for auction. Of those names, both Anthony Rendon and Sean Doolittle would generate the most interest and net the biggest returns for the Nationals.