Welcome to the latest installment of 3 Up, 3 Down, our weekly stock watch of who’s streaking and who’s slumping throughout Major League Baseball. Our latest edition is a trade deadline special, includes notes on Madison Bumgarner’s strong stretch, Dee Gordon’s decline and a Mets pitcher falling out of favor.
↑ MadBum Holds Steady ↑
Bumgarner has justified his lofty trade value of late as the Giants mull offers for the former World Series MVP. A few first-half outings indicated a possible dip in performance for the 29-year-old lefty, with the most disappointing start coming in a ten-hit, six-run loss to the Dodgers on June 20. Bumgarner has been cruising since.
MadBum sports a 1.80 ERA in his last four starts, with just four earned runs and 28 strikeouts in 20 innings. Opponents are slugging just .387 against Bumgarner since June 25. His 9.33 K/9 is his best mark since 2016. After a pair of injury-plagued seasons, Bumgarner appears ready for a September pennant race.
Bumgarner’s true value is likely to emerge in October, where his World Series success could entice a contender to sacrifice a significant minor league asset. The Yankees rotation is strong but lacks an ace, and they have the prospect capital to make the strongest offer. Milwaukee looms as a smaller-market destination, though it’s recent slide from atop the NL Central could provide hesitation. San Francisco may play hardball until the final days of July, but expect a contender to land Bumgarner as long as he continues his strong 2019.
↑ Castellanos Streaking Through July ↑
The trade market seems to consist largely of pitchers this season, with a cadre of relievers joined by a few high-profile starters. Nicholas Castellanos could be an exception. The 27-year-old outfielder has rebounded of late after a sluggish start, slashing .346/.418/.543 since June 18. Castellanos has eight multi-hit games in his last 20 appearances and he leads the American League in doubles entering Tuesday night. Slotting Castellanos in the middle of the lineup can change an offense.
Detroit may not be overeager to dump Castellanos. They can let him walk in free agency and receive first-round draft compensation with a qualifying offer, adding another young piece to what should be a lengthy rebuild. New York and Los Angeles sport crowded outfields. Perhaps Houston or a mystery suitor could get involved. Castellanos’s value is on the rise and Detroit may not ultimately keep him through July 31.
↑ Can Frazier Fetch Value? ↑
The Mets should be eager to ship expensive veterans at the deadline if they can receive any sort of value in return, and Todd Frazier could be on the move if New York finds a suitor. He is an expiring contract making $9 million in 2019, and his recent hot streak at the plate could convince a team to sacrifice a low-level prospect and take on his remaining salary. The 33-year-old is slugging .500 since June 19, blasting six homers in his last 70 at-bats. His veteran presence could help a team weak at the corners, giving the Mets one less contract to worry about.
↓ So Long, Zack Wheeler ↓
Zack Wheeler’s trade market evaporated on Monday. The Mets placed Wheeler on the Injured List with shoulder fatigue prior to his scheduled start against Minnesota on Tuesday, limiting opposing teams’ opportunity to scout the right-handed hurler. Wheeler surrendered six runs and eight hits against the Phillies on July 7, wearing down before he was pulled after the fifth inning.
The five-year veteran appeared to be New York’s most likely trade candidate entering the All-Star Break, remaining a valuable quality on the trade market as the Yankees and Red Sox prepared for a potential bidding war. Wheeler has struck out 130 batters in 119 innings in 2019, and he posted a 3.31 ERA in 2018. The Mets potentially had the opportunity to replenish the farm after their misguided winter deal with the Mariners.
A team may roll the dice on Wheeler and hope a stint on the IL can return him to his 2018 form. But the odds of New York landing a quality package in return are now slim.
↓ Sanchez Can’t Match Stroman ↓
The Blue Jays expected to enter the trade deadline with a pair of controllable arms on the market, both of whom could fetch a strong return in a trade. Marcus Stroman has held up his end of the deal of late with a 3.10 ERA in his last five starts. Yet as Stroman thrives north of the border, Aaron Sanchez’s value continues to trend south.
Sanchez leads the American League in losses and walks while holding a 6.22 ERA in 20 starts. His last quality start came on May 7. He hasn’t logged more than five innings since June 8. Sanchez won the AL ERA title in 2016. He’s worlds away from that pitcher as his trade value craters through July.
↓ Gordon’s Waning Value ↓
It will be hard for Seattle to receive a quality prospect haul in return for the aging Dee Gordon, with his performance decline exacerbated by a $13.5 million salary in 2020. The two-time All-Star is slashing .211/.250/.534 in his last 116 plate appearances, and he’s tallied just six extra-base hits since May 7. Gordon is a slap-hitter who doesn’t reach base enough to move the needle for a contender. Even with intriguing versatility, don’t expect a team to bite on a deal for Gordon right now.