For as much as Twitter tells us about the players likely to be moved by the July 31 trade deadline, here's a healthy reminder that we know nothing. Team A checks in with Team B about Player C ... Team X sends their top talent evaluator to Team Y's games ... there's a lot of noise out there. We have a little of our own to make, offering bold predictions for how MLB's trade market will shake out over the next week.
The Yankees know they need another starting pitcher to get through Houston in the postseason. So they send Domingo German and Clint Frazier to the Indians to get Trevor Bauer, one of the best workhorses in the game with true swing-and-miss stuff. Cleveland slips German into the rotation to replace Bauer, though his innings workload will have to be managed.
The Giants buy. They are 16–3 in July, and they now sit two games out of the second wild-card. GM Farhan Zaidi overcomes what must just be fury at his team's refusal to tank and decides to go for it. He trades for starting pitching and a backup infielder.
Zack Greinke to the Phillies. Yes, there's still an awful lot of salary owed to him, which would certainly be a complicating factor. (Though Philadelphia does have a few dozen million dollars of room before hitting the threshold for the luxury tax.)
Yes, Greinke is 35 with two more seasons under contract after this one, which is going to be a point of concern, even for someone aging as gracefully as he is. And, yes, the two teams have very similar records right now. But Arizona has telegraphed that it's interested in selling (or, at least, uninterested in buying), unlike Philadelphia, who's in a tough spot after using the offseason to establish itself as a contender. The Phillies' rotation is its biggest need. So why not? Well... several reasons, beginning with the money. But it definitely qualifies as bold, and it would be pretty fun, too.
The Astros trade for Noah Syndergaard. Houston isn't prone to big deadline moves—the 2017 acquisition of Justin Verlander was more capitalizing on an opportunity and driven by sudden necessity than anything else—and the Mets are seemingly allergic to selling off stars. But it makes so much sense for each side.
New York would get a ransom in prospects from one of the game’s best farm systems, offering plenty who are close to the majors to boot. Houston gets its ideal kind of pitcher: one with ludicrous raw stuff primed to be even better after being put through the team’s data program. And Syndergaard gets a chance to realize his full potential with the front office and coaching staff that rejuvenated Verlander and unlocked Gerrit Cole’s consistency. The three of them atop the rotation is a postseason nightmare for opposing hitters, making the Astros your new World Series favorite. It won’t happen, but I’d love it if it would.
Philadelphia will trade for Zack Greinkeand Robbie Ray. The Phillies were so bad for so long that one would be forgiven for confusing them with the Padres—a .500ish team with a future as bright as burning magnesium, thanks to their rookies and prospects nearing their big-league debuts. Right now, though, the Phillies are past that; most of the prospects that accounted for Philadelphia's bright future are on the MLB roster (or in other organizations).
Organizationally, it's time for the team to win the East. But with a 4.70 team ERA, 13th in the National League, the Phillies are a couple arms short of what they need. Supposedly they've been scouting Arizona's two available veteran hurlers—what if they went after both? Ray would command a high player price (though injury-prone, he's effective when healthy, and won't hit free agency for another season-plus), but if the Phillies would eat every penny of the $70 million due Greinke after 2019, they could get one hell of a package deal.
The Rays land Madison Bumgarner. There are many reasons this isn't likely to happen, but let me sketch out a few to explain why it could. The Rays and Giants know each other well from two major deals over the last three years involving Matt Moore and Evan Longoria. Tampa Bay certainly has the prospect bandwidth to extract Bumgarner from his surging team. The Rays could enter a playoff series with a scary-looking rotation led by Bumgarner, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow (currently recovering from a strained forearm). Even if Glasnow doesn't return this year, that's all the more reason to inject Bumgarner into the team's equation.
Acquiring a high-price rental at the trade deadline is about as anti-Rays as it gets. But we're here to be bold.
The Angels are going to send Jo Adell, another prospect and a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks for Zack Greinke. The Angels are not reported to be on Greinke's 15-team no-trade list and the Diamondbacks should be looking more toward 2020 and beyond than this postseason. Adell is L.A.'s top prospect and if he isn't MLB-ready now, he should be good to go for Arizona no later than next year.
The Astros will splurge on a legitimate ace. Whether it be Trevor Bauer (please, for the comedy alone), Madison Bumgarner or Zack Greinke, expect Jeff Luhnow to be aggressive on the starter market. Yordan Alvarez's emergence has already solidified Houston's lineup as arguably the best in baseball, but there are still legitimate questions about Houston's rotation outside of Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Houston held firm at the 2018 trade deadline aside from its acquisition of Roberto Osuna. We should see more fireworks this July as the Astros look to cement their standing atop the American League.