With just a week to go until the 2019 MLB Trade Deadline, things have been pretty quiet on the market. The San Francisco Giants are on a hot streak and may get cold feet about selling and could flip the market upside-down. However, with nearly no trade action yet this summer, there are handfuls of big names available waiting to shake up the entire league.
Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith to the Braves for Kyle Wright, Drew Waters, and Kyle Muller
Make no mistake, the Giants should still sell. They have a thin farm system and, best-case scenario, they’re fighting for a wild card spot and a chance to take on the monster Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. With Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith both hitting free agency this offseason, those two valuable assets have to go.
The Atlanta Braves have been one of the most exciting teams in baseball but they still need help in the starting rotation and bullpen. Free-agent signing Dallas Keuchel has been shaky in his first month or so of action. Bumgarner would immediately be the team’s ace (plus his postseason experience would be incredibly valuable) and Smith would likely slot into the main closer role.
Kyle Wright and Drew Waters, a pair of top-50 MLB prospects, would both jump into the Giants’ top-three prospect list. Wright has struggled in his brief MLB action (8.34 ERA in 22.2 innings) but the former Vanderbilt star still has untapped potential. Kyle Muller will add another left-handed hurler to their system as well.
Starling Marte to the Indians for Tyler Freeman and Ethan Hankins
After a disappointing start to 2019 that left many people thinking they’d sell at the deadline, the Cleveland Indians could actually make an extra playoff push. The pitching looks strong with Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and Shane Bieber, not to mention Corey Kluber coming back soon. Still, the outfield needs a ton of help, even with Oscar Mercado in the mix.
On the other side, the Pittsburgh Pirates have fallen to last place in the NL Central and have a couple of outfielders to move, with the most valuable being Starling Marte. He owns an .815 OPS with 17 bombs and 13 stolen bases and plays above-average defense in center field. The 30-year-old has two team-friendly club options left for a total of $24 million.
Tyler Freeman will give Pittsburgh’s system some middle-infield depth, a place where they’ve struggled for the past few seasons. The 85th-overall prospect in baseball, he’d slot into the Pirates’ top-five. Ethan Hankins, the 35th pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, owns a 0.88 ERA with Low-A Mahoning Valley this season.
Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees for Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Deivi Garcia, and Luis Gil
This one needs little explanation; the New York Yankees desperately need starting pitching while the crosstown-rival New York Mets are nowhere near competing. However, are the Yankees willing to overpay this much for Noah Syndergaard? They should be.
Thor has two years of arbitration left, meaning he won’t hit the open market until 2022, and even then the Yankees could easily afford an extension. His 4.36 season ERA doesn’t look great, but he’s starting to come around; since the All-Star break, Syndergaard owns a 1.93 ERA with 17 strikeouts over 14 innings.
This would definitely be a haul for the Mets who need to build the future. If Miguel Andujar’s shoulder heals properly, he can be a franchise third baseman in New York, but it is a gamble. Clint Frazier would make an immediate MLB impact while Deivi Garcia and Luis Gil could eventually replace Syndergaard on the mound. Garcia was recently bumped up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre while Gil owns a 2.39 ERA with Single-A Charleston.
Charlie Blackmon to the Twins for Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, and Jordan Balazovic
Another AL Central team looking to make a postseason splash, the Minnesota Twins could look to the struggling Colorado Rockies for arguably the biggest name on the market. The aging Charlie Blackmon’s time may be up in the NL West and Minnesota could use his offensive prowess and veteran leadership.
Yes, there’s the “but Blackmon can’t hit outside Coors Field!” argument, but it’s not a great one. Playing for the Rockies actually makes you a worse hitter on the road due to the “Coors Hangover” theory. A few weeks with the Twins and Blackmon would be slugging again with no issue. Not to mention, in his career against the Indians, Yankees, and Houston Astros, the 33-year-old has knocked seven homers with an OPS just shy of .900.
As for the prospects, Brent Rooker has crushed 14 homers with a .933 OPS in Triple-A Rochester this season and could fill Blackmon’s spot in the outfield as early as 2020 Opening Day. Speaking of outfielders, Alex Kirilloff is the 12-rated prospect in baseball and could join Rooker in the Rockies’ outfield next season, though either could also fill in at first base. Jordan Balazovic, the 98-overall prospect, is still a bit away from making an MLB impact but gives Colorado’s system some much-needed pitching depth.
Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles to the Rays for Jesus Sanchez, Vidal Brujan, and Nick Schnell
Will the Toronto Blue Jays be willing to sell controllable talent within the AL East? Maybe not, but the Tampa Bay Rays are flush with prospects and could easily make the best offer for a highly-sought-after Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles package. Both pitches are arbitration-eligible next season before hitting free agency in 2021.
Giles would fix the Rays’ shaky closing situation, as injuries and inconsistency from Jose Alvarado, Emilio Pagan, and others has cost the team games. Meanwhile, a starting staff including reigning AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell with 2019 All-Stars Stroman and Charlie Morton would be lethal in a playoff series.
Jesus Sanchez (32nd-overall) and Vidal Brujan (78th) would be two of the Blue Jays’ best prospects behind Bo Bichette. Brujan, a speedy middle infielder, has racked up 92 stolen bases and 152 runs scored over the last two minor-league campaigns. Toronto doesn’t have many outfielders in the system, so Sanchez and Nick Schnell would fill big needs.