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MLB Trade Deadline Buyers or Sellers: AL Central

Nelson Cruz Minnesota Twins

The AL Central is expected to have several big-ticket names on the trade market this summer.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

With the Minnesota Twins dominating the AL Central, the rest of the teams may be forced to sell or start catching up fast. The Kansas City Royals have already made it clear that a fire sale is in the works while the Cleveland Indians have a handful of highly valuable pieces if they’re ready to fold on the 2019 season.

Minnesota Twins: Buyers

While many expected Minnesota to contend for the AL Central crown, no one thought the team would rack up a double-digit lead in early June. With a stranglehold on their division rivals, the Twins are going to go out and make this roster a true World Series contender. They’ve gotten off to this terrific start thanks to a ridiculous offense that’s leading the MLB in runs per game (5.97) and tied for first in home runs (127). Seven Twins’ batters have 10 or more long balls with another handful not far behind. The team’s biggest hole is in the bullpen; Minnesota’s bullpen ERA ranks 21st in baseball at 4.63. Fortunately, there are a ton of bullpen options on the market, including Will Smith, Shane Green, and possibly Ken Giles. The Twins will likely keep their pair of stud prospects, Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis, off the table in trade talks, but the farm system is fairly thin beyond those two.

Cleveland Indians: Sellers

Cleveland’s decision whether to sell or not should be an easy one at this point. Staring down a double-digit deficit in the division race and riddled with injuries, it’s time for the Indians to build for the future. Not to mention, the owner has no interest in spending money anytime soon. With that being said, Cleveland has a few highly valuable names to put on the market, including Trevor Bauer, Carlos Santana, and Brad Hand. Bauer’s value has unfortunately taken a slide with his struggles this season, but Hand and Santana have increased their values. Cleveland could go all-out and put franchise shortstop Francisco Lindor on the market, but he’d likely get a better return during the offseason. Either way, the team needs to inject some talent into the farm system and 2019 feels like a lost season now.

Chicago White Sox: Sellers

The Chicago White Sox have been in rebuild mode for quite some time now with just two winning seasons over the last decade. They’ve done well in recent years to stock up on young talent for the farm system, mostly with the Adam Eaton and Chris Sale trades prior to the 2017 season. They’re just a few games under .500 this season with breakout seasons by Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito, but they can still sell off a couple of veterans. The most valuable would be first baseman and designated hitter Jose Abreu. The 32-year-old slugger is a pending free agent and the White Sox likely won’t re-sign him. He’s leading the AL with 52 RBI and is on pace to reach the 30-homer mark for the fourth time in his career. Several teams could use his heavy bat in their lineup, such as the Tampa Bay Rays or the Texas Rangers if they decide to buy.

Detroit Tigers: Sellers

The Detroit Tigers are on pace for fewer than 65 wins for the third consecutive season. Realistically, the team would love if someone took on Miguel Cabrera’s long and expensive contract, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, Detroit will have to shop a couple of other veterans, including Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene. Castellanos’ trade value is at its lowest and he continues slumping in 2019 with an unimpressive .764 OPS and just seven home runs. From 2016-2018, the right fielder combined for 67 homers, 248 RBI and a .831 OPS. On the other hand, Greene has been one of the best surprises in baseball this season. He’s tied for the AL lead with 19 saves alongside a stellar 1.04 ERA. He also has a year of arbitration left, so he should bring back a very nice return.

Kansas City Royals: Sellers

In case their MLB-worst 20-45 record wasn’t a giveaway, the Royals are reportedly willing to move just about anyone on the roster will few exceptions. Their biggest trade piece would be Whit Merrifield. He can play just about anywhere in the field and combined for 31 homers and 79 stolen bases during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He’s been less impressive in 2019, but he’s still under contract through the 2023 season, giving him a ton of value on the market. Kansas City also has Alex Gordon on an expiring contract that could easily be moved. The 35-year-old Gold Glove-winning outfielder has turned back the clock this year with a .835 OPS and 27 extra-base hits so far. With just two top-100 prospects in the system, the Royals will take any depth they can at this point.

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