It took nearly a week, which is long in MLB circles, but another contending team finally dove into the trade market.
Six days after the Dodgers secured the services of star SS Manny Machado for a package of youngsters, the Yankees added Machado’s former teammate, RP Zach Britton, also for a small passel of prospects on Tuesday.
Britton, the 2016 AL saves leader (47) joins an already loaded Yankees bullpen that features Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Chasen Shreve, to name a few. He is 1-0 in 16 appearances with Baltimore this season, logging four saves and 13 strikeouts in 15.2 innings.
With the Orioles starting the dismantling of a team that made the playoffs as late as two years ago, there will no doubt be plenty of other non-contenders following suit in the next six days (and in August with waiver deals).
Here are 20 very intriguing trade targets, with at least one player from every position, who contenders should consider making a play for (starting from catcher).
20. C J.T. Realmuto – Miami Marlins
Realmuto might just be the best position player from a mediocre team who could be available, for the right price. We firmly believe the Marlins should hold out for the best possible offer for the fifth-year pro who is having a career year. He is hitting .304 with the real possibility he will top the .303 average he recorded in 2016. He’s also well on his way to establish career marks in doubles with 21 (31 career best), triples with three (seven), homers with 13 (17) and RBI with 49 (65). Realmuto is already well beyond his best OBP, slugging and OPS bests. He has the highest WAR among all catchers at 3.7 and defensively he is among the elite with a .993 fielding percentage and a throw out rate of 41 percent (13 of 32 would-be base stealers). He’d be an upgrade on Boston’s platoon of Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon.
19. C Wilson Ramos – Tampa Bay Rays
The caveat to any team kicking the tires on Tampa catcher Ramos is that he has a hamstring strain and is on the 10-day DL until after the deadline. Another could be that Tampa is 51-50 and not quite out of the wild card race yet. But, he is the second best option behind Miami’s J.T. Realmuto and would be a good fit with a few contenders. The 30-year-old veteran was batting .297 before he went down, with 14 doubles, 14 homers and 53 RBI in 78 games. Defensively, he isn’t as dynamic as Realmuto, with a 22 percent success rate throwing out would-be base stealers (7-for-32), but he does have a .993 fielding percentage. Ramos was also an All-Star for the second time in his career. Cleveland could use him no. 1 over incumbent Yan Gomes.
18. 1B Jose Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals
It’s weird to say it, but the Cardinals should be sellers at the deadline. While they are still not out of it by any stretch at 51-50 (the Braves hold the last wild card at 54-44) there are six teams ahead of them in tight, tight group. Martinez is having a whale of a second season and is among the MLB leaders in offence at his position. He is third in average at .297, fifth in RBI with 57, 12th in doubles with 18, ninth in OBP at .361 and eighth in OPS at .830. On defence, he isn’t the most stellar, but not bad with a .989 fielding percentage (seven errors on 615 chances). What makes him most attractive is that he is cheap, with a 2018 salary of only $560,400. He is also under control for 2019 and then has three arbitration years after that.
17. 1B Justin Smoak – Toronto Blue Jays
The Great White North Giveaway should start in earnest soon, since the Jays are just playing out the string right now. With Josh Donaldson being a non-factor due to his extended injury status, the second best Jays offensive threat available is Smoak. He started slowly this season after a huge year in 2017, but has picked it up lately. In 93 games, he is hitting .245, with 26 doubles, 16 homers and 53 RBI. Even though his batting average is not top shelf among first baseman, Smoak has drawn 58 walks and ranks seventh in OBP at .362. He is also sixth among first basemen in slugging percentage at .472 and seventh in OPS at .834. Smoak is making a relatively low $4.125 million this season and there is a club option for $6 million in 2019 (he is UFA in 2020). The Yankees haven’t had much offensive success with their first basemen and with that inviting right field porch at Yankee Stadium, Smoak would have a field day there.
16. 1B C.J. Cron – Tampa Bay Rays
Like Toronto, the Rays don’t really have much of a shot at the post-season, unless being behind the last wild card spot by nine games is now considered good odds. Cron is a big right bat who has pounded out 19 doubles and 20 homers so far in what will likely be the best campaign of his five years in the bigs. Those 20 dingers put him top 10 at his position in the MLB (sixth overall, second in the AL to Oakland’s Matt Olson). He’s also a DH, which would make him a valuable commodity in Boston with the Green Monster an inviting target for Cron’s right-handed bat. Cron has made more than half his starts at designated hitter and has hit 13 of his 20 homers and knocked in 30 of his 50 runs in that capacity.
15. 2B Scooter Gennett – Cincinnati Reds
Since Joey Votto has a no trade clause, the Reds most marketable trade deadline commodity is Gennett, who was an All-Star for the first time in his six-year career and one of the top offensive second baseman in baseball. As of Wednesday, Gennett was second overall at his position in batting average (.318), sixth in doubles (22), sixth in homers (16), third in RBI (63), fourth in OBP (.367), third in slugging percentage (.507), second in OPS (.874) and sixth in WAR (2.9). Likely clubs who could use his services include Boston, where light hitting Eduardo Nunez isn’t the answer, ditto Philadelphia, where Cesar Hernandez is OK with the bat but struggling defensively. Gennett is making $5.7 million this season, is arbitration eligible in 2019 and a UFA in 2020.
14. 2B Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals
Kansas City, like Baltimore, has fallen on hard times and will have to look at moving assets as soon as practical. The frugal Royals are getting a bargain in the 29-year-old, paying him a shade under $570 K too. He is under team control for 2019, but arbitration eligible for three seasons after that. The team also has promising 22-year-old prospect Adalberto Mondesi on the way up and can conceivably get a very nice package for the speedy Merrifield. He’s currently third among second baseman in average at .297, first in doubles with 31 and tied for second with Javier Baez in stolen bases with 19. Merrifield can also play all three outfield positions and has a .990 fielding percentage at second. If the Royals would entertain trading within their division, the Indians could upgrade and move Jason Kipnis around.
13. 3B Mike Moustakas – Kansas City Royals
With an impending 2019 salary of $15 million, it’s a safe bet the cheap ol’ Royals will be trying to peddle the Moose to anyone who will listen. As it is, any team picking up the power-hitting third baseman will be on the hook for the remainder of his 2018 $5.5 million salary. Moustakas bat has been booming like it was in 2017, when he hit a career high 38 homers and knocked in a personal best 85 runs in 148 games. This season, in 96 contests, the two-time All Star has 20 dingers and 62 RBI, both of which put him sixth overall among all major league third basemen. There are quite a few contenders who could use more production out of a traditional hitter’s position, including Arizona, the Yankees, Oakland and Pittsburgh.
12. SS Eduardo Escobar – Minnesota Twins
A true shortstop, Escobar has seen way more time at third this season, but that doesn’t make him any less marketable to potential playoff-bound suitors. The Twins are seven games under .500 and unless they go on the winning streak of winning streaks, aren’t going to the post-season. Cue the exodus, with Escobar’s name top of mind. He is well on his way to establishing career bests in every offensive category and has already set his doubles mark, with a MLB leading 37 doubles. Those go with a .278 batting average, three triples, 15 homers and 63 RBI. His previous bests in homers was 21 in 2017 and in RBI 73, also last year. A contending team looking for a good 3B/SS would do worse than to inquire about the veteran Escobar. A nice fit would be in Arizona, which could use an upgrade at both those positions.
11. SS Jose Iglesias – Detroit Tigers
Unlike his AL Central confrere Eduardo Escobar in Minnesota, Detroit’s Jose Iglesias has spent every one of his 96 games this season at shortstop. He doesn’t possess a power bat (just four homers this season), however, he makes good contact (only 36 strikeouts as of Wednesday) and has some wheels (12 stolen bases, sixth among all shortstops in major league baseball). He is a better than average fielder and owns a .984 fielding percentage this season, and is .986 lifetime. Any team looking to take on his good glove and decent bat, though, might be looking at a rental. Iglesias, who is making $6.275 million this season, is a UFA in 2019.
10. OF Nicholas Castellanos – Detroit Tigers
The fire sale should hit full swing in Detroit this weekend as the Tigers look to trim payroll even further. Castellanos bat is one of the better outfield ones in baseball and would fit in nicely with just about every contender, of which there are about 15 with a shot at the playoffs. Castellanos is actually a converted third baseman and has been manning right field in Detroit every game but four this season (he was DH otherwise). He is hitting .298, with 30 doubles, four triples, 15 homers and 56 RBI in 100 games so far. The 26-year-old former first round pick is making a shade over $6 million and is arbitration eligible in 2019 before hitting UFA status for 2020.
9. OF Derek Dietrich – Miami Marlins
It’s a no-brainer that after waving bye bye to a good chunk of their assets last year like Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, the sub-.500 Marlins are contemplating another exodus. Dietrich has been a loyal soldier since breaking in with the Marlins in 2013 and is a bargain at $2.9 million a season (he is arbitration eligible for two years and a free agent in 2021). Add to that the fact he is having his best season in six. The 29-year-old left fielder and utility man should easily surpass his career highs in doubles (22 and he has 19), homers (13 and he is at that now), RBI (53 and he has 36) and batting average (.279 and he is at .287 so far). Milwaukee has been rumored to be interested and with his contract and upside, he should be gone before July 31.
8. OF Curtis Granderson – Toronto Blue Jays
A veteran bat is never a bad thing to have, especially come post-season. While Blue Jays 37-year-old greybeard Granderson isn’t among the league leaders in any category, he can play all three outfield positions and has 57 games of post-season experience. In those 57 contests Granderson compiled a .227 batting average, with 20 extra base hits, 29 RBI and nine stolen bases. This season, Granderson is hitting .229 with 25 extra base hits and 29 RBI in 83 games playing a variety of positions. As a veteran, he is making $5 million on a one-year deal, so absorbing the remainder of his salary wouldn’t be a stretch for most contenders.
7. OF Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
He isn’t the run producer he was during four straight All-Star seasons from 2012 to 2015, however, Adam Jones still owns a potent right handed bat and has the wheels and glove to patrol center field. With the team he’s known for 11 seasons in full tank mode, Jones, despite his full no trade clause and a $17 million salary, is probably willing to waive it in order to go to a contender. There aren’t many centerfielders with more extra base hits than Jones 37 (27 doubles and 10 homers) and only seven have a better batting average than his .277 mark. Looking at available landing spots, Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. has struggled at the plate this season and could be demoted to utility if Jones was brought aboard. Jones would be an upgrade over Ender Inciarte in Atlanta, where the Braves are still in the NL post-season dogfight.
6. SP Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
The Mets significant injury woes — they have 11 players earning $77 million in salary on the disabled list — and hopeless place in the standings, have led to speculation that one of their best and brightest is on the trade block. One of baseball’s best pitchers, who owns a major league tops 1.71 ERA, signed a very team friendly one-year, $7.4 million contract to stick around, but has stated he’d like to renegotiate a longer term deal. That puts the Mets in a precarious position, knowing what a player of his caliber would command on the open market (just think, David Price makes $31 million and go from there). Thus, deGrom has asked to be paid better or traded to a contender. We can’t think of one sole contender who wouldn’t look into acquiring a guy like deGrom, who is 5-5 in 20 starts with that skinny ERA and 159 strikeouts in 131.1 innings.
5. SP J.A. Happ – Toronto Blue Jays
Like the Mets, the Toronto Blue Jays have suffered many man games lost due to injury. At various times, and in some cases the whole season, the Jays have had to do without Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna (who wasn’t injured but suspended and won’t be back until the first week of August). Happ, meanwhile, has quietly went out and done the job night in and night out. So far, the guy who won 20 game for Toronto in 2016 is 10-6 in 20 starts, with a 4.18 ERA, 1.175 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 114 innings. The Yankees have been his most rumored persistent suitor and on Thursday Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Bombers may be offering 3B Brandon Drury in a deal for the veteran lefty. Stay tuned, this one will go down soon.
4. SP Zack Wheeler – New York Mets
Wheeler is in the same boat as fellow Mets starter Jacob deGrom, but is younger (28 to deGrom’s 30) and makes considerably less money on heading into an arbitration year ($1.9 million to deGrom’s $7.4M). The lanky righthander, like deGrom, has been a decent pitcher on a hobbled team going nowhere. The fourth-year starter is 4-6 in 19 starts, with 109 Ks in 114.1 innings pitched. After missing all of 2015 and 2016 following Tommy John surgery, Wheeler is lately enjoying a great run, which makes him even more attractive a target. Since June 1, he has posted a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 64.1 innings (10 starts). His latest start on July 24 against San Diego was a gem, where he allowed only four hits and two runs in seven innings during a 6-3 victory.
3. RP Joakim Soria – Chicago White Sox
When the Mets dealt closer Jeurys Familia to Oakland on July 21, it was a signal to other clubs that no one is irreplaceable. Since then, RP Zach Britton was sent from Baltimore to the Yankees, RP Matt Andriese went from Tampa to Arizona and the Jays sent set-up man Seunghwan Oh to Colorado. Well-traveled veteran Soria is a prime target, considering he is a workhorse out of the Chisox bullpen. The 34-year-old has appeared in 40 games and owns a 2.56 ERA, 16 saves (three blown), a 1.164 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 38.2 innings. There are several teams requiring depth help in the bullpen, where Soria could be a set-up man or spot closer if there is already a better incumbent. The crosstown Cubs, who need a closer, are a rumored destination for Soria’s services.
2. RP Kirby Yates – San Diego Padres
With the worst record in the National League, the Padres are Nowheresville and might consider off-loading a few of their best to bring back prospects. For a shade over $1 million this season, the Pads have received tremendous value from 31-year-old reliever Kirby Yates. The set-up man and sometime closer has posted his best ever numbers, with a 3-0 record in 40 appearances, 1.40 ERA, three saves and 50 strikeouts in 38.2 innings pitched. With Brad Hand gone in a trade to Cleveland, the Padres may be loathe to deal Yates, yet he could command a nice return, too. Seeing as hand went to the AL, potential destinations could be also on the West Coast, including Seattle and Oakland.
1. RP Keone Kela – Texas Rangers
The Rangers are in a sad state, mired in last place in the AL West and now being looked at like the main course for a pack of hungry contending hyenas. One player on the team performing above his station this year is new closer Kela. In his fourth season in the bigs, the Angelino is tied for ninth overall in baseball with 23 saves and only one missed opportunity. He has a 3-3 record in 37 appearances, a 1.093 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. Contenders looking for any kind of post-season experience can note that Kela made four appearances, all against Toronto, in the 2015 and 2016 ALDS. He gave up just one hit and one earned run in 4.2 innings of work. Just 25, Kela is on an affordable one-year, $1.2 million contract, with two years of arbitration eligibility ahead of him before full free agency in 2021. Pittsburgh has been a rumored destination.