A 30,000-foot view of Major League Baseball as it hurtles toward the trade deadline at the end of the month yields an interesting picture. The impact players involved in chatter overwhelmingly have something in common: they are big names who have fallen off a bit from their proven track records. This suggests buyers could get these guys on the cheap, especially as more teams figure to be selling than purchasing.
Here’s a look at some of the most impactful guys being dangled and
Justin Verlander: The righthanded workhorse has remarkable bonafides and is coming off a Cy Young-caliber season. He is also dragging a 5-7/4.76/1.500 slash line behind him. Despite that, he is still a viable No. 2 starter in a playoff series. Imagine what the Los Angeles Dodgers could do with a Kershaw-Verlander 1-2 punch. Thing is, he won’t come cheap as he’s also dragging around a meaty contract. The Detroit Tigers have recently suggested they’d throw in some cash to help soften the blow.
Prediction: Dodgers pull the trigger and are happy they did.
Sonny Gray: He’s back from injury and has been mediocre (5-4/3.72/1.157). Is drawing interest from some small-market teams (Twins, Brewers) doing surprisingly well. At 27, he’s more of a long-term asset than a rental, which would be great for Milwaukee.
Prediction: The Brewers part with some young prospects as the Cubs come charging hard in the rearview.
Andrew McCutchen: After a surprisingly poor 2016, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder is looking more like the player who made five straight All-Star teams and won the National League MVP. He’s regained form (.294/.382/.518) and rediscovered his power (17 HRs). The Arizona Diamondbacks and recently hot Seattle Mariners could use an outfield upgrade and middle-of-the-lineup bat.
Prediction: McCutchen, beloved in Pittsburgh, stays there.
Johnny Cueto: In contrast to McCutcheon, Cueto has struggled to replicated 2016’s success. His 4.56 ERA is nearly two runs higher and he’s struggling to go as deep into games. Plus, he’s now on the disabled list with pesky blisters. But, the crafty righthander is a proven postseason entity who may very well turn it around with a change of scenery and can be had for pennies on the dollar.
Prediction: No team will find Cueto compelling enough to bring into the fold.
J.D. Martinez: Although a rental, Martinez is the best hitter on the market and the Tigers appear motivated. In 57 games he’s blasted 16 homers and compiled a .305/.388/1.018. His numbers against left-handed pitching are just plain stupid (.474/.556/1.105). All three contenders in the NL West are intrigued, and for good reason.
Prediction: The Colorado Rockies make a big move to address the struggles of usually reliable but struggling Carlos Gonzalez and Martinez makes Coors Field look small.
UPDATE: Martinez has been traded to Arizona. Close!
Yonder Alonso: Umm, who is this guy? Alonso has hit 21 homers thus far, 14 more than his career-high entering this season, and has a .921 OPS. He’s expressed interest in staying with Oakland long-term. Management may have other ideas, especially if the New York Yankees, desperate to address the need at first base, make an attractive offer.
Prediction: The Yankees will make that attractive offer and John Sterling will get to work “go yonder” into a home run call.
David Robertson: A steady back-of-the-bullpen guy (2.70 ERA, 12.7 K/9) with history in the Bronx, where Aroldis Chapman has been oddly human. Hmmm.
Prediction: The Yankees make this move as well as Brian Cashman is a bigger buyer than most predicted.
Josh Donaldson: The Blue Jays third baseman has battled injuries and appeared in only 50 games, hitting nine homers with a .250/.374/.455 — a far cry from his production the last two years. That said, he is a tough out and has a fierce, playoff-ready demeanor.
Prediction: There will be plenty of interest but the Jays will opt not to sell.
Marcus Stroman: See above, although the Cubs would love to have him.
Brad Hand: The lefty sports a sub-1 WHIP and a 11.4 K/9, which earned him his first All-Star selection.
Prediction: The Tampa Bay Rays are quietly extending their Wild Card lead and will shore up their bullpen with the Padres’ hurler.
Justin Wilson: With Sean Doolittle off the market and Zach Britton chatter ramping down, the Tigers’ lefty is the best closer available. And what contender wouldn’t want Wilson, who has show flashes and is controllable through next year. His 12.7 K/9 would be especially attractive to Houston, who is going for it and needs a back end guy who can miss bats.
Prediction: The Tigers will, indeed, deal three top players and Wilson goes to the Astros.