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MLB Trade Deadline Predictions

With Manny Machado all but on his way out of Baltimore, the hot stove is really kicking into gear. Every season it seems the first major trade to occur tends to open the floodgates and we see multiple players find themselves calling a new team home. This season shouldn’t be an exception with tons of teams still in the playoff hunt and searching for help. So today we’re going to try and predict the landing spot of some top trade deadline candidates.

Obviously this is just pure speculation at this point, but most of these guesses will be rooted in speculating on which teams have the best trade chips and which locations are the best fit. If you’re in an AL- or NL-only league, some of these players could end up switching leagues and leave you with nothing, so you might want to make a move if you can find a good buyer, but I always preach caution when doing that; don’t sell for too little or you might really regret it. Now with that said, let’s get into the show!

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MLB Trade Deadline Destinations

Mike Moustakas – 3B, Kansas City Royals

The Royals are clearly sellers with an MLB-worst 27-68 record at the break. And although there aren’t a lot of nice parts to move here, Moustakas represents a cheap, semi-valuable left-handed bat that would be a fit in multiple lineups. He may not be having as good a season as he had last year, but this season Moustakas is still putting up solid numbers with 19 home runs and a .249/.306/.466 slash line. And despite the terrible lineup that has surrounded him, he was still on pace for 90 runs/RBI.

Moustakas plays a middling third base although defensive metrics have pegged him as a positive this season as opposed to last year’s negative marks. He could easily fill in at the hot corner for any teams in need of infield help, but the Royals’ likeliest trade partner, the Yankees, have thought about plugging him in at first base. Prior to this season he had never played the position in the Majors, but the Royals have given him a few starts at first and he has performed capably.

In addition to the Yankees, the Braves and Red Sox have also been connected to Moustakas in recent rumors. The Red Sox have their third baseman of the future already on the team with Rafael Devers, but his struggles this season mean that the Sox might actually be considering giving him a bit of a break and snagging an upgrade. Moustakas’ one-year deal makes this a really nice fit to do just that. The Braves conversely are utilizing Johan Camargo at third, and although he really has put together a solid year the Braves just don’t seem to be all that impressed with him. Top prospect Austin Riley is also waiting in the wings, but I don’t foresee the Braves calling him up until September at the earliest.

My personal favorite for landing the services of Moustakas is the Yankees. They are currently utilizing Miguel Andujar at third base and despite his offensive stats looking pretty solid his defense leaves something to be desired. Moustakas actually represents an upgrade defensively somehow, and there is a chance the Yanks give him some reps at third just to spell Andujar and help out defensively. Of course, like I mentioned earlier they have interest in putting Moustakas in at first base considering Greg Bird has just been atrocious.

The Yankees definitely have plenty of minor league pieces to make a trade deadline deal come together, so my money is on the Bronx Bombers to land Moose.

Verdict: Traded to the New York Yankees

J.T. Realmuto – C, Miami Marlins

With the offseason sale of the Marlins to a Derek Jeter led group of buyers, we got to see the former Yankees star shortstop in action at the helm of the big league club. He managed to trade his entire starting outfield by moving Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna, along with second baseman Dee Gordon. Some might consider this the biggest fire sale for a team that has a history of them, and they most certainly aren’t done moving pieces yet.

Brad Ziegler, Kyle Barraclough, Justin Bour and of course J.T. Realmuto are potential trade deadline chips and the odds of them moving are sky high for the most part. I’m about 100 percent certain Ziegler gets moved and roughly 75 percent sure Barraclough is also on the way out (check out last week’s column on closer targets for my thoughts on this situation). Justin Bour is still in arbitration and only commanding a $3.4 million salary to play this season, and with several more years of control he’s not likely on his way out of the organization unless the Marlins are blown away with an offer. He’s also struggled a bit this year so the odds of a team paying up for him are less than expected.

J.T. Realmuto also finds himself in a similar situation with several more years of control with this being his first year in arbitration. He’s playing on a very nice $2.9 million salary and unlike Bour is having a very nice season once again. The Marlins’ asking price is reportedly “sky high” for Realmuto and rightfully so, a cheap catcher with excellent offensive skills and solid defensive abilities is hard to come by these days.

The team most notably going after the All-Star catcher has been the Washington Nationals, who are employing a catching tandem of Matt Wieters and Spencer Kieboom, which leaves a lot to be desired at the position. Realmuto represents an excellent upgrade for the team, and the Marlins surely know that. Apparently, the club has asked for Carter Kieboom in any deal, and the Nats have balked at that price. They may be open to moving top prospect Victor Robles, but this has not been confirmed.

Ultimately in any trade the Marlins are going to be asking for the moon and rightfully so. With this in mind I believe that when the trade deadline passes J.T. Realmuto will still be playing for the Miami Marlins. There’s always a chance that Washington decides to go through with a big trade, but I don’t think it’s likely and good for the Marlins for standing pat.

Verdict: Stays with the Marlins

J.A. Happ and Cole Hamels – SP, Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers

A couple of veteran left-handed starting pitchers are most certainly on the move this year with both pitchers playing for teams that are way out of contention. Happ has rebounded from an injury-plagued albeit solid season last year to put up a career-best 9.99 K/9, 4.29 ERA, and 109 innings this year. He represents a decent rotation option with the potential for a better ERA. He’s not going to be an ace, but he’s going to be a nice upgrade for the back half of the rotation of the team that picks him up.

Hamels has also rebounded from an injury-plagued and supbar year in 2017 to post decent numbers as well. His 109.1 innings have brought out an 8.97 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, and 4.36 ERA. The ERA estimators are a bit mixed on Hamels’ work this year with FIP, xFIP, and SIERA sitting at 5.05, 4.10, and 4.05 respectively. However you mix it, he represents a sturdy workhorse that can be plugged into the back of a rotation and will keep his team in most games. Once again, not an ace but a valuable addition none-the-less.

This season the starting pitching trade market has been a bit slow to develop. Shockingly most contending teams have bigger needs than the rotation at this point, but don’t fret because there is always a market for starting pitching. I’m pretty much 100 percent sure both of these guys get moved, but a matter of where is the big question. The Cleveland Indians are currently dealing with several pitchers on the DL including Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar (out for the season too), and Corey Kluber dealing with some discomfort in his knee listing him as day-to-day. There’s obviously some room for a pitcher here, and both Hamels and Happ represent semi-cheap options that could be of interest to Cleveland.

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The Boston Red Sox similarly are dealing with a slew of pitcher injuries most notably Eduardo Rodriguez now likely out for the rest of the season with a very serious ankle injury. Drew Pomeranz has been dealing with a bicep injury, and when he’s been on the field he has been atrocious with a 6.81 ERA (remember that season John Lackey did that with the Red Sox?). Both of the pitchers we are discussing would be a fit here, and although Happ plays in the same division I doubt the Blue Jays would let that stop them from trading him to a rival.

Another AL East team, the Yankees, are also likely on the hunt for a starting pitcher by the trade deadline as well. They currently have Sonny Gray festering in their rotation and they would like to change that if at all possible. His 5.46 ERA is somehow not his career worst (5.69 in 2016), and although his strikeout and walk numbers are solid he’s just getting hit hard. Domingo German is another pitcher struggling in their rotation with a 5.49 ERA. And although CC Sabathia has rebounded and reinvented himself as a pitcher in recent years he’s hardly a safe bet to fill up innings as the season goes along.

When everything is said and done the Yankees will likely end up trading for a couple of starting pitchers with Nate Eovaldi of the Rays being a strong possibility to be one of them. Both the Indians and Red Sox will likely pick up a rotation piece each as well, and of course, there are other teams we didn’t mention also interested in a rotation upgrade. I’ll say Happ ends up with the Yankees and Hamels goes to the Indians right at the trade deadline. Both teams have enough minor league pieces to make a deal, and neither of these guys will cost a ton so their top prospects are probably safe.

Verdict: Happ to Yankees, Hamels to Indians

Relief Pitchers – RP, Multiple Teams

A position that always is in flux, I expect to see many relievers with new homes by the time the trade deadline passes. We’ve already seen Kelvim Herrera moved to the Nationals for a modest price, and although that may put a damper on the market there should still be enough to warrant a lot of guys switching teams.

Some names to watch include Jeurys Familia of the Mets, Zach Britton and Mychal Givens of the Orioles, Joakim Soria of the White Sox, Kirby Yates and Brad Hand of the Padres, and Blake Parker of the Angels. I think of these guys Familia, Soria, Yates, and Parker are the most likely to be moved. Brad Hand was signed to be the Padres’ closer of the future, and unless they get overwhelmed with an offer (which isn’t likely) I think he stays in San Diego with Yates and possibly Craig Stammen on the move.

All of this basically means that if you own any of these guys (with the exception of Hand) you should probably try and move them now before they lose their jobs. Of the bunch, I only see Familia as a guy who could become a closer with his new team while the rest of them are moved into a set-up role.

Virtually every team in the playoff hunt will have a need for a reliever, so I’m not going to engage in the folly of predicting where they will end up at the trade deadline. I do believe the Red Sox and Astros are definitely buyers, with both teams putting whatever reliever they acquire into a set-up role as both teams have shut-down closers already on their squads. The Braves could be a dark horse candidate to pick up a reliever, though I also believe it will be one of the lesser names since they are kind of hedging their playoff bets and not going full bore so as to keep their prospects in house. However it shakes out, this is likely to be a crazy and fun trade deadline so keep your eyes peeled for where these guys end up!

Verdict: Lots of movement!

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