With big names like Manny Machado available in trades, the balance of power in MLB could easily shift by the end of the summer.
Which contenders will go all-in for franchise-altering trades and which ones will make tweaks to the edges of their rosters in the hopes that a bullpen piece or utility bat will be enough? There are now less than three weeks until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and the rumours are heating up with the weather.
Here’s some of the latest buzz from around the league…
Price is wrong on Happ?
The New York Yankees have been in the mix to acquire Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ for weeks now and even emerged as a reported frontrunner earlier this month. Happ is still one of the Yankees’ most coveted potential targets, but Fancred‘s Jon Heyman reports New York is finding the Blue Jays’ asking price to be high.
Despite being named a 2018 all-star, Happ’s trade value has understandably taken a hit of late. He has struggled in his previous two outings and has seen his ERA climb from 3.62 to 4.44 since June 25. The pending free agent surrendered six runs and an alarming six walks in Saturday’s loss to the Yankees — hardly a flattering audition. Even with the recent woes, Happ still boasts a strong 9.8 K/9 rate for the season and is one of the top arms that could realistically be traded before July 31.
Could Granderson be on Cubs’ radar?
Outfielder Curtis Granderson is another veteran Blue Jay who has seen his name surface in recent reports. The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark indicate the Chicago Cubs could be interested in adding a player like Granderson or the Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones to provide another strong clubhouse presence for the stretch run.
Rosenthal suggests that a potential deal for Granderson would likely come after the July 31 non-waiver deadline, if at all. The Cubs already have difficulty finding playing time for all their position players, so this type of trade would be easier to make around Aug. 31 because of September roster expansion.
Granderson, 37, isn’t the impact player he used to be but remains an effective left-handed bat, posting an .832 OPS against right-handed pitching.
AL East heavyweights in on Britton
Machado is Baltimore’s biggest trade chip ahead of the deadline, but the Orioles also possess a big-ticket reliever who is generating buzz within the division. The New York Yankees have already been linked to Britton and the rival Boston Red Sox are reportedly sniffing around as well.
Both juggernauts rank in the American League’s top three in terms of bullpen ERA, so adding an arm of Britton’s calibre would make their relief corps all the more imposing. Britton has been limited to just 13 games in 2018 after returning from an Achilles injury and the results have not been what we’re used to seeing from the former Cy Young candidate (4.26 ERA). However, the left-hander’s five most recent appearances have been scoreless, so it appears that he’s rounding into form at the perfect time for the Orioles.
Baltimore mega package
While on the topic of Britton, the Orioles are considering packaging him with Machado to enhance the return in a potential trade, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Few teams have enough prospect capital to pull off this type of blockbuster, but the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to have the money and organizational depth to do it. While the Dodgers have been reluctant to part with prized prospects in the past, the chance to add a superstar like Machado to a squad that finished one win short of a World Series last year might be too tempting to ignore.
Corey Seager is out for the year, so there’s a clear fit for Machado at shortstop. Using Britton to help bridge the gap to closer Kenley Jansen would also give Los Angeles a formidable one-two punch at the back of the bullpen.
Dozier a Machado alternative
If teams miss out on Machado, Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier could be the fallback plan, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers are reportedly among the interested teams.
Dozier’s certainly not on Machado’s level talent-wise, but he’s a reliable source of power with a combined 76 home runs in 2016-17. Dozier currently carries an underwhelming .223/.308/.409 slash line but his .248 batting average on balls in play suggests some bad luck might be factoring into those struggles.
Minnesota has been a disappointment in 2018 after a surprise trip to last year’s post-season. The Twins are 8.5 back in the AL Central and could move multiple veterans this summer.