The Major League Baseball (MLB) Trade Deadline is July 31, and the weeks leading up to it give fans of every team at least one reason for hope regardless of the standings. Even fans of the last-place Baltimore Orioles have reason for hope at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, despite the seemingly silly salary of Chris Davis, whom the Orioles owe $92 million over the next four years, and the depreciated value of both Zach Britton and Brad Brach. I wrote that they should have been sellers at the Trade Deadline last season, but last season’s failures could still end up successes of seasons to come. Here’s every fan’s reason for hope at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline.

The Contenders

Boston Red Sox

Reason for hope: Plenty of affordable bullpen arms available

The Red Sox are in a good place at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, but every team’s bullpen could be deeper come August, September and October. The Red Sox have the fifth-best bullpen based on FanGraph’s version of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), so adding a veteran reliever like Zach Britton to open a sixth or seventh inning instead of relying on 29-year-old Heath Hembree might give Boston’s bullpen the boost it needs to challenge the Yankees’ MLB-best bullpen.

 

Boston also has some room to improve at second base if Dustin Pedroia does indeed miss the rest of the season due to a troublesome knee. The Red Sox have been linked to Whit Merrifield, who would give them a long-term insurance plan at the position if Pedroia continues to struggle with injuries. Merrifield is cheap (for now), arbitration eligible for the first time in 2020 and comes with team-control through 2022. He will not be cheap to acquire, however. Brian Dozier could be an alternative option as an affordable rental if the Twins are still committed to selling at the deadline.

New York Yankees

Reason for hope: Manny Machado and Miguel Andujar

The Yankees look to be in need of a Game 3 starter who can swing a playoff series in their direction, but New York’s focus has been on acquiring the best player available at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline: Manny Machado.

 

The Yankees don’t need a shortstop, and they don’t look to be in need of a third baseman given Miguel Andujar’s .818 OPS at just 23 years old. But Andujar could be traded to acquire that starter the Yankees need to hang with the Astros, Indians and Red Sox, all of whom’s starters have performed better than the Yankees’ this year.

 

Toronto’s J.A. Happ is a “realistic” trade target the Yankees are considering according to Jon Heyman, and could be the Game 3 starter who swings the momentum of a playoff series the Yankees’ way. Happ earned a win over Houston allowing three earned runs over six innings earlier this season and has allowed just .938 walks/hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in two starts against Boston. His start against Seattle was a disaster, though, lasting just three and a third innings after allowing seven earned runs.

Houston Astros

Reason for hope: Bullpen buyers’ market and Wilson Ramos

The defending champions have almost everything they need to repeat as champions. The Astros’ starting rotation has been almost 14 wins better than a replacement play – the best in baseball. Houston’s starters are so good that Collin McHugh was forced into a bullpen role, where he’s amassed an incredible ERA+ of 392.

 

The Astros, like every other contender, is looking to add bullpen depth at the Trade Deadline, and like the Red Sox, they’ve shown interest in Britton according the Heyman. With Ken Giles being optioned to Triple-A, Houston has reason to acquire a reliever despite its bullpen ranking second in MLB in WAR thus far in 2018.

 

The Astros aren’t reading too much into the success of catcher Max Stassi and his .804 OPS over 177 plate appearances either. And while Brian McCann is expected to return from arthroscopic right knee surgery in September, his .606 OPS over 173 plate appearances leaves a lot to be desired, even when considering the hitting ineptitude of catchers throughout the league.

 

That’s why the Astros contacted Tampa Bay about pending free agent and All-Star Wilson Ramos, whose proven ability to hit (.751 career OPS) will be even more evident given Houston’s deep lineup. His deficiencies behind the dish (6 defensive runs below average over 1,200 innings this season) would also be less impactful given the pitchers he’d be catching in Houston compared to those he’s catching with the Rays.

Chicago Cubs

Reason for hope: Yu Darvish or J.A. Happ

The Cubs might make the second-best addition at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline and do so without surrendering anything in a trade, but that possibility is looking less and less likely everyday. Yu Darvish experienced pain in his elbow after a bullpen session that followed a rehab start in the minors, so the Cubs don’t know when or if he’ll be available.

 

The Cubs lead the National League in run differential, and by 25 runs as of this writing, making their 23rd-ranked starting pitching WAR less of a concern. That won’t be the case against an American League contender, however. The Astros, Red Sox and Yankees all have higher run differentials than the Cubs, which is why J.A. Happ has been on Chicago’s radar according to Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun. If Darvish gets bad news, the Cubs will have to add a starter to have a chance at winning a second World Series in three years.

Cleveland Indians

Reason for hope: Buyers’ market for bullpen arms, Andrew Miller’s return, and maybe Adam Jones

The Cleveland Indians’ bullpen, once the team’s biggest strength, has become the team’s biggest weakness. Cleveland’s Cody Allen, who was almost unhittable last season, blew a four-run, ninth-inning lead over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, allowing six runs in two-thirds of an inning after Trevor Bauer tossed eight shutout innings. The Indians lost 7-4, breathing new life into a Minnesota Twins team that was 11.5 games behind Cleveland in the American League Central Division and announcing the availability of its pending free agents. The Twins are just 7.5 games back as of this writing and

 

While Andrew Miller is expected to return after the MLB All-Star Break, his return won’t make Cleveland’s bullpen playoff-ready. Allen’s struggles aren’t a result of bad luck. While his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 3.92 is evidence that his team’s defense is at least somewhat responsible for his bloated 4.66 Earned Run Average (ERA), Allen’s soft contact percentage of 8.9 percent thus far this season is a career low and way down from the career high of 22.2 percent he set last season.

 

Allen’s not the only Cleveland reliever struggling either. The Indians are last in bullpen ERA and home run rate allowed, and second to last in bullpen WAR, according to FanGraphs. So Cleveland needs all the bullpen help it can get at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline.

 

The Indians have also shown interest in center fielder Adam Jones of the Orioles because their center fielders Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen have left much to be desired when a bat’s in their hands. The two have averaged a .576 OPS between them.

 

Baltimore is the perfect trade partner for Cleveland because the Indians could also acquire the bullpen help it needs in the form of Zach Britton, who is finally starting to look like his old self according to Jon Heyman of Fancred. Brad Brach, on the other hand, has surrendered hard contact on nearly a third of batted balls against him, a career high. Acquiring one reliever won’t likely be enough for Cleveland to contend for a championship, so they’re lucky it’s a buyers’ market for bullpen arms at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline.

The Buyers

Seattle Mariners

Reason for hope: Robinson Cano’s return, Dee Gordon’s flexibility

I said prior to Opening Day that Dee Gordon’s transition to center field would be an adventure worth watching, and it was. While Gordon’s speed and athleticism was often displayed on highlight reels, he was well below average in center field (35 runs below average per 1,200 innings). But Robinson Cano’s suspension for performance-enhancing drug use makes the acquisition of Gordon one of the best deals Seattle won’t have to make at the Trade Deadline. The acquisitions of Denard Span (.842 OPS in 124 plate appearances) and Alex Colome (16 Ks in 16.2 innings pitched) at the end of May have provided the roster depth necessary for Seattle to make a push for the postseason as well.

 

Seattle will get Cano back on Aug. 14, which will be like adding an All-Star prior to the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline. But unlike a waiver acquisition, Cano can’t participate in the postseason, so Jean Segura and Gordon will be the Mariners’ middle infielders should they make the playoffs, leaving a big hole in a lineup that struggles to score runs.

 

Recent recipient of a contract extension, Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto hasn’t been in a hurry to announce any trade targets at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, even with both James Paxton and Felix Hernandez hitting the 10-day disabled list with minor back issues. Regardless, the Mariners’ eighth-ranked bullpen and 11th-ranked starting rotation according to FanGraphs’ WAR won’t be good enough to contend for a championship given their 20th-ranked offense in runs scored, so bringing another bat to Seattle might be necessary. Perhaps an Adam Jones reunion is in order given the Mariners’ .692 OPS from center fielders this season.

Washington Nationals

Reason for hope: Bullpen buyers’ market, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton, and Matt Wieters or Wilson Ramos

Stephen Strasburg and Sean Doolittle are potentially huge additions expected to come of the DL prior to the Trade Deadline, and the Nationals have already gotten Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy and catcher Matt Wieters back from injury just in time to save their season – the last of their quickly closing World Series window.

 

Washington is still in pursuit of a catcher like Ramos to push Wieters into a backup role, and while the Nationals have the eighth-best starting rotation in baseball, their 23rd-ranked bullpen is in dire need of an upgrade. Expect Washington to pursue pending free agents to improve its bullpen to allow for maximum flexibility in free agency this offseason.

Milwaukee Brewers

Reason for hope: Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier...if the Twins actually sell

The Brewers were surprisingly good last year, and continue to surprise just about everyone by holding a one-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Central as of this writing. The starting rotation consists of no one you’ve heard of and the lineup is a collage of castaways, overachieving prospects and Ryan Braun. Their +55 run differential is 50 runs worse than the Cubs, but the Brewers’ bullpen is fantastic, especially Josh Hader – Milwaukee’s version of Andrew Miller.

 

Despite losing new acquisition Lorenzo Cain to injury, the Brewers continue to impress. But scoring the top bat available at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline could help them overcome their 17th-ranked offense in runs scored. They were in the bottom third of the league in runs scored last year, so the Brewers are better, but will end up fighting for a Wild Card spot regardless of what they do at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, and they’ll need to do something big to hold off the Diamondbacks or Dodgers.

 

Milwaukee can improve most at both middle infield positions. The Brewers have been active in the Machado sweepstakes, but are unlikely to win his services according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. So the Brewers will have to hope the Twins’ recent success doesn’t deter them from trading pending free agents Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier, in whom Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports the Brewers’ interest.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Reason for hope: Adding another Zack to go with Greinke, Godley

Also leading their division as of this writing, the Diamondbacks will need to add at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline in order to hold off the Dodgers, who have been trending up and carry a run differential 36 runs better than Arizona’s as of July 13.

 

The Diamondbacks still have Zack Greinke, who allowed more home runs last year (25) than he had since his rookie year in 2004 (26), but the new baseball humidor in Arizona has made him even better in 2018.

 

Behind Greinke, though, only Patrick Corbin can be considered reliable for Arizona. Clay Bucholtz is on the 10-day disabled list with a strained oblique. Robbie Ray is averaging five walks per nine innings, and Zack Godley isn’t doing much better (4.7 walks per nine innings).

 

The Diamondbacks need a middle-of-the-rotation starter who can give them a chance in Game 3 of a playoff series, and adding a third Zack to the roster might be the solution. Arizona has expressed interest in the Mets’ Zack Wheeler, who is controlled through next season if Arizona loses Corbin to free agency this offseason.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Reason for hope: Clayton Kershaw once more, Manny Machado if they’re desperate, or Whit Merrifield, if they’re smart

Clayton Kershaw is back in what could be his last season with the Dodgers. He’s looked like his old self after coming off the disabled list, but the Dodgers needed more than Kershaw last season and need much more this season.

 

The Dodgers are considered a favorite to land Machado, which is the kind of addition Los Angeles would need to make at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline in order to contend for a title. If the Dodgers’ plan is to move Chris Taylor to second base for Logan Forsythe and plug Machado in at shortstop, they might be better off long-term adding Whit Merrifield given his lower cost, both in terms of prospects surrendered and salary owed. Plus, with Chase Utley retiring after the season, and Forsythe a free agent at the end of the year, the Dodgers could use a long-term, affordable second baseman who will improve the Dodgers’ 25th-ranked defense if Kershaw isn’t in LA to hide the Dodgers defensive deficiencies next year.

 

Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Dodgers are also linked to the Reds’ Scooter Gennett, who doesn’t anticipate being traded Mark Sheldon reports for MLB.com. The Mets’ Asdrubal Cabrera also has the Dodgers’ attention, as does Josh Harrison of Pittsburgh per Mike Berardino of St. Paul. LA’s exploring all options because these could be the last of Kershaw’s Dodger days.  

Philadelphia Phillies

Reason for hope: Manny Machado, bullpen buyers’ market

Prior to Opening Day, I wrote that the Phillies weren’t as far from contending as some people thought thanks to their young talent being quick studies at the MLB level. They’ve proven me right, but why the Phillies are willing to trade the farm for not even half a season of Machado is beyond me.

 

The Phillies without Machado can make the playoffs and compete with anyone in the National League thanks to its NL-best starting rotation, which might be why they’re so eager to land the best player available at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline. They think Jake Arrieta, Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin can hang with the Cubs, Dodgers and Nationals, and they might be right.

 

Eflin was brilliant in one start against the Cubs, has two wins against the Brewers and one more against the Nationals. Nola allowed just two hits and one run over seven innings in a win over the Dodgers, is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA against the Nationals and held the Cubs to three runs over six innings. And Arrieta pitched seven innings of shutout ball in a win over the Dodgers, has a .909 WHIP in two no-decisions against the Nationals and should be pretty familiar with the Cubs’ lineup.

 

Philadelphia seems to be in a hurry to take advantage of Washington’s sudden fall, but the Nationals will be even worse next year than they are this year, and Machado could be acquired without surrendering any prospects prior to the season. I think the Phillies are overreaching given their third-worst defense and 20th-ranked offense, but I’ve been wrong before.

 

Machado would certainly make the Phillies contenders for the NL pennant. I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward given the strength of the American League. If I were a Phillies fan, I’d rather hold onto our prospects and lose in the playoffs than trade those prospects to lose in the World Series and then lose Machado in free agency to the team that beat us in the World Series. But maybe I don’t know Philly fans.

Oakland Athletics

Reason for hope: Michael Fulmer

Billy Beane sees the Athletics as buyers at the trade deadline, and they need a starter, especially with Trevor Cahill a free agent after the season. Detroit’s Michael Fulmer would give Oakland a stable starter atop the rotation through 2022 to pair with 26-year-old Sean Manaea, who is under team control through 2023, as is 25-year-old Frankie Montas. Fulmer would give Oakland three-fifths of a rotation with playoff potential under team control for at least five seasons. That’s worth a lot, and besides Chris Archer, Fulmer might demand the best prospect haul of any pitcher traded at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline.

Atlanta Braves

Reason for hope: Rebuild way ahead of schedule, and Nick Markakis

The similarly surprising Braves are taking the exact opposite approach of the Phillies despite being just 1.5 games back of Philadelphia in the division. Unlike the Phillies, the Braves can really hit (sixth in MLB) and field the ball (seventh in MLB), but their pitching is middle-of-the-pack. Without any sure-fire aces available on the market, the Braves aren’t risking prospects for rentals according to Rosenthal. That’s a smart move given their situation.

 

Atlanta made an offer for Machado but isn’t likely to win his services. The Braves are looking to add controllable starting pitching at the trade deadline. They’ve scouted Nathan Eovaldi, who comes with another arbitration year beyond this one.

St. Louis Cardinals

Reason for hope: Bullpen buyers’ market, Wacha and Wainwright?

The Cardinals are taking the same approach as the Braves. They aren’t shopping for rentals. They’ll look to improve the 23rd-ranked bullpen by adding arms controlled for multiple seasons. The Cardinals’ seventh-best starting rotation will add Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright sometime in August. Whether either is any good is yet to be determined.

Colorado Rockies

Reason for hope: Bullpen buyers’ market, CarGo?

The Rockies have the 24th-ranked bullpen in baseball based on Fangraphs’ WAR. They, like the rest of the playoff contenders, stand to benefit from the vast supply of affordable bullpen options on the market.

 

Colorado also has until July 19 to trade outfielder Carlos Gonzalez before his no-trade protection begins, but that’s not likely given CarGo’s struggles on the road and against left-handers.

The Buyers/Sellers

Minnesota Twins

Reason for hope: Eduardo Escobar, Brian Dozier heating up, Nick Gordon, and, perhaps, Ervin Santana

The new Twins’ front office of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine managed to sell at the trade deadline in their rookie season last year and still made the playoffs. They’ll try to do it again. The Twins actually announced their willingness to trade their pending free agents, headlined by Eduardo Escobar, having fallen 11.5 games behind Cleveland in the American League Central. And just as they did last season, the Twins responded to the front office “for sale” announcement by winning baseball games – eight of 10 to pull within 7.5 games of Cleveland.

 

The return of Jorge Polanco from a performance-enhancing drug suspension allows the Twins to play on of their All-star snubs, Escobar, at third base while Miguel Sano figures out his swing in Fort Myers, where Twins’ top prospect Royce Lewis was recently promoted.

 

Falvey and Levine should still shop Escobar and take the best deal they can get for a player who could be a difference-maker for a contender. They could even get a difference-maker in return, albeit one a few years away, but that’s a lot more than Terry Ryan or anyone else likely expected when he moved Francisco Liriano for MLB’s current leader in doubles. Given Sano’s struggles to stay healthy and hit consistently, it might not be a bad idea for Minnesota to give Escobar some of the nearly $84 million it has coming off the books at the end of the year.

 

Making the playoffs without Escobar is a tall order for the Twins, however. He was the beating heart of last year’s playoff team and is the clubhouse leader. Ehire Adrianza can’t replace him in that regard or any other, but Byron Buxton could if he’s ever healthy.

 

Other players that might be valuable to a playoff contender are relievers Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke, second baseman Brian Dozier, who is heating up in the second half, as usual, and starters Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi. Remember, the Twins are expecting Ervin Santana to return someday.

 

Starter Kyle Gibson is more valuable than ever as well, and would bring a good return given his extra year of team control following this season – one in which he’s finally figured out how to use his best stuff best. Gibson’s been so good, the Twins might consider extending him. He’s finally the formidable middle-of-the-rotation starter the Twins knew he could be.

San Francisco Giants

Reason for hope: Jeurys Familia, Derek Holland, Sam Dyson

The Giants are looking to shed more salaries after dealing centerfielder Austin Jackson and reliever Cory Gearrin to the Rangers, and could do the same with Derek Holland and Sam Dyson according to Henry Schulman, because the Giants would prefer to remain under the competitive balance tax threshold. But being just three games out of the playoffs at the All-Star Break has the Giants as modest buyers at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, too.

 

The Giants are interested in acquiring Mets’ closer Jeurys Familia to shore up their bullpen down the stretch despite him being a rental, but with Jeff Samardzija being placed on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation for the second time, the Giants will likely have to wait to deal Holland until Samardzija returns if not acquire an affordable starter at the trade deadline.

The Sellers

Baltimore Orioles

Reason for hope: Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Adam Jones?

The Orioles’ rebuilding effort should have began at the All-Star Break last year, but it will still get off to a good start with the dealing of Manny Machado and Zach Britton, both of whom will most certainly be traded by the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline. Britton won’t bring what he would have last season, but Machado will, and Adam Jones has drawn some interest from Cleveland. So it’s not all doom and gloom in Baltimore. Football season is right around the corner, Orioles fans.

New York Mets

Reason for hope: Asdrubal Cabrera

If the Mets aren’t going to move Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, according to Joel Sherman, or even Zack Wheeler, then Asdrubal Cabrera is Mets’ fans biggest reason for hope. The 32-year-old pending free agent has a career-best OPS+ of 127, and there are plenty of teams looking to improve at shortstop and second base.

 

The Brewers are especially in need of middle infield help, and Cabrera would be a nice consolation prize for the teams losing out on Manny Machado. The Phillies could have Cabrera for much less than Machado and still sign Machado in free agency.

Miami Marlins

Reason for hope: J.T. Realmuto, Brad Ziegler?

The Marlins’ steep price for their All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto is warranted. Realmuto is controllable through arbitration until 2021 and the trade market for catchers consists of Realmuto and the now-injured Wilson Ramos of Tampa Bay. That steep price might not stop the desperate Nationals from acquiring the All-Star, according to Heyman.

 

Steep prices are also attached to Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley for the same reasons as Realmuto. They are all controllable for an additional three years and the trade market for relievers is deep. Brad Ziegler is a pending free agent but hasn’t been particularly good (1.362 WHIP, 6.5 K:9).

Chicago White Sox

Reason for hope: Joakim Soria

The lone trade chip on the White Sox roster is closer Joakim Soria, who at 34 is pitching like he’s 30. His 149 ERA+ and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings both match his numbers from 2014 when he was good enough to net Texas Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson in a trade to Detroit. Soria could help another contender this season and should provide Chicago added value given his 2019 team option.

Kansas City Royals

Reason for hope: Mike Moustakas, Whit Merrifield

The Red Sox could be interested in both Mike Moustakas and Whit Merrifield, and the Braves have expressed interest in adding Moustakas along with the Yankees, according to Jerry Crasnick. Merrifield has also drawn the Dodgers’ and Brewers’ eyes, so the Royals are sitting on a wealth of proverbial riches at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline.

Cincinnati Reds

Reason for hope: Raisel Iglesias

The Reds’ closer has the Astros salivating, as if Houston needs another bullpen arm as good as Iglesias’s, but Iglesias hopes to remain a Red his entire career MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reveals. Iglesias acknowledged that he has no control over that, however.

 

Cincinnati intends to spend in 2019, as the Reds are only a few starting pitchers away from competing for a playoff spot, of which there will be plenty available in free agency this offseason. Given that Iglesias isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2020, and Scooter Gennett isn’t a free agent until 2020, the Reds might just sit on their hands at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, which is reason enough for hope.

Detroit Tigers

Reason for hope: Michael Fulmer, Nicholas Castellanos

Michael Fulmer could be the most valuable trade chip on the table at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, but the Tigers might as well keep him and his affordable salary for at least another year if not three.

 

Detroit would no doubt prefer to move Nicholas Castellanos, who has just one more year of arbitration eligibility to Fulmer’s four years of team control. Castellanos is enjoying his best season at the plate but is the worst defensive outfielder in Outs Above Average, Katie Strang notes. He could help an American League contender at designated hitter, though. Houston (.748 OPS) and Oakland (.780 )PS) are getting the worst production from their designated hitters amongst the buyers at the trade deadline. The league average OPS at DH is just .759.

Los Angeles Angels

Reason for hope: Shohei Ohtani

Prior to Opening Day, I wrote that the Angels still didn’t have the starting rotation to reach the playoffs, even with Shohei Ohtani in the mix. That has turned out to be true, but Ohtani is still swinging a bat despite his grade 2 UCL strain, and doing so quite capably.

 

Ohtani’s .889 OPS is second to only Mike Trout’s on the team and has been trending up since his return from the disabled list on July 3. With most of the Angels’ starters on the shelf with injuries, and their relievers under team control for multiple seasons, Los Angeles doesn’t have much to offer buyers at the trade deadline. So enjoy watching the best player in baseball and the Babe Ruth of Japanese baseball.

Toronto Blue Jays

Reason for hope: J.A. Happ, Justin Smoak?

The Blue Jays stand to benefit from a short supply of starting pitching at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline. J.A. Happ might be the best addition a team could make to their starting rotation at the deadline, so Toronto should get a nice return for the 35-year-old, first-time All-Star. Heyman tweets that the Yankees think Toronto’s asking price for Happ is too high, however. He is a pending free agent.\

 

Justin Smoak is not a pending free agent, as Toronto will likely pick up his 2019 team option, but he could provide a lot of value to a contender in need of a designated hitter, demanding a strong prospect return. Curtis Granderson is another player who could provide a playoff team with some bench depth and pinch-hitting pop.  

Texas Rangers

Reason for hope: Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels?

The 39-year-old third baseman can still hit and play the hot corner with the best of them. He could be a big help to an American League contender like the Red Sox or Yankees, but the Rangers are looking to nab the Yankees’ Andujar at the deadline, and Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman is feeling vindicated for not trading Andujar already.

 

If the Rangers can package Hamels with Beltre they might get a return on par with Andujar. Hamels is in dire need of a change of scenery. Two-thirds of his 21 home runs have come while pitching in the thin air of Arlington, so even the short porches in Boston and the Bronx would likely serve Hamels better.

San Diego Padres

Reason for hope: Tyson Ross, Kirby Yates and Brad Hand

The Yankees have inquired about starter Tyson Ross, who is uber-affordable and, therefore, attractive. The Padres should net a nice return for Ross, who they signed to a minor-league deal. That would keep New York under the luxury tax threshold.

 

Once again, Brad Hand is the Padres’ best trade chip at the trade deadline, and they probably shouldn’t trade him given he’s locked up until 2021. Kirby Yates might be expendable, though, and his value has peaked. Yates has never been as good as he has been in 2018 (.876 WHIP).

Pittsburgh Pirates

Reason for hope: Josh Harrison

An All-Star last season, Josh Harrison is having a down year, but there’s a high demand for middle infielders at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline and always a high demand for players who can play multiple positions at the trade deadline. And with Francisco Cervelli’s brain injuries sustained behind the plate, it’s doubtful he’ll draw interest from contenders in need of a catcher.

Tampa Bay Rays

Reason for hope: Adeiny Hechavarria, Nathan Eovaldi and Wilson Ramos?

Adeiny Hechavarria is a pending free agent who would look good in Milwaukee, and the Yankees, Brewers and Braves have been watching Tampa’s Nathan Eovaldi according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, and you can add Washington to that list, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

 

All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos would bring the Rays the best return, but he’s been shelved with a hamstring injury, further thinning the market for catchers at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline, which is just fine by the Marlins, who can only ask more for Realmuto.

Published in Sports

Unlike the NBA All-Star Game, every team is represented in the MLB All-Star Game in Miami on Tuesday, so every fan has at least one reason to watch. The best All-Star event in sports, though, takes place Monday, with the Home Run Derby taking flight on ESPN at 8 p.m. (EST).

 

Here’s every fan’s reason to watch the Home Run Derby or MLB All-Star Game.


 

This was originally published at FoulPlaybyPlay.com, a community of foul-mouthed, sports broadcasters providing uncensored, commercial-free play-by-play and color commentary during select games.


 

The Buyers

Houston Astros

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: While there’s no benefit to Houston if the American League wins the All-Star Game, there will be three reasons to watch the game. Carlos Correa and George Springer will both start in their All-Star Game debuts, and Jose Altuve will join them as a starter for his fifth appearance.

 

The best part about the MLB All-Star Game is that it creates matchups fans don’t get to see very often, outside of interleague play and the World Series. If Max Scherzer gets the ball while the Astros are in the game, Astros fans will want to know if their youngsters can hit the Nationals’ ace if they happen to meet in the World Series. So far, Altuve is 2-for-11 against Scherzer, Correa is hitless in six at-bats, and Springer is 2-for-6 with three strikeouts.

Los Angeles Dodgers

What to watch: Home Run Derby

Reason to watch: With Clayton Kershaw starting on Sunday and ineligible for the All-Star Game, Dodger fans will have to wait until the late innings to see Kenley Jansen. But rookie Cody Bellinger will be worth watching in the Home Run Derby. He’s got 25 homers in his first season and hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down (150 OPS+). He’s averaging almost one dinger per 10 at-bats. He takes on Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon in the first round of the derby.

Arizona Diamondbacks

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: A surprise to many, the Diamondbacks are contending thanks to pitching. Arizona fans will get to see if starters Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray can handle the spotlight, as both will likely pitch in the early innings against some of the best hitters the American League has to offer.

 

George Springer is 3-for-6 with two doubles and a walk against Ray, and Michael Brantley is five-for-16 with a double and home run against Greinke.

 

Don’t forget about the powerful Paul Goldschmidt and third baseman Jake Lamb. Lamb hasn’t seen much of the AL All-Star pitchers, so this will be the opportunity to show Diamondback fans what he’s got.

Washington Nationals

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Max Scherzer will probably get the start for the National League, and he should be fun to watch. AL starter at first base, Justin Smoak, is 1-for-13 against Scherzer. Jose Altuve is 2-for-11. Jose Ramirez is 1-for-6, and George Springer is 2-for-6 with three strikeouts. But look for Scherzer to be tested by AL catcher Salvador Perez if the two meet. Perez has been a pest to Scherzer, going 10-for-29 with a .987 OPS against the righty.

 

Ryan Zimmerman is also starting his first All-Star Game and is 0-for-2 versus Chris Sale. Hit machine Daniel Murphy will join him on the right side of the infield, and will likely get his first look at Sale.

Boston Red Sox

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Mookie Betts will start in place of the injured Mike Trout, and he has never seen Scherzer. He’s also 0-for-2 with a strikeout against Greinke, so Red Sox fans should tune in to see how the youngster fares in a possible preview of World Series matchups.

Colorado Rockies

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Charlie Blackmon has two hits in his only two at-bats against Sale. Joining him in the starting lineup is teammate Nolan Arenado. DJ LeMahieu will likely relieve Murphy at second base, and Colorado fans will hope to see him get his first hit off Minnesota’s Ervin Santana. He’s 0-for-5 in seven plate appearances so far.

 

Rockies fans will also want to know if Greg Holland can be depended upon to get some of baseball’s best hitters out in high-leverage situations. Miguel Sano is 2-for-3 off him, and Chicago’s Avisail Garcia is 2-for-8.

Milwaukee Brewers

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Corey Knebel has been one of the most underrated relievers in baseball thus far (15.8 K/9, 1.171 WHIP). He hasn’t had many chances to see the NL All-Stars, but will get that chance on Tuesday. Michael Brantley is the only AL All-Star with a hit against Knebel.

Cleveland Indians

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Jose Ramirez can prove he’s for real. Ramirez has been a darkhorse MVP candidate this season, carrying a Cleveland squad that’s had injury and offensive consistency issues. But Ramirez has been the model of consistency, and he shouldn’t be the darkhorse, he should be the frontrunner.

 

At 24, Ramirez has smashed 16 homers that have lifted his OPS to a ridiculous .980 and his OPS+ to 147. That’s 26 points higher than Edwin Encarnacion, and it’s not even the most impressive thing about Ramirez’s season. Through 348 plate appearances, he’s struck out just 39 times.

 

Ramirez has already proven himself against AL aces. He’s 5-for-14 with an .831 OPS against Chris Sale, but hasn’t had too much luck against Max Scherzer (1-for-6, 2B, 2 Ks). With Ramirez starting for the American League at third base, Cleveland fans should watch and see what he could potentially do if the Indians find themselves in the World Series again.

New York Yankees

What to watch: Home Run Derby and All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Aaron Judge. This kid just broke the franchise record for homers in a rookie season with 30, and there’s still three months of baseball to be played. He’s also hit the fastest recorded home run (of which we know the exit velocity) and the longest home run of the season (of which we know the distance; more on this later). He’s going to hit a bunch of baseballs over 500 feet. Oh, and he’s starting in the outfield for the American League in the All-Star Game and will likely get his first plate appearance against Max Scherzer and Zach Greinke.

Kansas City Royals

What to watch: Home Run Derby

Reason to watch: Mike Moustakas is not missing the mistakes. That’s all Moustakas will see in the home run derby -- mistakes. His 25 homers this year are a career best -- three more than the 22 he hit in all of 2015. He’ll do battle against divisional foe Miguel Sano in the first round of the derby. Speaking of Sano...

The Contenders

Minnesota Twins

What to watch: Home Run Derby and All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Like Judge, Miguel Sano is making his debut in both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game. Remember when I mentioned that Judge hit the longest home run of which we know the distance this season? Well, Miguel Sano hit a ball so hard and so far it broke Statcast. It’s been over a week, and we still don’t know how far this ball went (but Andrew Mearns and Rhett Bollinger came up with an estimate of at least 485 feet, which would be the second longest home run this season). I never saw it land. It disappeared having gone into (or over) the Miller Lite Fountain Bar. I’ve called Kauffman Stadium, and no one there can tell me how far that is from home plate. I’m tracking down the city planner now, hoping to find some blueprints of the stadium. I think they should break out a tape measure, but we might never know how far that ball would have traveled had it not hit a wall. One hundred years from now people will talk about Sano’s homer like we do some of Harmon Killebrew’s mythical moonshots.

 

Not only will Sano provide plenty of Sano-doubters in the home run derby, but Twins fans will get a chance to see him take whacks against some of the hardest-throwing, nastiest National League pitchers. The big man’s been carrying the Twins to a surprising first half, and they’ll need him to continue doing the heavy lifting.

 

There are also some trade chips the Twins will showcase at the All-Star Game. Closer Brandon Kintzler was a late addition to the American League roster, and Ervin Santana will have a chance to prove his season’s been no fluke. Regardless of the Twins position in the standings, both players will likely be shopped, especially Kintzler given his expiring contract.

 

Everything about the Twins screams regression, but they just don’t quit. They came back from a 6-0 deficit against Baltimore on Friday and won 9-6. The defense has improved dramatically, but there’s glaring needs in the starting rotation and bullpen. So much so that the Twins signed 44-year-old Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal, Friday.

Tampa Bay Rays

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Corey Dickerson is making his first appearance in the All-Star Game and will be the starting designated hitter for the American League. Dickerson will likely get the first plate appearance of his career against Max Scherzer, but I doubt he’ll be in the game once Zach Greinke is on the mound. He’s 3-for-20 against him with a .442 OPS.

 

Tampa’s starting rotation is going to keep the Rays competitive even Chris Archer is the only All-Star amongst them, and he was a replacement. As long as the Rays and Dickerson keep hitting like they are (the entire team has an average OPS+ of 110), Chris Archer, Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi will keep them in games. And now Jacob Faria has burst onto the scene, going 4-0 with an ERA+ of 199 over six starts. They could win the AL East if they can find someone to replace Blake Snell (0-5 in 10 starts spanning 52 innings and a 5.14 FIP).

 

Enter Brett Honeywell, who has struggled with the AAA Durham Bulls (1.437 WHIP), but won Futures Game MVP honors. He throws a nasty screwball and should contribute to Tampa this season.

Chicago Cubs

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Wade Davis is the only Chicago Cub on the NL All-Star team. The defending champions have been a mess so far this season, and I think Cub fans probably have the fewest reasons to watch any of the All-Star events. Here’s two, though: hope that either Michael Brantley or Avisail Garcia bats against Davis. Brantley is 5-for-17 with a homer and two doubles, and Garcia is 3-for-8 against Davis.

Seattle Mariners

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Seattle is in desperate need of some young, resilient arms. Their starters just can’t stay on the field, and they moved Taijuan Walker for Jean Segura. The Mariners could have used Walker’s 76.1 innings and 3.30 ERA, but, I mean, it’s Jean Segura.

 

Jean Segura is so good he signed an extension while on the DL, because he’s fantastic (136 OPS+). He will officially lead Major League Baseball in hitting after his next plate appearance and didn’t make the All-Star team. He led the league in hits last year and didn’t make the All-Star team. He hasn’t been to the All-Star Game since 2013, and when the AL needs a replacement for Starlin Castro, who goes? Robinson Cano, whose OPS+ is 16 points lower than Segura’s. Come on!

 

Cano might play second base everyday, but Segura can play second base, too. In 142 games at second with Arizona last year, Segura was better than he was at short, which makes sense. Second base is easier. In fact, he was exactly as good at second base in 2016 as Cano has been this year (5 runs above average). Segura got robbed again, but at least he got paid.

 

Mariners fans will have to settle for watching Cano and Nelson Cruz take whacks, but they are more likely to go yard than Segura, so they’ve got that going for them.

Los Angeles Angels

What to watch: Uhm...Home Run Derby

Reason to watch: Angels fans also have little reason to watch the All-Star Game with their only All-Star, Mike Trout, not playing. They also don’t have anyone in the derby, but 500-foot home runs should be enough reason to watch.

Texas Rangers

What to watch: Uhm...Home Run Derby

Reason to watch: With Yu Darvish pitching Sunday and being ineligible to pitch for the AL All-Stars, Rangers fans have very little to watch any of the All-Star events. There were no Rangers’ prospects I can see on the Futures Game roster, and Darvish wasn’t replaced by a Ranger pitcher. So watch the Home Run Derby Rangers fans, because, again, 500-foot home runs.

Toronto Blue Jays

What to watch: Justin Smoak will be put on display in Miami. The 30-year-old is an All-Star for the first time, and he’ll be starting at first base. His OPS+ is 141. His OPS is .939. And he comes with up to two years of control at a rate that’s more than reasonable. If Toronto is wowed, they could sell very high at the deadline.

 

Most interesting is if Max Scherzer gets the start for the NL. Smoak is just 1-for-13 against him in his career.

The Sellers

Atlanta Braves

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Ender Inciarte is pretty darn good defensively, and he can hit. But can he hit Andrew Miller or Dellin Betances? Braves fans will find out if they tune into the All-Star Game.

St. Louis Cardinals

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Carlos Martinez has been the Cardinals’ best player. It would take an entire roster to get him out of St. Louis. It will be interesting if Martinez sees Oakland’s Yonder Alonso at the plate during the All-Star Game. He’s surrendered four hits in nine of Alonso’s at-bats against him, including a double.

Baltimore Orioles

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Jonathon Schoop is an All-Star for the first time at just 25-years-old. He’s mashing (.885 OPS), and he’s arbitration eligible. I’d imagine the Dodgers would be interested in adding a second baseman like Schoop, but might not pay dearly for it. Either way, Orioles fans should tune in for some of the toughest at-bats of Schoop’s career.

Pittsburgh Pirates

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Josh Harrison returns to the All-Star Game after a two-season hiatus. I don’t know that Pittsburgh would shop Harrison given the three potential years of control they have, but the contract gets $2.5 million dollars more expensive next year and stays $3 million more expensive if the Pirates pick up the options. Regardless, MLB GMs will get a look at Harrison against premiere pitching. He hasn’t seen Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances or Craig Kimbrel.

New York Mets

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Michael Conforto is an All-Star for the first time at 24 and despite being on the 10-day DL, he hopes to play. His season thus far has been insane, as he’s managed an OPS+ of 150. The Mets will likely hold onto the young outfielder since he won’t be a free agent until 2022, but Mets fans would love to see him against the AL’s best pitchers. He’s only seen Chris Archer (0-for-3 with 2 Ks) Luis Severino (0-for-2, K) and Ervin Santana (0-for-1, K).

Miami Marlins

What to watch: Home Run Derby

Reason to watch: Giancarlo Stanton defends his Home Run Derby title in front of his Miami faithful. Again, baseballs going 500-feet at more than 100 miles per hour -- need I say more?

Detroit Tigers

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: I can’t imagine anyone is interested in picking up the nearly $100 million Justin Upton’s owed over the next 4.5 years, but it might be cool to watch him swing against guys who throw hard. He’s had success against the top reliever on the trade market, San Diego’s Brad Hand. Upton is 2-for-7 with a dinger and three walks against him.

Oakland Athletics

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Yonder Alonso, 30, is a free agent at the end of the year, and I doubt Billy Beane is interested in paying him coming off an All-Star season, because he’d rather make big Trade Deadline deals.

 

Alonso can make it easier on Bean if he gets a hit against one of the NL All-Stars. He’s already 2-for-3 off Robbie Ray, but is 1-for-14 against Zack Greinke.

Chicago White Sox

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Is Avisail Garcia for real (.502 SLG)? White Sox fans will get a pretty good indication either way on Monday. He likely won’t see Max Scherzer, who he’s hit hard in big spots (3 H, 2 XBH, 4 RBI in 11 ABs), but he could be due for his first hit against Greinke (0-for-3) or improve on his 2-for-8 against Greg Holland. If he sees Wade Davis, White Sox fans might rejoice (3-for-8) but won’t learn anything about their 26-year-old All-Star.

Cincinnati Reds

What to watch: Zack Cozart is a prime trade candidate. His OPS this season is 241 points higher than his career OPS. He’s 31 and a free agent at the end of the season. He will almost certainly have a new team in August and could do a lot to help his prospects in joining a contender by getting a hit in the All-Star Game. He’s handled Lance McCuller’s, Jr. (2-for-4, 2B) but struggled with Ervin Santana (1-for-6, 3 Ks) and Craig Kimbrel (0-for-5, 2 Ks).

San Diego Padres

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Brad Hand is going to draw a crowd. He’s probably the best reliever available and comes with two years of team control after this season. If you think pitching in Petco Park has helped him, that’s not the case. Hand has nearly doubled his K/9 since 2015 -- from 6.5 to 11.5.

 

He’s allowed a double to Alonso in four at-bats, and Mike Moustakas doubled the only time he saw Hand. Justin Upton also has two hits, including a homer, in seven at-bats against Hand, so he’s got an opportunity to prove he’s truly turned a corner at the All-Star Game.

San Francisco Giants

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Buster Posey will set the franchise record for All-Star Game starts at catcher with four. He’s quietly having one of his best seasons (142 OPS+ is third best of his career, and a point short of second best). But he’s on a really bad team.

 

I don’t know if San Franciscans would forgive the Giants brass for trading Posey, but if there was a time to do it, that time is now. There’s always a team looking to improve at catcher at the Trade Deadline. Think how Jonathan Lucroy was valued last season, but Texas seemed to have gotten burned on that one.

 

Given Posey’s premiere play at a premiere position, he’s absolutely worth the $21.4 million he’s paid -- right now. Is there a GM out there willing to take on at least four more years of that? I think Cleveland should sell the farm to improve upon the 79 OPS+ they’re getting from Yan Gomes. We will see.

Philadelphia Phillies

What to watch: All-Star Game

Reason to watch: Reliever Pat Neshek is a prime trade target with a chance to prove he can still get tough outs in big games at nearly 37 years old. It would be nice for Phillies fans to see him get Yonder Alonso out. He’s 2-for-2 against Neshek with a home run. Otherwise he’s been terrific against the AL All-Stars he’s seen, including a 1-for-8 career clip against Nelson Cruz with four strikeouts to boot.

 

So there’s every fan’s reason to watch the Home Run Derby or All-Star Game. The All-Star Game starts Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. on Fox.

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