With the trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs a done deal, the madness that is the MLB Trade Deadline is now in full effect.
Chapman was arguably the best available pitcher on the market, and general manager Brian Cashman, who traded for the Cuban hurler in December for four fringe prospects, was able to flip the fireballer for two top-tier prospects in Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney, as well as versatile pitcher Adam Warren (who the Cubs received in the Starlin Castro deal this past winter) and another prospect.
Just because the Yankees have made the first move toward rebuilding doesn't mean they stop now.
Here are the biggest Trade Deadline sellers.
1. New York Yankees
The Yankees find themselves in No Man’s Land, hovering around .500, filled with aging, under-productive players with bad contracts. The good news is there is a way out of the darkness.
The additions of Andrew Miller two seasons ago and Chapman this past offseason to a back end that already featured Dellin Betances not only gave New York arguably the best bullpen arms in baseball, but also serious deadline leverage. Before the Chapman deal, Cashman had been quibbling with ownership as whether to be buyers or sellers. The move to deal Chapman signals the latter as it is time for the Bronx Bombers to think long term.
Currently, the Yanks only have two players in their everyday lineup under the age of 32, middle infielders Didi Gregorius and Castro, both 26. In addition to an old big league lineup, the Yankees’ farm system sits smack dab in the middle of the rankings in terms of perceived value of prospects.
If I’m Cashman, knowing what I got for Chapman, I'm still shopping Miller to the highest bidders, while hanging on to the younger, cheaper Betances as my closer of the future. Cashman has hinted previously that Miller may not be available, but after the haul of prospects the Cubs gave up for Chapman, surely the Yanks' GM is rethinking his stance.
But the biggest trade chip might be a trade deadline regular and possible Hall of Famer, outfielder Carlos Beltran. At 39 years old and in the final year of his contract, Beltran currently leads the team in most offensive categories. The veteran switch-hitter would command at least a middle tier prospect for a half-season rental for a team needing another bat. Keep an eye on the Indians, Rangers, Mariners and Astros as potential landing spots for Beltran.
2. Cincinnati Reds
At this point, the Reds need to strip it down to the studs. Of their $89.8 million payroll, $63.5 million belongs to Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, struggling Brandon Phillips and pitcher Homer Bailey, who hasn’t been on the mound for the Reds for more than a year (April 23, 2015 to be specific).
Votto and his roughly $170-plus million remaining aren’t going anywhere, so don’t ask. The only trade chips the Reds appear to have are Bruce and shortstop Zack Cozart. Bruce has long been rumored to be a trade target for teams looking for offense, and the Reds cannot afford a repeat of last year’s deadline when Aroldis Chapman wasn’t dealt. Bruce is putting together one of his better seasons (.263, 19 HR, 66 RBI), and could command a high-end prospect as a player option ($13 million or $1 million buyout) for 2017 means he could be more than just a rental. Bruce isn’t much of a fielder, so keep an eye on AL teams looking for a DH to make a move for the big lefty.
The other trade chip is Cozart. Already a plus defender at shortstop, Cozart is having his best year at the plate (22 doubles, 15 HR, 40 RBI) and is heading into his third arbitration-eligible offseason before becoming an outright free agent in 2018. One would think that the Reds would like to pull the trigger on trading Cozart when his value is at its highest as part of its long-term plans to rebuild the farm system.
3. Colorado Rockies
The biggest name on the market is Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez. But just how available is he? Gonzalez is owed roughly $27 million through the end of 2017. He’s finally proven that he can stay healthy and be consistent at the plate at the same time (.318 BA, .918 OPS, 20 HR, 59 RBI), but will the return be enough for the Colorado front office? The Rockies already have one of the deeper farm systems in terms of position players, so the Colorado brass would likely only deal CarGo if a top-pitching prospect, or two, are involved.
The only other Colorado assets that teams may be interested in are lefty reliever Boone Logan (2.70 ERA, 1.80 FIP, .0938 WHIP) and first baseman Mark Reynolds (.277, 10 HR, 31 RBI) both of whom are in their walk years.
4. Oakland A’s
If anyone knows how to work the trade deadline, its A’s Executive Vice President Billy Beane. But Beane finds himself in a peculiar situation. His team is in last place and all of his tradable assets are somewhat in limbo.
Young ace Sonny Gray is struggling (5.49 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.495 WHIP) in the last year of his contract before he is arbitration-eligible. Currently the A’s are not shopping Gray, perhaps signaling the A’s are betting on him bouncing back next season when interest from opposing teams would be higher.
Oakland’s best pitcher, and probably it’s best trade chip, right now is 36-year old right-hander Rich Hill (2.25 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 1.092 WHIP), who will be a free agent after this season. But Hill has been limited in recent weeks thanks to a nasty blister on his pitching hand and a groin injury before that. Realistically the A’s are hoping Hill can make a single start prior to the deadline, otherwise the return for the veteran hurler will be much lower than Oakland desires.
Outfielder Josh Reddick, also in his walk year, was hoping for a long-term deal with Oakland, but now it seems it’s a forgone conclusion that he will be shipped out of the Bay Area. Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi has connected Reddick with the Cubs, who have a bevy of prospects they could be willing to part with, but probably won’t get too involved in the bidding unless they view him as more than just a rental.
The team’s final trade asset is third baseman Danny Valencia, also in the final year of his deal (surprise!). Valencia seems to be hitting his stride (.301/.351/.478, 12 HR) at age 31 and could be just as valuable for his ability to play multiple defensive positions as his bat.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
With the starting pitching market being so bare this summer, the Rays are in control of their own deadline destiny. Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer aren’t having their best seasons, as all three have an ERA above 4.30, but they are all viable trade chips who could command a haul of top prospects.
Moore and Odorizzi are likelier to be dealt this summer than Archer, the crown jewel. Moore’s contract is up after next season, Odorizzi becomes arbitration-eligible this winter, while Archer still has five and a half seasons remaining left on an affordable contract.
Time is on the Rays’ side when it comes to Archer, but they may want to strike while the iron is hot, especially if a contending team with enough top prospects (Cubs, Rangers) is ready to make a blockbuster deal. Teams interested in Moore or Odorizzi are plenty: the Royals, Giants, Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Dodgers, Marlins, and Mets could all be potential suitors.
— Written by Jake Rose, an avid baseball fan who also is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.