Inside the Clubhouse rounds up the latest MLB Trade Deadline rumors and buzz, including the Cubs’ preparing to sell and the Mets looking to buy.
An unintended byproduct of Major League Baseball moving the MLB Draft from June to July was that front offices focused more on the draft than the trade market. There have been a few deals — Willy Adames, Adam Cimber, Rowdy Tellez, Trevor Richards — but teams around the league, especially toward the top of the draft, were not yet ready to make trades.
Expect that to change in the coming days and weeks. Trade talks throughout baseball are active, according to major-league sources, though one American League general manager said that talks are in the “kicking tires” stage. But there have already been deals since the draft ended, with the Braves acquiring outfielder Joc Pederson from the Cubs.
Among the top players available include Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Adam Frazier, Joey Gallo and Starling Marte. There are expected to be a plethora of relievers dealt before the July 30 deadline, with Kimbrel and Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez on the radar of almost every contending team. There could even be a surprise trade or two, with a National League executive saying that teams are considering different scenarios than in years past.
One of those different scenarios includes trading players off the major-league team to upgrade other areas of the roster. The Brewers did it earlier this season, acquiring Willy Adames from the Rays for two relievers, with manager Craig Counsell recently saying that Adames “changed our team when he got here” as they now lead the National League Central by seven games.
Other teams took notice and could follow suit in the next 10 days. But there is expected to be a flurry of trade activity between now and July 30, with teams placing their full attention on the trade market now that the draft has concluded.
Mets needs are evolving at the MLB Trade Deadline
As Jacob deGrom went on the injured list for the second time this season, marking the fifth separate injury he has dealt with in three months, he went from the best pitcher in baseball to an unpredictable element for the New York Mets.
What makes this injury more concerning than the others is that it stems from throwing and resides in the forearm area rather than the back or side. His MRIs once again came back clean, but he will not throw until he no longer feels the forearm tightness — and no one knows when that will be.
That, combined with Francisco Lindor’s oblique strain, figures to have a significant impact on the Mets’ trade plans only 10 days before the deadline.
The Mets have been active in looking for starting pitchers, even before deGrom’s injury, according to major-league sources. If his injury is serious and requires an extended absence, they could go all-in on Minnesota Twins starter Jose Berrios. Even if deGrom is on the IL for a short time, they could pursue a pitcher such as Colorado Rockies righty Jon Gray, who has a 3.68 in 93 innings this season.
With Lindor on the IL, the Mets’ need on the left side of the infield became more pressing. In the meantime, they can win with some combination of Jonathan Villar, José Peraza, Luis Guillorme and J.D. Davis. But it would not be surprising to see them get involved on some level for rental players such as Trevor Story or Javier Baez, with Baez having extensive experience playing other infield positions.
But the rotation should be the Mets’ top priority, a unit that currently consists of Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker and Tylor Megill. And since they lead the NL East, a division that is there for the taking, the Mets have no excuses not to add one, possibly two starting pitchers, and upgrade other parts of the roster. The deGrom injury made it all the more important.
It looks like Starling Marte could be on the move
According to multiple reports on Sunday, Starling Marte rejected a three-year, $30+ million extension from the Miami Marlins — drastically increasing the chances he’s traded before July 30.
Which raises the question: Why won’t the Marlins increase their offer to Marte, who is reportedly seeking a three-year deal in the $50 million range?
Marte, who turns 33 in October, is performing at a high level, hitting .285/.387/.444 in 244 plate appearances with an .831 OPS. As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted, the Marlins started 14 different players in center field from 2018 to Aug. 31, 2020, the day they acquired Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks. They should value the consistency and stability that he brings to a young clubhouse. Instead, they are likely to trade him to a contender for a package of prospects.
There is expected to be a strong market for Marte, with the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves likely to show interest. The Astros have received solid production from Myles Straw and Chas McCormick in center field and might prefer to upgrade their bullpen. The Phillies and Braves, meanwhile, both rank in the bottom-five in OPS in center field and desperately need upgrades as they battle in an increasingly winnable NL East.
Cole Hamels isn’t done yet
Free-agent left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels recently held a showcase for 20 teams in Frisco, Texas on Friday and a number of teams are already expressing interest, according to major-league sources.
Hamels, 37, hopes to sign with a contender quickly, though he will need about a month to ramp up before he can return to a major-league mound. One National League executive in attendance came away impressed, noting that his fastball touched 90 mph while his secondary pitches had good bite and inconsistent command.
Among the teams in attendance for Hamels’ showcase, which featured two separate 30-pitch bullpen sessions, included the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Mariners are looking to buy at the MLB Trade Deadline
Entering the regular season, few expected the Seattle Mariners to be contenders. Yet here they are, 50-44 and six games back in the AL West, and making calls looking for starting pitching and infield upgrades ahead of the July 30 deadline, according to major-league sources.
The Mariners have indicated to teams that they are not willing to deal any of their top prospects. They appear to be looking for a stopgap option in the rotation, with Justin Dunn out another month with a right shoulder strain and Hector Santiago in the middle of a 10-game suspension.
The search for infield help, however, is more complicated. They could use help at second base, where Dylan Moore has struggled, or at first base, where Evan White is out with a hip injury that could require season-ending surgery. Second base appears to be the priority, with Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto saying that the team would prefer to add a right-handed bat.
It remains possible that the Mariners approach the deadline as buyers and sellers. One rival executive believes they will need to be “blown away” to trade outfielder Mitch Haniger, but the expectation remains they will listen to offers on Haniger, third baseman Kyle Seager and any pitcher signed to one-year contracts, most notably right-handed Kendall Graveman.
Trading Haniger or any established veteran could upset a young clubhouse that has exceeded expectations this season. But their next nine games, including four against the Oakland A’s and three against the Houston Astros, will go a long way toward determining which direction Dipoto will go before the deadline.
Cubs are preparing for a massive sell-off
The trade sending Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves marked what should be the beginning of a massive sell-off for the Chicago Cubs — and some scouts considered the return, minor-league first baseman Bryce Ball, an underwhelming start, believing the Cubs pulled the trigger on a deal too quickly.
“Best asset is raw power,” said one scout, who has seen Ball extensively. “Not translating to games. Stiff actions. Not very good on defense. Up/down guy at best for potential DH at-bats.”
The Cubs are expected to listen to offers for anyone on the major-league roster, with Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel being the most likely of their stars to be traded. They could look to extend Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo before looking to trade them, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, with Zach Davies and Andrew Chafin being among their other trade options.
Around the Horn:
- The Chicago White Sox are looking for another catcher and it would not be a surprise if they expressed interest in Jonathan Lucroy after he was designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves. Lucroy, after all, was with the White Sox earlier this season, with pitcher Dallas Keuchel saying in March, “He has transitioned into one of the best receivers I’ve had the last four or five years. So that is a testament to his work ethic. I feel really, really confident with him behind the plate.”
- With Devin Williams on the IL with right elbow discomfort, the Milwaukee Brewers could look to add as many as two relievers before the July 30 deadline.
- The Miami Marlins are expected to be active at the trade deadline and one rival scout thinks they should consider trading Garrett Cooper to an American League team.