Last month, the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals started the trading season when the Nationals made a trade for elite relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera. Since then, there has been very little movement on the trade front. Instead, there has plenty of speculation and rumours surrounding which players from selling or rebuilding teams might be available for trade. The increased speculation will hopefully lead to an exciting trade deadline for baseball fans since, unlike in previous seasons, there is a wider gap between the teams that are looking like contenders and those who will be building for future seasons.
There is no shortage of intriguing trade candidates who selling teams have put on the market. Every year, rebuilding teams place their impending free agent players on the trade market in hopes of receiving prospect capital rather than letting them walk away for nothing at season’s end. This year, it means that elite players such as shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado, relief pitcher Zach Britton, and catcher Wilson Ramos could all be playing for new teams in the next couple of weeks.
Baseball trade rumours have contributed to fans having a greater sense of which players are on the trading block, but have also led to greater speculation about which teams might actually land those players. Sometimes these rumours end up being true because they are seemingly obvious fits. Other times a surprise “mystery team” winds up acquiring a player at the deadline, which takes many by surprise because there had not been any speculation about the possibility of this happening.
For this article, we will be taking a look at 10 potential MLB trade deadline deals that will surprise us when it happens as well as another 10 deals that are fairly obvious.
20 Surprising: Jose Abreu To The Houston Astros
The Houston Astros are admittedly a pretty loaded who do not have very many urgent and obvious needs as the trade deadline arrives. With that said, there are a couple of areas where the Astros could pursue upgrades as they seek to defend their World Series Championship. One possible area they could seek to upgrade is first base.
Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has found his name in trade rumors over the offseason, and is known to be available at a cost at the deadline.
None of those rumors have included the Astros as a possible suitor. The consistently effective Abreu would be a good upgrade at first base for the Astros and provide them with a good lefty power bat. The Astros would once again have a lineup that rivals any other team and be in prime position to defend their crown.
19 Obvious: Wilson Ramos To The Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals have been searching for a true starting catcher pretty much ever since the ill-fated contract they gave to Matt Wieters prior to the 2017 season. With a team as talented as the Nationals have, they have received virtually no positive production from behind the plate. If the Nationals want to make a deep playoff run, that has to change at the deadline.
The rumor mill has frequently connected the Nationals to Miami Marlins catcher JT Realmuto. Any Realmuto trade is unlikely to happen by the trade deadline given the extreme prospect cost the Marlins are asking other teams to part with. Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos is having a solid season, would represent an upgrade for the Nationals, and also be much cheaper for them to acquire than Realmuto.
18 Surprising: Adam Jones To The Los Angeles Angels
It is not a given by any means that the Baltimore Orioles will even consider trading pending free agent outfielder Adam Jones this summer. He is the face of the franchise and a fan favourite, so they might elect to keep him if only to appease their disappointed fans.
While his value is essentially minimal given his declining performance and contract, he still has some power in his bat. The Baltimore Orioles could stunningly send Jones to the Los Angeles Angels, who are in desperate need of an outfielder. The Angels might try to make a push for a wild card spot, and they need to find an upgrade over Kole Calhoun in right field.
17 Obvious: Zach Britton To The Boston Red Sox
Since returning from the Disabled List a couple of weeks ago, Zach Britton has not exactly hit the ground running. Britton has struggled mightily to start, although he has started to turn things around as of late. Even with the question marks surrounding Britton, it remains a safe bet that he will be traded. In addition, a number of teams have been on hand scouting Britton during each of his relief appearances.
One of the most prominent teams that have been in pursuit of the Baltimore Orioles closer has been the Boston Red Sox.
The AL East competitors last matched up for a trade a couple of years ago, when Andrew Miller was traded to Baltimore. With the roles reversed, it would not be a surprise to see Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski go all in and solidify the bullpen with Britton.
16 Surprising: Chris Archer To The Milwaukee Brewers
The Tampa Bay Rays have not really committed one way or another on their plans to trade ace starting pitcher Chris Archer at this year’s trade deadline. Even though Archer is coming off an injury and has underperformed so far this season, the Rays will be asking for a lot in return for their ace. The high asking price might make him a candidate to be traded in the offseason, but don’t be surprised to see the Rays move him at the deadline.
The Milwaukee Brewers have found themselves in a back and forth battle with the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central. The Brewers could really use a front of the rotation starter, and Archer would be just that. Archer would boost their rotation for the next few seasons, and the Brewers have the farm system to get a deal done.
15 Obvious: Cole Hamels To The Philadelphia Phillies
Back in 2015, the Texas Rangers made a bold trade in acquiring Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies. A couple of years later, the Rangers seem to be headed towards a rebuild while the Phillies find themselves in striking distance of a playoff spot. The Phillies could use additional starting pitching depth, and it would make a lot of sense for them to a former staff ace.
The Rangers have been actively shopping Hamels, and the Phillies might have legitimate interest in a reunion with the lefty. He is only under contract for one additional season so he would not block many pitching prospects, and would not cost much to acquire. Plus, the Phillies know firsthand how good Hamels can be in the playoffs.
14 Surprising: Raisel Iglesias To The Arizona Diamondbacks
The Cincinnati Reds are one of the worst teams in the MLB right now, but they have one of the most elite young closers on their roster. It is a luxury a rebuilding team does not really need, so it would make sense for them to trade Raisel Iglesias for a couple top prospects who can help them when the Reds are ready to contend.
Iglesias’ name has popped up in trade rumors, and has most frequently been linked to teams such as the Houston Astros, L.A. Dodgers, Washington Nationals, and Boston Red Sox. While all those teams are on the hunt for relievers, the surprising NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks could use some reinforcements in the bullpen as they try to hold off the Dodgers.
13 Obvious: J.A. Happ To The New York Yankees
The Toronto Blue Jays’ best trade asset at this point is starting pitcher J.A. Happ. It is quite obvious that he will be moved to the highest bidder by the trade deadline at the end of the month. Happ is generally ranked as the best starting pitcher available, which means there will be multiple teams in pursuit of the lefty veteran.
The New York Yankees have a big need in the starting rotation, and boast one of the league’s best farm systems. This gives the Yankees plenty of ammunition to beat other teams and trade for Happ, as well as other trade targets. The Yankees have been heavily linked to Happ in rumors, and it is only a matter of time before the trade comes to fruition.
12 Surprising: Adrian Beltre Will Not Be Traded
There has been some chatter over whether the Texas Rangers will seriously entertain the thought of trading future Hall of Famer third baseman Adrian Beltre. It is no surprise the Rangers love having him, and he also loves playing for Texas. However, he is 39 years old and has still not won a World Series. The opportunities for him to do so are dwindling, and Texas would be doing the right thing by trading him to a team with a legitimate chance at winning it all. Doing so would also help Texas acquire a decent prospect or two.
Despite all of this, the Rangers will surprisingly hold on to Beltre for the remainder of the season. He will become a free agent at the end of the year and will have to make a decision over where he wants to play.
11 Obvious: Aaron Loup To The Houston Astros
As we previously mentioned on this list, the Houston Astros do not have very many obvious needs. The Astros could stand to benefit if they acquire a relief pitcher who is actually left-handed to pitch to lefty batters in high-pressure situations.
Quality lefty relievers are few and far between, but there could be a few realistic trade targets for GM Jeff Luhnow.
Don’t be surprised if the Toronto Blue Jays trade Aaron Loup to Houston by the deadline. Loup has been very effective at neutralizing lefty batters and has experience pitching in various high-pressure situations. This acquisition could prove to be a very smart move for the Astros, who struggle in the area.
10 Surprising: Matt Harvey To The Oakland Athletics
After a tumultuous last few seasons with the New York Mets, starting pitcher Matt Harvey landed with the last place Cincinnati Reds. Although Harvey has not come close to the type of pitcher he was back when he was an ace pitcher, he has actually pitched respectably well since joining the Reds. This has helped him rebuild some value, which will make it easier for the Reds to try to trade him.
While a number of teams might choose to take a chance on Harvey, the Oakland Athletics will be the surprising team Harvey gets traded to. The Athletics surprisingly find themselves on the precipice of a wild card spot, and love a good underdog reclamation project like Harvey.
9 Obvious: Jeurys Familia To The Boston Red Sox
Recent speculation has suggested that the Boston Red Sox are very interested in making some significant bullpen acquisitions leading up to the trade deadline. Not many people know exactly how significant an acquisition the Red Sox are thinking, but Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski loves to make bold moves.
We already predicted the Red Sox as an obvious team to acquire Zach Britton, but it would not surprise anyone if they also acquire another legit bullpen arm. The New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia would certainly be a strong candidate to become a setup man to Craig Kimbrel in Boston. The Mets have made Familia available, and the Red Sox have the ability to get a deal done here.
8 Surprising: Wade Davis To The Atlanta Braves
There are some who speculate the Braves won’t make many blockbuster trades to push them even further in the playoffs. However, Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has pulled off a series of blockbusters before. In 2015 with Toronto, he acquired David Price and Troy Tulowitzki amongst others which led to them reaching the ALCS.
The Braves need relief pitching, and the Colorado Rockies happen to have a couple of quality arms available.
As surprising as it would be to many, Wade Davis would be a huge move for the Braves. With his contract, it might not take too much to acquire the elite closer.
7 Obvious: Seth Lugo To The Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs have indicated they do not plan on acquiring a frontline starting pitcher at the trade deadline. To fill their pitching needs, they are more focused on rotation depth as well as some bullpen pieces. There are a number of possible ways the Cubs could go about filling these needs, but one trade candidate stands out as fairly obvious.
Seth Lugo of the New York Mets has appeared as both a starter and as a long reliever this season. He has pitched very well in both roles, and will not be eligible for free agency until 2023. All of this will make him an attractive trade target for the Cubs, who can fill both of their needs with one player.
6 Surprising: Bartolo Colon To The New York Mets
The ageless wonder that is Bartolo Colon is still pitching some pretty decent baseball for the Texas Rangers. There is not much incentive for the Rangers to trade Colon since many contenders would rather pursue the reliability of a younger pitcher. Moreover, Colon is a valuable innings-eater for the Rangers.
The New York Mets could surprise many and swing a trade for the 44-year-old starting pitcher. Apart from the obvious boost in attendance and jersey sales, inserting Colon in their rotation would help them save their bullpen. The starting pitchers have thrown the fewest innings in the National League, so a workhorse like Colon would help them with that.
5 Obvious: JT Realmuto Will Not Be Traded
The Miami Marlins have made it known that pretty much any player on their roster is available at a cost. That includes elite starting catcher JT Realmuto, who made it no secret that he would greatly prefer a trade out of Miami. Despite this, the Marlins have an extraordinarily high asking price for any team wanting to acquire Realmuto.
It makes some sort of sense since Miami is under no rush to trade the talented young catcher.
There figure to be a number of teams expressing interest in Realmuto, but each of them will balk at giving up multiple top prospects in return. This will result in Realmuto remaining a Marlin.
4 Surprising: Brad Hand To The New York Yankees
The New York Yankees will obviously be buyers at the trade deadline, and are loaded with stars all over their roster. While they need starting pitching, it would not be a surprise to see the Yankees pursue additional depth for the bullpen. While there are a number of quality relief pitchers available, Brad Hand might be one of the best options out there – even if the prospect cost would be very high.
A Brad Hand trade to the Yankees would be surprising since they already have a loaded bullpen and that they have not yet been connected to Hand in trade speculation. If the Yankees want to stay ahead of the competition, making a move for Hand would go a long way to improving their chances. Not to mention, they also have the farm system to meet the San Diego Padres’ asking price.
3 Obvious: Madison Bumgarner Will Not Be Traded
There had been some speculation that the San Francisco Giants will listen to offers on their longtime ace, Madison Bumgarner. The possibility of the Giants trading Bumgarner excited fans of contending teams with deep farm systems, most notably the New York Yankees.
Even though the Giants would receive a boatload of prospects in return for Bumgarner, it should be considered a longshot that they will trade him at the deadline.
The Giants hold out hope of contending next year, and will be counting on Bumgarner to be a big piece of that.
2 Surprising: Manny Machado To The Atlanta Braves
Update: Manny Machado Has Been Traded To The L.A. Dodgers
There is very little doubt that the Baltimore Orioles will be trading their star shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado. It is something they have to must do to build their farm system, or else risk losing Machado to nothing in free agency.
Machado has been connected to many contending teams in rumors, such as the L.A. Dodgers and the New York Yankees.
The Atlanta Braves might sweep in and surprise the baseball world by swinging a trade for Machado.
They could certainly use a boost at third base as they continue their surprising surge to the playoffs. Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos loves a good blockbuster, and this would certainly qualify as one.
1 Obvious: Mike Moustakas To The St. Louis Cardinals
The Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a rebuild and have very few logical trade candidates who will bring back a decent return. Their current third baseman, Mike Moustakas, is one of their best trade candidates who would help rebuild the Royals’ farm system. He is having a decent year at the plate, so it is expected he would generate some interest.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been actively searching for a third baseman, so they could turn to Moustakas as their short-term solution. Recent reports suggest the Cardinals are very interested in Moustakas, and it makes a lot of sense given the Cardinals’ situation.