Most teams have about 60 games left on their schedule, or about nine more weeks of the regular season. If your favorite team is going to make a push for the playoffs, they better start doing it soon.
The annual MLB trade deadline is July 30 this year, and once again last-minute trades could shuffle rosters and help the fortunes of wannabe contenders.
5 MLB Teams That Will Be Helped Most By Deadline Deals
1. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are still stinging from their loss in the World Series last fall, but the franchise that always seems to overachieve by being smarter than anyone else is in position to make another October playoff run. They play in one of baseball’s toughest divisions, but the Rays have a magical hold on the Yankees, and are on the heels of the Red Sox.
Tampa has already added ancient slugger Nelson Cruz to their lineup for added right-handed power. But with many promising prospects in their organization to dangle as trade chips, they reportedly have their eyes on possibly two huge stars: Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Max Scherzer of the Nationals. They probably won’t get both, but the Rays are frontrunners for Bryant, who has regained his power for the Cubs this season. Don’t count the Rays out on a top reliever like Craig Kimbrel either. This is a team that never sits still.
2. New York Mets
The Mets need pitching, and scuttlebutt around the Internet is that Max Scherzer won’t agree to a trade to New York, so that leaves them searching elsewhere. The Rangers will move starter Kyle Gibson (2.87 ERA in 19 starts) and the Mets are a perfect fit. The team may also grab a bullpen arm or two, if they can.
Unlike other teams on this list, the Mets don’t need to make as big a splash at the deadline. They currently sit atop a weak division, and all they need to do is modestly improve their run prevention to keep ahead of their competition, of which only the Phillies seem to want to act serious about challenging for the NL East crown.
3. New York Yankees
Remember when experts were burying the Yankees? The team has gone 18-15 since June 15, and managed to claw their way back into wild card contention. They stand only two games back of the A’s (in the loss column) for the second wild card.
The Yanks, like every team, could use more arms, including in a bullpen that ranks near the bottom in baseball. They won’t be able to lure Scherzer, who wants no part of the Big Apple, but they could compete for Gibson or another decent starting pitcher. They need an outfielder (or two) and a starting hurler and bullpen help. Starling Marte and maybe even Joey Gallo could be fits for the outfield depth, and Tyler Alexander, a dependable starter for the Bucs, could also be a target.
4. Houston Astros
The Astros made news on Tuesday when they acquired two relief pitchers from the Mariners (righties Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero). They could also use starting pitching depth and Marte, a veteran center fielder, could also make sense for the ‘Stros.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
With all the distractions from the Trevor Bauer mess, the Dodgers are going to have to make a decision to cut ties with that troubled pitcher soon. That, and an uncertain injury to Clayton Kershaw suddenly leaves the defending champs with holes in their rotation. The smart move is to trade for Scherzer, who has hinted that he would like to go where he can be on a proven winner and make a run at another ring.
LA also seems like the best landing spot for Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield, a star the Royals can’t afford to keep any longer as they rebuild. Merrifield has the most hits in baseball since 2017, he makes contact, and is one of the best base stealers in the game. He also fits the LA mold: Merrifield can play any of three positions well: second, right, or left field.
MLB News Roundup
Much has been happening in the game of baseball the last seven days, here are some of the highlights that could impact MLB in coming weeks and months, or beyond:
- As I reported here last week, the Cleveland Indians have announced that at the conclusion of the ’21 season they will change their name to Guardians. This was the wish of team owner Paul Dolan, who believed it was necessary to remove a team name that was insensitive to native peoples.
- MLB quietly announced that they will experiment with an electronic signal-calling system in the Low A West League starting next week. The system will give catchers a 12-button transmitter on their gear that communicates with a sweatband located inside the cap of the pitcher. Sounds…interesting. The league says this trial is designed to “speed games,” but it seems like a method for eliminating sign stealing, doesn’t it?
- As only Javier Báez can, he caused a stir when he won a game for the Cubs earlier this week with a walkoff single. The Chicago infielder posed and did something weird with the bat as he casually walked toward first base as the winning run scampered home. As they used to say about Reggie Jackson: “There isn’t enough mustard to cover that hot dog.”
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