The 2020 MLB season rolls on as we pass the one-third mark of the 60-game schedule with teams fighting for playoff positioning. Things have already been different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that trend will continue leading into the MLB trade deadline.
After suspending the season for four months, MLB teams returned to the diamond late in July. Due to the delayed start, the MLB trade deadline was moved from July 31 to Aug. 31 this season.
While MLB’s rumor mill is especially quiet with two weeks remaining before the deadline, we expect that to change. As some clubs start slipping down the standings, while others get a clearer perspective for their team’s needs, we expect a few trades to be made.
Let’s take a look at five deals we would love to see at the MLB trade deadline.
San Diego Padres swing a deal for Salvador Perez
The Padres just lost Tommy Pham for at least a month, potentially for the remainder of the regular season. They have the outfield depth to soften some of the blow, but this club’s glaring weakness at catcher can’t be ignored any longer. Simply put, it’s not working out with Austin Hedges or Francisco Mejia.
San Diego’s catchers enter Monday ranked last in wRC+ (-1) and OPS (.355) across the league. Perez, a perennial All-Star, is fully recovered from Tommy John Surgery in 2019 and has a .849 OPS this year. He’s under contract through 2021 and would be a tremendous addition for the lineup and as a mentor to San Diego’s young arms. Given the immense depth in this farm system, the Padres could easily afford Perez without giving up one of their top prospects.
New York Yankees take a shot on Caleb Smith
It’s not the best time to be in the market for starting pitching. Teams aren’t going to part with front-line starters, not in a year when there are no MiLB games to evaluate prospects. While that makes things more difficult for the Yankees, it won’t keep them out of the trade market completely.
The Marlins and Yankees have no problems making deals, even if Derek Jeter would prefer his former club doesn’t win a World Series without him. Miami has been a pleasant surprise this season, but it could still move Smith. The 29-year-old flashes intriguing stuff, but command remains an issue.
The Marlins could ask for a player like Miguel Andūjar or Clint Frazier, along with prospects Estevan Florial and Albert Abreu, in return for Smith. As for the Yankees, they can see if their pitching coach can unlock his potential to become a mid-rotation starter.
Oakland A’s go all-in with trade for Whit Merrifield
There’s no denying the Athletics any longer. From their lineup to the rotation, this is clearly a club with the talent to contend for a World Series title. We want to see this front office really go for it and there is one player who would push this team into another stratosphere.
For now, Oakland’s platoon at second base with Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp is working. Imagine replacing their collective contributions (.716) OPS with an All-Star in the leadoff spot. Merrfieild (.893 OPS) is one of the most underrated players in baseball with sneaky power, game-changing speed and defensive versatility.
From a financial perspective, Oakland can easily afford Merrifield’s team-friendly contract since he owed just $16.6 million over the next three seasons. The Athletics would likely need to part with top prospect Robert Puason and Tyler Soderstrom to get Kansas City’s attention. It would easily be worth it though for the chance to win a World Series.
Atlanta Braves bolster rotation with Robbie Ray
Atlanta’s rotation entered the season as one of its greatest strengths. Just a few weeks in, it quickly unraveled due to injuries and ugly performances. With Mike Soroka out for the season and two other starters sent down to the alternate site, the Braves must find a starter to stick it out in the NL.
Given the massive revenue hit the organization suffered, finding an affordable pitcher will be key. Fortunately, Robbie Ray might be the perfect solution. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season and could be a buy-low candidate (8.59 ERA). If the right coaches can get through to him, he is capable of delivering gems in the postseason.
Boston Red Sox ship off J.D. Martinez
There’s plenty of moves the Red Sox must make before the trade deadline, namely moving the likes of Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. But Martinez is the club’s best and likeliest trade chip this summer. Thanks to the NL implementing the designated hitter, it creates an even bigger market for Boston to work with.
Teams like the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs would all greatly benefit by acquiring Martinez. If the Washington Nationals turn things around, he could solve some of their problems.
It’s the St. Louis Cardinals who need him the most and the organization must recognize their window won’t stay open for long. While they aren’t flooded with talent in their farm system, there’s enough here to entice Boston to make a deal.