The MLB trade deadline on Aug. 31 is approaching quickly and it’s fitting that this year’s deadline might be just as unpredictable as the season itself. With less than a week remaining before the deadline passes, we’re expecting a few surprises by Monday.
Between the shortened 60-game schedule and the expanded playoff field, the trade market this year will be unique. There will be more buyers than ever, with clubs vying for a shot to play in October. Meanwhile, with revenue down and no MiLB season, organizations will cling even tighter to their prospects.
Even in an unusual season with fewer sellers, there will still be plenty of talent available. Whether a contender is seeking a bat to upgrade their lineup or a reliable pitcher for the stretch run, options are available. In fact, a few unexpected names could be traded.
Let’s take a look at five surprise players who could be moved before the MLB trade deadline.
Trevor Bauer, starting pitcher, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds were a sleeper to contend for the World Series before the year started, partly because of Bauer. Unfortunately, even after spending tons of money on the lineup this offseason, Cincinnati’s bats could keep this team from making it to October.
While the front office could try and fix this problem by buying at the deadline, a losing skid could change all of that. If things go poorly this week against the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, selling might be the best option.
Bauer is the obvious name to monitor. A year after acquiring him, the Reds would be wise to explore trading him before the deadline to avoid losing him for next to nothing in free agency. The 29-year-old has been outstanding this season (1.65 ERA, 49 strikeouts in 32.2 innings) and can be a front-line starter for a contender. It’s not the outcome the Reds imagined, but it would be making the best of their circumstances.
Andrelton Simmons, shortstop, Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles once again came into the season with high expectations and the results have been disastrous. We’re not just talking about a club that is on the outside of the playoff picture. The Angels are closer to the No. 1 pick than a playoff spot.
Dylan Bundy is an obvious trade candidate, but Simmons could also be moved. The 30-year-old will be a free agent next offseason and might want to bolt to play for a good team. While he isn’t a great hitter, Simmons’ defense at shortstop is extraordinary. If the Angels can get a nice flier prospect for him, it would be beneficial for everyone.
Mike Clevinger, starting pitcher, Cleveland Indians
Typically, No. 2 pitchers playing on team-friendly contracts aren’t made available for trade. Even Cleveland, who is notoriously tight with their spending, wouldn’t ordinarily make Clevinger so readily available under ordinary conditions. However, circumstances make it very plausible that he is in a new uniform on Sept. 1.
Clevinger burned bridges in the front office and clubhouse when he violated COVID-19 protocols, lied to his teammates and jeopardized their health. It’s why he was sent down to the club’s alternate site, despite owning a 2.78 ERA and 11.61 K/9 and in his last 142.2 innings pitched.
It’s not the only reason Cleveland is open to trading him. The organization is overloaded with pitching, but its lineup is one of the worst in baseball. Dealing Clevinger for young, impact hitters would make this team even stronger. This could be a rare situation where two contenders make a deal and both improve their odds at a World Series title.
Kyle Seager, third baseman, Seattle Mariners
The Mariners are one of the most obvious sellers leading up to the MLB trade deadline. Taijuan Walker, an intriguing starting pitcher, is generating interest from multiple teams. Meanwhile, relievers Matt Magil and Taylor Williams should also be attractive to teams with glaring needs in the bullpen. The biggest name to watch at the deadline is the player who the fans adore.
Drafted by Seattle in the 2009 MLB Draft, Seager made his MLB debut in 2011 and has been a core piece of this team ever since. While the organization loves him, a rebuilding team doesn’t need a 32-year-old third baseman.
Seager’s reputation and production (.892 OPS) will generate interest, but a trade would kick in a $14 million player option for 2022. The Mariners might have to attach some money, while also losing a beloved player, but trading him is the right move.
J.T. Realmuto, catcher, Philadelphia Phillies
This is not how things were supposed to go down this year in Philadelphia. 2020 was the year everything would come together and the Phillies would finally contend for the division, or at the very least grab a wild-card spot.
Instead, this team enters Tuesday with a 10-14 record. There’s still a chance they can turn things around, the talent is evident and making the postseason is easier this year. If things go poorly this week against the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, though, it might be time to consider the backup plan.
Realmuto will be the top MLB free agent available next offseason. Even with league revenue down, plenty of suitors will covet the best catcher in baseball. If the Phillies are at risk of losing him to free agency anyways, trading him might be in their best interest. Shop him around the league and if a great offer comes along, take it.