Best landing spot for MLB’s Top-15 trade chips

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom

The MLB trade season is already going strong. Even better, there’s so much more that can and will be done before the July 31 deadline.

A bevy of MLB players are in line to possibly be moved before the deadline. If they go to the right places, they can all make a big impact, as well.

With Manny Machado off the board, the biggest remaining trade chip is Jacob deGrom. We’re not sure if the New York Mets will move him. If they do, plenty of teams will be interested. But one team makes the most sense.

Relief pitchers like Zach Britton, Kyle Barraclough, Raisel Iglesias and Joakim Soria will all have teams in hot pursuit of them. But which team makes the most sense for each individual player?

On the offensive end, while Machado is gone, other big names, like Cincinnati Reds All-Star Scooter Gennett could be on the move. Multiple teams will pursue him, but one team clearly makes the most sense. He wouldn’t even have to leave Ohio.

We’re not necessarily predicting where these guys will go. But these are the most sensible destinations for 15 of the best remaining trade chips on the market. 

Zach Britton, relief pitcher, Baltimore Orioles (Colorado Rockies)

Britton’s 3.45 ERA and 1.34 WHIP may not look that great. But we have to remember that since he missed significant time at the beginning of the year, Britton is still at a point where it doesn’t take much to skew those numbers. Case in point, if we eliminate two of his 16 outings, he has a 0.00 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. In his last eight outings, Britton has a 0.00 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He’s back to his normal dominant self. He’d look great in the Colorado bullpen, but plenty of teams could use him. So, the Rockies should act fast.

Brian Dozier, second baseman, Minnesota Twins (Boston Red Sox)

If Dustin Pedroia can’t return healthy, Dozier would play the keystone. If Pedroia can come back, Boston could still decide that Rafael Devers isn’t quite ready for a playoff race. It would be a new position for him. But Dozier has experience at both middle infield positions. He could handle third. With 16 home runs, Dozier has power. But at .225/.309/.415, he can’t be depended upon to do too much. With that in mind, he’d fit in perfectly with an offense that wouldn’t depend on him too much, like the Red Sox.

Cole Hamels, starting pitcher, Texas Rangers (New York Yankees)

A team looking to acquire Hamels shouldn’t fool itself. He’s not the pitcher he once was. But there’s still a lot that would make Hamels appealing to a contender. While his ERA (4.36) and WHIP (1.34) are way up, he’s struck out 109 hitters in 109.1 innings with Texas. That’s encouraging. Also encouraging is the fact that Hamels has big game experience. The spotlight of postseason baseball won’t melt him. For a Yankees team looking to add a quality starter, that has to be appealing.

Mike Moustakas, third baseman, Kansas City Royals (Philadelphia Phillies)

Moustakas would bring two elements to the Phillies. The value of the first element, experience, can be debated. The value of his second, power, can not. Despite playing in a hitter’s park, no Phillies player has more than 17 home runs. Moustakas has 19, despite playing at the spacious Kauffman Stadium. He’d be an upgrade over either Maikel Franco at third, or Carlos Santana at first. And while we can debate how valuable postseason experience is, it’s certainly not a bad thing.

Zack Wheeler, starting pitcher, New York Mets (Seattle Mariners)

Since the beginning of June, Wheeler has posted a 3.61 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and an 8.3 K/9 rate. Now, we’re not going to confuse those for being ace numbers. But a postseason rotation of Wheeler, James Paxton (when he returns), Marco Gonzales, and Wade LeBlanc wouldn’t look so bad. Another starter would also give the Mariners some flexibility with Felix Hernandez’s role. As King Felix’s 5.14 ERA and 1.37 WHIP tell us, that’s needed. This wouldn’t be a headline grabber for Seattle, but it would be a smart move to make.

Adam Jones, center fielder, Baltimore Orioles (Cleveland Indians)

Could the Orioles trade Adam Jones?

The center field position has essentially been a black hole of offensive production for the Indians in 2018. Cleveland centerfielders are collectively hitting .223/.269/.306 with four home runs. Jones certainly isn’t having a career year. But with 10 home runs and a .277/.303/.425 slash line, he’d be a sizable upgrade. And really, who knows? Maybe going from one of the worst teams in MLB history to one all but assured of a playoff spot would give Jones’ game something of a boost. It’s a risk worth taking.

Kyle Barraclough, relief pitcher, Miami Marlins (Los Angeles Dodgers)

If the Dodgers really want to upgrade their World Series chances, they need to improve the bullpen in front of Kenley Jansen. Barraclough would represent that. He’s having a fantastic season for the Marlins. With Miami, Barraclough has put up a 2.45 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and struck out 10.2 hitters per nine innings. Numbers like that would easily make Barraclough one of the best relievers in Los Angeles. In terms of winning in October, we’d actually say that acquiring Barraclough would be similar in significance to acquiring Manny Machado.

Justin Smoak, first baseman, Toronto Blue Jays (New York Yankees)

Justin Smoak

If you’re the Yankees, this question must be asked by the deadline. Do we really trust Greg Bird? Sure, Bird has decent power. But his .223 average and .324 OBP leave a lot of room for improvement. Also, Bird is very injury prone. We’d call Smoak a pretty good insurance policy. He’s hitting .243/.362/.473, has 16 home runs, and is coming off of a year in which he hit .270/.355/.529 with 38 bombs. Trades within the division are always tough. But with New York’s needs, combined with its deep farm system, the AL East rivals line up well.

Mike Fiers, starting pitcher, Detroit Tigers (Oakland Athletics)

There’s a lot to like about the A’s. That said, the starting rotation needs a sizable upgrade. Fiers has a 3.49 ERA and 1.24 WHIP on the season. Over his last 10 outings, Fiers has been even better, posting a 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He would definitely provide that upgrade. Fiers would likely become Oakland’s No. 2 starter behind Sean Manaea. That said, Fiers would easily belong in the starting rotation of any contender. With that in mind, Oakland shouldn’t wait around long to make this deal happen.

Derek Dietrich, left fielder, Miami Marlins (San Francisco Giants)

The offensive productivity from Giants’ leftfielders has been among the worst in baseball this year. San Francisco left fielders have hit .241/.294/.359 with only seven home runs. At .289/.355/.466 with 13 home runs, Dietrich would be an across-the-board upgrade. The Giants can still make a run at the playoffs, but they need to act fast. Upgrading the left field position isn’t the only thing that must be done. But if this team has designs on competing for a playoff spot, it’s certainly an upgrade that needs to be made.

Raisel Iglesisas, closer, Cincinnati Reds (Houston Astros)

On paper, the Houston bullpen looks fine. But it’s hard to overlook the fact that Ken Giles, who was Houston’s closer for much of the year, is in the minors. Late-game stability is needed in Houston. Iglesias can provide that. He has a career 3.01 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9 rate. Over the last three years, he’s posted a 2.46 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and a 10.1 K/9 rate. Iglesias has been one of baseball’s most consistent late-inning arms. He’d be quite valuable for a lot of contenders — none more so than Houston.

Wilson Ramos, catcher, Tampa Bay Rays (Arizona Diamondbacks)

With 12 home runs, Arizona has gotten decent power from the catching position. But a .195/.277/.339 slash line shows that the overall offensive production leaves much to be desired. Ramos is hitting .297/.346/.488 and has 14 homers. So, he’d certainly supply that improvement. Ramos won’t likely be back until early-August. The injury does mean that whoever lands him will take on some kind of risk. But this kind of upgrade could help spur the D-Backs to a deep playoff run. That makes this a risk worth taking.

Joakim Soria, relief pitcher, Chicago White Sox (Atlanta Braves)

It was somewhat baffling when the White Sox, a team not pegged to contend in 2018, landed Soria. The possibility that made sense was that they’d flip Soria at the deadline, continuing the rebuilding process. That opportunity is here now. Atlanta relievers have a 4.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 9.0 K/9 rate on the season. That ranks the Braves 20th, 17th, and 13th, respectively, in those categories. That’s an average bullpen. With a 2.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and an 11.3 K/9 rate, Soria would be a sizable upgrade.

Scooter Gennett, second baseman, Cincinnati Reds (Cleveland Indians)

MLB star Scooter Gennett

As good as Jason Kipnis has been in his career with the Indians, 2018 has been a struggle. The Cleveland keystone is hitting .219/.308/.361. This is one year after he hit .232/.291/.414 in an injury-riddled campaign. Gennett, meanwhile, has been one of the league’s best hitters. He has 16 home runs and has backed that up with a .319/.369/.510 slash line. Cincinnati struggled in the early weeks of the year, but has been decent such. As such, the Reds might want to keep things together. But if Cincinnati is willing to move Gennett, Cleveland needs to be aggressive.

Jacob deGrom, starting pitcher, New York Mets (Milwaukee Brewers)

The Brewers were heavily involved in the Machado talks, but lost out to the Dodgers. Really, that’s a blessing in disguise. As good as Machado is, the Milwaukee offense is fine. The front end of the starting rotation is what needs the big upgrade, especially if the Brewers find themselves in the Wild Card Game. Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson are nice pitchers, but they’re Game 2 and Game 3 caliber starters. deGrom is the guy the Brewers would want in a must-win game. He’s the guy Milwaukee should be pursuing with the same drive that it had when going after Machado.