After play resumed following the All-Star break, the baseball world has shifted its attention to the Major League Baseball trade deadline.
July 31 is an exciting day every year, as some of the game’s biggest stars find new homes as the regular season heads into the final stretch.
The trade deadline offers teams a chance to solidify its position atop its respective division, sneak into a playoff berth or bolster its farm system for years to come. There are several quality players reportedly available for trade this year, but we believe these are the eight best.
8. Addison Reed, New York Mets
Reed is one of the top relievers available on the market, but his talents are being wasted on the struggling Mets. The right-hander arguably is New York’s most prized trade chip (if they’re serious about not trading Jacob deGrom), as an inquiring team more than likely would have to relinquish a top prospect to acquire him. But a team with legitimate World Series aspirations could view this as a worthy transaction.
7. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
The Royals are in a precarious spot. They’re still firmly in the hunt for the American League Central crown, but their impending free-agent class could force them to make moves. Moustakas, along with Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas and Alcides Escobar all will be available on the open market this winter. That puts the Royals, who acquired Trevor Cahill and look like they want to make a run, in a weird spot. It’s unlikely they can pay all those players, so maybe they still swing a deal, and Moustakas might be the most valuable chip.
6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
McCutchen has been tied to trade rumors for the past few years, and this season is no different. The veteran outfielder isn’t the same player who won the National League MVP Award in 2013, but he’s still one of the better outfielders in the game. The Pirates’ surge to open the second half could make them unwilling to relinquish “Cutch,” but a team desperate for outfield help could force Pittsburgh’s hand.
5. Justin Wilson, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers slowly are falling out of the AL Central race, and most expect them to be sellers at the deadline. Wilson arguably is the best reliever available on the market, and could significantly bolster a playoff team’s bullpen. He’ll be eligible fo arbitration one more time after this season before hitting free agency after the 2018 campaign.
4. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
Ozuna quietly has become one of the best outfielders in baseball. The Marlins center has been an All-Star starter the past two seasons and offers a strong glove and a quality bat. Not to mention, he’s only 26 years old. So while Ozuna would not come cheap, an inquiring team could set up its outfield nicely for the future.
3. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Darvish, all things being equal, is probably the best player on this list. The biggest issue, though, is his availability. The Rangers are still lingering in the wild-card race and could elect to keep him. However, it sounds like the Cubs and Dodgers both would be interested, and that could make for a bidding war too competitive to pass up for Texas. Darvish is having a fine season, too, ranking 15th in wins above replacement among qualified pitchers (per Fangraphs).
2. Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
In the case of Gray, it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before Billy Beane ships away his star ace. The A’s have been in the American League West cellar for most of the season, and a deal for Gray would allow Oakland to bring in a slew of prospects. There are several projected playoff teams in need of starting pitching, and Gray is one of the best on the market.
1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Verlander has been the ace of the Tigers’ staff for quite some time, but it seems as though Detroit finally could be moving on from the right-hander. The 2011 AL MVP has a complicated contract situation, too. He’s got a no-trade clause and is still owed at least two years and $56 million after this season. A top-tier pitcher can carry a team deep into the postseason, and Verlander could serve as that missing piece for a needy club — especially if the Tigers are able to foot some of the bill.
Thumbnail photo via Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports Images
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