The MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching (Monday, July 31st) and, outside of Jose Quintana and Pat Neshek, the best available pitchers are still just that: available.
While guys like Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish would provide an immediate boost to every rotation, there’s no guarantee any of the big-name pitchers get moved.
Be it injury concerns (Gray), abhorrent recent results (Darvish), or insanely expensive contracts (Justin Verlander), everyone on the market has his flaws.
Well, you might be able to except Padres reliever Brad Hand — but that’s why the Friars are asking the moon for him, which, in turn, is why he could remain in San Diego come Tuesday, even though the Padres are a(t least a) couple years away from contending.
No two trade-chips are created equal, and no two potential buyers have the same needs. Taking all the variables into account, some of the aforementioned pitchers are a lot more likely to be moved than others. Like a dutiful mother bird, we’ve pre-crunched the numbers so you, our beloved chicks, can digest them quickly and easily and get back to more important things (like pooping on my deck, it would seem).
The Yankees want him — badly — but GM Brian Cashman has rarely been able to work out deals with Oakland’s Billy Beane. If Beane is dead-set on landing the likes of Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres, it may be too high a price for Cashman’s blood.
There are other suitors, of course. The Astros, in particular, have concerns at the front-end of their rotation with Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers both missing time this season. Odds are that the constantly rebuilding A’s find a way to move their ace for a nice prospect haul.
Why is he staying put? The Rangers aren’t completely out of the playoff race, and Darvish is their nominal ace. He’s also been very un-Darvish-like of late, getting hammered for ten earned runs in his last start, and seeing his spin rate decline; potential trade partners are not going to be offering their elite prospects for a (potentially) declining rental. Lastly, by holding onto Darvish and making him a qualifying offer in the offseason, the Rangers would get a compensatory draft pick if they end up losing him. (Under the new comp. system, it wouldn’t be a great pick, no matter how much he signs for elsewhere, but it would be something.)
The steep asking price lowers the chances of a trade getting finalized, as does the fact that San Diego is not against keeping Hand and building around him. But as the deadline approaches, GMs like Farhan Zaidi (Dodgers) and Mike Rizzo (Nationals) will feel the pressure to deepen their rosters. There’s still a solid chance he finds a new home, though less than 50/50.
Verlander is not the pitcher he used to be, even though his velocity has stayed pretty consistent. He’s losing his control and hitters are making better contact. His 1.44 WHIP would be his worst career mark; his 2.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio would be his worst since 2008. He’s also set to make $78 million over the next three years.
Alright, now who wants a piece of that tasty Verlander pie?! No one? No one?
All jesting aside, Verlander is clearly not the most appealing starter on the market due to his monetary price tag and declining performance. But that also means it won’t take much in the way of prospects to land him. Big-spending teams (think Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, but mostly Cubs) just need to be willing to foot (some of) the bill.
Santana was near-immaculate in the early going, giving up just three earned runs in his first six starts. He stayed relatively hot, much to everyone’s surprise given that his career ERA is over four, and made the All-Star Game for just the second time in 13 seasons. Like Darvish, his trade value has taken a hit in his most recent starts, giving up nine earned and four home runs over ten innings. Under contract through 2019 (at an AAV of $13.75M), Santana will generate some interest, but the potential that he regresses closer to his career averages is very real. Teams won’t be confident they’re dealing for a top-two starter, even though he’s pitched like an ace for much of the year.
Featured photo: Justin Verlander (by Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])
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