I had my cute, little MLB trade deadline preview post all ready to go. Then the Tampa Bay Rays got the party started early, trading for slugger Nelson Cruz. With the move, the Rays announced their intentions of being World Series contenders once again. They have a balanced lineup, solid pitching, and a whole stable of battle-tested relievers. If you didn’t think the Rays were the real deal before, you better believe they are now!
Here’s a look at what else could go down in the American League over the next week or so.
Red Sox And Rays
The Red Sox are obvious buyers, and their needs are also fairly obvious. They might be getting Chris Sale back, but they also might not know what that means yet. Either way, improving the starting pitching seems to be a priority.
A couple of weeks ago I gave them Kyle Gibson in my MLB trade matchmaker piece. I still think that he makes sense for them but he’s surrendered 13 runs over his last two starts. Jon Gray could also be in play here.
Boston also has a need at first base, and, now, outfield. If they want to go cheap, (and why wouldn’t they?) I’d suggest C.J. Cron. He’s on a great contract, is built like a steelworker, and can really hit. In the outfield, they could pursue Michael A. Taylor. Without a great farm system, Beantown is forced to go the Econo-route.
CJ Cron’s trade value ⬆️ after that grand slam. pic.twitter.com/Bbyi5Q5jyN— Purple Row (@PurpleRow) July 17, 2021
The Rays will almost certainly add to their roster. They’re pretty set with their position players and have already called up three prospects so pitching is their focus. I think Gray is a possibility here. They could also kick the tires on Matt Boyd.
Other AL Contenders
When Nick Madrigal went down with a hamstring injury, the White Sox trade targets became more focused. Acquiring a middle infielder became an outright necessity. They have their pick between Eduardo Escobar, Adam Frazier, and Trevor Story. It was being widely reported that a deal was in place for Escobar, but the two sides couldn’t agree on compensation.
The Chicago White Sox seem to have HAD a deal for Eduardo Escobar but now it might not be happening. https://t.co/RBtwKK7P0I— Southside Showdown (@SoxShowdown) July 19, 2021
It will take an enticing package to land any of these players, especially Frazier or Story. With many young players making their MLB debuts recently, the White Sox farm system isn’t ranked very highly. It may take a player or two on their current roster to consummate a deal.
Houston is in the luxurious position of not needing to add. They’ve gotten very good starting pitching and have a top offense in virtually every category. Raisel Iglesias would provide a boost to their bullpen. The Astros haven’t gotten much out of the catcher position. Trading for a veteran like Kurt Suzuki makes a lot of sense.
The A’s have been linked to Story but I’m not sure he fits. Oakland is a small-market team and he makes upwards of $13 million. Cheaper, more defensive-minded options like Andrelton Simmons or Nick Ahmed could work.
Wild Card Contenders
The Blue Jays boast one of the best offenses in the majors. They have the third-highest run differential in the American League but can’t seem to make much hay in their division. The belief is if they add a starter or two and a high-leverage reliever, they can really take off.
Jose Berrios could be the perfect option for them as a starter. He’s only 27 and has two more years of team control. Richard Rodriguez has generated plenty of interest and would strengthen a bullpen that has been shaky at times. The Jays would likely have to part ways with some of their top prospects in order to make these trades happen.
Blue Jays trade deadline mailbag: Priorities, off-limits prospects, a realistic José Berríos offer and more https://t.co/qzpz0DOM3M— The Athletic Toronto (@TheAthleticTO) July 23, 2021
The Yankees are determined to remain in the race and have played their way back into it. Still, adding on the margins seems like the best course of action. Cron could fit here as could Robbie Grossman, although he’s signed for next year as well. Kyle Freeland has a 2.25 ERA over his last 28 innings pitched and would provide a much-needed lefty starter.
Although they remain on the edge of contention, it’s this writer’s opinion that Cleveland and Seattle should stay put. The Mariners could offload someone like Mitch Haniger to accelerate their quicker-than-expected rebuild. Adding to these rosters seems counter-productive at this point.