It is a seller’s market in Major League Baseball this July. The bulk of MLB teams can at least claim to be in contention, sitting within five games of either the division or a wild card spot, and that means a lot of teams are going to be competing for limited resources ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
Sure, most contenders would probably like to upgrade. But which ones really need to most of all? Here are ten teams that most need to make a move with the deadline looming.
10. Houston Astros
On the surface, the Astros would seem to have everything, sitting comfortably in first place in the AL West. However, they could use another starter behind the devastating 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. It won’t be the end of the world if the Astros opt to stand pat, but in a loaded American League, their best shot at matching up with the Yankees may be to load up on pitching and put their aces up against their playoff rivals. Plus, some of their players are eager for reinforcements.
The New York Yankees are doing their due diligence on starting pitchers, even the ones who look unattainable.
The Yankees had a scout in Miami to watch Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard’s start on Saturday, according to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. It’s also noted that they were far from the only team to be keeping an eye on the hard-throwing right-hander roughly two weeks ahead of the MLB trade deadline.
It’s no secret that the Yankees need starting pitching, and if available, Syndergaard would be one of the best on the market. The Mets have said they won’t be trading him, and they have no real incentive to unless they’re blown away by an offer.
Syndergaard has not been at his best in 2019, posting a 4.55 ERA in 18 starts. There was some chatter of a potential trade between the two teams during the offseason, but it went nowhere.
The Cleveland Indians won six games in a row heading into the All-Star break and are within striking distance in the AL Central, but they are reportedly open to unloading a key member of their starting rotation at the trade deadline.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Monday that the Indians will be “aggressive listeners” if teams call about Bauer over the next few weeks. He mentioned the New York Yankees as a team that might be interested, and SNY’s Andy Martino agrees.
Trevor Bauer definitely one to watch for Yankees. @Ken_Rosenthal reported today that Cashman’s top evaluator Tim Naehring scouted him on final start before break
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) July 8, 2019
Bauer has one more year of arbitration left, and he will likely make somewhere in the range of $20 million before becoming a free agent. The Indians appear to have decided they can’t afford to keep him, so this may be their best chance to get something in return. If they can deal the right-hander for an MLB-ready player, they would probably pull the trigger.
Bauer, 28, has a 3.61 ERA and has thrown an AL-leading 132 innings so far this season. This isn’t the first time we have heard that the Indians are shopping him.
The Toronto Blue Jays have two of the more coveted pieces on the trade market this summer, and some teams reportedly want to know if they can grab both of them at once.
According to Scott Mitchell of TSN, the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins have asked the Blue Jays about a package deal for both starting pitcher Marcus Stroman and closer Ken Giles. The belief, however, is that Toronto would be able to get more pieces in return by trading each of them separately.
An interesting tidbit I’ve heard is both the Yankees and Twins have inquired about a Stroman/Giles package.
I’m sure Ross Atkins would prefer to maximize the returns separately, however.#BlueJays
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) July 8, 2019
The Twins need pitching of all kinds, so this makes perfect sense for them, and they’d already asked about Giles. The Yankees’ entry is interesting. A starter makes sense for them, but their bullpen is deep and would only get deeper by adding Giles.
The New York Yankees have reportedly agreed to a deal with a 16-year-old player who is considered one of the best prospects baseball has seen in years.
According to ESPN, outfielder Jasson Dominiguez signed a contract with the Yankees on Tuesday morning that includes a $5.1 million signing bonus. Dominguez, who is 5-foot-11 and 195-pounds despite being two years shy of his 18th birthday, is a five-tool player who can hit for power from both sides of the plate. He is considered by many to be the most promising prospect to come out of Latin America in 10 years.
The $5.1 million signing bonus the Yankees gave Dominiguez represents 95 percent of the team’s bonus pool money that they can spend on international free agents. The figure breaks the previous record of $3.2 million that the Yankees gave an international prospect.
Dominguez, who has been nicknamed El Marciano or “The Martian” by scouts because of his otherworldly ability, was pursued by numerous teams including the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays. He’s considered a massive addition to the Bronx Bombers and their farm system.
New York Yankees fans who plan to listen to the radio broadcast of the four games leading up to the All-Star Game might be incredibly confused — if not distraught — when the voice they hear is not that of John Sterling.
Sterling, who has been the Yankees’ play-by-play announcer for WFAN for 30 years, told Andrew Marchand of the New York Post that he is taking a four-game hiatus beginning on Thursday, which happens to be his 81st birthday.
“For the moment, I’m a little under the weather,” Sterling said. “I’ve put in the time. I want to feel better and they think this is the time for me to do it — and I agree.”
By stepping away for New York’s four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sterling will be able to take several days off around the All-Star break. He plans to return for the second half of the season and says WFAN executives encouraged him to take time off to focus on his health. Ryan Ruocco of ESPN/YES will replace him temporarily and call games alongside Suzyn Waldman, Sterling’s longtime partner.
As Marchand notes, Sterling missed two games due to the death of his sister during his first season calling games for WFAN in 1989. He has not missed a game since.
Sterling still appears to have plenty of passion for his job, as he even unveiled a new home run call for Giancarlo Stanton last season. He’s been with the Yankees through some of their most memorable championship runs, so fans are surely hoping he feels better after taking some time off.
The New York Yankees face one of the biggest luxury tax bills in Major League Baseball, but they won’t let it stop them if they feel it necessary to make a big trade.
The Yankees are roughly $15 million shy of passing the $246 million mark in terms of payroll. If they surpassed that mark, they would be hit with a 62.5 percent luxury tax rate and see their top draft pick dropped by ten spots next year. According to owner Hal Steinbrenner, however, the Yankees would face the consequences if surpassing that threshold meant they could land a player they think could put them over the top.
“If I really felt we needed that deal, that it takes us over the top, then yes, I would,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday, via David Lennon of Newsday. “But we still have a decent amount of cushion. I’m not concerned about that. It’s a decent cushion.”
Starting pitching would seem like the most obvious upgrade for the Yankees. They could theoretically land Madison Bumgarner and remain under that threshold, but there are indications that he’s not a priority for them. It’s clear that the Yankees will look to be aggressive at the deadline, but just how aggressive remains to be seen.