Ah, the trade deadline. One of the best times of the year for a baseball fan, when rampant speculation and crazy rumors flow like water every single day until July 31. Like Dolly Parton said, it’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.
And why not let it? Drive you crazy, that is. Part of the fun of the trade deadline is daydreaming about which player your favorite contending team might be looking to add, or what player your miserable loser of a team wants to dump for prospects. Actually, that’s not part of the fun. That’s all of the fun.
With that in mind, here’s a look at what each major league team should do at this year’s deadline.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trade Martin Prado
It’s unclear whether or not Prado has enough grit for the Diamondbacks’ tastes, so that’s one reason why it’s probably time to deal him. Prado’s versatility means he can help contending teams that have holes to fill in either the infield or the outfield, and he’s due a reasonable $22 million over the next two seasons. Arizona, with no hope of contending for the playoffs this year, could fetch a decent return for Prado while clearing his salary from the books in the process. It’s time for Arizona to rebuild (again) and start moving their more attractive assets, starting with Prado.
Atlanta Braves: Trade for Andrew Miller
The Braves need a lefty reliever, and the Red Sox need to resign themselves to being sellers this year. Miller would be a nice rental for the Braves and would help make their already-formidable bullpen a little more…formidable. The Sox should be able to get a good return for Miller who figures to be the best lefty available on the market. This move almost makes too much sense, for both teams.
Baltimore Orioles: Trade for Jorge De La Rosa
As far as rentals go, De La Rosa is as good of an option as any since the cost to obtain him probably won’t be bank-breaking. The Orioles could use help in their rotation and adding a second left-hander to go with Wei-Yin Chen would make sense. And with the Rockies in free fall, they’re probably inclined to trade an impending free agent on the wrong side of 30 if it nets them some of Baltimore’s young pitching depth in return.
Boston Red Sox: Trade Jake Peavy
If the Red Sox do decide to start selling, Peavy should top their list of guys to move (Miller can be second). He’s pitched well enough this year to make a contender think he can still contribute, and he’ll likely command a decent price in a trade market that might be light on starting pitchers. He’d make sense for a number of teams including Atlanta, Milwaukee and St. Louis, which means Boston could have a bidding war on their hands. Peavy has been solid for the Sox but the time to deal him is now.
Chicago Cubs: Trade Chris Coghlan
Last year at this time, the entry for the Cubs would’ve probably said “trade Nate Schierholtz.” The Cubs didn’t, and this year he’s batting .204/.250/.314. If the Cubs learned their lesson they’ll have no problem dealing Coghlan, another journeyman outfielder enjoying a career resurgence in Chicago. Coghlan could help a number of teams looking for outfield depth and could bring back a useful young player in return; actually, he could bring back a lottery ticket in return and it would still be a win for the Cubs. Trade him while they can get any kind of value. Like, right now. NOW.
Chicago White Sox: Trade Gordon Beckham
Beckham’s name seems to always pop up when trade rumors swirl around the White Sox and this should be the year they come to fruition. Chicago has a number of young infield prospects behind him and there are more than a few contending teams with middle infield problems. If they’re ever going to trade Beckham, this is the time for the Sox to pull the trigger. The market for him may never be this competitive again and the return could be significant.
Cincinnati Reds: Trade for Martin Prado
The Reds have no answer for the loss of Brandon Phillips, and with the NL Central race so wide open they can’t afford to not address their hole at second base. Prado would fit nicely and could also give the Reds an option at first base if Joey Votto doesn’t get healthy, too. The Reds’ farm system is deep enough to produce trade chips that would interest Arizona and both teams should be motivated to be active at the deadline.
Cleveland Indians: Trade for David Price
The Indians and Rays supposedly discussed Price this past offseason, and as crazy as it seems it’s not hard to see a match there. Price would immediately bolster the Indians’ chances in the very winnable AL Central, and if things didn’t work out they could flip Price either this winter or next July. The Rays would get back major league-ready talent from Cleveland, perhaps Carlos Santana, and position themselves to contend again (maybe even in the second half of this season). Plus, the Indians would grab the headlines back from the Cavs and the Browns. Perfect.
Colorado Rockies: Trade Troy Tulowitzki
Can you imagine the haul the Rockies could get for Tulowitzki? It’d be mind-blowing. They’d probably have their pick of any team’s top prospects. It’d be baseball’s Herschel Walker trade. And with Tulowitzki showing an increased openness to a trade, Colorado should seriously consider moving their franchise shortstop. This is a trade that would probably happen over the offseason, but we’re speculating wildly here, so he’s on the list.
Detroit Tigers: Trade for Chad Qualls
Not exactly a sexy name, but the Tigers need bullpen help and Qualls is one name on the market that likely won’t cost an arm and a leg. He’s having a nice season with the Astros and would help solidify the back end of Detroit’s bullpen, which has been pretty shaky this season. Boring, but necessary. And since no one wants to focus on boring July trades, let’s move on.
Houston Astros: Trade Chad Qualls
Ugh, still boring. But if the Astros are looking to make a move at the deadline, Qualls is their most moveable asset. He’s 35, doesn’t fit into Houston’s future, and would likely bring back a nice little return. But again, this is a boring move. Even more so from Houston’s side. Let’s keep moving.
Kansas City Royals: Trade for Jonny Gomes
The Royals are rumored to have interest in Gomes and he’d make sense for them, even with his struggles this year. The Royals could use a right-handed power bat, but Gomes could also serve to be a useful clubhouse presence for a team trying for its first postseason appearance in almost 30 years. He likely wouldn’t cost more than a mid-level prospect and the Royals’ return for that price could be significant.
Los Angeles Angels: Trade for Huston Street
The ninth inning has been a problem for the Angels all year. Street is the most desirable closer who may be available at the deadline, thanks to his dominant first half performance and a team-friendly contract that would pay him $7 million next year if his option is picked up. It would likely take a pretty hefty haul of prospects to land Street from San Diego, but it’d be worth it to the Angels who may be just a player or two away from overtaking Oakland in the AL West. Adding a reliable closer should top the Angels to-do list.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trade for David Price
Why not? Why not add Price to a rotation that already has Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke? Why not give up the prospects needed to secure what would become one of the best rotations baseball has ever seen? Why not outbid any other team that might try to get Price themselves? Why not try to distance themselves from the Giants in the NL West by clubbing them over the head with pitching? Price to the Dodgers makes too much sense. It’s probably going to happen, and we should all just resign ourselves to that.
Miami Marlins: Trade for David Price
Why not? Wait, already used that argument. But the Marlins making a splash and landing the top remaining pitcher on the market to fuel their surprising playoff push isn’t that far-fetched. They have the prospects to satisfy the Rays’ demands, and like the Indians the Marlins could flip Price for more prospects over the winter. Miami may have lost some momentum over the past few weeks, but adding a pitcher like Price could get them going in the right direction again. Plus, it’d be fun to see them beat out the Dodgers for him.
Milwaukee Brewers: Trade for Jake Peavy
Peavy could give the Brewers a boost in their starting rotation and might help keep their dwindling division lead from disappearing completely. He’s not the pitcher he once was, but a move to the National League might be beneficial for his numbers. And with the Red Sox moving closer and closer to selling mode, Peavy should be available if the Brewers want to make the move. The cost to get him in prospects might be more than what he’s worth, but Peavy could give the Brewers the edge they need to survive the tight NL Central race.
Minnesota Twins: Trade Kevin Correia
Reliable, marginal innings-eating starters are always in demand and Correia fits that description to a tee. For a contender looking to solidify the back end of their rotation, he’d be a nice fit that likely wouldn’t cost much in a trade. The Twins would be wise to get something of value while they can for Correia, who’ll be a free agent and year’s end and doesn’t factor into Minnesota’s future.
New York Mets: Trade Bartolo Colon
Let’s just hope it isn’t to an American League team since that would mean we wouldn’t be able to watch Colon at bats with any kind of regularity anymore. Colon could fetch a good prospect or two for the Mets, and it’s no surprise they’re rumored to be shopping him. His $11 million salary next year may scare a few teams off, but he still can be an effective innings-eater for someone at that price. Expect the Mets to have a number of suitors for Colon, and they’d be wise to move him.
New York Yankees: Trade for Ian Kennedy
The Yankees probably won’t give up on a season even if it looks like they have no chance of going anywhere, so if they’re going to make a move it’ll likely be for their most pressing need: starting pitching. Kennedy is enjoying one of his best seasons in the majors and the Padres may be open to dealing him with his value being as high as it is. The Yankees would have Kennedy under team control for another season, and more importantly he’d help fill the huge holes in their rotation this year if they decide not to give up on 2014.
Oakland Athletics: Trade for Ben Zobrist
Even after their huge trade with the Cubs, the A’s could stand additional reinforcements and second base would be a good place to start. Zobrist just seems like an Oakland type of player, with his ability to play multiple positions and a contract that won’t break the team’s budget. Plus the A’s have the prospects Tampa Bay will demand, even after the Cubs trade. Zobrist would lengthen Oakland’s already intimidating lineup and would help them fend off the Angels and Mariners in the AL West.
Philadelphia Phillies: Trade Jonathan Papelbon
Easier said than done, what with Papelbon’s $13 million salary next year and his infamous personality to contend with. But it’s impossible to ignore the dominant season he’s having, and the Phillies should try and do whatever they can to get out from under his contract. Trading their closer would finally start the rebuilding plan the Phillies have long sought to avoid, and it’s not hard to picture a contending team with bullpen issues trading away a useful prospect or two to get a reliever with Papelbon’s pedigree.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Trade for Huston Street
Papelbon is probably too expensive for the Pirates, so they should make every effort to solve their closer problem by targeting Street. The Pirates have been pretty awful all year in the ninth inning, and Street would immediately solve those issues. Plus the Pirates have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball and could likely match San Diego’s asking price without sacrificing their future. The Pirates finally got a taste of the postseason last year after decades of going without, so they shouldn’t hesitate to add the pieces necessary to ensure they get back there again.
San Diego Padres: Trade Ian Kennedy
Trading Street is an easier decision, but trading Kennedy might take some convincing. He’s arguably been San Diego’s best starter this year and has another year of team control, which makes him tempting to hang on to. But his value will likely never be higher and the Padres could get a pretty big return if they were to make him available. And they should- they have nothing to play for this year, and their best prospects are a year or two away. Adding to that prospect list should be the goal.
San Francisco Giants: Trade for Martin Prado
Prado would help the Giants immensely in the short term, finally giving them an everyday solution at second base while adding a jolt to their lineup. But Prado makes sense for the Giants long term, too: they face question marks at second, third, and left field this coming off season, and Prado happens to play all of those positions with regularity. He’d give the Giants one less question mark to address this winter, and the Giants have a number of pitching prospects that would likely appeal to Arizona. An inter-division trade might be tough to pull off, but it would behoove the Giants to make this move.
Seattle Mariners: Trade for Marlon Byrd
Seattle has been searching for right-handed power since the offseason and Byrd would provide loads of that. His contract next year may be an issue, but with the Mariners making an unexpected run at the playoffs and after spending crazy-level amounts of money over the winter, they shouldn’t be afraid to make a move for the present. The cost of Byrd shouldn’t be all that high, and the Mariners have pitching prospects in the lower levels of the minors that should get Philadelphia’s attention.
St. Louis Cardinals: Trade for Kurt Suzuki
Yadier Molina is out for a long time, and the Cardinals don’t have a suitable replacement for him. Suzuki is having his best season on a one-year deal with the Twins, and while he might cost a high level prospect to get it’d be worth it for St. Louis to fill their glaring hole behind the plate. The rebuilding Twins would come out ahead on the one-year deal they gave Suzuki, and the Cardinals would have a catcher that’s more than capable of filling in for Molina. Win-win.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trade David Price
After seeing the return the Cubs got for Jeff Samardzija, the Rays should be looking to see what they can get for their ace. They should at least be able to get one or two premium prospects for Price, plus players ready to contribute at the major league level. The Rays are in the midst of a disappointing year and it might be time for them to reload (not rebuild) in hopes of getting back to the postseason next year. Trading Price would be a big step in that direction.
Texas Rangers: Trade Joakim Soria
The Rangers are the most disappointing team in the majors this year and might as well throw in the towel get ready for 2015. Trading Soria would help get that process started, as the reliever would bring back a decent return, the Rangers could shed his salary, and start addressing some of their holes. There should be no shortage of suitors for Soria if Texas decides to move him.
Toronto Blue Jays: Trade for Joakim Soria
One of those suitors should be Toronto. The Jays could use another reliable bullpen arm and Soria would be a nice fit, since his cost in prospects likely wouldn’t be enough to scare teams off and he has a reasonable contract option for 2015. Toronto needs to add to their bullpen if they have any hope of making a run in the AL East, and their first call should be to Texas.
Washington Nationals: Trade for Antonio Bastardo
The first-place Nationals could use an upgrade from the left side in their bullpen, and if the Phillies decide to start trading players the Nats should immediately ask about Bastardo. He’s an effective reliever who’s under team control for another season, and Washington has a pretty big need for someone like him.