Six Possible Trade Scenarios as MLB Deadline Approaches

As the Major League Baseball trade deadline draws nearer, teams take serious stock of what they are. Teams that are close to contention make that difficult decision to become either buyers or sellers.; those teams that aren’t close to competing for the playoffs have to determine what players are expendable as they look to the future; and the true contenders decide what pieces they need to add to get themselves in the best position possible to win a World Series this year.

Here are six deadline deals that make a great deal of sense — maybe too much sense:

Justin Verlander to the Dodgers

I wrote this last year at this very same time — more so as a “dream” trade for both the the Tigers and the Dodgers. It made perfect sense — JV was having a throwback season as he finished second in the Cy Young voting, his fiancee Kate Upton and he would seemingly be a no-brainer fit in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers needed some reinforcement in their starting rotation behind Clayton Kershaw.

All those things are still true — aside from Verlander having a Cy Young season this year.

This time around, it’s more realistic and necessary than it is dreamy.

The Dodgers never make that big splashy move at the deadline — the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick move last year is as close as they’ve come. And perhaps that’s why L.A. can’t seem to get over the hump in the postseason. The Dodgers own the NL’s best record and truly have a team in place that can win a World Series right now. But October baseball is different from the kind of baseball we see from April to September. While the Dodgers seem unstoppable right now, that could all change in the playoffs. Heck, if Clayton Kershaw isn’t back sooner than later, it could all change in the next month.

My advice to general manager Farhan Zaidi (to quote Cubs GM Theo Epstein when he acquired Aroldis Chapman at last year’s deadline) — “If not now, when?”.

Sonny Grey to the Nationals

Like the Dodgers, Washington is always good and always in the playoffs, but misses out on making that huge move that puts them over the top and places them in the discussion of “obvious pick to go to the World Series”. Instead, they’ve established the reputation for being great in the regular season but expected to fully bottom out in early October. You are what you are.

The Nationals have a chance to change that this year: no NL team is fast-tracked to the World Series. True, L.A. is playing sensational baseball now, but they, too, suffer from the same ailment as the Nationals — underperformance in October.

A young, contract-controllable starting pitcher with playoff experience could be just what the Nats need. Stephen Strasburg is never healthy long enough to give Washington what they need. Gray works this year as a short-term solution, but he also is under contract through 2019. A move like this could extend Washington’s championship window another few seasons.

Michael Fulmer to the Brewers

I know Tiger fans don’t want to hear this, but too bad. Michael Fulmer is already an ace and he won’t do any good in Detroit for the next 5 years if the team is winning between 60 and 75 games. By the time Detroit is ready to be a contender again, Fulmer will be 30 and he may want to explore his options elsewhere. Not to mention the haul of prospects the Tigers could get for the righty right now would be invaluable as the franchise embarks on a major rebuild. But, like I said, few in Detroit will even listen to that rationale.

For Milwaukee, sure, they are ahead of schedule with their rebuild — no one expected them to be in playoff contention let alone leading the division at the All Star Break. But that doesn’t mean they should rest on their laurels. If they can package some prospects and go out and get a known stud who can contribute immediately — and in Fulmer’s case, provide a very team-friendly contract for the next 5 years — then I don’t know why they wouldn’t do it.

Brewers GM David Sterns has built a very healthy farm system that is ranked in the top-5 in all of baseball — thanks to years worth of selling valuable parts in order to collect prospects and build for the future. Fulmer would cost him 3 or 4 top 10 prospects, probably, but the Brewers can afford it — and Detroit would be foolish not to take that. And Fulmer could be the cornerstone to that rotation for years to come.

Alex Avila and Justin Wilson to the Rockies

The Rockies are in the market for both a catcher and a closer. While Zach Britton and Jonathan Lucroy may appear to be the more desirable assets, Colorado might have to wait too long to find out whether Baltimore and, especially, Texas are selling at the deadline or not.

Conversely, everyone knows the Tigers are sellers and they just happen to have a catcher and a closer who are available. Alex Avila has been linked in reports to Colorado. This deal makes sense for the Rockies; Detroit would have to determine whether they get enough in return for Justin Wilson — a hard, left-handed closer who’s having the best year of his career.

Yu Darvish to the Cubs

Ok, here’s the trade scenario that may be more fantasy than reality. No one yet knows what Texas’s intentions are with regard to buying, selling, or standing pat. At the moment, they’re 3.5 games back of the second Wildcard spot so it’s well within the range of thinking that the Rangers  feel they can contend in the final months of the season.

But they may conclude that while they sit only 3.5 games back, there are 5 teams in between them and that spot so it might be too much to overcome. If that’s the case, let’s talk about where their ace goes. And no team in contention wouldn’t love to roll Yu Darvish out to the hill every fifth day. The question is who will want him knowing he’s a rental?

The precedent has been set in the past though — David Price went to Toronto from Detroit for the final two months of the season a few years ago as a rental, only to leave in the offseason for Boston.

I imagine the Dodgers would be interested, as would the Yankees, Astros, Nationals, and Brewers. But I don’t believe any of those teams are willing to sign up for a 2-month rental at the cost that it would take to get Darvish. However, I think the Cubs would.

Chicago is in real danger of missing the postseason in a year coming off of the World Series title. I don’t believe Theo Epstein is willing to follow up the success of 2016 with a playoff-less 2017. Would they prefer Gray or Verlander? Most certainly. But Darvish might be the route they have to go to get back into the postseason and make another run at a championship.

Zach Britton to the Astros

Houston wants some bullpen help and the Orioles stud closer is the best option. Like Los Angeles, the Astros are in a position of power — best record in the American League. But it’s more about setting themselves up for the best October that they can have. Adding a power arm like Britton could have the same impact Andrew Miller had with Cleveland or Aroldis Chapman had with the Cubs last year.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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Ageless Roger Federer’s 8th Wimbledon Crown by the Numbers

8

Eight Wimbledon titles is more than any other men’s tennis player who’s ever stepped onto the hallowed grounds at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. I can still remember in the summer of 2001, watching a young kid from Switzerland with a ponytail stepping on to Centre Court to face off against 4-time defending champion Pete Sampras in the 4th round. And I can still remember being stunned when the kid upended Sampras, much to my dismay. Now here he is 14 years later, no longer a kid — no longer a ponytail, either — breaking Sampras’s record of 7 Wimbledon championships.

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In all 8 of his victorious fortnights in London since 2003, this one is the first that Federer won without dropping a set. The last man to do that? Bjorn Borg — in 1976.

Think about that just for a second. He’s been spectacular in all 8 championship runs, dominated the field, cruised to titles as the #1 ranked player in the world — and it wasn’t until he was 35 years old (practically 36) that he went the distance without giving up a set the entire tournament.

19 (and 2)

Entering 2017, who would have thought Federer could win another grand slam title after taking 6 months off after Wimbledon last summer? Not many, including Federer himself. But TWO?? Winning in Australia against arch-rival Rafael Nadal would have been enough to classify Roger as the best ever in most experts’ minds, and it was certainly enough to make the 2017 season a successful one for the Swiss Wizard. After the flawless run at the All England Club, Federer now has, a record, 19 grand slams titles to his name.

14

It’s been fourteen years since Federer first hoisted the Wimbledon trophy as champion. Many tennis careers don’t make it fourteen years, period. Federer’s longevity is something to be marveled at. In all the years he spent completely demolishing the competition and making quick work of all his “wannabe rivals”, Federer may be playing his best tennis right now.

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The world number 1 ranking is within reach for Federer, but it doesn’t seem to be something he’s putting much emphasis on right now. If you listen to his comments with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi after Sunday’s final, Federer wasn’t dismissive of the ranking so much as he was honest about where his head is at this stage in his career. He’s less than a month from turning 36; he’s got 2 grand slams under his belt this year; he’s won 19 slams; and he understands the importance of being rested and healthy. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Federer take off quite a bit of time over the next month and then again in the fall after the U.S. Open — which I wouldn’t bet my house on him playing in by the way.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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Is Michael Fulmer Untouchable or Should Tigers Make Young Ace Available?

If you’re a loyal reader of my blog — or you just feel sorry and read because you’re family or friends, you already know where I stand with this Detroit Tigers team. And you know who I think deserves the blame. But with the midway point of the season behind us and the trade deadline looming on July 31, it’s time to examine what the Tigers should do when it comes to their most prized (and valuable) possession.

J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila are as good as gone — not much to say about them. Justin Upton can go if he chooses to — his contract prevents the team from moving him without his permission. Victor Martinez is too old, too slow, and has suffered a steep decline in skill for anyone to take him. Miguel Cabrera’s contract is an albatross and it’d take a minor miracle for the Tigers to find a taker for the All-Star slugger. Justin Verlander would be a great addition to a contender, if the Tigers agree to eat a percentage of the former Cy Young winner and MVP’s contract. Jordan Zimmermann is likely only going somewhere as part of a bigger deal that lands his new team a young stud with a friendly contract and financial flexibility — and that’s a perfect segue to my point: Michael Fulmer is the piece to the Tigers’ puzzle that no one wants to even consider giving up. But they ought to.

No player mentioned above will bring in the haul of prospects that the 2016 Rookie of the Year and 2017 All Star will. Fulmer’s under contract until 2023 so no team has to worry about him being a rental. And he’s only 23 years old so there’s no reason to expect any sort of sharp fall-off of his skills.

Make no mistake — the Tigers are not getting great prospects or many MLB-ready players if, and when, they trade any of their pieces previously-mentioned. Even the ones you think should bring in a lot of value won’t — teams know Detroit’s situation and aren’t going to offer much for the contracts of Verlander, Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, or Zimmermann. And everyone knows the team can’t afford J.D. Martinez so why bother giving up a ton to get the guy for the rest of the season?

The only player who would bring in the kind of significant help, as far as youth goes, would be Fulmer. He’d likely get the Tigers anywhere from three to four of a team’s top 10 prospects and he’d sure help in convincing that team to take on one of the big contracts of Cabrera or Zimmermann (just to name a couple) that would get the Tigers closer to being in a good financial spot as the rebuild begins.

In addition, it’s not only about what the Tigers could get for Fulmer — it’s about what Fulmer’s presence on the team over the next 5 years will look like and mean. Personally, I see him like I see Felix Hernandez in Seattle — a phenom on a bad team with no championships to prove how great he was.

Are the Tigers selfish enough (and I don’t mean “selfish” in a bad way, really) to keep Fulmer around during what promises to be some bad years of baseball coming up; put 800 innings on his arm; and hope by 2023 that they are (a) ready to contend and (b) he’s willing to sign a mega-deal for $25 million plus here in Detroit?

There are a lot of things that can happen before 2023 arrives.

Conversely, it’s not completely one-sided. The prospects the Tigers get in return for a potential deal for the righty may not pan out — and fans could, sickeningly, watch Fulmer thrive in his new city for the next decade. And by keeping Fulmer and rebuilding with him as the crown jewel, it may help attract certain free agents in the coming years once the franchise is, financially, prepared to start signing players of significance, again. Having a stud arm here could be attractive to players and help make Detroit a destination spot once again.

Whatever the team’s plans are for their young ace, you’d think they’d have to keep all options open. The Tigers are far from the team we remember not so long ago, that operated during times like these from a position of strength and power. They’re not that anymore. A rebuild can help get them back there, though.

The question is how committed are they to a full-on rebuild and is Fulmer more valuable to them as a Tiger for the next 5 years or as a trade chip until July 31?

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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